The 2021 GQ Grooming Awards


A GQ Grooming Award means a product is deeply vetted and worthy of a spot in your routine. Sometimes that’s a smart upgrade to a daily staple like body wash or deodorant—we’ve got plenty of opinions there. But we’ve also gone deep on ways to take care of you might not have even thought about yet. (Maybe this year leveling up means exfoliating your scalp, or painting your nails, or figuring out a retinol that works for you.) We scrubbed and smelled our way through damn near every grooming product on the market this year, and these are the 77 that made the cut. From old-school pomade to cutting-edge skin care, makeup to hand soap, every winner reflects deeply-researched intel for looking good, smelling great, and feeling your absolute, well-moisturized best.

Body 

The Best Shower Products

The coolest texture of any product we tried this year was easily Fur’s All Body Wash—it comes out of the bottle slightly oily, and melts into suds as you wash. (Smells great, too.) For more targeted clean, Clearing Clay, from excellent new body-care brand Soft Services, is the standout. It’s a super-effective treatment for body acne, powered by sulfur (which is both antimicrobial and antifungal).

Soft Services Clearing Clay

This year, we’re upgrading our entire scrubbing experience. The Goshi Exfoliating Shower Towel is woven in Japan from nylon, creating an extremely precise, rough-but-not-too-rough texture. You’ll never feel as clean as after scrubbing yourself down with one. And we’ve been fans of Bathing Culture’s line of shower scrubs made from natural materials for ages, the latest is the Everybody Brush, a nice-looking and long-handled scrubber. The bristles are made from agave, not plastic —as in, they won’t sit in the Pacific Ocean for the next 10,000 years. 

Goshi Exfoliating Shower Towel

Bathing Culture Everybody Brush

The Best Body Oil 

One of our favorite recent trends has been brands treating the rest of your body with the care that goes into the skin on your face—a drum that Nécessaire has been beating harder than any brand. It’s new, straightforwardly named Body Oil is a remarkably “dry” oil that will revive parched skin, but won’t leave you feeling greasy. 

The Best Lotion 

Ceramidin Cream from Dr. Jart+ is a cult favorite facial moisturizer, and the Korean company was able to transfer that magic to the rest of your dermis with its Ceramidin Body Lotion. It’s thick and intensely hydrating, but soaks in quickly enough that you won’t have to kill time before getting into bed or pulling on your shirt. 

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Body Lotion

The Best Deodorant

We love hippie deodorants that lean into natural funk-busting ingredients, but don’t always love the scents they choose. (Seems like it’s always “Baking Soda” or “Clean Up On Aisle 4 at the Co-Op.”) Which is why Schmidt’s Fresh Fir & Spice Natural Deodorant gets our nod. It gives the clean feeling of odor protection without harsh chemicals, and smells great, too.

Schmidt’s Fresh Fir & Spice Natural Deodorant

We also love to see the bigger brands catching the crunchy wave: Dove Men+Care 0% Aluminum Eucalyptus + Birch Deodorant won’t lead to yellow pit stains, and Old Spice Clean Waters Plastic-Free Aluminum-Free Deodorant is packaged completely without plastic.

Dove Men+Care 0% Aluminum Eucalyptus + Birch Deodorant

Old Spice Clean Waters Plastic-Free Aluminum Free Deodorant

Of course, on days when the humidity is 110 percent and the air’s the consistency of soup, sometimes only the hard stuff will do. On those days, Axe Apollo Antiperspirant is what we reach for more often than anything else. Yes, it uses aluminum salts to block your pores. That’s why it works so effectively. But we’ve found it to be less irritating than the competition (particularly when you’re using it intermittently), and the herbal-citrus scent won’t give anyone middle-school-locker-room PTSD.

Axe Apollo Antiperspirant


Why not make this your glowiest year ever?

Skin Care

The Best Face Wash

A good cleanser has one job: getting your mug clean without drying it out. And yet, we’ve tested countless face washes that absolutely nuke the skin or don’t do anything but waste our money and time. Caldera + Lab The Clean Slate has nailed the balance. It flushes away grime and preps your face for the rest of your routine, all without causing irritation or that uncomfortable tightness you get from over-aggressive cleaners.

Caldera + Lab The Clean Slate cleanser

The Best Exfoliators

“Exfoliation” calls to mind sandpaper-style scrubs, but these days our favorite way to clear away dirt and dead skin cells is with gentle acids. Our skin felt its best after using the plant-derived alpha hydroxy acids in The Nue Co. The Pill. For any guy still shaving with a razor daily, Bevel Exfoliating Toner Pads work wonders to keep your follicles clear. (They’re particularly a godsend if ingrown hairs are a problem.)

Bevel Exfoliating Toner Pads

The Best Retinol Products

The dirty secret of every fresh-faced YouTuber pushing a 14-step skincare routine is that the undisputed most-effective ingredient to brighten your skin is retinol, a form of vitamin A that dermatologists have been slinging since the ’80s. But the skincare revolution of the last decade has radically expanded the range of over-the-counter retinol products, putting this magic potion into some wildly creative and useful new forms.

Take Kiehl’s Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum. It’s the first retinol from the 170-year-old company, which had the insight that a lower dose could provide almost all of the benefits of the prescription serum without the drawbacks of starting a retinol regimen: skin irritation and sensitivity. Where most retinoids come with lots of rules, Kiehl’s genius formulation is okay to use in the morning, works great for first-time users and people with sensitive skin, and generally requires a less-neurotic relationship with vitamin A. Speaking of friendly retinols: where the average cream from the dermatologist is stinky and medical-feeling, the Sunday Riley 5 Stars Retinoid + Niacinamide Eye Serum is a highly-effective retinoid that’s also a pleasure to put on your face.

Kiehl’s Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum

Sunday Riley 5 Stars Eye Serum

On the other side of the strength spectrum is the Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Texture Renewal Peel—the skincare equivalent of smashing the reset button. It’s meant to be used a couple of times a week at the very most, and best reserved for retinol veterans who know how their skin will respond to a solid dose of the good stuff. 

Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Texture Renewal Peel

The Best Vitamin C Products

Vitamin C is another skin-brightening hero ingredient that should be in your routine. One problem: it goes stale—technically, it degrades—at light speed. So when Drunk Elephant wanted to expand the availability of its C-Firma serum, guaranteeing freshness was a priority. The solution, in the new C-Firma Fresh Day Serum, was to make like Derrida and deconstruct: the box comes with a stable powder and a liquid base. You shake the two together only when you’re ready to use the bottle, so there’s no potency lost while the products sitting in a warehouse. The difference in freshness is immediately noticeable.



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