We're betting that even the filthiest and most jobless of our readers still have at least a dozen beauty products in their bathroom (don't tell us you don't have shampoo, or mouthwash, or a nail file). And these days there is a booming market in selling men on all of the waxes and anti-aging creams that used to only eat into women's budgets.
Now, we're not going to complain about vanity or the rise of metrosexuals or anything like that -- your grooming is your business. No, the problem is that a whole lot of these products and routines are doing the opposite of what they're supposed to. For example ...
#6. Using Cleansers to Fight Acne Can Make It Worse
For some of us, the teen years consisted of waking up every morning looking like we'd spent the previous night wearing a bag full of mosquitoes over our head. Fortunately, there's a whole shelf of acne soaps in the supermarket dedicated to getting that trash off your face. There are bar soaps, foamy cleansers, anti-blemish pads that look like circular baby wipes, toners, moisturizers, mud masks, blotting papers, and exfoliating scrubs that contain actual grit to sandpaper the pimples away.
Introducing the new Black & Decker Pimple Eviscerator!
It's all pretty tempting when your face has exploded into little pus volcanoes; it's just too bad that it probably won't help.
The problem is that most of the acne process takes place underneath your skin, where soap can't even get to. In fact, aggressively washing your face with the strongest cleansers is more like likely to aggravate the situation by drying your skin out and roughhousing the part of your body that needs the least touching right now. Most soaps contain a chemical called sodium lauryl sulphate (or it's slightly less evil twin, sodium laureth sulphate). It's an agent that is super good at being foamy and super cheap to put into cleaning products. It also strips away the grease from your skin, which sounds great, but some of that grease isn't so much "grease" as it is "necessary skin moisture." So foamy acne soaps containing SLS end up irritating skin and provoking pizza-face flare-ups.
"Yes, yes, just try and wash me away! With every scrub, I only become more powerful!"
So What Should You Do Instead?
If you have a serious acne problem, go and see a real doctor, because you might need antibiotics to treat that shit and prevent scarring. But either way, instead of scouring your face with harsh cleansers, just wash your face twice or three times a day (but no more) with a gentle soap, or just warm water. Oh, and switch to something SLS-free. Only good luck with that, because it's in fucking everything.
#5. Mouthwash Will Give You Hobo Breath
Most mouthwash contains alcohol as its active ingredient, but think of the last time you filled a kiddie pool with liquor and then attempted to drown yourself in it. Did your mouth feel cool and minty fresh upon dragging yourself awake the next morning? Or did it feel like someone had taken a shit in it?
Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images
Depending on your roommates, someone may very well have.
That's because there's a reason why skunk mouth tends to coincide with alcohol consumption. Alcohol is really good at drying out your mouth, and saliva is one of your body's best defenses against bad breath. Have you ever met a baby with bad breath? No, because babies drool the bacteria out of their sweet little mouths. Swishing alcohol-laced mouthwash in the morning is the hygienic equivalent of preparing for battle by taking a flamethrower to your own guys.
We know what you're thinking: If alcohol is good enough to disinfect a wound, it should be fine for your mouth, right? Not even close. The only reason we have alcohol in mouthwash at all is because the major ingredients are oils like menthol and eucalyptol. Those bad boys would separate like salad dressing if it wasn't for the alcohol keeping them mixed. And good luck getting a cap full of layered oils in your mouth without gagging.
Though we suppose you could smoke a cigarette covered in VapoRub.
In other words, the alcohol in mouthwash isn't even meant to kill bacteria, despite how it's being marketed. Companies are just depending on your perception that burning mouth agony translates into better breath. In reality, while you may feel minty fresh for a while after you rinse, within a couple of hours, your breath will be back to smelling like rotting food and stripper sweat, because the bacteria has taken advantage of your dry mouth with a vengeance.
So What Should You Do Instead?
Unfortunately, the best advice we can give is the same stuff your dentist has been shouting at you while stabbing at your mouth with a tiny pick. Brush your tongue. Floss. Drink a lot of water so your mouth stays moisturized. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes. Don't let anyone shit in your mouth.
We can't stress that enough.
#4. Taking a Weed Whacker to Your Sex Shrubbery Can Give You Crotch Rot
Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
If you ever find yourself watching old-school porn, you're most likely to notice one big difference from the nude bodies you'll see (online) today: it rhymes with schmubic schmair. Back in the olden days, the ladies had tons of it. Today's downtown Afros are on the verge of extinction. And so are pubic lice and that weird moment when you catch a glance of a lady stranger's upper inner thigh hair at the beach.
Or an accidental flash of your buddy's ball hair.
That's because women and men alike are shaving, waxing, and lasering away the gift puberty gave them in their underwear zone. But what can you do? Porn stars have set a certain standard that the rest of society simply must follow. Otherwise, what are we, common animals?
But there's a problem. That hair was never meant to be removed, at least not by the methods currently available. Whether you're waxing or shaving, you're creating tiny abrasions in a zone that doesn't need any more aggravation than it already gets. Between friction from your underwear and moistness from your crotch, those tiny cuts don't stand a chance against infection, especially the sexual kind. This is why one doctor has called a crusade to end the "war against pubic hair" (a cause we hope soon gets a public awareness campaign, because we want to see the billboards) after seeing a gradual rise in infected ingrown hairs, boils, abscesses, and vulva herpes day after day. We don't know about you, but it only takes one scrotum boil draining for us to give up on waxing altogether.
"Years of nursing school just so I can lance your diseased testicles? How do you think I'm doing?"
So What Should You Do Instead?
There's a reason why hospitals don't shave patients before surgery anymore -- they clip them, because breaching the skin barrier creates the heightened possibility for contracting an infection. So do that. Or learn to love the '70s porn 'fro. Whichever works best for you.