You’ve tackled the obvious: clipping your toenails, tweezing your unibrow, and taking care of your man hands. But any guy with a girlfriend, sister, or mother knows that women pay attention to every little detail—way more than you’ll ever notice. That’s why we polled ladies and doctors alike to create a list of the top hygiene hiccups men make. (Don’t worry. We’re also giving you the best ways to nix them.)
1. NOSE HAIR
Yes, it’s typically a problem your grandpa has to deal with—hair starts growing in weird places once you’re old enough to get the senior discount at the movies. But some dudes are born with a furry schnoz, and nothing turns her off more than that tuft poking out of the bat cave. So keep a pair of trimmers handy—like the Brookstone Nose & Ear Trimmer. A quick click of a button (and a little tickle) takes care of nose hair pronto. Bonus: it doubles as an ear-hair trimmer as well.
While these pore plugs aren’t necessarily a product of bad hygiene (your genes may be to blame), letting them go gives off the impression that you haven’t washed your face in days. Though they’re more often found on your nose and cheeks, these buggers can also live in less obvious places, like your chin and ears. And warning: Popping them yourself runs you the risk of scarring. “If a man has blackheads, he should have them extracted by a dermatologist or aesthetician,” says Dr. Ellen Gendler, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the NYU Langone Medical Center. Go for a facial cleansing treatment with extractions. Then, prevent pesky plugged pores going forward by making sure you wash your face immediately after exercising, and follow up with a salicylic acid toner.
She may give you a get-out-of-jail-free card for morning breath, but any other form of stank mouth is inexcusable. To avoid summoning her gag reflex, combat food decay and bacterial build-up—the biggest causes of nasty halitosis—by sticking to this dentist-approved routine: brush your teeth and tongue twice daily, floss once a day, and visit your dentist every six months for professional cleanings. Investing in an electric toothbrush, like Philips Sonicare Essence, can keep breath extra fresh too. And if you’re thinking about skipping the floss? Smell it when you’ve finished the deed next time. You’ll get a taste of what she’s sniffing.
4. RAZOR BURNS
It burns, so you definitely notice when your razor hasn’t given you a clean shave. “A dull razor plus shaving against or across the grain of hair growth is what causes ingrown hairs or bumps—especially with sensitive skin or thicker beards,” says Timmy Yanchun, master barber and co-founder of men’s grooming company Svelte. Bumps are caused by bacteria, believe it or not, that gets into the tiny cuts caused by friction when you shave — whether that’s because of a dull razor, dry skin, or shaving the wrong way. Toss your blade if you spot rust or the indicator strip turns white, and make sure to shave in the right direction. Don’t forget to lotion up afterwards too. A moisturizer like Svelte Velvet soothes irritated skin and hydrates for the next time you shave.
5. BODY ODOUR
You exercise, you sweat. It’s hot out, you sweat. You get worked up arguing your case in the boardroom, you sweat. It happens. But while some studies have shown women are attracted to the smell of their dude’s natural musk, she’s not buying the pheromone excuse—clean pitsalways trump a whiff from a nasty underarm. In addition to using the basics (you know: soap and deodorant), keep your bed sheets or towels super clean, since they’re typically made of a polyester/cotton blend that tends to trap odor. Toss sheets into the dryer every other time you do laundry, and make sure you hang your towels after showering. Mildew is not the post-shower scent you want to sport. Stuff still smells? Try a color-safe bleach like Clorox 2 Liquid Color Safe Bleach.
6. TOO MUCH COLOGNE
Sure, she doesn’t want you to smell like you just ran a half-marathon, but covering up with too much cologne is never the solution. The fewer the spritzes the better, or you run the risk of overdoing it. Hold the bottle at least seven inches away from your neck and press once. That should do it, but if you’re worried you need more, add one spritz to the inside of your wrists. Try Gentleman by Givenchy, a classic scent with husky wood undertones that are perfect for date night, poker night, or the office.
An itchy scalp can be caused by anything from the seasons changing to your DNA. And unless you’re a full-grown towhead, chances are she’ll see the flakes in your head (or on your shoulders). “Although many hairdressers tell their clients to avoid washing hair more than two or three times a week, dandruff is best treated by washing every day with a dandruff shampoo,” says Dr. Gendler. Avoid looking like a first-grader with lice and switch up your regular suds with a treatment formula like Clear Men Scalp Therapy Anti-Dandruff Daily Shampoo. Then, if the problem persists, head to your physician for a heavy-duty prescription foam or liquid.
8. YELLOW TEETH
No one expects you to give up the stuff that might give your teeth a nasty tinge over time, like your morning coffee or artificially colored sports drinks, but there are plenty of ways to counteract the effects. Opt for an at-home solution like Crest 3D Whitestrips Shimmer White. Or if you’re willing to shell out the cash, book a professional whitening with your dentist.
9. CRACKED LIPS
Never underestimate the power of a soft pair of lips—for kissing and, ahem, everything else you do with them. Cold weather or lip-licking habits can cause your mouth to dry out, leaving you with rough or cracked skin. (Yeah, and the last thing you want is her thinking is, “Is that a cold sore?”) For extreme cases, grab a pot of Carmex. It has cocoa seed butter and beeswax to soothe your lips, and an a built-in sunscreen to prevent burn.
10. BACK ACNE
Back acne’s a tough one to tackle—its causes range from genetic predisposition (sorry, guys) to using the wrong type of bath loofah. Your best line of defense, though, is cleansing daily with a body wash that contains acne-zapping ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash is one of our favorites—in the shower, simply squirt a quarter size into your palm and massage into your back using a gentle, circular motion.