Updated on 09.08.15

Investing in Yourself: Personal Appearance and Hygiene

Trent Hamm

investRecently, I discussed the value of investing in yourself – putting time and money into improving you, not building assets. Today, we’ll look at one area of investing in yourself as part of an ongoing series on the topic, spread out once per weekday over two weeks.

If this article seems to be too much about “basic life skills” for your tastes, stop for a moment and think about people you’ve met who put little or no effort into their personal appearance. Think of people with bad breath or greasy hair and how your opinion of them subtly changed when you noticed these things. This advice is primarily for those people, but also as a reminder to everyone that the small efforts of personal appearance are tiny investments that do pay off.

Personal appearance is one of those subtle things that’s difficult to quantify. Mostly, it’s a collection of a lot of small investments of time and effort that add up to a slight but noticeable tweak in how people think of you. The difference is real, and over time these small differences in a lot of interactions and events can really add up. Keeping clean and keeping up a good appearance are also great ways to simply feel good – I know for me personally, few things make me feel better than a hot, soaking shower. Even better, personal appearance is something that you can maximize – or at least significantly improve – with just a bit of effort. Here are a bevy of little steps you should be taking to maximize the value of your personal appearance, from the obvious to the subtle.

Maintain a daily hygiene schedule.
For some people, setting aside time each and every day for basic personal hygiene is a challenge. They’re wrapped up in work, super-involved with their families, and have too many things going on, so they’ll just skip an evening shower and make things look all right in the morning, or they’ll simply fall into bed without thinking about it and then get up so late in the morning that they have to bolt out the door to start taking charge of their responsibilities.

Hygiene is important. Schedule some time each day to take care of things. I usually do my hygiene tasks the moment I wake up, and I have a litany of things that I go through as part of the routine. If you don’t have an established routine that is simply a fundamental part of your day, start one. Literally make a list of things to do and do them every day. That time you invest will pay off in the long run because you’ll be constantly providing a subtle positive cue to others about yourself – and you’ll feel better, too.

Take a bath or shower and clean thoroughly.
When I was in school, I bathed in a shared shower situation with a lot of other people and I witnessed people standing under the shower for a few minutes, flopping a bit of soap lather on themselves, rinsing it off, and getting out. If that sounds like your average shower, you need to start scrubbing a bit more. Lather up a washcloth with a lot of soap and use it to scrub down all of your body. Rub vigorously everywhere, then rinse. If the place produces significant odor, do it two or three times. Trust me – at the end of the day, this will leave you feeling much fresher than if you just take an ultra-quickie shower.

Don’t use antibacterial soap.
Antibacterial soap might kill off some of the bacteria on your skin, but that’s bad for two reasons. First of all, it lowers your own resistance to a variety of bacteria, making you more susceptible to bacteria-borne illness. Second, if a soap kills off 99.9% of bacteria, the 0.1% that’s left is going to be resistant to that soap and will thrive. In the words of Dr. Stuart Levy, a microbiologist at Tufts University: “Dousing everything we touch with antibacterial soaps and taking antibiotic medications at the first sign of a cold can upset the natural balance of microorganisms in and around us, leaving behind only the superbugs.” Use some quality soap, but don’t use antibacterial soap – it has no real benefit and may in fact make you sick over the long haul.

Brush your teeth, floss, and get dental checkups.
One of the first things I notice about a person is whether their breath smells badly. For some people, this is a medical condition; for others, it’s a side effect of too much garlic. Either way, you can go a long way towards preventing it by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth every day and floss them, too. Also, visit the dentist sometimes to make sure your teeth are still in good shape.

A clean mouth and clean teeth give you a nice smile and fresh breath, both of which are major positives for one’s personal appearance. It just takes a good scrubbing in the morning to cause it, so don’t skip over brushing your teeth.

Get dental or orthodontic work, if necessary.
When my “adult” teeth first came in, several of the front ones came in highly crooked and it left me feeling very self-conscious. I avoided smiling and looked rather surly much of the time, and when I would occasionally flash my teeth, the inside of my mouth looked like a mangled train wreck. Not pretty, and not good for my social interactions. Thankfully, my father’s health insurance was able to cover braces for these and, after the correction, my teeth appear perfectly straight.

Having your teeth fixed is a wonderful investment. Many health care plans will cover dental corrections, so if you have any issues with your teeth, mention them to your dentist or seek out an orthodontist. Most dental corrections are simple and very cost effective investments for improving your personal appearance, so seek them out.

Use deodorant.
A scentless odor-blocking deodorant, preferably one that does an effective job of absorbing moisture, can do wonders for both minimizing any potential body odor and for keeping any moisture from appearing on your clothing. Most deodorants work pretty well for the average person – don’t overthink it, just apply it.

Keep your hair clean and trimmed evenly, at the very least.
Again, a fairly obvious tip: keep your hair clean, combed, and trimmed. I like to keep my hair very short – it’s easy to make it look professional and very easy to keep clean. In fact, for quite a while, I kept it at stubble length – it looked good and was almost no maintenance at all.

The important thing is to keep it clean. Clean hair, even if it’s a bit disheveled or not cut perfectly, does wonders for a person’s appearance. When you take a shower or bath, give your hair a thorough scrubbing.

Shave, or keep your beard trimmed.
Almost every guy in America goes through a beard phase – some for longer than others. I was no exception. For a few years, I had a strong lumberjack look going. My beard grows in very thick, so it was hard to even keep trimmed well and now I have to shave twice a day to keep a clean-shaven appearance.

Why bother? Again, it’s a subtle symbol of your attention to detail. An unshaven face on most males looks pretty unkempt and unprofessional and gives off subtle signs of “I don’t care.”

Minimize body artwork unless it clearly doesn’t matter or is beneficial to your career.
Personally, I’m all in favor of people expressing themselves through body art. While I’ve personally never utilized any, both of my brothers have a wide assortment of body art and some of it is simply stunning. However, I’ve personally witnessed this body art causing a social stigma for my middle brother, who has several pieces visibly evident beyond his clothing. He’s been avoided on the street, passed over for work promotions, and faced various subtle social stigmas because of the art.

If you choose to have body art, be aware that for many people, such art is in fact a social stigma and that you will suffer for it in various ways, both subtle and non-subtle. In some careers and some social strata, body art is inconsequential or even encouraged, but this is far from true for all careers and all social strata. In a nutshell, be very careful of the long-term consequences if you are considering some form of permanent body art.

Dress well, usually a touch above what is considered the norm.
Observe what the standard dress code is in your workplace, then strive to dress just a slight notch better than that. Not enough so that you stick out, but enough so that you look very crisp and fresh compared to the rest of the crowd. If everyone wears t-shirts and blue jeans in a work environment, wear ones that are crisp and clean. If you’re in a highly casual office environment, stick to business casual. If everyone wears dress shirts and Dockers, keep your clothes clean and pressed and bust out a tie on occasion.

