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Looksmaxing: The Ultimate Guide for Men

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Robert Barakett and contains affiliate links. Learn more.

Will Porter

Style, Menswear, Outdoors, Fitness, Home

Featured in GQ, Men's Health, Gear Patrol, and more men's powerhouse publications---Will is a writer obsessed with finding the best tools for whatever life has in store. Whether that's the latest carbon wheelset for his mountain bike, the best new meditation app, or the simple luxury of a damn good oxford cloth button down shirt. This pursuit has led him to test products tirelessly, much to the chagrin of his partner who has to deal with his ever-rotating stable of running shoes. Read full bio.

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2024
15 min read
Looksmaxing Grid of model doing different self development tasks
Key Takeaways

#Looksmaxing is a certified trend in the world of men’s grooming, fashion, and lifestyle optimization. Auditing your life, fixing your habits, improving your self-care, and treating yourself and others with respect will have you at the top of your game.

What’s the optimal way for a guy to present himself?

Shaggy with some scruff?

Clean cut and clean shaven?

Some combination of the two?

Are the ladies actually going to like this mullet?

While the mullet question may have a definitive answer (for now—we’ll see how trends are looking in a few years), the first questions are largely up for debate.

Regardless of what path you choose for grooming and dressing yourself, there is an optimal way to do it. The same goes for behaviors and habits.

What Is Looksmaxing?

The Adult Man Mission Diagram

Play to your strengths, work with what you’ve got, and cover all your bases—these are the principles of ‘looksmaxing,’ a relatively newly-coined term for optimizing your physical appearance and leveling up your life through various grooming, styling, and self-improvement techniques

What does that mean in practice, though?

There are countless blogs, videos, and magazines aiming to help you look your best, but figuring out where to start is the hard part.

Follow this guide, and you’ll be looking (and being) your best in no time at all.

The Definitive Looksmaxing Blueprint

Blue Suit Combinations What to Wear with a Blue Suit Model Wearing Blue Suit and Burgundy Tie

While looksmaxing may seem trendy and of the moment, none of this is new. As men, we’ve never been held to the standards that women have (thank god), but we are constantly hit with ads telling us what to do to become the best we can be—and I’m not talking about ads from the Marines.

Just yesterday, I saw back-to-back ads for new cologne from Chanel and Prada, one with a smoldering Timothée Chalamet and another with Jake Gyllenhall manning a sailboat all by himself. Talk about tough competition.

Looksmaxxing doesn’t have to be about competition. It’s about taking care of yourself. It’s about living up to your potential. If those aren’t things to aspire to, I’m not sure what are.

Enough talk, let’s get to the action.

Stage 1: Perform a Thorough Wardrobe Audit

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Your wardrobe is by far the easiest thing to change; how you dress is 100% your choice! You may not be able to change your skin type or what kind of hair you have, but you can choose what tees you reach for each morning. 

Out With the Old (Make Space for The New)

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Take a hard look at your underwear drawer. If you see squiggly waistbands that look like crispy bacon or even the tiniest hole, throw it out.

We’re all for fixing your clothes and making them last, but with underwear, just let it go. Do the same with your socks.

Next, check for things you just never wear. We all have that tee we never wear that just sits in the back corner of the dresser. Consider donating it—there’s probably someone out there who could use it.

Do this with everything you own, especially the basics; if you haven’t worn it in a few months, it’s probably time to give it the boot. 

Invest in Quality Pieces

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If you’re worried about price, think of this mantra: spend more, buy less.

What seems like a pretty penny will be nothing compared to what you spend on crappy, bottom-dollar apparel. These days, there are hundreds of brands offering high-quality pieces at a reasonable price.

For example, this Robert Barakett sweater jacket not only looks excellent, but will last a lifetime. Throw it on over a button-down for your next holiday party, or rock it under your winter coat for a refined, outdoorsy look.

Robert Barakett Elko Sweater Jacket

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Elevate Your Basics

You may not want to drop hundreds (or thousands) on a whole new wardrobe, but it’s easy to pick out a few pieces to focus your wardrobe on. We love a simple tee, hoodie, and pair of joggers.

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You can start just about any outfit with one of those three items, and they’ll definitely keep you looking fresh and refined. If Robert Barakett isn’t your jam, we also love Buck Mason, or True Classic for basics.

There are certainly places to skimp on cash, but buying basics isn’t one of them. Think about it—you’ll be wearing them every day.

Stage 2: Fix Your Bad Habits

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Unfortunately, you can’t throw money at this problem. It could help, sure, but a stocked wardrobe can’t eliminate those bags under your eyes.

