The ebb and flow of men’s grooming is as old as the ocean’s tide. From the full beards sported in depictions from ancient Egypt to the shaving rituals of Kenya’s Masai tribe, a vast range of social symbolism and status ripples through cultures around the world. And it’s become a big business.

According to a report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., the men’s grooming industry is expected to exceed $33.2 billion worldwide by 2015. Now more than ever, men have access to an enormous variety of cosmetic products that are designed to meet their specific needs.

As a result, there is a steadily increasing number of blogs and websites for men who perhaps aren’t quite as practiced in the art of personal vanity as their feminine counterparts.

The term “vanity” has been recalled as an injurious inclusion as a deadly sin or the implication that there is some inherent vapidity to maximizing one’s appearance. But it can also be reclaimed as the birthright of the male sex. One look at the animal kingdom and it’s obvious: males have plumage. No lioness ever had a mane and who ever heard of a decorative pea“hen” feather?

American frontiersmen Daniel Boone (left) and Davy Crockett (right) are among many figures who embody the rather narrow archetype of ‘rugged’ masculinity. Daniel Boone print by Charles Juehne, circa 1876; Davy Crockett engraving by C. Stuart from an original portrait by J.G. Chapman, circa 1839.

Throughout western culture, Americans have attached archetypal ideals to early icons of masculinity: Daniel Boone, Davey Crockett, and later John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. If there’s any footage of Dirty Harry trimming his beard, it’s surely on the cutting room floor. The worlds of fashion and media have played into these stereotypes and, on occasion, redefined them. The famous Calvin Klein ads of the 1980s featured a smooth and slick Antonio Sabàto, Jr. with nary a hair on his body besides his head.

For the average man though, the notion that anything beyond a shower, shave and occasional shampoo as less than manly still pervades our culture. In its series on archetypes of American masculinity, The Art of Manliness, a men’s lifestyle and grooming website, agrees: “men who seem too cultured, refined and style-conscious are sometimes dismissed as wimpy and not sufficiently masculine.”

The latest trends suggest that the pendulum is perhaps swinging in a well-coiffed direction. Perhaps shows like “Mad Men” are making an impact as well as the growing number of modern barbershops and artisan products geared toward the modern man. With all of this new grooming information coming from every direction, it can be difficult for a man to comb his way through the thicket of products, experts, must-do’s and no-no’s.

Barber, a shaving salon in Amsterdam that carries Hudson Made’s Beard & Shave Soap and Worker’s Soap, is an example of the growing number of modern barbershops. Image courtesy of Alexander Six.

Even those in the know occasionally disagree. In a casual conversation about shaving, Dan Heffer of burgeoning British blog Groom Him, says it is necessary to “exfoliate after shaving about once or twice a week to keep skin looking smooth and healthy.”

Meanwhile, John Scala, founder and CEO of the New York Shaving Company tells us that shaving and exfoliating on the same day is never a good idea. “Shaving is already exfoliating the skin,” Scala says. “More exfoliating would just cause damage.”

Bill Hovard, founder of Hudson Made and developer of our new line of Beard and Shave Soaps, says, “Grooming should be easy and appear effortless. Products should have multiple purposes, use the highest quality ingredients available (GMO free and organic whenever possible), be good to the body, and offer environmentally sensitive and locally sourced packaging.”

Hudson Made’s Beard and Shave Soap is safe for every face since it has no detergents or synthetic oils. And the beauty lies in its dual functionality: use the lather as a shaving foam or as gentle beard shampoo. If you’re one of those seasonally bearded fellows, this is a product that you can use year-round.

Hudson Made’s Beard & Shave Soap has multiple uses and is an invaluable addition to any man’s grooming routine.

Three original scents have been formulated: Original White is lightly scented with essential oils of petitgrain, cedarwood, juniper needle, myrrh and black pepper; Cedar Clove offers notes of woody spice derived from cedar leaf, cinnamon, allspice and clove; and Citron Neroli is blended with organic oils of petitgrain, white grapefruit, neroli and cedarwood. Neroli oil, produced from the delicate blossoms of the bitter orange tree, has been revered for its distinct balance of sweet, spicy and floral notes since the 17th century.

Citrus aurantium, also known as Citrus vulgaris—bitter orange tree. Illustration by Franz Eugen Köhler, 1897.

Ultimately, a man’s personal grooming regimen should be based on his own needs. No man knows better than himself as to how his skin reacts to products, how much time he’s got or how much bathroom counter space he’s willing to give up. In short, men’s grooming is subjective.

Perhap’s men’s facial hair is humanity’s answer to the lion’s mane and the peacock’s tail. Our plumage, as it were. So take good care of it. Hudson Made will help.

The Beard & Shave Soap Trio Citron Neroli Beard & Shave Soap Cedar Clove Beard & Shave Soap
+ Shave Mug

Sloan Rollins is a freelance writer. His work has been seen in Time Out New York, and he is a music and theater critic for

Additional contributions from Matthew Wexler. More of his musings can be found on his blog,