Of course, this doesn’t work in all work cultures. At a minimum, make sure what you’re wearing is clean and presentable, though, as people will visit and draw a number of conclusions based on your appearance – a bunch of grungy guys in cubicle-land doesn’t instill heavy confidence in the higher-ups.

Greet everyone you meet, shake hands, smile, and willingly engage in conversation.
Once a day or so, I make the rounds to all of the offices and cubicles near where I work, greeting everyone and saying hello. As a result, I have a fairly solid relationship with everyone nearby. Whenever someone new comes into the office, I greet them and shake their hands firmly.

All of this only takes a few moments, but it creates a very positive impression of you in a social sense, particularly when combined with good hygiene and good appearance. It only takes a few greetings from a well-scrubbed person to develop some level of positive feelings towards that person, and that’s something that’s always good to have in your corner.

Here’s the bottom line: keep yourself clean and presentable, dress well, and interact positively with others. It takes time, effort, and a bit of money to pull that off, but if you do, you’ll create an overall positive impression of yourself with everyone you interact with, and that positive impression is something very, very valuable to have.

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  1. john says:

    Do you know of any dental plans that covers adult braces? I’m 26 and I’m looking to straighten my teeth.

  2. Elaine says:

    I guess I’m fortunate that my employer (generic corporate office stuff) doesn’t care about body art in itself. I have six visible piercings (two of them half an inch in diameter) and a tattoo on my forearm, but my general appearance is professional and… well pretty much standard business casual. Body art doesn’t mean dingy or unprofessional-looking. I’d say if you have piercings or tattoos, and it’s not typically viewed as a positive characteristic in your line of work, be *really* good at what you do, find someone who will recognize your talents, and change people’s perceptions.

  3. dawn says:

    Terrific post Trent-
    My oldest son is a gifted tattoo artist, and he always takes a significant amount of time communicating with a client over the realities of getting a piece. Even though it is becoming less stigmatized – it still is stigmatized & can create issues as you said. These works can be awesome – but they really are a lifelong commitment, so everybody – please think twice or even three times before getting one!

  4. Empress Juju says:

    This one is more of a time investment than anything, and I do feel so much better when I allow myself plenty of time in the mornings to take care of my grooming and hygiene, rather than giving it all a lick & a promise, and hoping that will do!

    I have dreadlocked hair (which I maintain scrupulously) and half-sleeve tattoos on both of my arms (which are covered by my shirtsleeves), and I work in a fairly conservative field. My looks are accepted, I believe, because I am a consummate professional, and because my hygiene and wardrobe are impeccable.

    Clients and co-workers know that I will never behave in an inappropriate or unprofessional manner, and the same is not always true of my colleagues who have more standard hairstyles, but don’t seem to own a clothes iron!

  5. Ryan says:

    I’m a college student and see hundreds of people each weekday. How many do I need to greet? I try to smile in the halls between class at those I’ve met before, and say hi to most acquaintances/friends, but as an introvert it takes a lot of energy to say something to everyone. Any recommendations for those of us in the college environment?

  6. margo says:

    No offense, Trent, but I didn’t care for this article.

    For starters, its almost… vaguely… insulting? Explaining to adults how to wash their bodies? Do people really need to be told to use deoderant and brush their teeth?

    Probably more importantly, I think its weak in terms of content. From a personal finance standpoint, I’d be more interested in hearing what you take is on the cost savings between going the old-fashioned dry-cleaners route (more expensive for women than for men) versus using at-home dry-cleaning kits and doing your own ironing.

    Or expounding on whether at-home teeth-whitening kits are worth the money.

    Or possibly pointing out ways that people waste money in the hygiene department– baths use more water than showers, using too much shampoo (a dab’ll do ya), washing hair too frequently (especially for women with long hair), buying expensive “sonic” toothbrushes, etc.

    Not that I would expect you to be able to hold forth on this last topic, but you know what I’ve been struggling with this week? How expensive makeup can be, how it is expected in a professional environment for a woman, how you tend to “get what you pay for” and oh– also that you have to replace it on schedule unless you enjoy pink eye.

    Not to be harsh, I offer my criticism constructively.

  7. Josh says:

    Very cool post.
    I have a detailed morning routine and I’m always looking for something easy to add. This post got me thinking about using teeth whitening strips while I am in the shower. Hmmmmm.
    When I was in college my sophomore year I had a morbidly obese roomate. He used some sort of hemp soap and had the lazy attitude in the bathroom like you described; although thankfully I never witnessed it first hand. His feet smelled the room up so much it was embarassing to have people over and his sheets, particulary the lower half, were too gross to describe.

  8. Kyle says:

    I have to agree with Margo. I do what I feel is necessary, which I think is plenty, and if people don’t like the way I look/smell/etc screw them.

  9. J.D. says:

    John, I’m nearly 39, and will be getting braces soon. My wife has coverage through her employer that will give me 50% of my annual orthodontic expenses (up to $1500 lifetime). That’s not a lot, but it’s better than nothing. I never thought I’d get braces — I thought it was a vain thing to do — but I recently changed my mind. I’m sort of nervous about it. It seems like something I should have done 25 year ago!

  10. Excellent topic and information! Not too long ago, I presented some of these topics to a local association gathering geared toward preparing high schoolers for the workforce. These same things apply for minimum-wage positions on up. The rule I use is that if you are working with body art, then it is acceptable to have it visible.

  11. Kat says:

    I agree with Margo. This post was just terrible and insulting. I also feel it is a rework of a post I have read on here before.
    The only part I was mildly happy to see was the point of not using antibacterial soap because it should never be used.

  12. Rob says:

    People need to be told quite a few things, especially hygiene. Take a walk and look at people. They should have mirrors on every corner, with a caption ” would you hire this person?”

  13. Susie says:

    I have to disagree with Margo as this post may not be needed by yourself, there are some people don’t know this stuff. I work in the accounting profession and have several friends that work in public practice who have encountered people trying to get ahead who don’t seem to get it.
    Greasy unwashed hair is unattractive, looks unprofessional and will keep you from getting ahead. And the social stigma that they don’t seem to understand is shocking.
    I also have to say that as a teenager my parents moved our family to a farm without running water and we weren’t encouraged to bathe, brush our teeth or keep our clothes clean. I was lucky enough to get a mentor/boss/friend who understood and explained it to me until I got it, because no one else wanted to metion anything. I don’t like to think that I would never have firgured it out but I had to make myself a list for a number of years to make sure I didn’t forget anything and make sure I gave myself the time. Raises and promotions don’t tend to go to people that look bad even in areas where getting filthy is part of the job (currently work as a controller at an oil field maintenance company and it even happens here).
    Thanks Trent for poiting out for those who just haven’t firgured it out yet.

  14. Jillian says:

    One thing you didn’t mention – please, for everyone’s sake, go easy on the fragrances! Guys especially seem to think if they just spray on half the can they will have attractive young women falling all over them. Well, I’m not that attractive or even that young, but if I can smell you from across the room, what reason do I have to get any closer? I think as a general rule, if you can smell it yourself and you’re not currently sweating, you’ve used too much.

