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SPY is proud to launch our first inaugural e-commerce awards, the 2020 Man Awards. Our writers and editors have tested and reviewed a lot of products this year, and together we’ve picked the best in tech, style, accessories and grooming. Because this is our first awards feature, and because it’s our website and we can do what we want, we included both new products and time-tested classics. All of the products featured below are based solely on our editorial recommendations, and you’ll find many of these products in the closets and medicine cabinets of SPY editors.
Introducing the 2020 Man Awards…
Wow. What a long, strange waking nightmare this year has been.
We would say “Woof,” but we actually like dogs, so let us say “Good riddance” instead. Normally, we don’t look forward to New Year’s Eve, but this year we’re counting the days until we can say goodbye to 2020.
To be sure, human beings have been through much worse. We also want to acknowledge that the SPY team has been more fortunate than most in that we’ve been able to work remotely since the pandemic began. But even those of us who escaped this year relatively unscathed are entering 2021 weary and anxious. As e-commerce editors, we know that money and products won’t bring you true happiness. However, we also believe that the right products can make your life better. With Christmas right around the corner, we take great pride in helping people pick out the perfect presents for their loved ones.
So, yes, this year has felt like a hard kick to the stomach, but we wanted to recognize the products that made our lives a little bit better this year. Be it a pair of leather boots that made us feel sexy and confident, a new phone that connected us more easily to distant friends, or grooming gear for much-needed self-care, these are the products that made 2020 more bearable.
How We Chose the Best Products of 2020
In choosing the best men’s products of the year, we prioritized value, familiarity and comfort in a way that we normally wouldn’t. We know that this has been a long, hard year for the 2020 Man, and we rejected many high-quality products based on the price alone. Other products just didn’t fit into the 2020 Man’s year. For instance, we could have chosen our favorite sunglasses of the year, but who’s wearing sunglasses in 2020? Not us.
When choosing the best products of the year, we asked two very simple questions: does this product offer good value for the money? And does it make your life better in some way?
Below, you’ll find our 35 favorite products of the year.
The Year From Hell in Products & Pictures
Let us introduce you to the 2020 Man. He’s so tired.
He really, really misses going to concerts. He moved to Brooklyn, or maybe Atlanta, or Minneapolis, in part because of the music and nightlife, yet now he spends all day inside his apartment. Next year, he’s not going to take Friday nights for granted. He’s going to go to so many parties and comedy shows and art crawls, no matter how tired he is after work.
We photographed a 2020 Man wearing and using some of our favorite products. You can also keep scrolling to check out our full list of award winners.
Featured Products: Cuts Clothing Curved-Hem Polo, Q Timex Reissue Watch, Thursday Boot Co. Legend Chelsea Boots
This year, the 2020 Man was all about comfort. He’s more likely to be wearing comfy joggers than skinny jeans.
On an average day, you might catch the 2020 Man wearing sweatpants, a collared shirt and splitting his attention between two or three different glowing rectangles. He’s all about comfort downstairs and business upstairs, as he has to look presentable for a Zoom meeting in a few minutes. At any given moment, what’s the most likely activity you’ll find him engaged in? Scrolling.
Featured Products: Cuts Clothing Curved-Hem Polo, Q Timex Reissue Watch, Topo Designs Tie-Dye Wool Socks, Marshall Monitor II ANC Headphones
Thanks to Zoom, the 2020 Man has never been more focused on his appearance from the neck up, which is too bad, because he’s starting to find more gray hairs. The dark circles under his eyes aren’t going away either, and he’s spending more time on skincare than ever.
Featured Products: Lumin Intensive Repair Face Mask, Anti-Fatigue Eye Patch, Dark Circle Defense, Charcoal Cleansing Pore Strips
On the rare occasions when he does attend some sort of social function or work event, getting dressed feels strange. “I used to do this every day?” he asks himself.
Featured Products: Cuts Clothing Curved-Hem Polo, Q Timex Reissue Watch, Thursday Boot Co. Legend Chelsea Boots, Topo Designs Tye-Dye Wool Socks
During a year when it felt impossible to control anything, his appearance was one thing he could.
So when the 2020 Man does step outside, he still likes to look his best. Okay, maybe not every time he goes outside. Or, if he’s being honest, most of the time. But he’s still making an effort some of the time, okay?
Featured Products: Cuts Clothing Curved-Hem Polo, Timex x Todd Snyder Milano Colorblock Watch, Cole Haan 4.ZERØGRAND Hiking Boots
The 2020 Man has to be ready for anything. This year he faced a once-in-a-century plague, civil unrest, devastating forest fires and hurricanes. His friends who live in Los Angeles are pretty sure “the big one” is coming soon, and no one would be surprised if the monolith aliens decide to invade the planet after all.
Basically, having a well-stocked emergency kit and go-bag no longer seems like prepper paranoia. Rather, it’s just good common sense. And no matter where he’s fleeing to, he’s going to bring a mask.
Featured Products: JUDY Mover Max Emergency Kit, Cole Haan 4.ZERØGRAND Hiking Boots, Everlane 100% Human Mask, Carhartt Watch Beanie
As the world burned, the 2020 man turned to entertainment and escapism as a coping mechanism. He spent countless hours scraping the bottom of the Netflix barrel and even considered downloading Quibi, even if he ultimately decided not to. At any given time he might be using three or four pieces of technology, and his smartphones, laptops and wireless earbuds were his constant companions.
Featured Products: Cuts Clothing Curved-Hem Polo, Q Timex Reissue Watch, Jabra Elite 75t Wireless Earbuds
If he’s a millennial, the 2020 Man is trying to be a good millennial. He’s trying to take better care of himself, and he’s trying to use more sustainable and eco-friendly products when he can.
