From beard to blade and everything in between, Shawn Burns is the founder of Tools of Men, a site that delivers in-depth information on how men can improve their grooming routine through reviews, do-it-yourself tutorials, comprehensive guides and more. We recently got on the horn with Shawn to chat about the grooming industry, how far it has come and the new norm for men taking care of themselves.
GIVE US THE ELEVATOR PITCH ON TOOLS OF MEN?
Our primary goal is to equip men by giving them the most in-depth information possible when it comes to making decisions on both grooming and style.
WHY A MEN’S GROOMING ADVICE WEB SITE?
To be quite honest, it all started in 2015 when I was looking for some new grooming gear. I loved my first safety-razor, but over the course of countless shaves and a lot of good years it came time to get a replacement. When searching for some alternative options, I kept coming across sites like “mybestelectricrazor2015.com” (I don’t know if this site actually exists!). There’s a lot that goes into double-edge shaving and it can be overwhelming for a newbie, so the lack of sites dedicated to down-to-earth men giving honest opinions on wet shaving and the associated tools was frustrating.
Even when checking more of the ‘credible’ sites, it didn’t seem genuine – especially when you see that the author also reviewed things like pregnancy pillows, flat irons and camping gear.
Since I had previously done a little bit of front-end development in my 9 to 5 job and didn’t mind writing, I figured it was time to make a site myself that solved this unique problem.
HOW HAS THE MEN’S GROOMING MARKET EVOLVED IN YOUR OPINION OVER THE LAST 5 YEARS?
When I first started, safety razors and shave brushes were kind of the odd man out when it came to shaving norms – it was all about electric trimmers and fitting as many blades as possible into that cartridge razor. In just a few short years there has been a major renaissance of sorts, bringing old-school shaving back to the forefront.
Personally, I think it’s great.
I’m sure the huge razor companies and subscription boxes that spend millions upon millions on research and development would disagree, but if you can get a quality shave for a fraction of the price with a safety razor, then it’s truly a win for men.
Now as far as the beard ‘trend’, that’s a whole other beast.
I may get some flak for saying this, but I don’t see beards maintaining the crazy popularity they’ve experienced over the past 5 years. Even if beards are ‘on-notice’ though, the complimentary products that became popular (i.e., beard oil, beard combs, etc.) really got men thinking about their grooming regimen in a whole new light.
WHAT’S THE FUTURE FOR MEN’S GROOMING IN YOUR VIEW?
To build on the last point, I think men are starting to take a second to really asses their grooming routine.
I’m getting more and more men come to me with questions about eye creams, face moisturizers and toners -- a few years ago a majority of men thought that toner was just for their printer.
What makes it even better is that men are also looking on the other side of the bottle and questioning what ingredients make up their solution. I think men looking out for more natural alternatives has helped and will further propel the natural-centric companies going forward.
HOW MANY PRODUCTS DO YOU GET SENT TO REVIEW EACH WEEK?
I wish we could review every one of the products, but there simply isn’t enough time.
We do our best to sift through the products and focus on genuine brands with high-quality products that men would benefit from checking out and giving a go on their own.
WHAT ARE TWO OF YOUR BEST GROOMING TIPS FOR MEN?
Seriously. It’s bad advice.
Men oftentimes mistakenly think they must mimic the shaving routine they first learned, but that’s not necessarily true. Everyone’s beard grows differently, so you can’t necessarily copy your dad's method – it just doesn’t work that way. Shave with the grain to start and if afterwards you find you’d like a closer shave, you can go against the grain.
Us men do a poor job caring for our skin… Maybe it’s because I have a family history of skin cancer, but I always tell my readers to keep up with sunscreen application. You just can’t skip it.
You will not only look better than 99% of men not doing this by having healthy skin, but you also don’t open yourself up to a host of medical problems later down the road.
It’s never too early to start!
FAVORITE PRODUCTS AND PRODUCT LINE?
No comment - Haha!
There are so many great products in so many different categories.
I really do like the No. 7 Protect & Perfect Moisturizer as it works well with my skin and the additional SPF gives me no excuse on missing out on this in the morning.
When I want to grow out my beard I really love the Premium Beard Oil from Honest Amish – that stuff not only works really well to rid the beard of pesky dandruff, but it also smells downright amazing.
FUNNIEST PITCH OR REQUEST?
The amount of lipstick offers I have received over the years is insane.
PR companies, if you are reading this – take a minute to stop and think about what you are pitching and to whom before you press that send button.