5 Essential Personal Hygiene Products

Turkish bath: not just for hygiene.
Turkish bath: not just for hygiene.
Museum of the City of New York/Byron Collection/Getty Images

You can't tell from most period dramas, but there was a time in the not-too-distant past when personal hygiene wasn't considered a high priority. Some of our ancestors spent the majority of their time doing hard physical labor just to meet their basic needs like food and shelter, so keeping their bodies perfectly clean wasn't at the top of their to-do lists. Even if you had the time, it wouldn't have always been practical. Nineteenth-century settlers considered a weekly bath sufficient, assuming there was enough water. Even the wealthy, who had the time and money to spend on their hygiene, often focused more on perfumes and powders than keeping clean.

Today, many of us believe that we need a ton of different hygiene products in order to be physically presentable. These products aren't cheap, either; a British study in 2006 showed that the average woman in that country will spend the equivalent of more than $50,000 on her hair alone [source: Daily Mail]. It also takes a lot of time to use them -- around two years out of our lifetime, according to the same study.

In truth, though, you can get by with a total of just five personal hygiene products.