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Other Stuff to Know - 11
Grooming and Personal Hygiene
There are certain basic principles of good grooming and personal hygiene that are mandatory for everyday life and making the right impression on people. Ignore them and your career and social life will suffer.
For many of you, there will be no surprises here. Nevertheless, everyone should follow these essentials of good grooming and personal hygiene:
  • The cut and style of your hair should complement your natural features and the shape of your head and face. This is a relatively simple matter for men but often not for women. The objective is to have a cut and style of hair that suits you and is appropriate for your occupation. What works for someone in say the entertainment business could be inappropriate for someone at a financial firm.
  • Men should have a haircut every four to six weeks to avoid looking shaggy. For a more natural look, men should ask their barbers to taper the cut at the back of their necks as opposed to having it blocked across in a straight line with electric clippers.
  • Women generally need to have the ends of their hair trimmed every six to eight weeks in order to keep their hair looking healthy and neat. In addition, women should avoid hair styles that cause their hair to fall down over their faces. Also, women should refrain from touching or playing with their hair too frequently in public.
  • Don’t wear clothes that are stained, look crumpled or smell of body odors.
  • Get into a routine of taking a bath or shower daily, either first thing in the morning or when you get home from work. Afterwards, you probably should use a deodorant or anti-perspirant. If you still have problems with body odors, experiment with another deodorant or use it twice a day. If you perspire excessively, you should consult with your doctor about this “problem”.
  • Men need to shave once a day. If you have an especially heavy growth, then shave in the morning before going to work and usually again before you go out in the evening.
  • Since your hands are highly visible especially when you’re communicating in person, keep your fingernails clean and free of dirt at all times unless you’re doing something outdoors. For women, working in an office, short nails with neutral polish are best. Having extremely long fingernails or wearing flashy, wildly colored nail polish is generally inappropriate for most office jobs. Don’t file, clean or bite your nails in public or at the office unless you are in the bathroom.
  • Yes, you need to brush your teeth daily at a minimum first thing in the morning, before going out in the evening and last thing before going to bed. Not only is this a good idea for the health of your teeth but it’s also important to avoid having bad breath. If you think you have problems with bad breath, consult your dentist about it and use breath mints or sprays discreetly, especially after eating foods that contain a lot of garlic or onions.
  • Limit your gum chewing to principally when you are by yourself or at home with friends. Don’t chew gum when you’re working in an office or in a position that involves dealing face-to-face with customers or the public. Chewing gum is also inappropriate when you’re attending most social events and business meetings. If you have to chew gum, do so discreetly without a lot of jaw action, snapping it or blowing bubbles.
  • Avoid giving off personal odors that are offensive to those around you either from your body or clothes. Also, don’t use cosmetics, deodorants or hair products that have a strong scent. By the way, many people use twice as much deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and shaving cream than is necessary for each application.
  • For women, the purpose of using makeup and cosmetics is to enhance their appearance, not distract from it. The objective should be to look your best without having to take a lot of time to do it. The best makeup accentuates, not hides, your features. You want to look natural and use shades that suit your coloring. The most common mistake is overdoing it by using too much makeup especially foundations and mascara. The goal is for others to notice you, not your makeup. “Less is more”, particularly at work. Also, check how your makeup looks in different types of lighting, including natural light.
  • Women can obtain professional makeup advice from the sales people at the cosmetics counters in department stores and at many large drugstores, as well as at cosmetic specialty stores. If you do so, look for a sales associate whose makeup looks good to you.
  • When women wear perfume, they should only apply a modest amount. The same goes for men with after-shave lotion and cologne. Don’t overpower anyone with your scent. It needs to be subtle and, at work, next to non-existent. In fact, you probably shouldn’t wear any perfume or after-shave lotion to the office where you’ll be working in close quarters with others. The same applies when you’re attending a job interview. See Scents for Men and Women in the Citizen of the World Guide, Make the Right Impression.
  • Select a perfume or after-shave lotion with a scent that best suits you, ideally one that is not commonly used by your friends and associates. Make it your “signature” perfume or after-shave lotion. Some women use one type of more subtle perfume for day-time and another for when they go out in the evening.
  • Be careful about trying to remove stains on your dress clothes by yourself, as opposed to having the garment dry-cleaned. While you can remove some minor stains yourself, doing so often makes the stain worse and can damage the fabric. If the rest of your garment is clean, just ask your dry cleaner to “spot clean” the stain rather than dry-cleaning the entire garment. The ability of the dry cleaner to remove a stain is improved if you can describe what caused the stain. With two-piece outfits, such as suits, always have both pieces dry-cleaned to ensure they remain the same shade of color.
  • Refrain from grooming yourself in public. No one wants to watch you combing your hair, doing your nails, using a toothpick or putting on makeup, including lipstick. These things should only be done in private at home or in a bathroom when you are at work or out socially.
Let Steele know if you have any questions about the Citizen of the World Guides or your life and career.

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