10 Everyday Grooming Habits That Are Actually Quite Gross
You go out of your way to avoid germs, looking like a weirdo while trying to open doors without touching the handles and even fist-bumping instead of shaking hands (yes, that’s a thing).
But sterilizing your life is a pretty mute point if the everyday grooming habits that you think keep you nice and clean are actually getting you up close and person with a bevy of bacteria.
Here are the 10 biggest bacterial threats in your daily beauty routine—and how to clean up their act. This is how you may have a healthy life
1. Brushing Your Teeth
You might be cleaning your teeth with a tool laden with bacteria, saliva, and, if you’re a particularly aggressive brusher, blood. Even after rinsing a toothbrush with water, it can still be home to hundreds of different microorganisms, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This is one of the best grooming habits .
“Toothbrushes often sit on open spaces like counters, so bacteria that’s floating around—like the particles that become airborne when you flush the toilet—can settle on them,” explains Marina Peredo, a New York City-based dermatologist
“That bacteria can find it’s way into tiny cuts in your gums, causing infections,” she adds.
The fix: The American Dental Association suggests replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months (sooner if you’ve been sick), keeping it in a closed space like a medicine cabinet, and if you share a bathroom and have multiple toothbrushes in there, store them separately to avoid cross-contamination of any lingering germs.
2. Scrubbing Your Skin
Exfoliation is good. Piling germs onto your skin while you’re at it is not. If your loofah hangs out in a hot, steamy bathroom (a paradise for flourishing bacteria) it can breed bacteria and yeast that can worsen certain skin conditions and lead to inflamed or infected hair follicles, says Ariel Ostad, a dermatologist and clinical assistant professor in the department of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center.
The fix: Ditch the loofah.
“You can wash a loofah with soap and water, but it’s nearly impossible to clean out all the nooks and crannies that can harbor bacteria,” says Peredo. “Your best bet is to use a washcloth that can be tossed in a washing machine at a high water temperature to kill germs.”This is one of the best grooming habits .
3. Waxing Your Body Hair
As if waxing weren’t painful enough already (we hurt just thinking about it), it can leave your newly hairless skin vulnerable.
“When you pluck the hair, you leave behind an empty hair follicle, and bacteria can get in,” Ostad explains. And double-dipping isn’t just a no-no at the refreshments table—reusing your wax applicator can cause infections.
The fix: You don’t have to give it up entirely as long as you do it right. Whether you’re a DIY waxer or you go to the salon, make sure the area to be waxed has been thoroughly cleaned, and avoid spots with cuts, scrapes, or open wounds.
While the wax doesn’t have to be replaced after each use, the tong used to apply it to the skin should be sterilized or replaced after each individual dip into the wax.
(Got an ingrown hair? Here’s how to safely remove it.)
4. Shaving Your Legs
Razor blades collect bacteria sitting on the skin, then sit out in a wet shower or sink where they breed more germs, says Peredo. This is one of the best grooming habits .
And when they come in contact with your skin the next time you shave, they can cause uncomfortable folliculitis, or inflammation of the hair follicleThe fix:
Keep your blades clean by rinsing them with water, dipping them in rubbing alcohol, and drying with a paper towel or tissue after each shave, Peredo suggests. You’ll also want to replace your blade every 2 weeks or after 5 to 10 uses. A good rule of thumb is to toss the razor when it starts tugging instead of gliding.
And in case you’re ever tempted to borrow a buddy’s blade a pinch, just don’t: You’re putting yourself at risk for contracting anything that’s affecting their skin.
5. Taking A Bath—Or Shower
Before you settle in for a soak, try to remember the last time you gave that tub a good scrub. “When you take baths,you’re soaking in whatever grime or germs were sitting in the tub, plus whatever dirt was on your skin,” says Gervaise Gerstner, a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist based in New York City. And showers aren’t necessarily better.
Dirty water may go down the drain, but uncleaned shower floors can harbor wart-causing viruses, fungi, and bacteria, says Doris Day, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. The fix: Whether you prefer to lounge in suds or shower off, mark a day on your calendar each week for thorough bathroom sanitizing.This is one of the best grooming habits .
6. Brushing Your Hair
You use your hairbrush every day, but how often do you clean it? Bacteria thrive on the build-up of hair, dead skin, oils and grooming products that are used grooming habits clinging to your bristles.
“Not all of that bacteria is necessarily harmful, but some can cause skin irritation, scalp allergies, and unpleasant odors,” says Gerstner.The fix: Once a week, remove hair from the brush and wash it in warm water with a few drops of shampoo or liquid soap to remover dirt and grime, suggests Gerstner.This is one of the best grooming habits .
To completely disinfect, follow up by soaking the brush in a mixture of ½ cup of warm water and ½ cup of white vinegar for up to 30 minutes.MORE: 9 Genius Ways To Use Vinegar For Prettier Hair And Skin
7. Sloughing Off Callouses
No one wants feet that stick to their sheets, but the light volcanic rock you use to exfoliate that skin has a porous structure that can lead to germy concerns.
“The nooks and crannies in pumice can harbor colonies of fungus or bacteria,” says Gerstner.
“These microorganisms can transfer to the skin, potentially causing an infection.”
The fix: Sanitize your pumice stone after each use by soaking it in a solution of ¼ cup of vinegar and ¾ cup of cold water for about an hour. Then let it air-dry outside or in an open room with lots of air.
8. Putting On Makeup
If you don’t regularly clean your brushes and follow the expiration dates on your makeup, you’re wiping on more than just foundation and mascara.
“Over time, makeup brushes collect oil, dust, and dead skin,” says Gerstner.
And that junk can trigger irritation, acne, and even pink eye. In rare cases, staph and yeast have been known to hide out in makeup, particularly expired mascara, whose dark, damp bottles make it a perfect breeding ground.This is one of the best grooming habits .
The fix: Pay close attention to the dates you buy your makeup and throw them out accordingly, especially mascara (3 months is the general rule of thumb). Keeping brushes germ-free requires a bit more work: Every 2 weeks,
wash them with a squirt of shampoo and set them out to dry. (Check out these other rules for how long to let your makeup hang around.)
9. Treating Yourself To A Pedicure
That tub of water you soak your feet in during a pedicure is a germ hot spot.
“They accumulate biofilm, a combination of skin, hair, lotion and oil residue, ideal environment for fungal and bacterial growth, which can in turn cause infection or fungus on your feet,” says Gerstner.The fix:
No need to swear off pedicures. Just find a salon where they drain and clean each bath with soap or detergent, rinse it with a disinfectant, and dry it after every use (don’t be sheepish about asking if they’ve done a thorough cleaning before you dip your toes in—they’re your feet, after all!). If you have a tub at home for DIY pedicures, use the same cleansing routine on yours.This is one of the best grooming habits .
10. Trimming Your Nails
If your nails are long enough that the edge goes past the tip of your finger, take note: