General Grooming

By Steve Watson
October 11, 2020

Lockdown, draconian measures, house arrest – call it what you will – slumming about at home on furlough or even working from home wearing only your underpants with a button down shirt for Zoom meetings has all the prerequisites for slacking on personal grooming.

Lockdown, draconian measures, house arrest – call it what you will – slumming about at home on furlough or even working from home wearing only your underpants with a button down shirt for Zoom meetings has all the prerequisites for slacking on personal grooming.

COVID house arrest aside, the stress of life can interrupt a regular grooming routine and habits formed earlier in life can easily slip. Perhaps concerns about education, employment, the future and the recent restrictions on socialising are playing a part in the onset of slovenliness. “Why bother if I’m not able to go out or meet my girl friend?” You might think.

A regular personal grooming routine increases confidence, alertness and the all important attractiveness to women. If you’re already in a steady relationship or married, do you not want to be attractive to your girlfriend or wife? Poor grooming most certainly compromises intimacy whether it’s a kiss with unsavoury breath or raking open the flesh of her legs in bed with sabre-like toe nails.

Benjamin Franklin included cleanliness as one of his 13 virtues, stating, “Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.” Personal cleanliness promotes discipline, attention to detail; it helps establish straight thinking, to pull in the loose ends and to gird the loins of the mind, to use a biblical expression. Perhaps not a virtue in and of itself but cleanliness helps create a mindset tailored towards virtue.

A regular grooming routine doesn’t mean embarking on an obsessive regimen of preening as so much keeping on top of the basics of hygiene. There is a difference between a man who practices a regular grooming routine and a self obsessed narcissist. In Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with the reflection of himself in the waters of a spring, rejected the love offered by others, and pined away (died) in a burning passion for himself.

Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth twice a day takes up very little time. 3 minutes out of the morning and the evening to keep teeth clean, gums healthy and breath fresher isn’t too much of a demand on time. Think also of the dental costs to treat cavities which can result from skipping your pre-bedtime teeth cleaning. If your diet is high in sugars it’s even more important to adopt a regular oral hygiene routine because the pH balance in the mouth is imbalanced and bacteria begins to dissolve the teeth’s enamel and causes bad breath.

One of my school teachers had halitosis from hell, the likes of which I’ve never experienced since. I dreaded the lesson because it was an all out assault on my sense of smell. Beelzebub’s breath hung in the air like the stench from a festering carcass, billowing from the entrance to class room a noxious gas. Truly horrendous. She was a teacher in Latin so it seems appropriate to share the meaning of the word halitosis, which comes from the Latin for steamy vapour. A rancid steamy vapour did indeed cloud the air from which there was no escape.

Shower Regularly

We’re all aware of the principle of nose blindness. It’s when our olfactory receptors become desensitised to the smells around us. Others, however, who have not been blinded to the same smells may be acutely aware of unpleasant body odour or other odours clinging to clothing, hair or skin from certain activities or environments we’ve been in.

I used to share an office with a colleague whose personal hygiene was next to nil. Often, working in the office became intolerable and absolutely necessitated fleeing the environment to breath some fresh air.

Back to the onerous days of school, my maths teacher emitted a throat gagging and headache inducing level of body odour. It seems that a good number of my school teachers had become entirely nose blind to their own odours. My history teacher exuded a cocktail of sweat, alcohol, cigar smoke and coffee from his very being.

Avoid showering at temperatures so hot that after getting dried your body is as wet with perspiration as before getting dried. That perspiration will attract bacteria resulting in body odours returning sooner than later. Use a body spray or an cologne but not to the extent that you smell like a walking perfumery. Body sprays and cologne are meant to be discovered as opposed to assaulting the senses of those around you.

Use an Antiperspirant Deodorant

The most effective way of applying antiperspirant deodorant is to dry your armpits thoroughly using a hair drier before using your antiperspirant deodorant. After applying, blow dry your pits again to prevent it rubbing off onto your clothing.

Switch your deodorants out regularly. The bacteria causing body odour seems to overcome the effectiveness of the deodorant. There’s no scientific evidence to support this but it’s something experienced by many people.

Spraying or rolling deodorant over already rotten pits will result in little more than a concocted odour of perfume and sweat, and you’re fooling no one.

Trim Your Nails

Long finger nails look great…

…on women.

Unless you’re a flamenco guitar player, keep your finger nails trimmed. Use nail scissors or clippers and cut the nail straight across. Don’t bite your nails because it’s not an attractive look to see a man with his fingers in his mouth, and the results are less than pleasing. Additionally, with the current awareness surrounding COVID-19, habitually gnawing on your finger nails increases the risk of contracting the virus (and other diseases) or transmitting it.


A clean shave is a great feeling. For many men, shaving is a ritual that provides a time when they can practice a routine of preparation and precision, and a time to think. I’m referring to those who strop and hone their favourite razor, prepare their beard for shaving, mix up a bowl of shaving soap and enjoy the art of a straight razor or safety razor shave. It’s a shave with an instrument that can’t be rushed lest the skin is cut or the shave is below par.

If shaving isn’t your idea of fun then avoid leaving your beard to grow for too many days. Lots of women like to see stubble but once stubble gets too long it can look shabby. Consider shaving the neck area and cheek lines to tidy edges. It’s a time saving trick and looks like your stubble is intentional.

For more information on achieving a good shave follow the link


Keep your beard trimmed and in good condition. Use a beard oil or balm to add life to your beard and keep it looking healthy.

For more information about growing and maintaining a beard follow the link

Be realistic about your beard. If it looks untidy despite your best efforts and your aspiration to grow a beard isn’t working, clip it short or shave it off. Sailors in the Royal Navy are permitted to grow a beard with certain conditions to be met. Ratings are given two weeks to grow a beard before presenting themselves to the Commanding Officer. If the rating has not met the standard prescribed by the Operational requirement the beard must be shaved off following the command, “Shave off.”

Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands regularly. Not only because of the heightened awareness surrounding COVID-19 but because of the amount of bacteria we pick up and transmit every time we touch something. Wash your hands when you’ve used the toilet, when you’re about to prepare some food, immediately before you eat, when you get home etc. Wash your hand before going to bed, it makes for a better night’s sleep.

Get a Haircut

It’s remarkable how much of an impact a haircut has on our frame of mind. As much as unkempt hair can make us feel lousy a sharp haircut can lift the spirits and put a spring in our step. Keep a regular routine with your barber, better still with Watson’s Barber’s, aiming at a haircut every 4 weeks.

Whist making your appointment, add in an ear and nose waxing service to remove the unsightly hairs poking out from your ears or dangling from your nostrils.

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Steve Watson
Author and founder of Watson's barber's
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