You know the stereotype: geeks are “dirty slobs” who are “too lazy” to clean themselves up and look presentable (or “too inept” to know how). Of course, not all geeks are this way.
Stereotypes are unfair. But let’s be honest: I’m a geek who’s been around other geeks, and reality is what it is. Sometimes you just have to admit that stereotypes exist for a reason—they often have kernels of truth to them.
Many geeks are unclean. I used to be an unclean geek, too. Oily hair, broken skin, stale breath, clothes that didn’t fit right, the whole shebang. But with a bit of self-reflection and know-how, I eventually leveled up my hygiene—and my confidence with it.
The best part? Proper hygiene doesn’t really take much at all. You can be lazy and clean! Here’s what you need to know if you want to clean up with minimal effort.
Cleaning Your Mouth
Floss: 2 minutes
Most people don’t realize that flossing is more important than brushing. If you could only do one, it’s actually better to floss (although both is obviously best). Why? Because the outer surfaces of your teeth naturally abrade with chewing, but the gunk in between your teeth builds up and eats away from within, leading to cavities and gum disease.
If you hate flossing, I don’t blame you. Trying to weave a waxy piece of thread between teeth is not fun. But with the right tool, flossing becomes a lot easier and faster—and even enjoyable! The Airfloss is a simple and affordable gadget that uses jets of water to clean between your teeth; all you have to do is fill it up and press the button. It will seriously flip your attitude when it comes to flossing!
Scrape: 1 minute
That’s right, scrape your tongue! Gunk builds up on your tongue and causes smelly breath, plus scraping can improve your sense of taste. Be gentle, though, because you can damage your tastebuds if you’re too rough. Metal tongue scrapers are the best, and they’re both cheap and easy to use.
Brush: 2 minutes
Brush when you wake up, brush before you go to sleep. Switch to an electric toothbrush if you haven’t already. No, electric toothbrushes are not mere gimmicks! They’re way more effective and hygienic than manual toothbrushes, they’re less likely to cause gum erosion, and they last for years and years (you just need to replace the head every so often).
Rinse after meals
Take a swig of water and flush out the debris from between your teeth. A little goes a long way.
Cleaning Your Face
Wash: 1 minute
Start and end your day with a splash of water. Cool water triggers an involuntary response that gets your blood flowing, which not only helps you wake up but also helps you fall asleep. If you have acne, you should wash with a gentle cleanser. I really like the daily cleanser by Vanicream because it’s super gentle and affordable.
Lotion: 1 minute
Use a gentle non-comedogenic face lotion for your face and a non-greasy body lotion for the rest of your body. Dry skin can lead to a lot of skin conditions, so it’s important to keep your skin hydrated—especially after you wash, which can dry it out. The lotions by CeraVe are solid and affordable, available in a variety of options depending on your skin.
Use lukewarm water
Hot showers feel great, but they aren’t good for your skin. It causes inflammation and strips away the natural oils that protect your skin and keep it hydrated. Cold showers are ideal, but if you prefer not to torture yourself, stick with lukewarm showers.
Use unscented bar soap
“Unscented” means no scent added, whereas “fragrance-free” means it doesn’t smell. Unscented bar soaps are often gentler and healthier for skin when compared to scented and/or liquid soaps.
Use lip balm
Your lips need as much care as the rest of your skin, so it’s important to use a moisturizing lip balm—especially if your lips frequently peel or crack.
Cleaning Your Hair
Switch to a sulfate-free shampoo
Sulfates promote foaming for lather, but they also aggressively strip oils from your hair and cause damage to the follicles. To compensate, the scalp begins to overproduce oil and you end up with oily hair. (Assuming no other underlying health issues.) Sulfate-free shampoos are more expensive and don’t feel as luxurious, but your hair will thank you.
Try No-Poo if your hair is uber oily
The No-Poo (“no shampoo”) movement encourages hair-washing techniques that don’t involve commercial shampoos. Some people only rinse with water, while others use homemade dry shampoos, and others continue using commercial shampoos but only once a week or less. It may take around six weeks to start seeing tangible benefits.
Cleaning Your Hands
Trim: 1 minute
It’s important to keep your nails trimmed to prevent buildup of dirt, bacteria, and other gunk. Unclean nails can cause infections when scratching, especially on open wounds (e.g. pimples, bug bites, scabs). Trimming can also help break a nail-biting habit.
Wash hands regularly
Washing your hands after peeing has less to do with urine getting on your hands and more to do with the gradual accumulation of dirt and bacteria on your hands throughout the day. Bathroom breaks provide natural moments where you can wash your hands, so you might as well hit the sink while you’re there.
Cleaning Your Presence
Deodorant: 1 minute
If you heed the advice throughout this article, you probably don’t smell very much—but even if you don’t have body odor, it’s still polite to wear deodorant. There are unscented deodorants for those who don’t want to smell like rain, grass, or flowers.
And that’s it!
For very little effort, you too can look and feel your best every day. Don’t be yet another geek who perpetuates the unhygienic stereotype—strive to be the best geek you can be. You’d be surprised at how much better you’ll feel, both physically and mentally.