Featured Products: Bite Charcoal Toothpaste Bits, Bite Mouthwash, Bite Bamboo Toothpaste
Featured Products: Harry’s Truman Razor, Harry’s Dandruff Shampoo & Conditioner, Harry’s Scalp Cream
The 2020 Man doesn’t have the luxury of worrying about his screentime anymore. If he has kids, the 2020 Man doesn’t worry as much about parking them in front of a tablet or television screen at the end of a long day. He’s doing the best he can, and this year has been so hard for the kids, too. It’s important to find ways to spend time outside as a family, but let the kids enjoy their videogames.
Like a lot of people, our 2020 Man had to cancel his carefully planned wedding in favor of an intimate rooftop ceremony in Brooklyn attended by a handful of close friends. Canceling your wedding really sucks, but he also felt grateful that he and his new wife are healthy and working, which is more than so many people can say at the end of this terrible, no-good year.
Featured Products: Cuts Clothing Curved-Hem Polo, Timex x Todd Snyder Milano Colorblock Watch, Cole Haan 4.ZERØGRAND Hiking Boots
And that’s why, in spite of everything, the 2020 Man is trying to feel grateful for everything he still has. It’s been a long year, and he didn’t get through it alone.
Hopefully, the products below made it just a little more bearable.
The Best Tech Products of 2020
We asked SPY’s Tech Editor Adrian Covert to help us select the best consumer technology of 2020. We decided to focus on the products we’re most likely to use every day.
Companies like Apple, Sony, Google, Jabra, Master & Dynamic and Amazon released a lot of new products this year, but there were a handful of new releases that really stood out from the crowd. Usually, it was immediately clear that the company had found an exciting new way to raise the bar in that product category.
Best of all, none of our picks for the best tech products of 2020 cost too much money. Even our pick for the Best Laptop of 2020 is surprisingly affordable given its features.
Apple M1 MacBook Air
BEST LAPTOP OF 2020
The 2020 Man is spending more time at home than ever this year, and as a result, he’s once again getting used to using his laptop for more than just work. With nowhere to go, and nowhere to be, he realizes that browsing the web, making Spotify playlists, chatting with friends and FaceTime are far more pleasant experiences with a big Retina screen and a proper keyboard. But he’s also noticing that the laptop he bought in 2015 isn’t cutting it anymore. For Apple, the timing for the release of the new M1 MacBook Air couldn’t have been any better.
Based on the tech giant’s track record of designing chips for the iPhone and iPad, we knew the M1 chip would be good, but nobody expected it to be so good that a little 2.8-pound laptop would end up outperforming all except the biggest and most powerful laptops on the market. It feels like it’s been forever since the last time a new laptop release felt exciting, but all it took was Apple adding a single chip to the MacBook Air for the laptop to become an object of lust once again.
Marshall Monitor II Headphones
BEST HEADPHONES OF 2020
The 2020 man has made a lot of adjustments to his lifestyle over the past year, but perhaps none are bigger than the switch to remote work. While there are definitely some upsides (like wearing the comfy clothes featured below), there are also some challenges, which include noisy environments and sharing a space with family, roommates or a significant other. He needs a way to cut out the distractions while also avoiding becoming a distraction to others, and that’s why he finds himself using the Marshall Monitor II noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones with regularity.
While the pebbled black texture and brass trim on these headphones are inspired by the amplifier stacks which made Marshall an iconic brand in the ‘60s, these headphones offer more than just looks. They also sound great bumping any musical genre you throw at it. But when it’s time to get down to work, these cans are equipped to help you get through a Zoom meeting or conference call without the outside world interfering.
Jabra Elite Active 75t
BEST EARBUDS OF 2020
The 2020 Man hasn’t exactly been the life of the party this year, but that doesn’t mean he spent all his time around the house. And whether he’s heading out for a run in the park, or just needs some tunes as he walked to meet a few friends for socially distanced drinks, wireless earbuds are as essential as ever for him. While there were many great noise-canceling earbuds to choose from in 2020, SPY loves the Jabra Elite Active 75t for their all-around audio quality, durability and features, which not even the AirPods Pro can match. (We also love the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds, which don’t offer the sweat-resistance of the Active model).
These wireless earbuds are capable of delivering booming bass and impressive noise-cancellation. Voice quality is always clear during calls, and the Bluetooth connection quality is rock solid. Plus, these earbuds are IP67 rated, which eliminates worries about sweat or rain damage during a workout or trek out into bad weather. And to make things even better, Jabra recently delivered a firmware update that improved the noise-canceling feature, which made it a little easier to block out the chaos of 2020 for a few minutes.
Apple iPhone 12 Mini
BEST SMARTPHONE OF 2020
Over the past decade, smartphone makers decided that the only phones worthy of premium features were big phones, and they got so big that trying to use one required both hands (and maybe a foot). But more than anything else, the 2020 Man just wants to be able to check his texts and scroll through Instagram without having to struggle to hold the damn thing, and that’s why the iPhone 12 Mini is a godsend.
Packing all the power of its counterparts, this compact phone has the same edge-to-edge display, A14 chip and Retina display as its bigger counterparts. And while the camera isn’t quite as premium as the one found on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, only pro-level photographers will be able to tell the difference. But most important of all, this phone can be picked up and used without having to contort your hand 30 different ways to avoid dropping it. In a year when we saw plenty of new trends push things forward, we’re hoping this trend back toward smaller phones is here to stay.
The Best Grooming Products of 2020
Here at SPY, we’ve tested a lot of skincare, haircare, shaving, and bath and body products. We’ve tested bidets, natural deodorants, designer cologne and razors that are ridiculously over-engineered.
