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What Actor Mike Colter Can’t Live Without

Photo: JSquared Photography

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hairspray and the electric toothbrush. We asked actor Mike Colter — whose Netflix show, Social Distance, is out now — about the jeans, clippers, and beard oil he can’t live without.

The main thing I look for in jeans is a little elasticity — just a small percentage, enough for them to fit without being too tight. When it comes to “skinny jeans,” a lot of brands, especially European brands, make what I call Mick Jagger jeans: You have to be six feet tall and no more than 150 pounds to fit in them. Normal guys can’t get them past their thighs, and if they do, they won’t be able to sit down or walk. Paige is predominantly known for its women’s jeans, which I think is what makes the brand great for men, too. Guys look for the same things girls look for: We just want jeans that give us a nice butt and don’t look too tight in the crotch. It’s a hard thing to find. These have that perfect mix of qualities. And for whatever reason, I’ve always liked gray. Blue is pretty basic, and black is too strong. Gray goes well with so many colors: purple, red, pink, blue, more gray. The color doesn’t get enough attention.

I like manis and pedis. I prefer going to a professional, but since I haven’t been able to really see anyone, I like to do touch-ups myself. I’ll do them in between appointments, too. An emery board is great for filing down a snag. Clipping isn’t always necessary and even when you do clip your nails, you want to make sure your edges aren’t jagged. An emery board ensures that your nails look and feel nice. After using one, I can feel the difference when I run my fingers across the edges of my nails.

Before I got this, I didn’t even know the brand made colognes. I just thought of Jo Malone for candles and things like that. I walked into a store looking for a gift and saw they had all these fragrances, so I started smelling them. I came across this one, really liked it, and now it’s my favorite. Fragrances, to me, are always gender-neutral — if I like it, and it works well with my body chemistry, then I’ll get it. That’s the most important thing, how it works on the skin. I’ve made the mistake of buying scents that smelled great on the little paper tester, but not on my skin.

I’ve been using this since 2008. A friend I did a play with back then put me onto it. She had really dry skin, and I told her I was struggling with it, too. I always had to reapply things — I would put on something that was supposed to be good, but it would only last a few hours before I felt dry again. I don’t think this is expensive, but I don’t think it’s cheap either; price-wise, it’s somewhere in the middle. But it does last awhile. It’s very gentle but effective. I put it on after a shower and I never have to reapply for the entire day, no matter where I put it — feet, hands, elbows. It just locks the moisture in and isn’t oily or sticky.

I’ve been shaving my head since high school, but I became really committed to the bald look when I was about 25. I still go to the barbershop every now and then because I like the experience, but I’ve saved a lot of money just doing it myself. This foil shaver is what I use to get a really close shave on my head. It runs close to my scalp but doesn’t cause any bumps. Other shavers don’t get nearly as close as this does, which is why it’s important for maintaining my bald head. I got it after asking a groomer who works with a lot of bald Black guys what she recommends.

I keep it right by my bidet, and honestly, I kind of exclusively read it on the toilet. About 20 years ago, my sister-in-law’s father gave me a subscription to Reader’s Digest. There were some interesting articles in it, so I got into reading long, super-in-depth pieces. I kind of fell into the New Yorker after picking up that habit. I have a whole stack in my bathroom right now. My bathroom is my escape — I get so caught up in the magazine that I can actually be there for a few hours. I’m really behind on issues, though. I just haven’t had the time recently.

People don’t realize that when you are bald, it doesn’t feel good when the sun hits the top of your head all day long. I need a little shade. I have a lot of porkpie hats. Unlike a fedora, porkpies have a short brim, and the crown isn’t that high. This is one of my favorites — it’s made with a really breathable straw material and has a nice band around it. I get all my porkpie hats from Hats in the Belfry. I have a really big head, so I can’t just walk into any store and buy a hat — most of them are not going to be available in my size, and I don’t want to waste 20 minutes looking at stuff that won’t fit.

I know people love the feel of real books, and I totally understand that. But for me, having a bunch of books is not practical. I mostly use this for reading because it’s a good way to have all my books in one place. And I can adjust the size of the font and dim the screen’s light, though I’m probably going to need some blue-light glasses soon. Right now, I’m reading this book called Zen As Fuck by Monica Sweeney. I love self-help books, and I definitely should be reading more of them. There’s not one human being that’s walking around without issues, so self-work and therapy should be standard for everyone. We all need to reflect on ourselves and our thoughts, and sometimes, talk to professionals in order to work out our bullshit.

I’ve always had some form of beard. Since I’m bald, I change my beard like other people change their hair. I had a goatee for a long time, then I grew it out to more of a traditional beard that’s sort of faded on the sides and bigger around the chin. Because I don’t have hair on my head, I realized that I really should treat my beard hair well. Together, this shampoo and oil keep my beard luxurious. I met the person who founded the company on a red carpet. She and her friend had just started it and asked if I would try their products. I wasn’t really looking for anything at the time — I had seen beard oils before, but I never invested in any. But this stuff makes such a difference. The shampoo gets a really good lather and cleans the beard, while the oil makes it really soft. And they smell really good.

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What Actor Mike Colter Can’t Live Without