I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me basic personal hygiene. Things like regular bathing, brushing teeth, grooming, laundry, and hand-washing.
But in recent years, I’ve picked up new habits that have improved my life. My parents probably tried to teach me some of them. Others I discovered on my own or with the help of my wife.
Whatever the catalyst, all of the below have greatly improved my life:
- Relentless sun-screening. Several summers ago, I had an epiphany. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say, “I wish I hadn’t used so much sun screen.” Upon realizing this, I challenged myself to not get burned that summer, despite getting burned every prior summer through negligence (I’m a pasty caucasian). To beat the sun’s harmful rays, I applied sunscreen whenever I knew I would be exposed to direct sunlight for longer than 30-60 minutes. When swimming, for example, I reapplied often, several times an afternoon. Three months later, I conquered without getting burned once. And to my vain surprise, I was tanner than I’d ever been. Since that successful experiment, I haven’t been burned again, at least my skin hasn’t turned lobster, itched, or peeled. So remember: sunscreen only filters the sun’s harmful rays. It doesn’t block the good stuff like vitamin D and sun kissed skin.
- Daily moisturizing. Having lived in the desert for more than a decade, the dry skin covering my hands started to crack in my early ’30s. To counter this, my wife recommended daily moisturizing of hands, face, and feet—year round. Nothing fancy. Just mainstream lotion, sometimes with a little sunscreen baked in to help with the above habit. Since faithfully following my wife’s good advice, my skin has never flexed or felt better. (NOTE: I drink 7-8 big glasses of water per day. While this naturally moisturizers my skin and lips, lotion or “creamy” as my daughter used to call it “seals the deal” so to speak in the drier climate of Utah that water alone doesn’t overcome, at least for an aging man like me.)
- Daily mouth-rinsing. To keep my teeth healthy and clean, I used plaque-loosening mouth rinse (such as Plax or any green store brand) before brushing my teeth in the morning. Since Utah doesn’t add fluoride to its public water, I used a fluoride rinse (the purplish one) before brushing at night.
- Flossing every other day. “Blake,” the dentist said, “You’re in the beginning stages of gingivitis. Unless you start flossing at least ever other day, you will have it within a year or two.” His scare tactic worked. I’ve flossed every other day in the half a decade since. When coupled with the above mouth rinsing habits, I get complimented on my smile every time I visit the dentist now.
- Once weekly or batch semi-annual bleaching. I’m like Kramer. My face is my livelihood. Everything I have I owe to my face. To help keep its allure, I bleach my teeth overnight with this stuff for a couple of weeks each year, or once weekly as I shower. It’s like real-life dental photoshopping on top of the solid foundation that daily brushing, rinsing, and flossing affords. If you don’t like submerged bleaching, my wife has found success with Crest Whitening Strips.
- High-lather “2 in 1” body and hair wash. Such as the five-star ones Bath & Body Works sells. They’re pricey up front but pay off in the long run. In fact, each bottle lasts me several months. Since it lathers 2-3 times better than even the best mainstream shampoos and gels, I only have to use a half teaspoon or so for all my parts. What’s more, the cologne they use is much nicer-smelling, which keeps my lady friend closer (Hi, Lindsey!). And the 2 in 1 benefits speeds the time it takes to shower.
- Daily Scottish showers. Here’s what they are, how they work, and why I’ve been taking them over a year now. For the circulation and zest benefits, I’ll never, ever go back.
- Daily deodorant instead of anti-persperent. I learned this trick while leaving in Brazil at the turn of the century. Since they don’t sell anti-persperent there, at least back then, I was forced to used Axe deodorant in a bottle. Of course I sweated profusely at first. But then my body acclimated. And my pits were allowed to breath and sweat once more, which feels better than feeling clogged in heat . Granted, I still get sweat tacos like these occasionally. But I don’t stink, I get compliments on the “Axe Dark Temptation” fragrance I use, and my skin breaths better.
Readers: What hygiene hacks have blessed your life?