To be honest, a lot of the products we test are pretty forgettable, and it’s rare for an item to earn a permanent place on our bathroom shelves. No matter how many deodorant samples brands send, we’re probably just going to keep sticking with the Old Spice we’ve been using since puberty. Likewise, there are a lot of great luxe grooming products, but most of us don’t want to pay $50 for shaving cream, and why would you? We know that the 2020 Man is the same way, and it takes seriously useful products to get him to change up his grooming routine.
To select the best grooming products of 2020, SPY’s Managing Editor Tim Werth and E-Commerce Editor Tyler Schoeber worked together to narrow down all of the various products we tested to the true best-of-the-best. We also consulted SPY writer and bona fide influencer Anthony Mastracci.
We personally recommend all of the men’s grooming products below.
Harry’s Truman Razor Set
Ready to ditch the fur? If the bearded look just isn’t for you, Harry’s Truman razor set is key for all your shaving needs. Harry’s is one of our favorite shaving brands, and this year they re-engineered their razors to feature sharper blades and a sleeker handle. When we put these new blades to the test, we were seriously impressed.
With the $15 Truman set, you get a perfectly clean shave each and every time with little to no razor burn. Shave your face, your head, your chest or your whatever. This razor makes you want to find a reason to ditch the hair and go bare.
We’ve tested a lot of men’s razors, from cheap disposables to electric shavers, but we’re sticking with Harry’s. From the ergonomic experience to the five-blade design to the foaming shave gel, the entire experience is perfection from start to finish. Still using cheap disposables that leave you covered in razor bumps? That ain’t very 2020, man. It’s time to step it up and shave like an adult.
Lumin Dark Circle Defense
BEST UNDER-EYE TREATMENT
The 2020 Man hates the dark circles under his eyes, and he was starting to worry that there was nothing he could do about them. Fortunately, there’s a dark circle treatment that actually works. Lumin is another of our favorite grooming brands, and they have a great line of anti-aging products for men starting to show their age.
The Dark Circle Defense is a nightly treatment for under-eye bags and dark circles. The formula features plenty of niacinamide and vitamin B3 to strengthen the tired skin that causes inflammation and puffiness. Lemon extract helps to improve uneven skin tone, while caffeine fights free radicals and further reduces inflammation. Applied nightly, this under-eye treatment will start to eliminate those annoying dark circles, something most eye treatments only promise to do.
Even among the best grooming products of 2020, this is one of the SPY team’s absolute favorites.
Baxter of California Deep Clean Shampoo
When Baxter of California, one of our favorite grooming brands for men, sent us its new shampoo for testing, we were both excited and skeptical. We were excited because we love this brand’s hair and body products, and skeptical because who is going to spend $34 on shampoo?
Well, we’ve been thoroughly convinced that every guy should be buying $34 shampoo. For one, we’ve spent most of our lives shampooing daily, and only in recent years have we learned that that practice is actually terrible for your hair. We know that breaking that habit can be tough, but it turns out buying expensive shampoo is actually a great motivator to shampoo less often, which is better for your hair and wallet in the long run.
Plus, a little of this shampoo goes a long way. (We’re still working our way through the test bottles after six months.) Baxter of California has created a fantastic shampoo with a sulfate-free formula full of natural ingredients that are good for your hair and scalp. The Deep Clean Shampoo contains apple cider vinegar, menthol and ginseng, which leave your hair looking and feeling better than ever. We’re big fans of this new haircare product and strongly suggest replacing your cheap drug-store shampoo with something better. You won’t regret it.
Lumin Keratin Strengthening Conditioner
For those of us who write and review men’s grooming products, it’s been impossible to ignore Lumin in 2020. This company makes products for your skin, hair and body, and we’re especially big fans of its anti-aging products. However, don’t sleep on the haircare products from this brand either.
The Keratin Strengthening Conditioner is best used with the company’s Keratin Strengthening Shampoo. Together, these products are designed to “fortify, amplify, and simplify” your shower routine. For guys worried that their hair is starting to show its age, these products are a great replacement for the shampoo and conditioner you’ve been using since you were a young man.
The keratin conditioner contains jojoba oil, an ingredient with natural antibacterial and antifungal properties that also helps repair damaged ends. The conditioner also helps with the overall health of your hair by nourishing your hair follicles, thus addressing the signs of hair thinning.
If you’ve noticed more thinning than usual this year, you’re not alone. It’s been a long year. Nurse your hair back to health with this strengthening conditioner. Don’t let the small bottle fool you, as this product packs a mighty punch.
Bevel Beard Oil
BEST BEARD OIL
Beard care products can be a risk for dudes that suffer from sensitive skin or fragrance sensitivities. But we think it’s safe to say that Bevel’s beard oil throws each and every other beard oil to the curb for its ability to add sheen and reduce dryness, all without clogging pores.
Bevel is a Black-owned shaving and grooming company, and its beard oil is dermatologist tested and approved. It’s packed full of naturally moisturizing ingredients like grapeseed oil, macadamia seed oil, evening primrose and avocado oil. The formula also includes jojoba oil, which has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. Together, these ingredients provide volume to your beard and lock-in moisture without harming your skin. We should all know by now that facial skin is some of the most sensitive on our bodies, so you might as well snag yourself a beard oil that actually takes such a fact into consideration.
This product will keep your skin happy and healthy, the way it deserves to be, while also keeping that beard full and bright.
Lumin Repairing Face Mask
BEST SHEET MASK
The word “face mask” has taken on a totally different meaning this year. Like, if you were to ask us what the best face mask was last year, there’s no doubt we would have recommended our favorite masks for treating your skin, such as this intensive repair mask from one of our go-to grooming brands, Lumin. But the term “face mask” now has two very different meanings. We guess what we’re trying to say is, life comes at you fast, and if you’re here for skin treatment purposes, read on, because you’ve made it to the right spot.
