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Grooming Guide
by Lee Kynaston

Lee Kynaston is the Grooming Editor of Men’s Health magazine, a position he has held since 1999. He is without doubt one of the leading authorities on male grooming with innumerable TV and radio appearances behind him in addition to countless press articles (not to mention his monthly missives in Men’s Health).

We felt deeply honoured when Lee agreed to write a grooming guide exclusively for Carter and Bond. When we saw how much he had written for us we were as astonished as we were delighted... over 5,000 words! His comprehensive guide is divided into seven sections, each comprising a list of FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) and their answers. In fact so comprehensive is this guide, in our view, that if you have a question that is not addressed here then either it isn’t worth knowing or science probably does not yet have the answer.

  1. SHAVING
  2. SKIN CARE
  3. AGE DEFENCE
  4. BODY CARE
  5. HAIR CARE
  6. FRAGRANCE
  7. ORAL CARE

SHAVING

How do I achieve the best smooth shave?
Why use an undercoat of pre-shave product?
What benefits do shaving brushes give?
How can I get the best from my razor?
What is the best way to avoid razor burn?
How do I prevent ingrown hairs?

Q. How do I achieve the best smooth shave?
A. For best results follow this seven step guide to shaving:

  1. Shower before you shave. Stubble is as tough as copper wire but water causes the hairs to expand and become softer, making them easier to cut. After a two minute shower the force required to slice the hairs will be reduced by about 70%. The steam is also great for opening pores and ridding skin of impurities. Before shaving use a facial cleanser to remove oil and sweat which prevent the hair shafts from absorbing water.
  2. Lather up. Shaving creams and soaps not only help lubricate the skin and hair, improving razor glide, they also prevent stubble from drying out (and becoming tough) as you shave. You should experiment to find which type of shaving preparation suits you best but shaving creams tend to be best for normal to dry and sensitive skin types which benefit from extra moisture, whereas shaving soaps are best for oily and blemish prone skin as they help to remove excess oil.
  3. Use a light touch. To get the best out of your razor use light, gentle strokes and let the razor do the work. Follow the direction of hair growth as going against the grain can lead to snagging and razor burn. However, hair on the neck can grow upwards the correct shaving direction for this area may be upwards.
  4. Rinse regularly. Preventing a build up of hair and suds on the blade edges will improve their performance.
  5. Leave the toughest bits till last. The toughest whiskers grow on the chin and around the lips so by leaving these bits until last they will have more time to soften up.
  6. Check whilst wet. Use your fingertips to check if you have missed any areas - it is easier to feel for patches of hair when the skin is wet.
  7. Soothe and protect. Finish off by rinsing thoroughly to remove any shaving residues which can dry out skin and then pat dry. Immediately afterwards apply a good aftershave balm or post-shave product to soothe and moisturise the skin.

Q. Why use an undercoat of pre-shave product?
A. Pre-shave products assist razor glide by giving extra lubrication to the blade whilst also providing an additional layer of protection, thereby reducing the likelihood of nicks and cuts. Most men notice an immediate improvement to the closeness and comfort of their shave when they firsts try an ‘undercoat’ of pre-shave oil. Those with oily complexions may not want to use an oil so for them I would recommend the Pre and Post Shave Cream by Proraso.

Q. What benefits do shaving brushes give?
A. Apart from the fact that using a brush feels great it also helps you get a smoother shave. The action of the brush helps lift the hairs so they are easier to slice with the razor and ensures that each hair is thoroughly lubricated with shaving cream. There is another useful advantage is using a shaving brush which is that they act as a gentle exfoliator by removing dirt, grime and dead skin cells, keeping the face bright and healthy looking. Make sure that the shaving cream or soap you use with your brush is a good lathering variety and not something out of an aerosol can.

Q. How can I get the best from my razor?
A. Many of us forget that razors are actually delicate pieces of equipment which is why we often fail to get the most out of them. To make sure yours gives the best shave possible rinse it thoroughly during shaving to prevent a build up of hair and suds that will diminish its performance. After shaving rinse again thoroughly with very hot water and shake dry. Inspect the gap between the blades for residue - if any remains then rinse again. Finally dry the blades carefully with a towel in the direction of the blades (i.e. not the direction that would tear the towel). This gentle ‘stropping’ action will maximize sharpness and massively extend blade life.