  15. InvestEveryMonth.com says:

    When I think about investing in myself, I try to remember the saying, “We spend our health trying to get wealth, and then we spend our wealth trying to get health.” I’m trying to maintain a balance.

  16. MSMS says:

    I lump this one in there with posts like “power of compounding interest” and “what is a mutual fund?”. Many of us will not gain anything new from them, but those who don’t know the material *really* need to hear it.

  17. Sandy says:

    About overspraying perfume — has anyone been in church lately where the elderly ladies overspray with perfume? Here’s good advice to avoid that. Spray into the air next to you, then walk into it w/the side of your neck.

    Re constructive criticism: would I ever write an article to grown adults telling them about personal hygiene as though they were all in 2nd grade? Sorry Trent — but do you think you are everyone’s mother??

  18. Pat says:

    What about wiping? Why aren’t there instructions on proper toilet paper usage on this here blog? How about a discussion on the the ol’ front to back versus back to front debate? I personally prefer the former (taint to cheek) method. Or the vagaries of the feminine hygiene product. A good roundabout. If this is a personal finance blog post, then I’m a personal finance guru. Amen.

  19. !wanda says:

    About tattoos: In Japan and some other Asian countries, the only people who get tattoos are in organized criminal enterprises. Many businesses in Japan ban customers with tattoos. If you are going to be working or living overseas in one of these countries, it will be very, very difficult to overcome that stigma no matter how professional and talented you are.

    About orthodontics: I had braces when I was little, and my teeth are still slightly misaligned. (There are other problems too, but they’re not serious or visible.) I’ve been to two orthodontists, and they both say that to completely fix my problem I’d need surgery to change my jaw. (I have a very prominent chin, which is why my bottom teeth crowd too far forward.) It would be nice to have perfectly aligned teeth and a more reasonable chin, but I’m not sure that it’s worth spending >$5000 and going through a year+ total of braces and surgery.

  20. Kate says:

    Seriously? You’re telling me to wash my crotch and get my hair cut regularly?

    I’ve felt like you’ve been recycling old content for a while, but now I’m sure. You’re really struggling for content. Consider yourself minus one reader.

  21. laura k says:

    A bunch of random thoughts:

    I’ve heard that you lose your sense of smell when you age. I think that’s why older folks slather on the fragrance.

    I used to work in a hospital that was designated “fragrance free.” Really nice to not have to breathe that stuff all day – my eyes water when I walk down the fabric softener aisle at the grocery store!

    Re: deodorant, I use the crystal that you moisten if I use any at all. Once I ended up using some mainstream type that turned out to be powder scented. Later in the day I scratched my head for some reason and noticed a powder smell on my hand. They say everything you ingest comes out through your head, but it was quite a lesson to find deodorant seeping out of the pores in my scalp! Yuck!!

  22. Michelle says:

    I wish we all lived in a world where personal appearance didn’t matter or adults didn’t need to be told to brush their teeth, wash their hair, etc. But, unfortunately, that’s not the case. Appearances do matter and people are frequently judged by how they look. This doesn’t mean that we need to berate ourselves for not looking like models, but a well-groomed appearance goes a long way in the corporate world. So does appropriate attire. Good post, Trent!

  23. Jack says:

    I must agree with margo and Sandy – I know how to shower, thanks. And studying how other people shower in a shared bathroom? Am I only one who thinks that is strange?

  24. Michael says:

    @!wanda:”In Japan and some other Asian countries, the only people who get tattoos are in organized criminal enterprises.”

    This hasn’t been true for 10+ years. Tattoos are very common in Japan, although hidden in the workplace.

    Trent, I don’t think this post was insulting. In fact, I think it was a logical inclusion in the series. One thing I will comment on, though: I’d guess that you haven’t been in the business world for several years. As a businessman with very long hair and tattoos that occasionally show (in a polo shirt while golfing, for instance), I can assure you that my appearance hasn’t worked to my detriment since the late ’80s (when I was turned down for a job at Wendy’s — maybe that wasn’t to my detriment after all!)

    In fact, while my hair (usually braided) is a total non-issue, I’ve many times been approached by conservative, button-down types who want to talk tattoos — theirs are usually hidden better than mine, though.

  25. lorax says:

    re Dressing Well – in much of the engineering and science world, dressing better than the norm can be an invitation for your coworkers to look at you askance. They’ll wonder what you’re trying to paper over with clothing.

    On the other hand, it’s good for LBYM.

  26. Imelda says:

    I have to agree with the critics in saying this wasn’t a great article. I didn’t find it insulting so much as…creepy? This guy I don’t know whom I go to for financial advice is telling me how to clean myself?

    I also have to say that some of your information was just bad, because they were from a single point of view. Try telling your average black woman to wash her hair thoroughly whenever she showers (or any woman with curly hair). And the whole bit about furiously scraping your body clean with a washcloth… honestly, that sounded a bit to me like the mania of someone who was once taunted for uncleanliness.

    Sorry. But this whole post was kind of weird, whether because condescending or creepy. And I disagree with those who point to unclean people and call it proof that articles like this are needed. All functioning adults know how to brush their teeth and wash their bodies. Unlike personal finance, dirtiness is not caused by not knowing what to do! Puh-lease. It’s caused by laziness or culture or some personal issue.

    Can you actually imagine someone reading this post and thinking “Eureka! So THAT’S what deodorant is for!”…?

  27. !wanda says:

    @lorax: I’m a neuroscience grad student, and in my field people usually dress up to give presentations and interviews, and that feels appropriate. If someone gives a seminar and doesn’t dress up, I tend to think “arrogant” instead of “slob.” I know other fields are different; my impression of CS is that people dress almost aggressively informally.

    @the complainers: I knew very smart people in college who showered maybe once a week. The guys stunk (the girls, actually, not so much). I assume they knew about showering and hygiene, but they just felt like that advice wasn’t important for them. Luckily, after graduation, I haven’t run into that kind of person. I feel really, really sorry for Trent if he works with people who still don’t see the need to shower or brush their teeth.

  28. Jean says:

    I see you’re catching some flak about the hygiene talk — but I’d like to add this. This is a world where the hospitals have to post signage on how to wash your hands in the washrooms. They post signage on how to not spread colds, by not couching in peoples faces. The most basic of hygiene requirements.

    Trust me — people need to know this stuff. Because people don’t know it anymore.

    Good work, Trent!

  29. E.C. says:

    In physics, anything goes for daily wear around my department, including socks with sandals and the occasional item of inside out clothing. Conferences or presentations by visitors do call for spiffy attire.

    I agree with those who found this somewhat condescending. This is mostly information that was covered in adequately in elementary school health class. “Keep yourself clean and presentable” is not something most readers of your blog need to be told. We generally do a fine job of remembering to bathe and brush our teeth without the need for lists and schedules!

  30. K.J. says:

    My gentleman friend has dreadlocks and is clean as a whistle. I have some ink but it’s in a place where I can choose work-appropriate clothing to cover it. Both of us are successful professionals in a conservative field of study.