Lumin’s moisturizing intensive repair sheet masks are exactly what you need to keep that mug of yours nourished, hydrated and fresh-feeling. Whether you’re the type that has a nine-step skincare regimen or you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t really do much to his skin at all, these face masks are a great addition to your nightly routine. For guys worried about the effects of sun damage, dry skin or premature aging, we highly recommend this sheet mask.
Bite Toothpaste Bits
What the heck is this? Solid toothpaste? Think about it though — when was the last time you questioned the stuff that comes out of the toothpaste tube? Toothpaste tablets are an emerging trend in the sustainable grooming market. Bite’s tablets are made with clean, vegan-friendly ingredients that are sure to freshen breath, whiten teeth and keep the oceans clear of plastic waste. This is also the first toothpaste to use something called nHAp, which is a non-toxic fluoride alternative that remineralizes enamel and aids with sensitivity. Each jar contains 248 tablets, which is a four-month supply.
Bite Toothpaste Bits come in a refillable glass jar, and the bits themselves are an innovative way to take care of your teeth. The process does take some getting used to. Rather than spreading toothpaste on your brush, you bite into the toothpaste bites, then brush like normal with a wet toothbrush. It took a few days to get used to this new way of brushing, but the Mint Charcoal bits left our mouth feeling perfectly clean and fresh. It’s a better way to brush your teeth, both for your teeth and for the planet. They’re also far more convenient to travel with because of their size. If you’re into casually saving the planet, pick up a bamboo toothbrush while you’re at it in the name of mother earth.
Bite founder Lindsay McCormick told us that her company is certified as 100% carbon neutral, cruelty-free, vegan and palm oil-free. On top of all that, McCormick’s company purchases carbon offsets for all its customer shipments.
Ready to make a change? We recommend the Bite Daily Habits Set, which comes with zero-waste mouthwash, toothpaste bits, a bamboo toothbrush and dental floss. The set contains enough toothpaste bits and mouthwash for a four-month supply, which is a great deal for the price.
Bite Toothpaste Bamboo Toothbrush
Look, we all know that plastic waste is killing sea turtles, but everything comes wrapped in plastic or stuffed inside little plastic containers. What do you expect us to do?
We can’t save all of the sea turtles; however, we can make small changes to our normal routines and save some of the sea turtles.
We love Bite Toothpaste Bits, especially the charcoal mint flavor. But what we love most about the company is that they prove just how easy it would be to get rid of plastic waste. Countless toothbrushes find their way into the ocean every year, but the company’s Bamboo Toothbrush proves that it doesn’t have to be that way. If we can swap our plastic toothbrushes for an earth-friendly alternative, what other types of plastic waste could we eliminate from our lives?
To be honest, there isn’t much else about this toothbrush that’s particularly special, which is another reason we love it. With all due respect to electric toothbrushes, we don’t need our toothbrush to connect to the internet or come with an app. We just need it to clean our teeth, and this toothbrush is more than up to the challenge.
Baxter of California Clay Face Mask AHA
BEST CLAY MASK
We love the way this mask smells. The natural kaolin and bentonite clay have a sharp, earthy, almost salty scent. The clay mask also feels great against your skin, and you can practically feel the ingredients drawing out impurities from your pores. When you finally wash off this mask, your skin will feel clean and refreshed. It will look that way, too.
The AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid, which gently exfoliates the surface of your skin. In addition, this clay mask contains some of our favorite natural anti-aging ingredients. Calendula extract, aloe leaf juice and witch hazel all work together to soothe, clean and restore your skin. We would recommend Baxter of California’s Clay Face Mask to any guys worried about pre-mature signs of aging, dry skin, breakouts or uneven skin tone.
Harry’s Anti-Dandruff 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner
BEST DANDRUFF PRODUCT
Harry’s started as the best shave club for guys, but in 2020 the company has expanded into new product categories — and we’re glad they did! While we wait to see what Harry’s has in store for 2021, we’re loving the brand’s new line of dandruff products. The line includes a variety of products formulated for all levels of dandruff problems, and if you’re fighting flakes, we definitely recommend the Scalp Scrub and Scalp Cream. However, one product from the line really stands out: the Anti-Dandruff Shampoo & Conditioner.
Unlike most dandruff treatments, this shampoo comes in different strengths to better suit your needs. It’s also free of dyes, parabens and sulfates. In our testing, we found that it quickly banished flakes and dry scalp problems, but the cooling effect felt so good that we didn’t want to stop using it. We’re confident you’ll feel the same way.
While we still think of Harry’s as a shaving company first, that’s starting to change as the brand proves it can do so much more than create a killer razor system.
King C. Gillette Soft Beard Balm
BEST BEARD BALM
Gillette is the O.G. shaving company, and in 2020 the brand rolled out a new line of luxe beard products. Most guys have used Gillette shaving products at some point, and it’s a natural evolution considering that everyone seems to have a beard now. Named after Gillette founder King Camp Gillette, who patented the legendary double-edged safety razor all the way back in 1901, the line includes tons of great products for grooming your beard.
In particular, we recommend King C. Gillette Soft Beard Balm. For guys whose beards are feeling a bit too rough or wiry, this moisturizing balm will be a godsend. You can apply it as a mask and rinse it out or use it as a leave-in beard conditioner, which is the option we prefer. Inside you’ll find moisturizing ingredients like cocoa butter, argan oil and shea butter. After a few weeks of using this product, your partner won’t be able to keep their hands off of your amazing beard. We also love the way this beard balm smells. It has a classic masculine scent, like an old-school aftershave or shaving cream.
