When it comes to dating, as you've probably learned, the fifth-grade routine of washing behind the ears and changing underwear more-or-less daily doesn't cut it. The fresh-from-the-laundry-hamper look may be fine for an afternoon of shooting hoops with the guys. But show up on your date's doorstep looking like that, and the biggest bouquet of roses won't hide the pizza stains and whiff of garlic.
At the same time, most women don't expect a guy to look like he stepped out of the pages of an Aéropostale ad. They do expect his appearance to communicate confidence and respect -- for himself and for them.
The tips and techniques described in these pages will get you started. No waxing your nose hairs or locking yourself in the bathroom to apply an avocado face mask. Just pointers that'll serve you well throughout your dating life and beyond. Like a no-look pass on the basketball court, achieving that crisp, sharp look is a simple matter of doing the little things well.
First, some advice on taking care of your skin.
Any craftsman will tell you: Choose the right tools for the job. Applied to showering, that means skin cleansers.
All cleansers do the same thing -- dissolve dirt and oil so you can wash them away. For best results, choose one that matches your skin type. If you have oily skin, try a cleanser that's also an exfoliant. An exfoliant is a product that removes dead skin, the perfect material for dirt and odor-causing bacteria. Mild exfoliants contain gentle scrubbers like citrus acid, and they're considered safe for regular use. Once or twice a week, wash your face with a specifically designed exfoliating product. If dry skin is a problem, consider using a liquid body wash instead of a bar.
Remember that hot water and vigorous toweling can irritate any skin. Use warm water and pat dry, rather than rub. You're removing water, not car wax.
Check your nails. With a nail brush, scrub out any crud the shower missed. Trim or file any rough edges with nail nippers -- straight across the top, slightly rounded at the corners. Occasionally, you might need something more abrasive, like a pumice-laced cleanser.
Next: Clothing may not make the man, but it sure helps.
Wearing the right clothes increases your comfort and confidence, as well as your date's. Your clothes should suit the occasion, whether it's a formal dinner or a family cookout. Overdress, and you'll look like a snob. Underdress, and you'll look like a bum. Either way, you'll feel clueless.
Not sure what's appropriate? Ask. If it's a family function, ask your date. If a friend recommends a restaurant, ask about a dress code.
So, what should you wear? First, clothes that fit -- pants that end above the ankle do nothing for you. Also, wear something that flatters your skin tone. Clothes should contrast without clashing. Medium blue looks good with fair skin, for instance. Khaki complements darker tones.
The same goes for body type. If you're on the hefty side, break up the bulk with different colored pants and shirt. Don't overlook the shoes, either. A ratty pair of high-tops can undo an otherwise seamless effect.
Finally, make sure your clothes are presentable. They should look and smell clean, with no missing buttons or broken seams. The miracle of wash-and-wear makes ironing minimal; but learn to press collars, cuffs and creases for a sharper look.
Ready to handle some hairy situations? Read on.
Unless you go with the Marine boot-camp buzz, you have to do something with that hair. Like skin, date-worthy hair starts with a good washing. Here, again, shampoo should match your hair type: normal, dry or oily. Let your hair dry a bit before applying any styling gel or cream, and then use as little as needed.
If you can't achieve the look you want through everyday care, try getting a first-rate haircut from an experienced stylist, someone who understands how to give you a cut that complements your face. Then take a picture. Keep this for future reference when you visit your regular barber.
Don't neglect the hair on the rest of your head. A clean shave starts with a clean face (that exfoliant discussed earlier helps here), followed by a light lathering of foam or gel (or oil, for electric shaving). As you may have learned, shaving with the grain of the hair growth is more efficient. It also reduces the chance of ingrown hair. Go against the grain only in those hard-to-reach spots around the neck and chin. Finish with a splash of cold water or aftershave lotion (go easy on the stuff).
Our next discussion has some bite to it.
You've been brushing your teeth almost as long as you've had teeth to brush. But it's worthwhile to assess your approach. After all, brushing is a cheap, proven way to prevent discolored teeth and bad breath, not to mention painful gum disease, infections, tooth decay -- all major dating challenges.
