If your mother ever washed your mouth with soap for saying a bad word, we can understand where your aversion to good hygiene came from. But most of us don't have that excuse, and besides -- it's time to grow up.
When there's no one around to tell you not to, do you live in a den of filth? An Everest of cereal bowls in the sink, dirty underwear on the floor, damp towels on the bed? If the answer is yes, chances are, it's pretty obvious without you having to answer.
Not that you have spaghetti in your beard or anything -- you probably just look like someone who doesn't take care of himself. And who wants to be the grown man who doesn't know how to live like a grown-up once he's moved out of his parents' place?
Some say that the only time a man really starts sprucing up is when he's trying to sleep with someone, but we'd like to believe the others are simply lacking proper instruction. We have five tips for either type.
Embrace the Blade
Beard trimmers: They're not just for beards! There's another place on your body that could use some attention from the clippers, one we ladies might come into contact with during an intimate moment. It's a little farther down South. Below the bellybutton, shall we say?
Trimming "the hair down there" isn't only about the visual, although we think you'll appreciate how it draws one's focus. It's the considerate thing to do.
As far as body hair goes, even those of us who love a man with a hairy chest tend to balk at a hairy back. Maybe it just reminds us too much of our apelike ancestors. If you happen to be graced with its hirsute presence, your best options are probably waxing or laser hair removal. (A word to the wise: Waxing hurts like the dickens, and people with sensitive skin might want to avoid it altogether.) It's kind of impossible to shave your back by yourself, and let's not think about what it looks (and feels) like when the stubble grows in.
Fear the Claw
Besides the big ones (infidelity, dishonesty, excessive jealousy), we all have our little dating deal-breakers. Some of us nix those addicted to jam bands, while others simply can't deal with a thumb ring.
But no one likes gross fingernails.
What defines "ick": too long, too dirty. How to destroy the ick: Keep your nails, on fingers and toes, short and keep them washed. If you have a career or hobby that keeps you up to your elbows in dirt, try a soft nail brush to help you get the job done.
If your nails are looking raggedy (cuticle biters, we're looking at you), consider a mani-pedi.
No, we're not saying to get your nails painted (unless that's your thing, in which case, go for it). It's more than that. You'll get all the rough skin and calluses rubbed off, your cuticles pushed back, and your nails trimmed and buffed to the perfect length. Now, no one needs to recoil at the thought of your hands near her ladyparts.
If you haven't been paying much attention to your hands and feet until just now, it's possible that you might notice some things that just don't look right -- a weird mole, discolored nails, funny bumps. Make a call to a medical professional. If you have toenail fungus or a plantar wart, it's best to take care of it as soon as you can.
Yes, your high school gym socks are still "perfectly good." After all, they cover your feet … mostly. Except for the hole your left big toe is sticking through. And the threadbare part on your right heel.
Have you noticed that they always look dingy, even when they're freshly washed? And, if pressed, no one could say for certain what color they used to be?
Toss 'em, boys.
The same goes for old underwear, old undershirts, old towels -- anything yellowed, scuzzy-looking or full of holes (this applies to mesh shirts). And if you can say, decades later, "But I can still fit into these! I wore these jeans in high school!" we're happy for you, but we really wish you would get rid of them. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
It's a sad fact of life that nothing in life is permanent. Your white T-shirt has lived a good and useful life. It will be dearly missed (by you at least), but it's time to let go -- and make some room in that drawer for a few new things.
Open Your Mouth
Enough concerned woman have brought this up in private conversation that we had to include it.
You do know you're supposed to brush your teeth, right? And go to the dentist every six months for a cleaning?
This isn't a racket perpetrated by con men in white coats and their hygienist sidekicks. You really do need a pro to go in and blast some tartar.
Even if you're flossing every day, which very few people do (unless maybe they're dating a dentist), you're still missing stuff. It's not your fault -- you just can't see it or maneuver to it and don't have the proper tools. Some of us have weaker tooth enamel to begin with and are more prone to cavities. So unless you want to be known as Toothless Joe, give your doc a call.
If that's not enough to convince you, think of the financial ramifications -- dental work is expensive, and most dental insurance fails to cover all the costs of a procedure like a root canal or dental implant.
Use Your Nose
Because your sense of smell is so tied to your brain's center of emotion, you probably have scents that you strongly associate with a person -- your mother's lavender drawer liners, your middle school girlfriend's bubble gum.
Don't let your signature scent be body odor. Or, worse -- B.O. you attempted to cover with cheap body spray.
Here's the right way to do it:
- Shower regularly. (Note: "Regularly" does not mean "every 8 days.")
- Wash your clothes regularly.
- Use a mildly scented or unscented deodorant.
- Find a good cologne. Ask a sister, female friend or other woman in your life to take you to a department store. Spritz on a little of your chosen scent of the moment and see how it changes over the hours. Your own personal chemistry will react differently to a scent than some other guy's will. Something you thought smelled great on someone else may be unpleasant on your own skin.
- And once you've picked your perfect eau de James Bond? Put on less than you think you need. No one should be able to walk into an elevator and know you were there.
You're almost ready to get started. We've got lots more information on the next page.
After a certain age, a lot of men start growing hair in places they don't want it — and stop growing it where they do. HOwStuffWorks looks at why.
- Mayo Clinic. "Gingivitis." Nov. 18, 2010. (Feb. 27, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gingivitis/DS00363.
- Trex, Ethan. "Shaving history begins with shark teeth." CNN. Aug. 17, 2009. (Feb. 28, 2011)http://articles.cnn.com/2009-08-17/living/mf.shaving_1_king-camp-gillette-razors-blades?_s=PM:LIVING.