Live Bearded Beard Wash
BEST BEARD WASH
Beards are everywhere in 2020, and that was true even before we all went into quarantine. As a result, you’ll now find beard oil, beard butter, beard combs, beard brushes, beard masks, beard straighteners and countless other products that promise to help you grow the manliest of beards. Yet in our experience, a guy really only needs two or three products to care for his beard effectively, and many beard care products are redundant. For instance, if you have a great beard wash, then you may not need a beard oil, balm and butter, too.
Of all the beard washes, there’s one in particular we recommend: the Live Bearded Beard Wash. This wash comes in a ton of great fragrances, so choose the flavor that suits you best. In particular, we like the Gunslinger (sweet tobacco and cedar) and the Executive (cedar, pine, bergamot and vetiver). This down-to-earth beard wash is formulated with natural ingredients that will help your beard and skin stay clean and smelling its best.
We’re big fans of Live Bearded, which makes its beard wash right here in the United States. And unlike most beard care companies, this upstart brand does not sell razors or other shaving tools. That’s because they make products for guys committed to rocking the bearded look, and we respect that. Support this indie grooming brand and grow a beard that other men will envy.
Live Bearded Boars Hair Beard Brush
BEST BEARD BRUSH
We already told you that many beard care products are redundant, but there’s one beard grooming tool that’s 100% non-optional. If you want to properly care for your beard, then you need a beard brush. These brushes help remove dead hair and skin, and without this tool, your beard will look messy or, even worse, start to smell. That’s why guys who are serious about their beards regularly use a brush.
The Live Bearded Boars Hair Beard Brush is so well made that the company is having trouble keeping it in stock for the holidays (it’s currently sold out at the Live Bearded store). Made from 100% boars hair and with a natural wood handle, this brush will tame even the wildest and most overgrown beards. Seriously, don’t grow a beard without one.
Keep an eye on the Live Bearded store and order your own as soon as it’s back in stock. (Live Bearded assured us that more brushes are on their way.)
Bulldog Original Face Scrub
BEST FACE SCRUB
We love bulldogs. We love face scrubs. Guess what — we love Bulldog’s face scrub.
Bulldog’s vegan, paraben-free scrub uses tiny pieces of oat kernels, olive seed powder and crushed almond shells to gently exfoliate dead skin. Bulldog says it’s best for normal type skin, but we’ve tested the scrub on combination skin with great success, too. In fact, we’ve tested a lot of face scrubs for men — including some premium products with much higher price tags — but we have yet to find one we like as much as this.
This may be the most balanced scrub we’ve found to date. A good face scrub should not be overbearing, too fragrant or contain plastic microbeads, which are harmful to the environment. Instead, and in a weird way, your face scrub should be almost like a grandfather — loving and gentle but tough and reliable at the same time. Bulldog’s Original Face Scrub is exactly that. It’s not a fancy face scrub that’s putting on airs, and it comes with a $7 price tag that your grandfather would appreciate. (Just don’t tell him that it’s also vegan.)
Oars + Alps Face and Body Wipes
BEST MEN’S HYGIENE WIPES
Oars + Alps blew up in 2020, despite the pandemic, because their products are thoughtfully crafted for people who demand superior quality. We love their twist-up deodorant stick because it’s alcohol-free, aluminum-free and, for what it’s worth, gluten-free, and it can be used to detox and regulate your body after years of using aluminum-based products. However, the Oars + Alps natural deodorant isn’t our favorite product from the company at the moment. That would be the company’s hygiene wipes, which are packed with skin-friendly ingredients.
So face wipes, right? You’ve seen them, you’ve used them, maybe even stolen your significant other’s without them knowing. But here’s a wipe built for a man’s hyde. Open up one of the individually sealed pouches and you’ll find that Oars + Alps’ Face and Body Wipes are gargantuan, far larger than your average disposable face cloth. They’re lightly scented with a hint of aloe vera and have an exfoliating “grit” in the form of raised bumps, which are extremely effective at removing dirt, sweat and grime as you wipe the day away.
Truly, these wipes are a godsend. If you’re a gym-goer, a traveler, a public speaker or somebody who tends to run warm, the Oars + Alps Body Wipes are something you need in your bag at all times. They’re especially life-saving if you’re still working in an office and the heat running all day is making your skin super oily. We definitely can’t stand that feeling of excess face oil, but these wipes fix that in all of 15 seconds. Pro Tip: don’t forget to wipe the back of your neck. The fresh and clean feeling from the cooling menthol is the greatest feeling ever.
Blackwood For Men Bionutrient Foaming Face Wash
BEST FACE WASH
We’re guessing you’re familiar with most of the brands here, but Blackwood for Men doesn’t yet have the name recognition of companies like Harry’s or Gillette. However, we recommend checking out the brand’s face wash. Get the big one, you’re going to want it.
Using Blackwood for Men’s Face Wash is the best night-time routine you could adopt in the new year, especially for guys with combination or dry skin types (aka most of us). This face wash comes in a super convenient pump-style bottle. Typically, two full pumps plus one-half pump will give you the perfect amount. This foaming face wash uses ingredients we love such as green tea, coconut oil and citric acid to gently moisturize skin and clean your pores upon application.
Ingredients aside, another factor that earns this face wash a spot among the best grooming products of 2020 is the fact that this bottle will last you for about six months. Seriously. $40 a year for a clean face all the time? Oh, heck yes. We use this before bed to cleanse ourselves of a long day’s work in the content mines. It’s super affordable and works really well. And what else do you need from a skincare product?
