Beauty Secrets from a Cool Dad

Alexandra Malmed shares more important, father-fostered lessons


Long before soft, mascara-less eyes were a token of confidence, before beauty became more about unveiling than masking and embellishing, cool dads were employing the No Makeup look. Their effortlessness must be partially attributed to genetics, but dads are also diligent about self care. I now share with you the products and procedures that I swear by as recommended by my dad.

Dads love products that are multifunctional, reliable, and definitively the best of their kind. When smelling Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap — wafting out of the wooden cosmetics aisle of an ancient, independent health food store, for example — it’s difficult to not lose admiration for any and all other soaps. Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint is second to none. It’s thin, slippery, squeaky, potent, and effective. The label on the bottle (my dad uses the liquid version, not the bar, so I’m convinced it’s better) is as far-stretching and crazy as about twenty minutes of bouncing around on the Internet, making it the perfect shower reading material. You can use this soap for anything, but I’ve heard that doing so in place of toothpaste is a day-ruiner (unless you’re obsessed with the flavor of peppermint).

Papaw Ointment has become fashionable lately. You can buy it from Net-a-Porter and it now comes in those flat but conical lip balm tubes. My dad has been using it forever, and it will fix what topically ails you. Swipe a generous smear of this gloppy dressing on your lips, your cuticles, your dry elbows, etc. It takes a long time to seep in, which is satisfying. My dad also loves another and very similar product, aptly named Egyptian Magic. It smells like warm, mystical bee’s wax and just as with Papaw, you can use it for anything. It’s a lip balm, lip gloss, lotion, salve, shaving cream, and hair mask, among other things. My dad keeps a large tub of each of these ointments on his nightstand, and I advise you to do the same.

During the warmer months, my dad is adamant about getting (a timed, exact) twenty minutes of morning sun. This event must take place before noon, and must not exceed the allotted time. It will bless your complexion with a summer glow and leave you infused with Vitamin D.

While doing this, you can also check three other beauty musts off of your list: drinking a lot of water, drinking green smoothies, and meditating. You already know about the alleged importance of both of these drinks. You also know — at least vaguely — about meditation. My dad lived in India for eleven years and meditates for a little bit on most mornings. Stress makes you ugly; meditation disappears stress.

My parents each consume about twenty different supplements a day. Taking this many vitamins — a truly insane volume if you think about the sheer amount of capsule material being swallowed — forces you to drink a lot of water. Some of the supplements include fish oil, probiotics, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C. Fish oil is especially good for combating dry skin and making you glowy.

My dad won’t use cleansers or moisturizers that can’t be purchased from good health food stores. Ingredient lists should, as with food ingredient labels, be minimal and solely contain recognizable words. He uses a Zia moisturizer and Tulsi rose facial spray.

Lastly and most importantly, it’s good to eat dark chocolate — and my dad doesn’t consider anything under 64% dark chocolate to even be chocolate. It should be of good quality, featuring no corn syrup at all. A generous amount of dark chocolate, consumed in delicate squares at any point(s) between lunch and bedtime will make you happier. And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it?

What have your learned from your Cool Dad?

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  • That ointment sounds amazing! I am going to try it.

  • alisahandley

    Great dad!

  • “Sit up straight” – best dad advice (dadvice?)

    • Leandra Medine

      “she who dies with the most toys is still dead” is mine, but he stole it from a citi group bus stop ad.

  • Wow, I’m going to give your dad my dad’s number. My dad likes to take the little bits of left over bars of soap and make a “soap ball.” It’s disgusting.

  • Esther Levy

    My dad taught me the power of Kenny Powers and for that, I am forever grateful

  • Emily Rother

    Never, ever travel without your toenail clippers

  • L

    My dad is solely dedicated to irish spring bar soap.
    He has taught me love walnuts, which he has deemed, “weight reducers.”
    He also names all of his clothing — e.g., yellow sweatshirt is “the banana,” pronounced bah-nah-nah.
    Also dads are great because they seem to operate in world of total self acceptance.
    They also frequently can’t name all of the members of the kardashian clan, which is great, but then when you find one who can, it is also great.

  • Andrea Raymer

    My dad taught me how to tie a tie and to Iron properly. 30 years in the Navy wearing a perfectly pressed uniform and he is an expert ironer. He has also passed on this knowledge to my best friend when she started working at the Cheesecake factory and needed to know how to perfectly iron her shirts. Other than that: always have a comb, baby powder in a necessity on every overnight trip, and the importance of flossing.

    Also how to bake chocolate chip cookies because that is an important step in everyone’s beauty routine.

  • annladson

    My dad taught us the importance of SUNSCREEN which he diligently passed out samples of on summer vacations at the beach (so embarrassing).
    Topical applications of Vitamin C+E after washing your face with Obagi cleanser.
    Semi-annual shots of botox and fillers where needed.
    Toms of Maine floss morning and night (no matter how damn drunk you are)!
    Neutrogena anything.
    Bi-monthly mani pedi, no polish, just buff.