    Trent, sir, I’m with the above folks regarding, for example, daily hair washing — I usually really enjoy your blog, and I agree that personal appearance is important and that there is a small bit of the population who could use a reminder, but I think this might be the last you consider writing on the subject for a while?

    Having just spent some time reviewing the literature, I’m still convinced the jury’s out on the long-term effects of aluminum exposure for human health. For a great _aluminum-free_ deodorant, I prefer Tom’s of Maine natural, unscented. (Aluminum is what makes many antiperspirants work, so this product will not stop wetness.)

  31. Dana says:

    I’m gonna be the weirdo again and sort of embarrassedly raise my hand as one person who doesn’t shower every day. In fact there are weeks when I may only get a shower two or three times. I am here alone a lot with my three-year-old daughter, and then when her dad comes over in the evenings we likely as not will run out and do something, and then when she’s in bed I just want to sit and unwind on the laptop.

    I was not always this way. I used to shower daily or almost daily. But I used to have more of a social life, too. I would hazard a guess that people who do not have social lives and who don’t bathe often as a result wind up in a vicious cycle where they can’t re-obtain a social life because they gave up on regular bathing because… they didn’t have a social life. Yay. Not trolling for sympathy, just making an observation.

    Re: the keeping hair neatly trimmed bit: I am almost allergic to beauty salons. Not literally, but psychologically. Years ago when I still bothered to go to them a few times a year, I would tell the beautician what I wanted and like as not she would try to talk me into something that I didn’t want. That got seriously irritating, so I quit going. Nowadays I just wear it in a braid down my back. I know it’s irrational to keep avoiding haircuts from something that last happened ten years or more ago, and I hope to get into a salon one of these days if I ever have the time and the money on the same day.

  32. Jae says:

    Trent, I love your posts. But, this one really missed the mark. As I read, I became increasingly mystified as to why you would feel the need to write about such a basic, common sense issue.

    I felt it was condescending also.

    Please take the constructive criticism in the remarks to heart. My assumption is that readers of this blog are educated rather than being in need of elementary school health information.

  33. LsuPuff says:

    I paid $3500 for my braces after discount. I get them off in September in time for my birthday. Then it’s on to gum contouring and whitening. While is think it’s silly for most people, I have always been ashamed to show my teeth (not crooked but slanted backwards from years of trumpet playing). I hope for an appearance at my wedding next year :)

  34. Eric says:

    You’re 100% right that the little things matter. A former coworker of mine got sick a few years back and was out for about a month. During that time, I sent him an email just to say that I hope he’s doing well, just because he was a good guy who I’d shared a pint with once or twice. I ran in to him tonight and he happened to mention that I was the only person that took the time out to acknowledge that he was out. I was working with a bunch of computer people at the time, but still, it’s amazing how people are shy about showing concern for other people.

  35. rachel says:

    Some of you here think that Trent’s advice is insulting, but I have to tell you that as someone who’s often had to sit in on interviews of potential hirees as part of my job, one of the things that has amazed me is the appalling grooming, dress and behavior of some of the applicants. No, we will not hire you if you stink. No, we will not hire you if you’re unkempt and dressed inappropriately. (What kind of ninny shows up for a job interview for in sweaty gym duds, anyway?) No, we will not hire you if you’re confrontational and abrasive or if you spend the interview time talking about your religion. And no, your fantastic qualifications are not going to get you past a bad impression at the interview.

  36. Rebecca says:

    Trent, after several years in the workforce at a corporate headquarters, I can say that this advice is always a welcome reminder. It amazes me how many people take no pride or effort in their appearance. Thanks for the post.

  37. Tim says:

    i’m amused at how many people were offended by this posting. ok, perhaps it did lean towards an standardized way of dress and appearance; however, the underlying fact is that personal hygiene is necessary and important and a part of living a healthy life. personal hygiene is preventive maintenance like you would do on any other mechanical item. if you don’t do it, the cost of repair will more than likely be much greater than if you had kept up with routine maintenance.

    i also think that much of personal hygiene is out of laziness, but there is also a bit of ignorance going on out there, especially as it pertains to antibacterial products. so although people know how to shower or clean themselves, there is a great deal of going overboard based off of paranoia.

    the last thing i will add, is let your kids play in, with and eat dirt.

  38. Esther says:

    I think it’s a great post, though most of it should be a no-brainer to anyone over 15. Sad that it isn’t.

    Here’s another one for us ladies: If you dye your hair, get your roots retouched. Regularly.

  39. Cynthia says:

    I think Trent was correct in including something on the subject of personal hygiene and appearance as he is covering, ‘Investing In Yourself’.

    Seems a logical topic to me. Having just interviewed 48 people for one position I can tell you – I wish many of them had read this post! Those who take care of their own personal hygiene and appearance without a thought, as a given? Of course you may think this an odd topic for Trent to cover. But, let me tell you. From this latest experience interviewing all these people – their lack of attention to the subject IS going to affect their finances – ’cause I’m not going to hire a bunch of them simply due to this basic failure on their part. And, I doubt others they apply to will either.

    If you don’t clean under your fingernails, I have my doubts whether or not you know how to turn on the faucet in your shower or even own soap – all the work experience in the world is not going to encourage me to consider hiring you if someone who does do these things and has the same or equivalent experience (heck even less) is also in the running. I’d have to work with you! It also shows a lack of pride and attention and makes one wonder if the same lack would spill over in to how they would handle the work required.

    And, I may not personally have a problem with ink and piercings, but if I’m hiring for a position that involves working with our customers face to face, it will certainly have an impact on my decision, because that person would be the ‘image’ or face for our company. If we had a different customer base – perhaps it wouldn’t matter.

    So, Trent – thanks! Maybe all these seemingly otherwise qualified people out there, looking for work, will take a hint from your post and finally figure out why they are having a hard time finding employment to pay their bills!

  40. Titika says:

    Trent, I think it’s a shame, but lots of people need to hear this info! I know because I remember the showers my ex-husband used to take! I also appreciate your point of view since I know you’ve conducted lots of interviews, so you have some idea about what employers tend to look for.

  41. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I debated for a while whether to write this post and I finally decided to go ahead with it, knowing that it would probably ruffle some feathers. If it did, I hope you’ll read the other comments and realize that this is actually a serious and worthwhile issue to address.

    I’ve interviewed people for professional jobs with serious issues in these areas. I’ve seen a lot of supposedly professional people (based on their dress) at the grocery store and other public places with greasy hair and body odor.

    If this post got one person to change their personal hygiene routine, then I’d gladly trade the improvement in one person’s life for a hundred comments like “I’ve felt like you’ve been recycling old content for a while, but now I’m sure. You’re really struggling for content. Consider yourself minus one reader.” (I actually have more post ideas right now than I possibly have time to write, incidentally – I posted this one because it’s important, even if some of you didn’t think so.)

