Darren Criss has been box-stepping and belting through the halls of McKinley High for a few years now (we first interviewed him when we was just 23 years old and then again when he was 24), but lately the actor and musician has been looking past the Glee universe. After a successful run on Broadway in How To Succeed in Business, Criss has a busy summer—touring the country on his sold-out Listen Up tour and starring alongside Kristen Wiig and Matt Dillon in the July comedy Girl Most Likely. Before his schedule got too hectic, we sat down with Criss to find out how he stays so fresh-faced, and what exactly makes a "shaving guru."
DETAILS: So Darren, we're here to grill you on your grooming regimen.
DARREN CRISS: Grooming is a weird word. It's kind of bizarrely semantic, this term for basically taking care of yourself. I hope the stigma's slowly dissipating because of the general progression of our culture, but you know the way men treat their cars or wash their jeans? These are the kind of social mores they should be applying to the way they look in general. It's not unmanly.
DETAILS:You are preaching to the choir.
DARREN CRISS: The bottom line is giving a shit. Giving a shit is sexy—caring about your hygiene and grooming conveys confidence, and that's always attractive.
DETAILS: We've all got a grooming product we can't live without. What's yours?
DARREN CRISS: I always have to have three things in my pocket: My keys, a guitar pick, and lip balm. I'm that guy. If I don't have it on the way out I'm like, "Shit, what am I gonna do..." So I don't go out without Buckler's Lip Balm. It lasts forever, has SPF protection, and there's no shine to it.
DETAILS: Have you picked up any tips from the team at Glee?
DARREN CRISS: I'm in a line of work where it's important to take care of your skin. When you're putting on a lot of makeup for television, you're basically just clogging your pores, so the upkeep of washing your face, just like you use soap in the shower, is an important thing. And moisturizing your face, keeping your skin hydrated, is just as important as drinking water or brushing your teeth. So a decent face wash and moisturizer is definitely key.
DETAILS: Any brands you swear by?
DARREN CRISS: There are a lot of products out there. I like to visit The Motley, because it's a good place to educate yourself on what might be the best product for your needs and your price range. They have a lot of different face washes that I kind of go in between because I like trying them out.
DETAILS: Do you have any advice for guys with curly hair? How do you keep it slick?
DARREN CRISS: First of all, I don't like to keep it slick. That's all the show. I feel terrible for the hairdressers on Glee that have to pour gallons and gallons of gel and goblin's blood or whatever the hell else they're getting from the black market to tame my curly hair. Day to day, I stay away from combs. If your hair is going a certain way, follow it—the best thing you can do is accent what you already have. I don't think I've combed my hair in 15 years.
DETAILS: Alright, so no gels—do you put anything in there at all?
DARREN CRISS: I'll use a matte putty, lighter textural stuff to give it a loose look. I think Imperial is a really cool company based in L.A. that has a good in-between product. It's like a gel or a...what's the word I'm looking for?
DARREN CRISS: Yeah, it's like a lesser pomade. I'll rub that in my hands and run it through my hair, just kind of shape it that way. Your fingers know your head better than a comb will.
DETAILS: Now let's talk shaving.
DARREN CRISS: I'm a big shaving guru, and I'm a straight razor guy, though I use all kinds of different things because I have to be fresh-faced every day so I look like I'm 16. You know, there's a lot of shaving no-no's most men don't really know about. A lot of my friends that have really bad razor burn are doing stuff that's pretty easily avoidable. Again, wash your face before you shave—that'll clean off a lot of garbage that's up in your face, and if you're shaving against that you're just packing that junk into your skin. Then it collects and you're left with problems.
I like taking pride and joy in the ritual of shaving. Every man deserves that alone time in the bathroom, even if guys don't want to admit it. We don't have boobs or skirts to hike up (in most cases, at least) and we don't have makeup to apply. So when it comes down to shaving, it's something that should be a ritual—a fun experience where you feel like a man. I don't see why grooming can't be cool.
— Jon Roth. Follow him @jonmroth.