6 Hygiene Habits Men Should Observe (but Probably Don't)
Stereotypes and cultural gender roles have a long history that has kept men largely off the hook when it comes to observing an in-depth hygiene routine. If you're stinky and sweaty and have no products in your medicine cabinet, you may think you're just being a dude, but the people close to you—quite possibly even you, too—will appreciate it if you put in just a little more effort.
Understand deodorant vs. antiperspirant—and use them
When you walk down the smell-good aisle in the store, it's easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices. Many products combine both deodorant and antiperspirant, so it's worth taking a moment to note that antiperspirants and deodorants are two different items.
Deodorants do just what they say: combat odor. And yeah, we could all probably use some of that. On the other hand, antiperspirants typically contain aluminum salts that block your pores and keep you from sweating. Antiperspirant is the word you want to look for on the label if you're prone to wet spots under the arms.
There is some controversy surrounding the potential health dangers of using antiperspirants with aluminum. Most commonly, it's been suggested that there's a link to breast cancer, but the American Cancer Society says there's no solid evidence this is true. The ACS notes that 1 in 8 women develop breast cancer—men can get breast cancer, too, but at a much lower rate than women, about 1 in 833—so there's bound to be some overlap with antiperspirant users.
Develop a face-washing routine
For many guys, a quick splash of water is enough when it comes to washing their face. At best, many of us simply use gel or bar soap in the shower. However, you're not doing your skin, nor your looks, any favors that way.
As dead skin and oils accumulate, you can get acne—men rocking a beard are especially prone—or just greasy-looking, unattractive skin. Plus, soaps designed for the body are harsh and can overdry your skin, upsetting its natural pH balance.
Get a decent facial soap and add a weekly scrub, and people will notice the difference, yourself included.
If you want to keep your youthful looks, make sure you use a decent moisturizer after every shower, especially if you spend time outdoors and are exposed to UV rays from the sun. While we're on the subject, use sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, daily if you want to avoid looking like a crocodile's hide.
For bonus points, get an under-eye cream to help combat the sags and bags that men of all ages get from time to time.
Change your underwear
Guys, you're not in college anymore. Even if you are, wearing the same underwear for more than one day is asking for trouble. You're not alone, however, if you wear your underwear more than once. Clothing manufacturer Tommy John conducted a survey that found almost half of Americans of both genders have, on occasion or regularly, gone more than a day without changing their underwear. Even more troubling, some 13 percent of respondents wear the same underwear for a week or more.
Even if you don't wear your undies to the point where you have to peel them off with tongs and a power-washer, you're still asking for jock itch, rashes, infections, odor and worse if you get into the habit of wearing your underwear more than once without a wash.
Take your time shaving
Nobody likes razor burn, but men frequently invite this occurrence by rushing a shave. In addition to slowing down, remember to lubricate your beard and skin before you shave, and pull the razor in the direction your hair grows, not against it. Use a clean, new blade every time you shave to keep your shave close and reduce the chance of cuts.
Wash your sheets and towels regularly
Hanging your towel to dry instead of letting it sit in a pile does not magically make it cleaner. While the myth that you can get herpes from a towel has been debunked, understand that moist used towels do harbor all manner of bacteria, and what's the point of taking a shower if you're rubbing all those germs back on your skin as soon as you step out?
While we're talking linens, you should wash your sheets before they start to smell. Sheets accumulate thousands of dead skin cells, dust mites, bacteria and even fecal matter, again defeating the point of your rigorous hygiene routine if you don't clean them regularly.
You only need a few minutes a day to observe these additional steps to better hygiene.