  42. Diane says:

    When I was reading this post I said, do people really NEED to be told to brush their teeth and take a shower?! My husband was standing next to me and replied, if my work is any indication, the answer to that is YES!

    My intial instinct was to think it was not really a necessary post, but I guess not everyone knows the basics.

  43. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    If you read this post and thought “This is a waste,” try to think of someone you know or you’ve met who needed to take a bath, shave, or get rid of their bad breath. This article’s for them, not for you.

  44. Jennifer says:

    Having worked in corporate america management for 7 years, I must say that there are professionals who need this information. At least 1 x per year a manager on our team had the task of trying to work through an issue where 1 member of the team “stunk up the joint”. Working in a cubicle farm has it’s disadvantages for sure and no one wants to share their work area with someone who doesn’t have basic hygiene… Sometimes the message had to be delivered about using too much perfume. Othertimes it was about the smell. I worked in a huge company, not some rinky dink, back alley business either. You may not think it’s necessary but I’ve seen that it is.

  45. JE says:

    Yes, there may be some folks out there who need this advice, BUT BUT BUT, being told that you absolutely should invest in something like braces is ridiculous. Unless you have teeth so crooked that you are likely to end up with other dental problems, there is absolutely no reason to spend a boat load of cash on braces. Perfectly straight, bright white teeth are a Hollywood creation. A crooked smile can be just as clean and friendly as a perfectly straight one.

  46. You know, there is something that has not been touched on here, either in the article or the comments.

    Many people have trouble controlling their spending because of emotional issues. We get depressed, angry or sad, and we spend to make ourselves feel better.

    Not taking proper care with personal hygiene is an emotional issue too. We do not feel good, so we do not always get up and take care of ourselves the way that we know we should.

    This in turn, can lead us to feel worse, and occasionally to spend out of frustration.

    For example: Woke up late, missed my shower, worked all day, had no plan for dinner, feel too rotten to cook, lets eat out! It is all part of one big problem.

    It is not that we don’t “know the basics.” We all know the basics of bathing, just like we know the basics of saving or even investing. The point is there is something that gets in the way of doing those things correctly sometimes.

    Trent even offered the solution: Routines. Routines let you take care of the important things out of habit. Once frugality becomes a routine, your money problems are normally solved. Once personal hygiene becomes a routine, you generally feel better about yourself and it helps ease some of the panic from feeling bad, and the financial strain from trying to cover that “feeling bad” up with a new purchase.

    Thanks for this post Trent, I think it really was brilliant.

    Just my 10 cents. :)

  47. AlsoSusie says:

    I’m surprised no one has touched on the fact that we, as Americans, put a much higher value on over-cleanliness than does much of the rest of the world. Daily showers are NOT a necessity–they are, in fact, a luxury. You can make yourself sufficiently clean with a washcloth and a basin of water. And no, you won’t stink any more than you would had you wasted gallons of water and energy heating that water. If you are worried about body odor, ask someone you trust–preferably a little kid, since they’ll be honest.

    I agree a clean, neat appearance is important, but I really REALLY disagree that you need to spend lots of money and resources maintaining it.

    I’m often complimented at work for my appearance and for my ‘great hair’. I wash said hair once a week and shower twice a week. The rest of the time a damp brush and a washcloth and a sink of soapy water does the trick.

  48. acwang says:

    “Take a bath”, “Brush your teeth”… wow… thanks for the great advise. This surely made my day. !!!DUH!!! What happened to common sense????

    People who are dumb enough to go to a job interview who smell or look like like garbage do not deserve that job in the first place.

  49. Jae says:

    Please don’t get defensive in your comments to the readers. It really is not professional, especially now that you want to make a living off of your writing.

    I think your post would have been more powerful had you focused on the “interviewing impressions” rather than adopting a preachy “you need to do this tone”. That, to me, is what was insulting in your post, not the content, per say.

    For me at least, being preached at doesn’t work. Others clearly felt the same way because I haven’t seen similar responses in any of your other posts.

    I am a teacher, and I work with far too many other teachers who, to be blunt, dress like slobs. So, clearly, you took a needed risk in writing about this issue.

    However, cutting down on the preachiness and focusing on the pitfalls of being a slob in interviews would have gotten your point across much better.

    I still love your posts, and please don’t get defensive in public.

  50. margo says:

    Its not that I have never met someone with slovenly personal hygiene habits– of course I have. I just don’t think this is the audience that needs this advice. I think the vast, vast majority of functioning adults in our society know what a minimum standard of personal hygiene is. For those that choose something less than that, I think the reason is laziness or obstinacy, not a lack of knowledge.

    I’d like to read a comment from whoever read this post admitting that they didn’t KNOW THEY NEEDED TO “rub vigorously everywhere” with a soapy washcloth when showering, “brush your teeth every day and floss them,” or “use deoderant.”


  51. margo says:

    I am not, by the way, saying all the advice in the article was uncalled for. Certainly the part about antibacterial soap I agree with, and I think there is value in dressing at the upper end of the dress code in a professional environment.

    I am pointing out what I considered to be the very weak parts of the article.

  52. laura k says:

    As I read through other people’s comments, it seems there are simply different types of routines. I would not go to a job interview with gunk under my fingernails, but I don’t make it a habit to schedule my nail cleaning in a regimented way (e.g., daily, 37 seconds after I have dried off from the shower). In general, if I see some gunk, I’ll get rid of it at that time. My routine is to “clean as you go,” while Trent (and others) likes to take care of everything in one fell swoop.

    Yes, if I have a job interview or other important event, I will probably make an effort to consolidate everything into a single hygiene-a-palooza, but in general I find it easier to do a little at a time.

    That said, I do very little when it comes to grooming. For example, I don’t style my hair. It is long and straight, and all I have to do it brush out the tangles in the morning, and it’s done. I wash it once a week and let it air dry. The biggest hassle is that it takes about 8 hours to dry fully. My hair dresser says this is in part because I don’t use any styling products that would dry it out. People have told me that I must just have “good hair.” While that might be part of it, I chalk it up to simply being happy with what I have and not trying to change it.

  53. Mark says:

    Trent, I agree with you. I am 5 years old and my mom also give me same advise. She always tell me to take a shower, use soap and and brush my teeth.

    Also, I have 1 great advise. My mom always tell me that after I go to toilet for poo-poo, always use tissue to wipe my “behind”.

    (Poo-poo -> see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_talk)

  54. Ro says:

    My feathers certainly aren’t ruffled, but I didn’t particularly enjoy this piece. Being told how to bathe myself was a bit…weird, I guess.

  55. disavow says:

    For the people who don’t need this advice, it sounds a bit silly; but the people who do need it, *really really* need it. Like the guy at my work who was fired for chronically smelling of cat urine. Or the hirsute guys with an unbroken swath of hair from head to back. Or the folks with black gunk around their gums from chewing tobacco. Pretty nasty stuff.