Fix your bad habits, though, and you’ll start to see a fresh, bright-eyed, handsome man in the mirror.

Focus on Sleep Hygiene 

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Sorry, but scrolling TikTok ‘til you drop isn’t looksmaxing. Even if you’re scrolling through the myriad of videos dedicated to the subject.

Put your phone away, turn off the TV, and leave your laptop in the other room. It may seem like torture at first, but there was a time in your life when you went to sleep without a device, you can get there again.

If you must have a device in your room, check out Loftie’s smart alarm clock, which, along with its alarm functions, comes pre-loaded with white noise and nature sounds.

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Kick Bad Behaviors

We all have bad habits, whether it’s coffee late in the day, that extra nightcap, staring at the social media app du jour, or even just working too late.

Regardless of the excuse you use, you’re probably doing something that is more a detriment than an improvement.

Stop it.

Drink Enough Water

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EIGHT GLASSES PER DAY. Beer doesn’t count. 

Ok, so eight glasses per day may be a bit of a generalization, but drinking copious amounts of water is actually good for you and most of us simply aren’t doing it.

If you even go near the gym, you should be imbibing more than eight glasses and for those of us working out consistently, you may be looking at a recommended consumption of almost three liters.

Get a LARQ bottle and carry it around wherever you go, your body will thank you. They’re self-cleaning and BPA-free, plus the sleek design looks more stylish than the sports bottles and gallon jugs you see people carrying around everywhere these days or at the gym. 

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Stage 3: Start Looking after Your Skin

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You may think that skincare is for the ladies, but have you ever seen American Psycho? That guy spent hours on his skin each day.

Ok, ok, so Patrick Bateman isn’t the best role model, but you can’t deny that his skincare routine was on point.

In fact, you could say that his relentless pursuit of physical perfection and elaborate skincare rituals highlight the deep connection between personal grooming and heightened productivity.

Or, y’know, you could just note how damn good Bateman’s skin looks in that movie. 

Choose Optimal Products for Your Skin Type

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Don’t know your skin type? Go to a dermatologist. They’ll tell you everything you need to know. 

If you don’t want to schlep to a doctor, just consider how your skin looks and check online, or—even better—take a diagnostic test with a skincare brand like Geologie to determine your skin type. You can then adapt your routine specifically to yourself, optimizing your skins health. 

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Create a Personalized Routine (and Stick to It)

Geologie skincare set in sink with updated packaging

If you’re looking for a routine, find a brand specializing in skincare. For men, there are a ton of options we like, from Geologie to Jack Henry and beyond.

Crafting a routine is crucial for achieving long-term results. Over-complicating the process with an abundance of products, or worse, using ones that are ill-suited for your skin type, can undermine the effectiveness of the routine and discourage consistency. 

In short: figure out a routine that works for you, and stick to it.

Stage 4: Focus on Haircare

Mens Hair Styles Male Model Smiling at Camera With Curly Fade Hair Style

Hair care is an important part of looksmaxing. You may not be able to choose your hair type or the rate at which you’re losing it, but you can decide how to take care of it.

Don’t have any hair left? There’s still a way to maximize your looks. 

Wash (and Style) Properly

Please, wash your hair. But also, please don’t wash your hair every day. Much like your skin, your hair skews greasy or dry. Find out what type of hair you have and pick out a shampoo/conditioner combo that works well with it.

Malin+Goetz has worked for me in the past (I highly recommend their Peppermint Shampoo) though it’s a good idea to do some research for your own specific haircare needs. 

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Consider Growing a Beard

For the bald among us, growing a beard is an excellent way to make up for a lack of hair up top. 

Not only will it shift eyeballs from your shiny dome to your face, it’ll give you something to groom and take care of. There are plenty of grooming products out there to help you keep on top of it—we recommend Beardbrand for beard oils and beard balms. 

Consider Cowashing

Black Man Using Geologie Cowash

Stuck with dry hair? Think about co-washing.

If you were born with coily, mixed-textured, curly, or extremely dry hair, keeping your hair conditioned is essential, and might even look better if you take the no-shampoo route. Co-wash is a product for in-between washes, like Geologie’s Cooling Hair Co-Wash, which helps lengthen the time between shampooing and keeps you feeling fresh.

Geologie Cooling Hair Co-Wash
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I love the idea that I’m basically giving my scalp a face mask treatment every time I use this. After just one wash I noticed a lighter, stronger texture to my hair that made it easier to shape and make presentable.

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Stage 5: Carry Yourself Better

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Much has been said about the power of charisma. The best part? It’s learnable. Contrary to what some believe, you can learn how to be confident and charming.

Plus, a few quick changes like body posture and communication can go a long way.

