Esquire magazine shows you how to look good in 12 minutes.
The bathroom is a sanctuary any time but in the morning. We walk in a mess. We stink. We can’t walk a straight line. We can’t answer basic questions. We’re more or less suffering from a mild concussion. Also, our hair looks stupid. So what do we do? We insult our corpses even further. We blast ourselves with hot water. We scrape our faces with a blade. We abrade our gums with bristles. We pour alcohol into our mouths – then we spit it out.
And we start to feel fantastic. We have transformed our reality. We have made ourselves look and feel right. We have been renewed, redeemed. We’ve become men. All in about 12 minutes. It’s an underrated thing, the regimen. And so, in the interest of making every moment of this crucial ritual count, we offer a guide to the best way we know how to conduct it.
Part One: The Cleaning of the Hair
Total time: 5 minutes
Wash your hair every other day. Daily washing strips your hair of its natural oils and dries it out. Which doesn’t sound like a problem but will feel like one – at least to the woman with her hand in your hair.
When you shampoo concentrate on the hairline and behind your ears – the places your scalp produces the most oil.
Use a conditioner. It seals the hair and keeps dirt from getting back in right away. It also makes your hair look shinier, if you care about such things.
But don’t leave it in for the two minutes. Unless you have dry hair, a few seconds will do.
Part Two: The Cleaning of the Face
Total time: 1 minute
Use a washcloth. Focus on the center of your forehead and your nose, where your oil glands are concentrated.
Use an exfoliating scrub once a week. Sloughing off a layer of dead skin from your face not only evens your complexion, it allows your moisturiser to get deeper into your skin.
Accept what’s going on with your eyes. The only way to eliminate crow’s-feet is Botox. You can minimise dark circles by limiting your caffeine intake – and by not having eczema. Or by having two fewer drinks the night before.
Moisturise. Washing your face strips it of lubrication. Replace it.
Use a moisturiser with sunscreen. Even better, use one with antioxidants such as vitamin C or E to help with antiaging.
Part Three: The Shaving of the Whiskers
Total time: 2 minutes
Shave in the shower. The heat opens your pores and softens your beard, which gives you a closer shave.
Use a preshave oil. It lubricates your face and protects your skin – and makes it feel a little less like you’re scraping it with a sharpened piece of metal.
Use a brush. Eric Malka, cofounder of the Art of Shaving luxury barbershops and shaving accouterments, says it builds a thicker lather and raises your whiskers slightly, which helps you cut closer to the root.
Shave only in the direction your hair grows. Going against the grain will get you a closer shave, Malka says, but it will also get you a lot more irritation. For an even closer shave, relather and shave a second time.
Part Four: The Management of the Hair
Total time: 2 minutes
A few rules from Rodney Cutler, the owner of Cutler salons in New York City and Miami and an Ironman triathlete and former Australian-football player…
Style your hair first, then (if you must, and you probably should – just a little) add product. If you put product only where you need it, you’ll be less likely to look greasy or shellacked. Whatever amount of product you’re using, use about half as much.
If you have short to medium hair, use a paste for separation and hold. If you have longish hair, use a styling cream to weigh it down a little and add shine. If you have hair that can be pulled into a ponytail, cut it.
Part Five: The Brushing of the Teeth
Total time: 2 minutes
The two minutes most dentists recommend brushing isn’t necessary, according to New York City dentist Stewart Gordon. A bigger brush head covers more teeth more quickly.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Medium or hard bristles can cause gum recession. They can actually wear away your teeth’s enamel and leave you more prone to cavities.
Avoid the back-and-forth stroke. It should be used only on biting surfaces. Instead, tilt your brush 45 degrees so you’re brushing your gums and teeth simultaneously, and use a gentle circular motion. Do the same for the lingual side (the inside), then repeat on your bottom teeth
Use an alcohol-free mouthwash. Alcohol dries out the soft tissue of your mouth. If you have really bad breath, Dr. Gordon recommends a rinse with chlorine dioxide
Brush your tongue. A tongue scraper (or a spoon) helps get rid of bacteria at the back of your mouth. Which means it helps get rid of the primary cause of bad breath.
Floss. If your gums aren’t healthy, neither is the rest of your body. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, unhealthy gums increase the risk of heart attacks and autoimmune problems.
This article originally appeared in Esquire.
Image: Warren Goldswain/Shutterstock.com