  • Aydan

    Am I your dad? Seriously I feel like I was reading about my routine…

  • Allie Fasanella

    I love this so much. My sister says Egyptian Magic is a just as magical it sounds. I’ll have to actually try it now that a third party recommends it.

  • Kelsey Moody

    Dr Bronner’s and hot steam showers with eucalyptus essential oil; Lava soap at your work bench’s sink; anything sold at the Vermont Country Store; An old fashioned and expertly stocked shoe shinning kit with an assortment of polishes, brushes and saddle soap with well worn cedar shoe-trees inside his choice footwear; cold weather activities and lots of wool; sarcasm—> my New England father’s secrets to the universe

    • Aydan

      My dad gifted me with the shoe shining kit/care knowledge, deffo important!!

  • Meredith St. Clair

    My Dad taught me how to pick a good orange: smooth skin, small hole.

    The hole on the bottom of the orange.

  • Maggie Clancy

    I really love this post. I have also learned about meditating from my cool dad. Whenever he comes into town we do nature hikes and walking meditations. It’s rad, man.


  • anna

    your dad is cool.
    totally agree with him on the chocolate.

  • Bella Charlwood

    “pass the paw paw” is the most common phrase ever in Australia probably. Lucas’s paw paw ointment works for everything and everyone. Its almost comical that you can buy it on Net-a-porter for $20 when i have like 50 tubes in the vicinity of my room all purchased for much much less.

    • Jasmine

      …how much? i really want some :C

      • Bella Charlwood

        like 4 dollars at a good chemist in AUS

  • Lolo

    My dad’s an OG juicer. Just spinach, ginger and banana. He laughs at my ground chia seeds.

  • Its funny how we undervaluate our daddy advices when we are growing, and as grown up we look backwards and feel amazed by their wisdom. Mine told me important lessons about simplicity and the things that really matters in life. As Leandra said in a comment here: “she who dies with the most toys is still dead”.


  • I always thought egyptian magic was a load of … jeesh you can use it on anything really. I layer it on top of a repairing serum and you’ll see the results the next morning.

  • gabriela

    TOTALLY agree with the meditation!! it gives you a break after all the noise of the city.

  • lisbette

    My dad would’ve died sooner than think he might’ve passed on a beauty tip. But he did offer a succinct lesson in style, or more accurately, decorum: “An ankle bracelet? You can wear that whenever you want, as long as you don’t wear it out of the house!”

  • Hannah Warner

    i am really taken by this article. please write more about your cool dad.

  • hah! my dad taught me to always use guy’s razors because they really are better, passed on wisdom on antiseptic soap, sunscreen, installed in me a compulsion for buffed, short and clean nails, taught me that looking natural and fresh beats impeccable make-ups and hairstyles that are noticeable from up close. my mom passed on the same advice, mainly by example; whether they worked it out together or magically found each other with those beliefs already present is an question unanswered.

    • oh, and always eat something before leaving the house in the morning alongside with brushing your teeth, that was THE rule, which i dont think is universal.

  • Rozena

    Wow wow wow so exciting to hear that someone else who’s dad is a woo-woo zen ninja. Mine studies traditional Chinese medicine, does tai chi + meditates twice a day and teaches qi gong. He hasn’t eaten gluten or dairy in 25 years; I’ve actually seen him stirfry a leftover salad. Summer salads are always from our garden out back that he takes care of so tenderly I sometimes get jealous of our tomato plants. The man bleeds green tea. Definitely taught his little grasshoppers that food is medicine. Dr. Bronner’s is always in the shower.

    • Rozena

      However all his wisdom is undone my my Jewish mother’s attemps to put as many calories in everyone as possible. It’s like Sisyphus vs. the giant matzoh ball.

  • Jem Mac

    “Their meal don’t make me fat!” This is what my Dad tells people when they try to waste his time bragging about the successes of others, such as how much money/success a celebrity or an athlete makes/has. Truth.

  • Sara

    My dad is a perfume hipster. When we were on vacation he said he’d buy me perfume and I jokingly asked for Tom Ford. He was like, “why would you wear perfume from a CLOTHES designer?” with as much disdain as possible. He refused to buy my mom Annick Goutal’s L’Eau Hadrien because “too many people wear it already,” and then laughed, with an undertone of disgust, when my brother asked him if he ever wore a Calvin Klein cologne. In the end he got my mom Serge Lutens, none for me because the MMM Replica scent I chose was “too toilet-y” (Lazy Sunday Afternoon, if you were curious) and also because MMM is a designer too lol.

  • gg

    “Don’t have sex until you’re ready, and when you’re ready, use a condom,” he said to me, after learning I had kissed my boyfriend at the age of thirteen.

    If you have to get a sex talk from your dad (or either parent) it better be short, honest, and practical.