Enhance Your Confidence

All those things you think people are saying or thinking about you? Yeah, they’re not real.

Just be yourself, be confident, and don’t overextend yourself.

Make a concerted effort to improve your confidence. Listen to self-improvement podcasts, read uplifting books, practice maintaining eye contact when you speak to people, and dare to approach women and ask them out on a date. You’ll be surprised how quickly your mood starts to improve.

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Improve Your Posture

Your grandmother was always telling you to stand up straight, and she wasn’t wrong. Carry yourself with confidence, and everyone around you will notice.

Don’t think you can do it?

Start working on your core strength with an ab workout or just some planks before bed, and before you know it, you’ll be standing straight as an arrow.

Practice Speaking (and Listening)

Another adage from grandma: “Think before you speak.”

Don’t blurt out whatever comes into your head, and you’ll find that the eyeballs in the room start to gravitate toward you. 

If you’ve got nothing nice to say, just keep your maw shut. Listening is an important skill that most of us men have never developed.

Once you learn how to listen, however, you’ll be able to retort with a thoughtful idea that will be well-considered and, honestly, more worth listening to. 

Stage 6: Improve Your Body

Gymshark model lifting weights

It’s no mystery that your physical health improves all areas of your life. Fit people earn more, have better love lives, and have better mental health.

Adding a few changes to your lifestyle can go a long way for your overall looks. And not just your abs or biceps.

Boost your Cardio

model running wearing oliver all over short

Improving your cardio is essential to looking and feeling your best.

It doesn’t mean you have to run a 5k every day, you just have to get out there and move.

You’d be surprised what getting up from your desk and taking a walk can do for both your mood and your body.

Slowly build up your cardio each week and you’ll be breathing easy before you know it. 

Lose Fat, Build Muscle

This seems obvious, but seriously, we can’t overstate the importance of getting out and moving your body.

Movement alone won’t do it though—think about skipping the lunchtime burger and head to your local Sweetgreen for a salad.

Sounds boring, but your body will be thanking you soon enough. 

Focus on Full-Body Grooming

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We covered your face and your head, but part of improving your body is maintaining your grooming from top to bottom.

Brush your teeth, wear deodorant, keep your downstairs manicured.

It all sounds trite, but odds are, you’re probably not focusing on this enough. Just buy that manscaper already. 

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Stage 7: Enhance Your Mind

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In addition to your physical health, your mental well-being affects your whole life. Constantly stressed and anxious? That’s going to have negative effects in all areas.

A few of these simple practices we recommend will drastically change how you feel, and, how you relate to others.

Start Meditating

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Take 10 minutes of your day, whether morning or night, and just relax. Meditation doesn’t require shaman-level skills, it just takes discipline.

Even if it just means dispatching your phone and sitting quietly for a few minutes each day, you’ll find yourself more relaxed and clear-headed once you decide to take a break. 

Practice Empathy

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Be kind.

It sounds like a quaint, twee recommendation, but seriously, just consider your neighbor for a moment each day and you’ll find that you’ve become a more sensitive, less controlling, more optimistic person. 

Educate Yourself

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Read or listen to an audiobook, take a class, learn something new.

Just because your mandatory schooling has ended, doesn’t mean your education is done. We live on this earth for a long time — there’s no point in quitting learning just because you’re no longer in school or college.

This can be as easy as doing some online research or picking up a new hobby. Just challenge yourself. 

Stage 8: Master Your New Routine and Stay Consistent

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As we said before, this is ultimately up to you. Maximize your routine, and you’ll maximize your potential. Start with the easiest thing to action, and then move through each stage once you’ve mastered the previous one.

You’ll look better to prospective employers, your friends will love being around you, and you’ll start noticing positive changes all around.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, maxing your looks, and yourself, will only yield positive results. 


Getting others to like you shouldn’t be the goal. The goal is to be your best self. Start with the easiest thing to action, i.e. refreshing your wardrobe and updating your look, focusing on building a capsule wardrobe filled with elevated basics. Robert Barakett is a fantastic first stop for updating your look with quality pieces.

Robert Barakett The Barakett Tee

It doesn’t get more iconic than a T-shirt, and it doesn’t get better than The Barakett Tee! Also known as the Georgia Crew, our signature T-shirt is made with Robert Barakett's exclusive USA-grown Pima Cotton and uses Soft Water finishing to create the ultimate in comfort.

Check Price

Next, you can move on to improving your health and personal care, then on to developing healthy (sustainable) habits.

You’ll become the person you know you can be and the person who you know the best. Many men grow up and realize they’ve lost sight of themselves.

Take a look in the mirror (or your closet), and you just might find something you didn’t expect.