It’s not hard to find crazy advice about personal hygiene. That guy next to you on the bus was only too eager to tell you that he deals with back acne by rubbing up against trees in the forest “like a grizzly bear.” If you’re interested in heated arguments about exactly how long your shower should last and exactly when you should take it, the internet has no shortage of opinions on that either. On the plus side, there are plenty of commonsense suggestions for particular issues, like how to get clear skin for men. But putting it all together and deciding who to trust? That’s exhausting. Overwhelming. So let us simplify things for you.
Here’s a summary of the only personal hygiene guide all men should know.
- Wash Your Hands
- Brush Your Teeth
- Clean Your Body
Now you might think that since the hands are part of the body, this list could be even shorter. Here’s the deal, though: Most everybody agrees about regularly washing your hands and brushing your teeth, even if they don’t take their own advice. But once we get past hand and mouth cleanliness, there’s dramatically more debate. That’s why we separated body cleanliness into its own category.
If differences of opinion stress you out, we’ve got you covered. A safe road through the consensus is that it’s important to keep the skin on your body clean without tampering with its natural balance. Of course, that natural balance is going to be different from person to person (and even season to season), but we’ve got some universal guidelines for you to fall back on.
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An Obligatory Reminder to Wash Your Hands and Brush Your Teeth
Wash Your Hands
Usually your hygiene is something of a solo journey. But your hands are the intersection between your personal hygiene and the world’s personal hygiene. If there is a breakdown on either end, the matter ends up in your hands. If you need to read articles about germs hitching a ride on wedding rings or how we can cut down on the use of antibiotics with a bit of soap and water, go right ahead. But even the kind of people who advocate for less showering acknowledge that you still need to wash your hands.
We also know that all this handwashing can be hard on the hands – it’s a real issue. But rather than not washing your hands after handling raw chicken or making a trip to the bathroom, you should probably focus on upping your moisturizer routine.
Brush and Floss
In terms of personal hygiene routines that are gatekeepers to your health, your mouth is right after your hands. Gum disease, bad breath, respiratory infection – those are just a few of the consequences of slack oral hygiene. Do you really need more?
Cleaning the Rest of Your Body
Washing your hands and brushing your teeth are pretty straightforward, but when it comes to how to clean and groom the rest of your body, that’s when the arguments really start. As you navigate all that advice, remember that cleaning the rest of your body should prioritize protecting your body. That’s the skin’s main job, after all. So it’s important to listen to your body and not do anything that interferes with the skin’s own defense mechanisms, whether that means risking damage from sunburn or using harsh products that strip the skin of its protective layers.
By the same token, make sure that whatever you are using to clean your body is itself clean. So whether you are clean-shaven or sporting a beard, taking cold showers or luxuriating in warm baths, listen to the chorus telling you to avoid rusty razors and moldy washcloths. Nor are people very divided when it comes to linking the sun’s UV rays to skin cancer, so you won’t go wrong researching sunscreens that don’t irritate your skin.
Furthermore, we aren’t courting controversy by telling you that if you want to dodge B.O. and back acne, you want to ditch sweaty clothes as quickly as you can and supplement your reach with a silicone body scrubber. That’s just how it is.
We don’t want to wade into the debate about body wash vs. bar soap vs. cleansing oils. But if you want to know what areas to prioritize with that thoroughly vetted charcoal body wash, start with your armpits, groin and feet. That deals with the primary odor centers and bacteria collection sites.
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When making decisions about the rest of your personal hygiene routine, it’s okay to recognize that we are social creatures and mental health is a part of our physical well-being. So it might simultaneously be true that your nostril hair is a filter for pollen and that dangling nose hairs are often signals of poor grooming that might gross out a potential date more than bad breath. So it’s all right to balance being gentle with your body and pushing towards a regimen that gives you self-confidence.
Also, it’s not your imagination that your skin tends to be drier in the winter. Sweatier in the summer. And that your nose produces an inordinate amount of grease. Or that sweat and lack of sleep kick everything into overdrive. It is in your head that you are alone in suffering this. So relax your way into a good night’s sleep and then start experimenting with a skincare routine that gives your skin a chance to say whether it likes that routine or not. For any trouble interpreting the skin’s feedback, call on a dermatologist.