Q. What is the best way to avoid razor burn?
A. Razor burn or ‘redneck’ affects about half of all men that shave. It is the result of minor skin abrasions caused by the friction of the razor as it passes over the microscopic folds and ridges of the face. Sweat and harsh shaving products further irritate the skin, leading to tissue inflammation and dilation of the blood vessels (which causes the redness). The best way to avoid this is to make sure you shave correctly and look after your razor. Advice on shaving technique and razor performance are covered elsewhere in this shaving guide. Upgrading your razor (to a double or triple-blade with a lubricating strip) can help too as these require less strokes to achieve good results. If you still end up with red patches then you might want to consider a specialist product such as Tend Skin.

Q. How do I prevent ingrown hairs?
A. Ingrown hair (psuedofolliculitis barbae) is caused by hair curling back on itself and burrowing into its own follicle or into nearby skin. A few simple steps can help prevent them. Firstly, make sure you always follow the direction of hair growth when shaving particularly around the neck area, or you will be tugging at hair follicles and encouraging warped hair growth. Then be sure to exfoliate regularly with a facial scrub. This will lift any hairs that are starting to grow inwards and remove any dead skin cells blocking the follicles. If you do spot an ingrown hair do not try to slice it off with a razor. Instead use a pair of tweezers to lift the hair out of the skin. Make things easier by steaming your face over a bowl of boiling water first to open pores and soften the hairs. As with razor burn, if you are still suffering then Tend Skin is also designed to combat ingrown hairs.

 

SKIN CARE

How do I deal with oily skin?
How do I look after sensitive skin?
How do I combat dry skin?
How often do I need to apply moisturiser?
Should I use a facial cleanser or a soap?
How will a facial scrub improve my skin?
What is the purpose of a toner?
How can I get rid of eyebags?
How do I apply a concealer?
How do I get rid of blackheads?
Can I prevent cold sores?

Q. How do I deal with oily skin?
A. The good news if you suffer from shiny patches, large pores and an oily complexion is that things are likely improve as you get older (and skin activity slows down). In the meantime here is how you should deal with it. Wash twice a day with a face cleanser and plenty of tepid water. Avoid hot water, over-washing or rubbing too hard as these can all stimulate oil production. Then use a clay-based face mask once a week to absorb excess oil, dirt and grime and a face scrub twice a week to prevent blocked pores, especially around the beard area. Even oily skin needs hydration and protection but make sure you use an oil-free moisturiser. Go easy on oily areas like the forehead, nose and chin and concentrate on drier areas like the cheeks and around the eye sockets. You might also consider a specialist shine control product to mop up excess grease. Finally, try to reduce your stress levels! The body releases hormones that speed up oil production when you get stressed.

Q. How do I look after sensitive skin?
A. It is thought that up to half of us suffer from some sort of skin sensitivity. That could mean you break out in a rash when you use certain products or develop itchy patches in certain weather conditions or even for no apparent reason. Although people with allergies, pale complexions and dry skin are particularly susceptible, anyone can develop sensitive skin at any time. So if you’re a sensitive type follow this skin saving regime. Avoid products containing alcohol (aftershaves and some toners for example) and use alcohol-free products instead. Wash with warm rather than hot water to reduce irritation and spend less time washing and scrubbing - the less friction the better. Try using products from the same range instead of lots of different brands. Look for products formulated especially for sensitive skin. Select fragrance-free products where possible. Protect skin at night by applying a moisturiser or night cream. And always protect skin during the summer with a high SPF sunscreen.

Q. How do I combat dry skin?
A. Pollution, over-washing, air-conditioning and dehydration all contribute to drying out our skin. These disrupt the skin’s natural lipid barrier which protects it from water loss. Not only can that leave skin feeling tight, dry and itchy, it also speeds up the development of wrinkles. However, preventing dryness is simple. The first step is to add moisture to the skin and keep it there by using a moisturiser twice daily. Apply within two minutes of washing or shaving, while your face is still damp, and you’ll help lock in even more moisture. Ditching soap and using a non-drying face cleanser helps too as will drinking plenty of water.