  56. Andy says:

    I’m a little surprised by the responses of people that found this “insulting.” I would have thought that most people realize that advice like this is intended for the people who don’t know. When Trent talks about Finance 101, you don’t see people who know the stuff already commenting that the posts are obvious and unnecessary.

    That being said, while I appreciate the thought behind this article, I disagree almost entirely with it, because I am a firm believer in changing or eliminating stereotypes. I remember reading somewhere that the majority of corporate upper management people are white males that are 6 feet or taller. Does this mean that everyone should try to act like a 6 foot white male to get ahead? No! So, when you feel like you should dress in a suit as a sign of respect for your boss, go ahead, but don’t cut your hair, remove your piercings, or change your personality to impress someone. If they can’t respect you for who you are, maybe they don’t deserve your full respect until they become a little more accepting.

  57. CHB says:

    I’m mostly with Margo and Jae on this one. Trent I used to be a feed-reader but I continually felt that you were talking down to me and tended to get defensive in response to negative feedback so I unsubscribed. I still visit occasionally but haven’t noticed a change, but I hope you will try to work on this in an “Investing in Yourself” kind of way.

    As for the article, I would love a follow-up from a woman’s perspective. We have a lot more complicated and emotional issues about our appearance that we’ve dealt with every day of our lives – and most of the ways we’re told to “improve” involve spending more money and time than men have to. This is a really emotional issue for me personally and I would love to hear more discussion about it.

    Thanks for deciding to post on a relatively controversial topic!

  58. Eric says:

    People really do not realize these things. Perhaps some of the audience does realize this, but I am sure there are a few who this made some sense to and reached. If I were one of the people who didn’t shower, for example, I double I would be replying – I’d be embarrassed. So, Trent, you’ve likely reached a quiet minority here, and that’s important.

    The other thing that I think some of the critics are missing is that people in general do NOT know how to dress. You can do your own thing, and be an individual, or you can make an impression with higher ups who likely don’t care about your fandom for Nirvana or think your Jack Bauer “Damn it Chloe” t-shirt is funny or appropriate.

    Take it from someone who HATED the idea of having to wear “dressy” clothes – people do take you more seriously when you dress differently. To change the system, you have to work within the system. It would be awesome to teach in pajamas, but how seriously would my students take me?

    Even after people get a job, they sometimes don’t dress well. My department runs an internship program through our college and one student would go to the internship wearing, how shall I say this nicely, revealing clothing. If this were a full time job no one would ever be able to say anything to her, but we were able to mention it to her after the internship was over. She really didn’t see at first why it was an issue that her … assets … were hanging out.

    The concept of “dressing for the job you want, not for the job you have” is one that a lot of people think is common sense, but it really is not.

  59. laura k says:

    @CHB – I get where you’re coming from on the messages that women receive. As I thought about your comment, I realized that I have designed my life in such a way that I inadvertently get very few of those messages: I don’t have a TV, and I rarely see mainstream movies. I hardly ever read magazines. I am relentless about getting off of mailing lists, so I rarely get catalogs in the mail. I can’t stand malls, so I don’t go there.

    Now, when I see a billboard or ad or story that is sending women a message that they need to improve themselves, I look at it with a critical eye. If there’s a picture of a model, I feel sorry for her. I also feel sorry for the company that is advertising. If they have to stoop to the level of playing on people’s insecurities to sell their product, it must not be a very good product to begin with. (OK, I realize that most advertising does this, but I guess that is why I avoid it as much as possible.) I struggled with an eating disorder for much of my young adult life. As soon as I stopped giving a sh!t about what other people thought about me, it just sort of faded away. It feels great to live my live on my own terms.

    @Eric – I don’t shower every day, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. In fact, I’ve mentioned it in other comments I’ve left on Trent’s blog. There are several financial benefits to this (to bring this conversation back around to PF): 1. My water bill is much lower. 2. I buy less soap, shampoo and conditioner. 3. My skin is less dry, so I don’t need to use as much (or any) lotion. 4. My hair is healthier, so I don’t need to buy any products to make it shiny, or soft, or more in control. There are also benefits to the environment, and I can use the time that I would have spent showering doing more important things like playing for an extra 10 minutes with my kids (or cats, since I don’t have kids).

    Since, in less than a year, I got two raises that were each more than 30% (one was actually a job change), I don’t think it’s had any adverse effects on my career.

  60. Bonnie says:

    Good post, Trent. I needed a reminder of, as Eric mentioned, “dressing for the job you want, not the job you have.” My workplace, despite being a corporate environment, has an uber-casual dress code for most departments(visible tattoos are OK, jeans/shorts/T-shirts are acceptable every day, etc.). One woman even wore fuzzy slippers and sweatpants one day! I have noticed, though, that with a few exceptions, the folks who get promoted are the ones who dress business-casual at the very least on most days, and those of us who wear jeans usually (guilty as charged) are kind of languishing in cubeland. First, though, I need to fit some new clothes into my budget. :)

  61. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I agree that this article was unnecessary for 80-90% of my audience.

    However, I figured that the 80-90% would understand that this article would have a lot of value for the 10-20% that really needed the advice. I want everyone to succeed, and sometimes that means writing about topics that are really valuable to just a sliver of people.

    I tend to hope when I do that that people will see what’s going on and contribute additional advice, like the people who have added some great discussion about dreadlocks and about how some people can get by with less hair washing (I actually have to shave and wash my hair more than once a day to appear clean – even one day leaves me looking like a street bum because my hair is naturally oily and my beard grows at a ridiculous pace).

    When I see negativity, I’m basically hurt – not because of the attack on my own writing (I could care less, really, about attacks towards me – I’ve heard such intensely personal, hurtful things because of this blog that if it really bothered me, I would have quit long ago), but because I envision someone who really needs to see this advice reading the article, then reading the comments, then feeling rather negative towards themselves and towards any changes they might need to make in their lives.

    It’s similar to the logic I used when I wrote specifically to a minimum wage earner a while back. Virtually no one reading this blog is a minimum wage earner. I was trying to reach a 10-20% sliver of my potential audience with some information that they might need for success.

  62. Anon says:

    I fall into the category of people who thought this was a bit off-mark, not that I found it condescending, but think that most of your readers don’t – or shouldn’t – need to be told how to clean themselves. That said, I have lived in a large European capital city for 8 years where personal hygiene is not top priority for many of the student and artsy types as well as “regular people”. There are days on a crowded subway where the ride is hard to handle, to put it mildly. I think some people can’t afford soap, or think it is too bourgeoise to shower.

    But I hope that in America the case is different, and when I move back there (after this recession!) hope to find people who, when they were growing up, learned how to shower and dress well. Europeans think Americans are prude and literally “squeaky clean” in their habits, so I am a bit disturbed to read this. When I last lived there, in the Midwest, I thought the standards were ok. A lot sure has changed this decade, and not because of 9/11, I guess!

    But I also thought that people in America have good English and grammar, yet I constantly see otherwise. Maybe Trent can write about the merits of appropriately using apostrophes and homonymns. I learned them diagramming sentences in the 8th grade; don’t they at least teach that anymore?!?

