A man’s bathroom says a great deal about his approach to life — organized or messy, minimal or obsessive, frat house or gentleman’s dwelling. Yet, many men ignore the bathroom, paying it the same mind they would the doctor’s office or gas station; a necessary evil, rather than a sanctuary of manhood. In doing so, we deprive ourselves of some of life’s small pleasures and the opportunity to start the day off on our best foot.
Many of the fondest memories of my father involve studying him as he went through his morning routine before work – shaving, cologne, gargling, tying his tie. I remember the sights, smells, and sounds seemed like a mysterious apothecary, filled with the potions and ingredients of manliness. The smell of Old Spice and Listerine still say “man” to me more than just about anything.
My father understood that a well-stocked bathroom and good routine were something no man should do without. Some may say that spending time on hygiene and appearance is something for the opposite sex to concern themselves with, but to ignore this essential aspect of living is not only immature, it’s unhealthy.
Am I suggesting that you turn into that guy who spends hours in the bathroom meticulously styling each lock of hair, plucking each stray eyebrow hair, and popping more collars than you knew existed? Absolutely not! Constantly stressing about one’s looks is not something anyone should practice. But, there’s a definite middle ground to be had between obsession and neglect — and this is where men should aim. A few minutes in the bathroom is really all one needs; the key is finding the right products and methods to make those minutes count.
With that spirit in mind, I present to you a small list of items no man’s bathroom should ever be without:
1) Wet Shaving Set – Every morning millions of men take a razor blade and scrape it across their face. What used to be a manly ritual passed down through generations has become a mindless routine filled with cheap razorblades, poor-quality shaving cream, razor burn, and a little bit of annoyance that the task must be performed in the first place.
A traditional wet shaving set may seem antiquated to some, but as with many things in life, newer does not always translate into better. To someone used to zinging an electric razor over their face a couple times each morning, a traditional shave can be quite daunting, but it really only involves three items: a quality razor, a good brush, and some glycerin-based shaving cream.
Regarding the right razor, there is some healthy debate as to which is the best for a good wet shave. Some like the old-school classics like the straight-edge; others don’t mind newer blades like the Mach 3, but most agree that for the wet shave nothing is better than a double-edged safety razor. As for the brush, a good badger-hair brush will provide the best shaving experience. And when it comes to shaving cream – if it comes out of a spray canister, throw it away and never touch it again. A high-quality shaving cream has more of a paste-like consistency and is more expensive, but will require about half the amount to do the same job.
When purchasing a shaving set, it can often feel like a lot of money initially, but remember that a good shaving set should last for many years (Brett purchased a razor from the 1960’s) and shaving is something most of us do every day. Why not make this daily routine enjoyable?
2) Cologne – Remember the kid in middle school that tried to disguise the fact that he never showered by dousing himself each morning with half a bottle of cheap cologne? Well, just picture that each morning and do the opposite. First, don’t rely on cologne to cover up poor grooming habits, that’s not the purpose for which it was made. Cologne is supposed to be an accent, not the basis of your hygiene routine.
Second, use a very small amount, two or three dabs or sprays at the most. A man’s cologne isn’t meant to mark his territory as he roams from place to place, it should only be noticed by those in intimate proximity. It is recommended to put cologne on pulse points such as the wrists, the base of the throat, and behind the ears as the heat produced in these areas will help activate the scent. Do not spray cologne on your clothes, as it won’t last nearly as long. Finally, don’t settle for a cheap bottle of cologne. You don’t have to go over the century mark, but investing in a quality cologne should serve you for at least couple years (storing your bottle in a dark, cool place will help prolong its lifespan).
3) Gold Bond – For years, athletes from Rugby players to race car drivers have understood the amazing benefits of Gold Bond Body Powder. Go into almost any locker room and you will see it as a staple product right next to some deodorant and cologne. Athletes tend to use it because of its ability to keep a man cool and dry, as well as reducing the possibility of skin irritation during physical activity. And most men have at least heard of it’s mysterious abilities to keep things nice and cool when applied to….well……you know.
While Gold Bond Powder is awesome for athletes, it can also be of great use to the everyday man as well. Not only can it be applied to hot spots to keep them comfortable, it can also be a wonderful defense against stinky feet. Many men, including yours truly, sprinkle a little Gold Bond in their socks and shoes each morning to keep their feet from becoming toxic wastelands during a long work day or trans-continental flight.
No matter how you decide to use it, Gold Bond is an incredibly versatile and useful grooming product that should be in men’s bathrooms everywhere.
Enjoy these great videos showing the importance of Gold Bond. For your. . . “equipment.”
4) Mouthwash/Tongue Scraper – You can be the best-looking, most talented man around, but if a closer encounter reveals some foul-smelling breath, all bets are off. Bad breath, or halitosis, is nothing more than bacteria in your mouth feeding on various proteins. It often accompanies certain foods, alcohol, or long periods of dryness such as what occurs after a night’s sleep. Many men believe that simply brushing their teeth will take care of the problem, but if you ask their wives and girlfriends, much of the time it does not.
Having a good mouthwash such like Listerine or Scope in your bathroom is an essential part of starting each day off on the right foot. Not only will it save those around you from having to smell what you had for breakfast, many mouthwashes now contain fluoride which strengthens teeth.
Also, according to these old Listerine ads, Listerine can also battle dandruff.
Hmmm… not so sure about that use.
Tongue scrapers are a lesser known tool in the fight against bad breath, but can be the most effective part of your arsenal. Most odor-causing bacteria are found on the tongue, so a tongue scraper goes right to the primary source of bad breath, removing bacteria, food particles, and the discharge that drips down from your nasal cavities. Many might ask why a toothbrush is not sufficient for this task. The problem lies in the design — toothbrushes are made for cleaning teeth, while tongue scrapers are specifically shaped to get into the folds of your English muffin-like tongue and sweep the bacteria from its nooks and crannies.
5) Quality Hair Product – It’s time to throw away the $2 bottle of gel that you’ve used since the 8th grade. You know, the neon-colored goop that creates a mini-snowstorm when your hair is brushed up against at the end of the day. Hair styling isn’t something a man should spend hours on each morning, but it doesn’t mean he should ignore it altogether. A quality pomade, mousse, or styling compound can be an easy and effective way to sculpt that mop of yours and ensure you look more like a professional than a mad scientist.
The question then is what are the best men’s hair products? Keep it simple, there’s a million different products out there and some salesmen will try to convince you that you need 999,000 of them, but you don’t. If you have a barber that you trust, ask him or her for their opinion. Otherwise, test a few yourself. Buy something middle of the road, not the cheapest, not the most expensive. If you have short to medium length hair, a pomade or wax-like compound can work great, helping sculpt your hair without looking like you covered your head in product. For longer hair a mousse can sometimes work better. If you want to go old school, use the hair products your grandpa used like Brylcreem or Wild Root. If you find yourself unsure, ask your barber or a friend that seems to have his hair on straight.
There’s no reason for a bathroom to be littered with a million different products. A few quality products can make the difference between starting the day off well or poorly. Do yourself a favor and make your bathroom a place you can enjoy, a sanctuary of manhood.
Now it’s your turn. What products do you think should be in every man’s bathroom arsenal? Drop a line in the comment box.