Q. How often do I need to apply moisturiser?
A. Much depends on your skin type. Generally speaking moisturisers will help keep skin cells hydrated for six to twelve hours. After this time skin cells begin to shrink, making them feel dry and sore again. For most men it is enough to apply a moisturiser after shaving in the morning and after washing before bed, but if you have dry skin you will probably benefit from adding a little more moisturiser during the day.

Q. Should I use a facial cleanser or a soap?
A. If you have dry or sensitive skin you should use a face cleanser. Soaps tend to be drying and can leave an alkaline residue on the surface of the skin which tends to cause irritation and interfere with the skin’s ability to retain moisture. Facial cleansers usually employ Glycerin which is much kinder on the skin. Many soaps contain strong fragrances and colourants which can also irritate sensitive skin. Generally soaps are more suited for the body although some soaps are very good for oily or acne prone complexions.

Q. How will a facial scrub improve my skin?
A. Face scrubs and exfoliators work by removing dead skin cells, oil and grime that build up on the skin’s surface and make it look dull and uneven. They also help speed up the skin’s natural renewal process. Up until your mid thirties the skin renews itself every thirty days or so but this process slows down as we get older and giving it a helping hand can keep skin looking bright and healthy. Scrubs are also good at preventing painful ingrown hairs by lifting them and keeping hair follicles free of blockages.

Q. What is the purpose of a toner?
A. Toners are used after cleansing the skin to remove any remaining grime, dead skin cells or spot-causing surface oil. To use them, soak a cotton wool pad with the toner and gently swipe across the face. They are also great for temporarily closing pores that cleaning and hot water tend to open. Some toners can also be used after shaving to help heal cuts and nicks and relieve skin irritation (the key ingredient being Witch Hazel). If you have sensitive or very dry skin make sure you choose an alcohol-free toner which will be kinder to the skin and less drying.

Q. How can I get rid of eyebags?
A. To instantly reduce swelling, place a couple of cold spoons over them - the cold will quickly reduce the puffiness by constricting the blood vessels around the eye. Then apply a good eye cream. These contain ingredients to further reduce swelling, firm skin and reduce the appearance of dark circles. Apply a little under each eye socket and gently tap into the skin with your fingertips to help stimulate the removal of toxins from the eye area. Chilling your eye cream in the fridge will make it even more effective.

Q. How do I apply a concealer?
A. Using a concealer is not as scary as you might think and is an extremely effective way to cover dark circles, spots and broken capillaries when all else has failed. To make sure it is unnoticeable apply to clean, moisturized skin, which will prevent the concealer looking patchy or flaky and will help it stay put. Then gently apply a little concealer on the problem area using your fingertips but be careful not to rub it off. Start by using a little and slowly add more, gently blending it into your skin with small patting movements.

Q. How do I get rid of blackheads?
A. If they’re a decent size you should be able to gently remove them yourself. Start by steaming your face over a bowl of hot water which will open the pores and make the blackheads easier to dislodge. Then, cover your fingertips with tissue and gently apply pressure to either side of the blackhead using a rocking (rather than squeezing) motion. If this does not work, though, stop or you could cause scarring. If you want to prevent them from forming in the first place a good skin cleansing routine is essential. Make sure you cleanse thoroughly twice a day with a good face cleanser and use a face scrub twice a week to prevent the build up of dead skin cells and sebum which encourage blackheads to form.

Q. Can I prevent cold sores?
A. Watching what you eat can often reduce the severity and longevity of attacks since the cold sores can be triggered by foods high in an amino acid called argentine (found in peanuts, soybeans, chocolate, oats and whole-wheat so you might want to eat these in moderation). It is also worth taking care not to cut the skin around your lips with your razor or damaging it by eating things like crusty bread since cold sores often emerge at the site of minute skin damage. If you do get one keep lips moisturised with a lip balm and dab on a little tea-tree oil or cold sore cream from the pharmacist.

 

AGE DEFENCE

How can I reduce signs of ageing?
How should I use an eye cream?
What are AHAs?
How do anti-wrinkle creams work?