  63. Sab says:

    I got a kick out of reading this post just after I skimmed a gossip site that pointed out that Orlando Bloom was having girlfriend trouble because she doesn’t like him and his clothes being so SMELLY! I figure if a problem is adversely impacting a famous star, then maybe it’s affecting a few others.

  64. Jae says:


    In response to your last post, it isn’t that the post is unnecessary to 80-90 percent of your audience, it’s the TONE.

    The person that you feel hurt about can read the article that you could have written in a non-preachy manner (ie., written from your experiences as an an interviewing potential employer) and still “got” the point that hygiene is important. Noone is disputing that!

    Please listen to the responses that are coming through as helpful constructive criticism on your tone. You have so much to offer. I applaud your willingness to address the “slob effect” that, I agree, is all too prevalent in our society. But, broadcasting it as if we are ignorant doesn’t work. Even students take offense at that, and we are all adults here.

    Keep it coming, though. You have a bright future.

  65. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Jae, why do you assume that everyone knows this information? There are a lot of societies and cultures that function far differently than the United States. There are also very different situations that people are raised in, even within the United States.

    Much of the backlash in this thread is from people who assume that *everyone* has this basic knowledge. Not everyone does. In fact, there’s a good likelihood that the person with bad breath in your office has no idea that he/she is doing anything wrong at all – they’re doing what seems right to themselves when it comes to hygiene.

  66. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Can you actually imagine someone reading this post and thinking “Eureka! So THAT’S what deodorant is for!”…?”

    No, but I can easily imagine someone who was raised in a different culture or with a different set of social mores who never even considered the point of applying deodorant because it wasn’t something that was a natural part of their life.

  67. guinness416 says:

    What cultures don’t use deodorant (says the Irish woman married to the Bangladeshi guy)?

  68. Jae says:

    Trent, as I read the responses and think, I come up with this question. Who is your audience? Do you want to reach the 80-90 percent you admit “gets it”, or do you want to reach what you say is the 10-20 percent who “doesn’t understand it?” Or, do you want to reach everyone? If you want to reach everyone, how can you do it without alienating the majority?

    I agree with you that it’s important that people need this information. But,even people who may need this information (or other sensitive topic info), do not like to be preached at. I teach in a high poverty school. I live with stink, bad breath daily. If I preached to the entire class, I would alienate all of them. However, if I tell stories/allegories, I get my point across without sounding “holier than thou.”

    Your use of the word “backlash” is defensive. You are receiving constructive criticism from your future customers. Do not talk down/back to them.

  69. Harm says:

    I’ll add my 2 cents, and say I don’t think
    most people need to shower every day…..one
    probably can’t go a week without a shower
    (though lots of people in the world go longer)
    but I don’t think I’m going to develop b.o.
    in 48 hours. You should probably shower at least
    every other day if you work out….but I don’t
    believe anyone’s health will be compromised by
    not bathing every day, and think of the energy
    savings! (and less soap in the water supply)

  70. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “However, if I tell stories/allegories, I get my point across without sounding “holier than thou.””

    Most of the post does consist of stories… and most of them are of personal detriment to me.

    I’m beginning to think the problem isn’t with the article itself, but with the headlines.

  71. Lenore says:

    Until I became clinically depressed, I showered daily and wore jewelry and makeup most of the time. I have a bachelor’s degree and worked in a business casual setting, wearing suits for meetings or special events. As my energy waned and the apathy of hopelessness took over, I paid less attention to how I looked or even smelled. Now that I’m on disability for bipolar disorder, I bathe only once or twice a week, partly to save money on hygiene products but mostly from lack of motivation and concern about how I look. Since I don’t have a career to maintain or much hope of re-entering the work world, my priorities have shifted. I’ll admit my hair gets greasy by the fourth or fifth day, and I probably rely on spritzing my underwear with cologne more than I should. Cleanliness just doesn’t seem as important as it did before, but I realize this disregard stems from my disease. I think most healthy adults are keenly aware of the grooming expectations in professional settings. My standards have slipped because they can and because there are many days when I don’t care about much of anything. It occurs to me that I could have spent the time writing this taking a shower, but for some reason I’m compelled to respond to things on the internet. Seriously, I waste too much time sharing my opinions about Britney Spears or whatever, even though I know no one cares or may even read my posts. Too bad I’m not compulsive about cleaning instead.

  72. Johanna says:

    Trent, maybe a good idea for a future post would be “how to establish a routine.” Most of us have things that we know we should be doing, but try as we might, we just can’t work them into our daily lives. Me, I know I should keep my apartment cleaner than I do, but it never gets done. Other people say they wish they could bring packed lunches to work more often, but just can’t work that into their daily routine. And I guess there are people who feel the same way about showering, shaving, or whatever.

    You seem to have made lots of big changes in your life in a short amount of time – how do you turn something that feels unnatural into second nature?

  73. Sabrina says:

    I second the “how to establish a routine” idea – it’s a principle that applies to personal finance and to self-improvement overall, and is a hard technique for many to master.

  74. Louise says:

    Having needed deodorant since I hit puberty, I am keenly aware of the need for good hygeine. I have worked with people who didn’t realise they smelled, and I have quietly taken them aside and pointed it out. Occasionally I got a really bad response, but most of the time they were thankful someone had told them. Normally if someone smells bad, no one wants to be the one to tell them. I have also been in the position of hiring casual staff. When they have dressed inappropriately, I have let them know that the reason I would not rehire them for future casual work is because their clothing was inappropriate for our particular work environment (too tight cartoon character t-shirts, hipster jeans and underwear as outerwear in a law firm). Once again, in most cases people don’t say these things, just like when you go to a restaurant and get a surly waiter, you don’t complain, you just never go back to that restaurant. At least if you tell people they are dressing inappropriately for the job, or stink to high heaven, they have a chance to change it before it impacts too heavily on their career prospects.

    I can understand why people took offence at this article – it seems to imply that most of us don’t know the basics – but quite a few people don’t know the basics. They don’t realise they stink or that they dress inappropriately, or they don’t realise how seriously this undermines other peoples confidence in them. 90% of Trents audience may know this, but the other 10% may not realise that slap dash hygiene makes them look bad at their work to their co-workers or someone thinking of hiring them. I do however agree with the other readers who are saying post a “how to establish a routine” idea. As for the readers who are complaining that it costs too much money – come on – toothpaste, dental floss, a basic toothbrush and a bar of soap are all available at extremely cheap prices. If you don’t want to waste water, by all means use a washcloth and a basin of water, just remember to use the deodorant afterwards.

  75. Jennifer says:

    Actually, most Asian cultures don’t use deodorant. I lived in Japan for 3 years and they don’t even sell anything like it (yeah, there are a few perfumy-spray things, but totally ineffective). In fact, among the foreigners, deodorant was a prized possession – whenever someone traveled to the US, we’d all “order” deodorant and toothpaste (Japanese is too sweet & doesn’t alway have flouride).