Wahl Stainless Steel Lithium Ion 2.0
BEST BEARD TRIMMER
Leave it to Wahl to lead the pack as our best beard trimmer of 2020. This is the complete package here, and it can be yours for under $100. This beard trimmer is perfect for guys with beards, bald and shaved heads and anybody who needs to clean up on a weekly basis. This package deal includes four interchangeable trimmer heads, like the dual-action shaver and the precision detail head, along with 12 different length guide combs, a charger and a maintenance kit.
This was very easy to maneuver when we first used it. To shape a beard, we like the T-blade for the frizzy bulk on the outer edge and the precision head to follow the edges and define the mustache. But what we found as the most impressive feature here was that a single charge will hold for an incredible six hours. That’s crucial for those mornings you wake up late and rush to get ready just to have your trimmer die halfway through your shave.
There’s no beard trimmer brand we trust more than Wahl, and the Lithium-Ion 2.0 (this product is sold on Amazon as the 2.0+) is the perfect tool to keep your beard under control and shaped to your liking.
The Best Men’s Style & Accessories of 2020
When the world finally returns to normality next year, we may finally put away our comfy loungewear in favor of more formal attire. But today is not that day. For now, it’s all about the sweatpants, comfy t-shirts and old favorites. And in the middle of this plague winter, we’re wearing our sweatpants, hoodies and wool socks with pride.
When selecting our favorite fashion products of 2020, we skipped over a lot of stylish designer goods. Instead, we hope to connect our readers with the clothes and accessories we’re wearing every day.
Cuts Clothing Curved-Hem Polos
BEST MEN’S SHIRTS
Cuts Clothing is a new apparel company that makes some of the best t-shirts for men we’ve ever tested, and we expect big things from this upstart brand. We’re big fans of Cuts Clothing t-shirts, but our favorite release from the brand this year was its first line of polo shirts. Like the company’s signature t-shirts, the polos are made from buttery-soft fabric, a blend that Cuts calls its PYCA fabric. Seriously soft and breathable, they were the perfect semi-formal shirt for 2020. It’s a polo that’s more comfortable than the average t-shirt, but durable and breathable, too.
On top of that, the Cuts Clothing Polos come with a curved hem that looks great untucked, which is how we’ve been wearing all our shirts in 2020. Plus, Cuts makes all of its shirts in a range of stylish colors, so you can get a shirt to match every mood and look. The shirts are definitely slim-fitting, and if you’re in-between sizes you might be better off ordering a size up.
The only thing we don’t love about Cuts Clothing is the price, and we wish the polo was priced $10 or $20 cheaper. That being said, these stylish polos are still worth every penny, and they’re the perfect look for date night, the office or nights out on the weekend. In a year full of preppy style trends, this modern polo was the perfect shirt.
Timex x Todd Snyder Collaboration
BEST MEN’S WATCHES
We love New York designer Todd Snyder, his collaborations are always worth a close look. In particular, we’ve been absolutely drooling over Todd Snyder’s collaboration with Timex. The watch company opened its archive to Snyder who then created some incredible pieces this year. We love so many of the timepieces in the Timex x Todd Snyder collection that we decided to just go ahead and name the entire collaboration as the Best Watch of 2020.
Seriously, there are so many great men’s watches to love here. We love the retro vibe of the Q Timex Reissue Watch. The Todd Snyder Liquor Store Watch is a thing of beauty. The Pride Watch is a great take on the minimalist watch trend. Recently, Todd Snyder added the gorgeous Milano timepieces to the collection, which feature a colorblock face that we love.
Best of all? Almost all of the watches in the collection can be had for under $200. Check them out for yourself or buy one as a last-minute Christmas gift.
Cole Haan Boots 4.ZERØGRAND Hiker Boots
BEST WEEKEND BOOTS
Whenever Cole Haan drops something new, we pay close attention. For real, at this point, our e-commerce editor Tyler Schoeber has collected almost every pair of new shoes released by Cole Haan this year. Talk about a Cole faan. (Editor’s note: we’re sorry about that.)
Even compared to everything this footwear brand released in 2020, we’re geeking out over the recently dropped 4.ZERØGRAND Hiker Boots. Like, come on, just look at these things. Can you say handsome? These rugged boots are detailed with the modern man in mind by transforming the traditional hiking boot into something more dapper and fashion-forward. They’re crafted with waterproof leather and suede and contain an insulated inner lining to keep your toes dry and warm no matter the weather.
The 4.ZERØGRANDs have achieved greatness by offering both style and durability without skimping on anything. These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do, so try them out on the streets or the trails and see why they’re single-handedly the best boots you can snag ahead of the new year. And if you’re looking for something a little bit more street-centric, check out Hasan Minhaj’s take on the 4.ZERØGRAND in the brand’s latest collaboration.
Mack Weldon Ace Sweatpants
If we’ve made any investments in 2020, it was in comfortable and lounge-worthy clothing that we could sport as we worked from home. It became noticeable relatively quickly that our college crewnecks and sweatpants from high school were falling apart after daily wear, so we took the time and effort in discovering new, durable threads that we could chill in while stuck inside.
One find we’re most thankful for this year: The Ace Sweatpants from Mack Weldon. Why? Well, unlike your average sweats, these pants are built to last wear after wear. For chilling on the couch or making a quick run to the corner store, these durable and super-soft men’s sweatpants won’t let you down. Mack Weldon modernized the classic french terry material by giving it just enough stretch, making these the kind of pants you’ll never want to stop wearing. It should go without saying that we’ve worn these babies pretty much every day, and we couldn’t be happier.
JUDY Mover Max
BEST EMERGENCY BAG
The 2020 man is ready for anything. Like, seriously, if aliens really do invade the planet on Christmas Eve, he’s fully prepared to take it in stride.
We were all straight chillin’ in February. When shit hit the fan mid-March, the canned goods were stocked up in our cupboards and we splurged on enough liquor to last us for years. Who would’ve anticipated the hellish year to come?
The Judy Mover Max has become our must-have emergency kit for whatever the world throws at us next. This best-selling and Oprah-approved emergency kit comes with 24 life-saving essentials, all contained in an ultra-durable waterproof backpack. Waiting for “the big one” to strike Los Angeles? Hunkering down in your home amidst a zombie apocalypse? Worried about the next hurricane? As we already know, anything can happen these days, so you can never be too prepared.
Each Mover Max comes with enough supplies to keep a family of four warm, safe and alive for 72 hours. It has tools for each and every kind of situation. Inside you’ll find first aid necessities, survival tools and food and water in case things really go awry. It’s totally waterproof and puncture-resistant, so the contents will stay intact no matter what. So, to prepare yourself for a *hopefully* less unfortunate new year, we suggest you make the splurge as we did — just in case.
Everlane 100% Human Face Masks
BEST EVERDAY FACE MASK
If we had launched our awards last year with the 2019 Man Awards, we wouldn’t have even considered including the best face mask. At this time last year, the internet was freaking out about that damn Peloton commercial. Sorry, we’re still processing how weird this year has been. Based on the way 2020 has escalated, we wouldn’t be surprised if the 2021 Man Awards include a category for “Best Anti-Alien Parasite Eye Shields.” Regardless, we’re here, and the best face masks come in a five-pack from one of our go-to basics brands, Everlane.
It’s safe to say that at this point, face masks come in a slew of different shapes and sizes. Just take a walk through Midtown Manhattan and you’ll see cheap “I Heart NY” masks being sold for $10 on the side of the road, day-old disposables draping the sidewalk alongside smushed gum and even gaudy, Orville Peck-inspired masks that add a lamp-like fringe to the forefront. Yes, there are countless masks to choose from, and most work just fine, but our favorite face masks for everyday use come from Everlane. Personally, we prefer the brand’s black 100% Human face masks, but you can choose from stripes, various colors, tie-dye and waffle-knit versions if you want.
However, when stepping outside for a quick bodega BEC run, the 2020 Man is reaching for a comfortable and simple black mask, which is sure to match whatever he’s wearing that day. This five-pack is comfy and can fit just about any face, making it a clear winner of the year from hell.
Under Armour Sportsmask
BEST ATHLETIC FACE MASK
It seems that the 2020 Man went one of two ways this year — he either stayed on the couch until he was scraping the bottom of the Netflix barrel, or he went way overboard creating a home gym and getting extremely fit over the course of the year. No matter which type of 2020 man you chose to be, we still love ya.
For those guys who saw quarantine as a way to get back on their grind, they’ll definitely express how important it is to find a face mask made for intense workouts. You can’t wear that mask mom made and mailed you when getting your cardio on. We were one of the first e-commerce sites to start reviewing the best face masks for running, and there’s been a clear winner since the beginning.
The Under Armour Sportsmask is the best face mask for running and working out, and it has been since it debuted in the spring. It’s completely comfortable and breathable so you won’t choke on cloth as you’re getting your reps in for the day. It’s water-resistant on the outside and sports an antimicrobial treatment on the inside to keep your mask fresh even when you’re dripping sweat. Also, to top it all off, it has built-in UPF+ sun protection to keep you protected even on the sunniest of days.
And for those of us who stayed on the couch, if you plan on getting back into it, you’re going to need a good athletic face mask like this.
Uniqlo Supima Cotton Boxer Briefs
BEST MEN’S UNDERWEAR
Here at SPY, we’re something of evangelists for Supima cotton underwear. Supima cotton is a superior extra-long staple fiber similar to Egyptian cotton, except Supima cotton is grown right here in the United States. The extra-long fibers make Supima cotton clothing stronger and better at holding onto dyes long-term. But the most important aspect of Supima cotton is that it’s soft. Like, really soft. Once you’ve ditched your Hanes and Fruit of the Loom boxers for the best men’s underwear in the world, you’ll never go back, we promise.
There are three Supima Cotton boxer-briefs we like: Banana Republic, Uniqlo and Everlane. We don’t have a negative word to say about Banana Republic or Everlane’s products. In fact, all three boxer-briefs are pretty similar in fit and comfort. In the end, it came down to price. Uniqlo offers its Supima cotton boxers for just $6.90 (or two for $12.90), and the 2020 Man is going with the cheaper option.
If sustainability or supply-chain transparency is really important to you, then we would also highly recommend Everlane’s boxer-briefs. But for the money, we truly believe the Uniqlo Supima Cotton boxer-briefs are the best men’s underwear in the world.
L.L.Bean Wicked Good Moccasins
Four million sold in the last five years? Numbers like that don’t lie, so it’s safe to say that L.L.Bean’s Wicked Good Moccasins are the best slippers the world has ever seen. Each and every December, L.L.Bean sells a pair every seven seconds, making these a go-to gift that’s sure to be a hit. When Todd Snyder put his spin on classic L.L.Bean products this fall, he included an updated version of the Wicked Good Moccasins, which quickly sold out. Clearly, we aren’t the only ones obsessed with these comfy slippers. Even The New York Times agrees that these are the best slippers for sale in 2020
Each pair is made with premium sheepskin that’s attractive, comfortable and durable. The imported shearling is brought to us from Down Under and is some of the coziest we’ve ever had the pleasure of slipping our feet into. Why does that last sentence sound like a sexual thing? It’s not, we swear, these shoes are just that damn comfy. The Wicked Good Moccasins have a memory foam footbed which is perfect for anyone with foot-related aches and pains. The best part of all? The interior wicks away moisture, so you can kiss those sweaty feet of yours goodbye.
