Considering how many people are already knee-deep in the process of spring cleaning their closets (side bar: you should be spring cleaning), now’s as good a time as any to share five outrageously easy ways to do the same for your grooming regimen. Pay attention gents — lest you enjoy excess bacteria and heightened chances of a rogue breakout.
It’s amazing how in 2020 — given what science has uncovered about the sheer number and scope of surface-borne bacteria — we’re still comfortable with prepping our skin and hair in the bathroom. In even the most rigorously cleaned homes, these spaces are prime real estate for a smorgasboard of nasty germs: a few years back, NSF International investigated 22 residences for the presence of bacteria and mould, with 27 percent testing positive for toilet seat contamination; and 64 percent for wash basins. Without wishing to paint too graphic a picture, now consider how often you touch those surfaces and then your face in rapid succession. Yeah, we’re surprised any of us have survived this long too.
For obvious reasons, it’s more important than ever before in history to infuse good personal hygiene into your grooming regime. Relax — it’s easier than it sounds. Here’s how.
1. Make sure skin- and haircare hasn’t expired
It beggars belief we should have to say this aloud, but in a world where men regularly joke about using shampoo as facial cleanser, it obviously bears repeating — remember to ensure you’re not using expired hair and skin products. Product shelf life varies from category to category (fragrances, for instance, are almost universally capable of being kept for up to four years) but a safe rule of thumb is to limit storage to two years. Chances are, if there’s a serum or toner that you haven’t applied for that long, you’re not going to miss it. Not to mention: many of the active ingredients you’re likely to find in said formulations diminish in efficacy over time. Granted, even in a single vertical, some products keep longer than others — when in doubt, a quick survey of the label ought to do the trick.
2. Make it a point to regularly replace your toothbrush
According to a coalition of healthcare experts that includes the Hong Kong Dental Association, the average adult should be replacing their toothbrush four times a year. Aside from the obvious durability benefits, it’s simply common sense to discard a used toothbrush at regular intervals — even moreso if you’re the sort who puts a silicone cover over the bristles. The latter accessory locks in heat and moisture, creating an ideal environment for the incubation of tiny bacteria — which then migrate their way back to your face and mouth. Charming. If four toothbrushes a year sounds a little wasteful (it is) more and more eco-friendly alternatives are cropping up these days, with widened choice of fit, bristle length, and shape.
3. Practice proper razor hygiene
The internet’s awash with ‘essential’ advice concerning how men should shave safely and hygienically. Basically, it breaks down as follows: never leave your razor to dry flat on an unprotected surface; and always sheath the blades (Miyamoto Musashi-style) when the razor isn’t in use. On that note, as with the aforementioned dental kit, you should be aiming to replace your razor cartridges every 6 or so shaves. This process requires you to pay a little more attention than when replacing a toothbrush — and for good reason. The shape and configuration of most commercial blades lends itself to accumulation of all the grossest bits from your epidermis; particles of loose dust, dead skin and the like which simply can’t be dislodged with a quick rinse under the faucet. Plus: shaving with a dull blade is a self-defeating exercise, opening you to all sorts of complications like razor burn, in-grown hairs and irritation.
Bolin Webb R1 shaving set, HK$869 (approx.) from Mr Porter
4. Wipe down containers — and the surfaces they rest on
Despite one’s best efforts, living in a built-up urban setting like Hong Kong carries with it the inevitable concern of air pollution. That in turn means dust and large particulate matter, much of which gets transferred to the products you keep out on bathroom surfaces; and consequently, ends up clogging your pores. Fortunately, the most effective way of combating this also happens to be easiest. Once a fortnight, set aside 30 minutes to rinse all the jars and bottles you keep out, wipe down surfaces they’re set on (with a household-approved antibacterial spray) and, if you’re feeling extra-productive, hoover around those hard-to-reach nooks with a hand vacuum.
5. Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect
Whereas it’s relatively easy to keep your hair and facial products in good hygienic nick — odds are you’re reaching from them daily — there are still half a dozen other ‘essential’ grooming tools gathering dust inside your medicine cabinet — think combs, tweezers, cuticle trimmers and the like. Once a week, a quick fix is to rinse these under hot water, and simply towel-dry to prevent rusting. (For a more effective deep-clean, we recommend disinfecting your grooming tools inside a UV sanitiser first, before following up with the aforementioned soak.) For those with a touch of OCD, you can also find purpose-built storage for all of your various cutting, tweezing and straightening instruments.
Bamford Grooming Department manicure set, HK$9,508 (approx.) from Mr Porter