    On the other hand, most of the Japanese honestly don’t need it – most.

    Also not a fan of this post, but think it may be needed. I have to say I was never taught some of these things, and had to learn them as an adult. I’m a grad student, I dress up a few times a week for work, but not the other days – and I can *feel* the difference.

  76. Talitha says:

    Wow! I really don’t understand why those that do not like this post are so hostile about their dislike. Personally, I thought it was very relevant. I assume that folks such as Margo and Jae were raised in the upper-middle class and have no idea how rarely “common sense” or “basic knowledge” things are taught in lower class and poverty level households. I have seen highly intelligent and capable individuals completely miss basic principles due to this very thing. I will admit to being one who really did not know that I needed to scrub vigorously in the shower. I was taught that a good long rinse was all I needed. (I had a very alternative childhood in many ways.)

    My advice to the critics? Read and take from this blog what is helpful to you, and leave the rest. But stop complaining because every post doesn’t apply to you. Trent’s blog is way too broad for every post to apply to every person.

  77. Zeca says:

    Since you realized it was a mistake, why don’t you just delete this post?
    Or you will still get bad reactions from people who come in from google.

  78. Zeca says:

    Depending on the weather, once a day is not even enough.

  79. sylrayj says:

    I appreciated this article. My son has Aspergers syndrome, and doesn’t think of things like these. I like that everything is spelled out plain, because now I can make use of this article to make ‘how to do it’ sheets for my boy.

    Many people will know how to do this. Not everyone does.

  80. daydreamr says:

    I am surprised at the amount of negativity concerning this article! The reality is this: Some people have never been taught how to perform basic hygene. Others DON’T have common sense.

    Of course there are some who just don’t care. If they do work, it’s not a requirement and it may be the reason for why they don’t ever get anywhere in life.

    The fact of the matter is that Americans, in general, place much value on good personal hygene. It’s not fair or even right to judge a book by it’s cover but, our appearance says a lot about us. They say that when you meet someone, that person has formulated an opinion of you within 30 seconds.

    As Trent pointed out, some people need to bathe more than others. I also have very oily skin and would not even think about going to school, an interveiw, or to the doctor without being freshly bathed. I also dress fairly well. I have noticed that when I dress down for certain occasions where I should be dressed up, I am treated differently. It really does matter.

    Although there are some people in Trent’s audience who think this is condescending, preachy, or just plain rediculous, there are those who could benefit from it. It is extremely relevant to PF and the series of investing in yourself. How many people thought Trent was being rediculous when he talked about healthy eating, exercise, drinking water, etc.?

    We live in a dirty world. We come into contact with germs all the time. I read things all the time about how regular bathing and hand washing helps in preventing colds, flu’s etc. What do you suppose that gunk under your fingernails is? It certainly isn’t sanitary. And since it is customary to shake hands with people, wouldn’t you hope that the person you shook hands with washed his hands after his/her last trip to the rest room? I certainly wouldn’t want to even think about the possibility of that person scratching in bum…Anyway, there might be a group of people out there who think this post is totally rediculous. I think those people are totally rediculous and wonder why they are being so critical and defensive. Do they struggle in the hygene department?

  81. NP says:

    I teach middle school students a career prep. I quoted Trent in the past about the importance of hygiene. I love that article about getting along with no money and scrounging for food. When you are broke, at least be personally presentable so people won’t mind your mooching. All of the topics on this blog are not going to apply to the lives of every reader. I think one should take what you like and leave the rest.

    Personally, I think it’s ok to bathe every other day if you didn’t get sweaty and dirty, and bathe more frequently in the summer. That’s what I have always done and I don’t perceive that I have body odor. I think my hair actually looks better on the unwashed days. I do think you should wear fresh underwear and clothes daily though. I will wear clothes a second time on the weekends occasionally or when I travel, especially jeans or sweaters worn over other shirts.

  82. KarenFLA says:

    Those who think that there are not professional people who come to work smelling and/or unkempt are pretty lucky not to have encountered it in the workplace. Years ago my manager assigned me as the supervisor the task of explaining to a professional with a master’s degree that she would have to bathe, brush her teeth, use deodorant and iron her clothing. She stank and looked like a demented person. I was kind, but persistent and it took a number of sessions to get her to bathe, but the clothes remained unkempt, and she finally resigned because other employees started making comments to her. The other professionals in the office had complained to me and to the manager. They were trying to maintain a professional atmosphere and the customers were asking about the “smelly crazy woman” who was always there, which is why he asked me to speak to her. There were other people who did not practice hygiene as Trent describes who were not anywhere as bad as her and people shied away from them. I spoke to one woman I was very friendly with who sweated profusely in meetings in the conference room and smelled and she changed her deodorant. They also were not promoted as you did not want your customers thinking the company was like them.
    I agree with those who brought up the hand washing. I wash my hands whenever I return to the office or my home and make an effort not to touch my face or eyes after shaking hands with someone. As a result I get far fewer colds than other people.
    Those who think tattoos do not affect their ability to get promotions in a field other than the creative arts are naive. The bosses do not say anything, but they give each other looks and the result is to pass them over for promotion.
    There are also some Europeans who do not bathe often as Americans who are used to two bathroom homes and they sometimes are avoided in the American work situation and have no idea why.

  83. Ruth says:

    Hi All,
    Trent I praise what you have done here!
    As an employer, trainer, and person who has to deal with volunteer workers, and with students in an educational area, your article is beyond what I could have hoped for in making a course of “Revealing your full potential”.
    I have employees who don’t know how to dress for success either, let alone use personal hygene at all. Hopefully with your permission I can add your article for them to read, so that they truly can learn how to get that job they really want!
    Thanks Trent… I appreciate you!

  84. L says:

    Trent, you said: However, I figured that the 80-90% would understand that this article would have a lot of value for the 10-20% that really needed the advice.

    I just wanted to say(a year later?) this IS a common problem. I have a coworker who doesn’t bathe regularly, and even in a casual work environment, it can be a really tough situation.

    But also, so what if it doesn’t apply to all of us? Probably 70% of articles on personal finance don’t apply to me, but I still love reading them. It’s good for you to read things that may not apply – they may apply later, or may help you in another situation. Or they can help you at least see a different point of view. Not sure where I read we can challenge ourselves by reading books by authors with completely different ideals and POV’s, but I think it’s a good idea. If we can see the world thru other people, we can become more well-rounded, compassionate, and kind. :)

  85. Sharon says:

    Hi Trent, I’ve just started reading your posts and this is the first yet that I’m urged to put in my two cents.

    I like this post.

    I do shower. I am a clean person. My house is clean and all that.

    However, I must admit that lately I have not been taking care of myself. I get up, quickly shower and throw on jeans (usually) and a blouse/shirt. Not really caring about my appearance.

    This gave me pause. I certainly deserve better so I should invest more time in me.

    And the antibacterial soap thing was a good one. I didn’t think about that until you.

    Very good post.

    It just perks me up to.. duh! care more about me.

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