Sure, we know you shower, brush, whiten, cleanse and, yes, even wax to the nth degree. You even adhere to Mom’s clean-underwear rule (Cosabella style, of course). But on a skin-deep level, you, too, are a dirty girl. And, no, we’re not talking about your trucker mouth with the gals, nor the pole-dancer moves you practise on the q.t. We’re talking about getting head-to-toe clean.
All gals with an affinity for ’70s winged hair pant for Farrah perfection. Curb your obsession over style, my friends; it’s the scalp you need to pay attention to. Because most of you wash your hair but forget to tend to your scalp, excessive oil remains even after you’ve shampooed, explains Gianni Gagliardi, brand manager for René Furterer. “And when you have oil, crap sticks to it,” he says. Scalp oil (which can cause acne) and dandruff both result from colouring, blow-drying, flatironing, environmental pollution and hair products.
Clean solution: Wash your hair only every second day, with a shampoo that addresses not just your hair but your scalp as well, says Gagliardi, and do so twice, massaging your scalp as you go and allowing the second shampoo to sit for three minutes. “Your first shampoo should primarily remove pollutants, product buildup and dirt. The second shampoo should do what the shampoo claims: hydrating shampoos should hydrate; colour-protecting shampoos should protect.” Avoid your scalp when using conditioner; it’s often too greasy. No matter how undercover the situation, no Angel should be caught with oily tresses.
Sorry, gals, low-maintenance rinse-and-go ain’t enough, says Leanne McCliskie, education manager for The International Dermal Institute. “The average woman under-cleanses her skin. She does one cleanse with a product, shoves it around her face, takes it off and thinks it’s done.”
Clean solution: Avoiding nasty breakouts, clogged pores, dull appearance and irritation requires a twice-daily dose of two-minute face time. All skin types should use a gentle face cleanser twice in a row, morning and night. “The first time just removes makeup, surface dirt and [pollution and dead skin cells]. The second time really cleanses the skin,” says McCliskie. Embrace your inner product lust and spritz with a toner, followed by moisturizer. Coveting that afterglow? Exfoliate twice a week.
You may dare to kiss a total stranger, but lip-lock at your own risk. Odds are that hot Jake Gyllenhaal look-alike you’ve been making goo-goo eyes with has more than 300 uninvited bacteria in his mouth. According to Carol-Ann Yakiwchuk, manager of the health promotion unit at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Community Oral Health in the faculty of dentistry, fewer than 70 percent of Canadians had a date with their dentist last year. So while a white smile may twinkle “come hither,” it doesn’t mean clean. “The average Canadian is brushing for less than one minute, and fewer than one-third floss regularly,” says Yakiwchuk.
Clean solution: Two times a day, brush thoroughly for two minutes, but avoid aggressive or forceful brushing (to prevent damage to the gums and teeth), says colleague and faculty of dentistry instructor Mickey Emmons Wener. Put a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on your brush (preferably, your power brush, as they’re proven to clean better) and sweep each tooth vertically 4–6 times while listening to your new iTune in the living room. Always brush your tongue to combat bad breath, floss before bed and replace your brush when it looks worn and frayed or after three months. And let your toothbrush air-dry upright, adds Wener, “but not close to your toilet. When you flush, there are things circulating up into the air that you don’t want on your toothbrush.”
Risqué antics aside, your body isn’t getting enough action—especially in the shower. So indulge in a sponge, a loofah or take five minutes longer to scrub down because here’s the truth: unexposed skin and body parts aren’t more spic and span than what others see.
Clean solution: Once or twice a day, wash your hidden bits with a mild gel cleanser (which won’t strip your natural oils) to wash away dirt and prevent clogged pores. To get rid of your dead skin cells, gritty parts on the back of the arms, dry patches and sweat buildup, exfoliate 2–3 times a week. “Otherwise, [when you moisturize] you’re just sticking down old skin cells on the surface,” says McCliskie.
Your Eyebrows, Underarms and Bikini Area
Yeah, we know, talkin’ hair removal is far from fab, but know this: less is always more. Ungroomed, long eyebrow hair is associated with age, says Zahara Seaton, a clinical esthetician at Pure Med Spa in Toronto. “Shaping your eyebrows makes your face look brighter, tidier and clean.” You should also travel southbound for regular trims, waxing and shaping because—and there’s no polite way to say it—the longer the hair down there, the more you will smell. “Trimming and waxing helps the area breathe,” explains Seaton.
Clean solution: You don’t have to choose between stripper bare and looking like a bear; it’s all about moderation. Maintain your eyebrows every 3–4 weeks; trim and wax every 4–6 weeks for private areas; and if you don’t like shaving every day, wax your armpits every 2–5 weeks.
Your hands & feet
Get touchy-feely all you like, but know that the hands are probably the dirtiest part of the body. “If you’re out and about and shaking hands, it requires conscious cleaning,” says Jan Arnold, cofounder of Creative Nail Design. And bacteria and dirt can easily get trapped under your nails.
Clean solution: Oblige your need for manhandling and foot fetishes by heading to the salon for a weekly mani and monthly pedi. Be a clean freak and bring a (cleaned and sanitized) personal manicure kit to prevent possible infections. Practise good hygiene at home by washing grime away with a drop of toothpaste on a clean toothbrush, lightly scrubbing underneath the tips and fronts of nails once a week.
Your head-to-toe guide to getting clean
Adriana Ermter reviews the rules to washing, scrubbing and brushing