Feat. Clothing Blanket Hoodies
It’s a classic shower-idea: If blankets are so soft, why don’t they make hoodies out of blankets? Well, this year, they did.
Feat. Clothing is a lesser-known apparel company that makes soft and cozy hoodies that will make you feel like you’re wrapped up in your favorite blanket. The brand developed its very own BlanketBlend fabric, and the Blanket Blend Hoodies are soft and fluffy inside and out. And that’s exactly what we need in the middle of this plague winter. We especially love the brand’s tie-dye blanket hoodies, but good luck finding them in stock right now.
Over the summer, tie-dye burst onto the fashion scene like the Kool-Aid Man. Whether you were snatching the very last tie-dye kit from Amazon or purchasing pre-dyed basics from your favorite online retailer, there’s a more than decent chance you were in on the trend this summer.
This fashion-forward, playful hoodie from Feat. Clothing merges your average cotton feel with a polyester finish to make a durable, soft-as-hell hoodie everyone’s going to want to put their hands on. Be sure to whack them away though, because, COVID. This hoodie comes with everything you’d expect from your favorite go-to sweatshirt, including drawstrings, the iconic kangaroo pocket and ribbed hems. So, if you need something to stay inside all winter long in, this blanket-like hoodie is one to add to your collection as soon as possible.
Thursday Boot Co. Legend Chelsea Boots – Matte Black
BEST OFFICE SHOES
It’s true that we haven’t gone to many places this year. Travel is, for the most part, at a standstill, and weekend excursions with the boys are but a distant memory. For many of us, our office is now within the home and date nights with your gal or guy happen less than ever. So you might be wondering, why the hell would you want to snag a new pair of Chelsea boots this year?
We’ll answer your question with a question: Have you chilled out on the Instagram flexing? Okay, maybe you have. But do you still get yourself out on a date from time to time, even if it’s just once a month? We hope so. Do you want to feel good about what you’re wearing? Absolutely. Don’t let your shoe game suffer just because people are seeing them less. You’re still going to need a stellar pair of kicks for all of your escapades once that vaccine is out.
This year, we fell in love with Thursday Boots, which creates incredibly handsome and well-crafted men’s boots that don’t cost $500. In particular, we’re obsessed with the brand’s Legend Chelsea boots for the simple fact that, well, they’re handsome as hell. The Legend boots come in a few different colors, but we can’t get over the matte black version. They have the heft of a combat boot, with a thick sole and heel. We love them so much we’ve started wearing them on the couch during Netflix binges. The term “all dressed up with nowhere to go” truly hit home in the past couple of months, and now we’re rocking these even when we don’t need to.
But, we believe, the time is coming. We can feel it in the air. The days of normality are on the horizon once more. Snag this pair of leather boots for the days when everything feels normal again and strut the streets in style.
BEST ACCESSORIES BRAND FOR MEN
You may recall that tie-dye took the world by storm this summer. By making a comeback through the street-style aesthetic, not only did tie-dye clad the backs of tots and teens around the globe but also full-fledged adults looking to instill some nostalgic fun into their warm-weather wardrobe. Yet even in the midst of this plague winter, we’re still seeing tie-dye everywhere.
So when we wanted to buy a pair of tie-dye socks, we looked to the outdoor clothing brand Topo Designs. If you need a new beanie, we’d also recommend heading to Topo Designs. Need a new backpack for weekend hiking trips or commutes to work? Yeah, Topo Designs.
This brand has tons of great accessories, from stylish bandanas to college backpacks. Plus, the brand is fun. So many outdoor apparel brands are so serious, which is why we like the colorful and inventive products Topo Designs creates. Plus, we’ve been seeing the brand’s beanies all over Brooklyn this winter, which means you may soon be seeing them everywhere else, too.
Everlane Long-Sleeve Pocket Tee
BEST LONG-SLEEVE SHIRT
We’ve said it once, we’ve said it twice and we won’t stop saying it until we’re blue in the face. Temperatures are dropping, people! If you’re the type of dude to rock tees all year round, we’ll happily call you crazy. If you can’t ditch your favorite tee, we’re suggesting snagging one that covers your arms, too. That’s why we’re in love with Everlane’s long-sleeve pocket tee.
A pocket tee is a classic, basic fashion staple every modern dude in 2020 should have in their wardrobe. If you don’t already, you’re seriously lacking a traditional basic, and we suggest you hop on the bandwagon ASAP. This Everlane long-sleeve tee is soft to the touch and gets even softer the more you wash it, so you’ll stay cozy winter after winter. It’s backed by Everlane’s 365-day guarantee, too, because they’re so confident in its durability that they will ship you a brand new one if it can’t survive the year. That, right there, is something any 2020 guy can get behind.
Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat A18 Beanie
Carhartt has been around since the late 19th century, and there’s nothing new about the Watch Hat A18 Beanie. So why did SPY pick it as the best hat of 2020 over newer options from Everlane, Topo Designs or Elder Statesman? The 2020 man doesn’t have the time or money to waste on fancy new beanies. Instead, he’s wearing the familiar beanie that’s been sitting in his closet for the past three years.
As an added bonus — that scruffy Carhartt beanie is actually pretty trendy right now, and you’ll find these durable beanies everywhere from the oil fields of Montana to the hippest hipster enclaves of Bushwick. This trusted beanie comes in any color you like, although we’re particularly partial to the fluorescent orange or classic black colors. Comfortable, cozy and cool, it’s the old favorite that won’t let you down — and that’s exactly what we needed this year.
The SPY team wants to thank Thom Wyatt, the model who appeared in the 2020 Man photographs. Tim Werth, Tyler Schoeber, Adrian Covert and Anthony Mastracci contributed writing to this feature.