For example, are you using the right brush? For comfort and effectiveness, a brush should fit into your mouth without straining. Choose soft bristles to avoid damaging your gums.
How about your technique? Brushing should involve more wrist action than muscle. Short, gentle, up-and-down strokes are preferable for the front and rear surfaces of your teeth. Brush across the chewing surface. The whole process should take about two minutes. Don't forget the tongue. Bad-breath bacteria can build up there, too.
Flossing is essential for getting to those tight spots between teeth and near the gumline where the brush can't reach. For pain- and frustration-free flossing, ease the floss between the teeth in a rocking motion. Curve it around each tooth to make contact with as much surface as you can and gently "saw" upward.
See the next page for our final piece of advice.
Apply the advice given here, and any other words of wisdom, as it agrees with your inner and outer being. Take hairstyles, for instance. If you really like the way you look with a certain hairstyle, go for it -- but keep it clean and trim. You'll take care of and take pride in a look that you're happy with. And your date will notice. In contrast, spending time and money and struggling with a style you don't like will only stress you out. And dating can be stressful enough.
By the same token, following a trend is fine if it makes you look and feel on top of your game. Maybe those cardigans that look so good on David Beckham look great on you, too. Buy one or two (in colors that suit your skin tones, of course). But jumping onto every fad bandwagon will leave you with a closet full of outdated clothes and an empty wallet.
Likewise, follow advice as it fits your personality and values. If you've vowed that nothing that comes from a laboratory will touch your skin, then lather up with lavender-coconut milk soap. Don't let anyone tell you it's not manly.
That's the picture of confidence. And that's the best look of all.
HowStuffWorks looks a study which showed 'aspirational online dating' didn't pan out for most people.
More Great Links
- American Dental Association. "Bad Breath (Halitosis) Overview." (Sept. 30, 2010)http://www.ada.org/2941.aspx?currentTab=1
- Brannon, Heather. "What Soap Does to Your Skin." March 2, 2008 (Sept. 27, 2010)http://dermatology.about.com/od/skincareproducts/a/cleanser_damage.htm
- Clark, Josh. "Is a daily shower too much for your skin?" (Sept. 26, 2010)https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/daily/tips/daily-shower-tips
- "What's the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?" (Sept. 27, 2010)https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-car/underarm-care/tips/deodorant-antiperspirant.htm
- Doheny, Kathleen. "10 Toothbrushing Mistakes." July 20, 2010 (Sept. 24, 2010)http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes
- "Teeth Whitening Safety Tips." July 9, 2010 (Sept. 24, 2010)http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/teeth-whitening-safety
- Freeman, David. "Flossing Teeth for Dummies: No More Excuses!" July 20, 2010 (Sept. 24, 2010)http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/flossing-floss-sticks
- Jaret, Peter. "Men's Skin Care for Your Face." July 21, 2009 (Sept. 26, 2010) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/men-shaving-grooming
- "What to buy for a man's nails and hands." July 23, 2009 (Sept. 28, 2010) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/men-nails-hands
- Mayo Clinic. "Nails: How to keep your fingernails healthy and strong." Nov. 25, 2009 (Sept. 28, 2010)http://www.mayoclinoc.com/health/nails/WO00020
- TeenIssues.co "Beauty Tips for Boys." (Sept. 24. 2010) http://www.teenissues.co.uk/BeautyTipsForBoys.html
- The Cleveland Clinic. "What Teeth Whitening Options Are Available? April 25, 2003 (Oct. 2, 2010)http://my.clevlandclinic.org/services/cosmetic_dentistry/hic_What_Teeth_Whitening_Options_Are_Available.aspx
- The Soap Shed. (Sept. 25, 2010) http://www.soapshed.com/store/Grease-Monkey-Hand-Soap-for-Mechanics-pr-16296.html
- The Grooming Lounge. "Getting the Greatest Shave Ever." (Sept. 30, 2010) http://www.groominglounge.com/shaving15steps.html
- Waters, Rob, and Tim Fitzgerald. "Skin Care for Men." April 28, 2009 (Sept. 25, 2010) http://www.cvshealthresources.com/topic/skincaremen