Q. How can I reduce signs of ageing?
A. The good news is that men’s skin tends to age at a slower rate than women's. The bad news is that when men do get wrinkles they tend to be more defined. The natural ageing process cannot be stopped but it can be slowed down by taking a few simple steps:

  1. Stay out of the sun. The sun is the number one cause of wrinkles. Even minimal exposure leads to photo ageing because UV rays weaken collagen and elastin - the two crucial components of skin that keep it plump and stretchy. To minimize this damage use a moisturiser with a built in sunscreen all year round and always use sun protection in the summer.
  2. Moisturize. Using a moisturiser every day will keep skin supple and prevent it from drying out. When skin is dry it is susceptible to damage and premature ageing. Drinking plenty of water also helps keep skin hydrated from within. Aim to drink eight glasses of water a day.
  3. Wear shades. Sunglasses are a simple way to prevent the wrinkles caused by squinting. Be sure to wear sunglasses on bright winter days as well as in the height of summer.
  4. Look after your teeth. Once you start losing your teeth the jawbone begins to shrink and then the face starts to sag, so use good oral care products.
  5. Cut down on sugar. Sugar attaches itself to the proteins that form elastin and collagen, making them weaker.

Q. How should I use an eye cream?
A. The trick is not to use too much. Eye creams and gels contain potent active ingredients to tighten skin, reduce wrinkles and prevent dark circles. Overdoing it can irritate the skin. Instead, use a blob about the size of a grain of rice for each eye. Place just under the eye socket and gently tap in to the skin with fingertips - this action will also help eliminate toxins from the eye area. Another good tip is to keep eye cream in the fridge - when cold they constrict the blood vessels around the eye, helping shrink that excess ocular baggage.

Q. What are AHAs?
A. AHAs (or Alpha-Hydroxy Acids) are natural chemicals found in fruits, sour milk and sugar cane that are popular ingredients in anti-ageing products because they gently dislodge old cells on the skin’s surface, allowing new, fresher looking cells underneath to show through, making the skin look more youthful.

Q. How do anti-wrinkle creams work?
A. Anti-wrinkle creams may not actually get rid of your lines and creases but what they are good at doing is making them less noticeable by improving the health and appearance of the skin by plumping it up or by speeding up its natural renewal process.

 

BODY CARE

If I remove body hair will it grow back thicker?
Why should I use a body scrub?
How should I remove unwanted nasal hair?
What can I do about spots on my shoulders?
How can I prevent liver spots on the back of my hands?

Q. If I remove body hair will it grow back thicker?
A. No. It’s a myth that removing hair makes it grow back thicker - it only seems that way when it is shaved off because the hair left is thicker and blunter than the fine hair tips removed. To avoid this opt for waxing. Because it removes hairs from the root they will grow back with fine, soft tips. Waxes come in a variety of formulas and - for those worried about the pain of hot wax - not all of these need to be heated.

Q. Why should I use a body scrub?
A. Body scrubs are useful in the same was as face scrubs. They remove dead skin cells and brighten skin and are also brilliant at helping prevent ingrown hairs on the back, shoulders, legs and backside. Use once a week on areas you can reach or get a partner to give you an invigorating back scrub and follow up with a body lotion to keep skin soft, healthy and hydrated.

Q. How should I remove unwanted nasal hair?
A. Do not pluck. Not only does this hurt (a lot) but you will also run the risk of damaging the hair follicles which can lead to warped hair growth. Plucking can also tear the delicate lining of the nose which can lead to infection. Stick to trimming them off with blunt ended hair removal scissors or, better still, a precision hair trimmer which is by far the easiest and most effective way to do the job. The same goes for unwanted ear and eyebrow hair.

Q. What can I do about spots on my shoulders?
A. These are often caused by shoulder bags. The straps tend to cause friction and this causes the skin to renew itself and also produce extra sebum (the skin’s natural oil). That means more dead cells on the surface leading to blocked pores - and spots. Opt for a bag with handles instead and wash shoulders with a quality body wash and treat the spots with a blemish control product.

Q. How can I prevent liver spots on the back of my hands?
A. Liver spots are caused by a clumping of the pigment melanin in the skin, which gives the skin its brown colour when you tan. They are caused by prolonged sun exposure over a period of years and are common on hands because they’re always in the sun and we seldom protect them. If you want to limit your chances of getting liver spots use a good protective hand cream.

 

HAIR CARE

How much shampoo should I use?
Is it normal to lose a lot of hair from shampooing?
Should I use a conditioner?
What causes hair loss?
How can I make my hair look thicker?
Which styling product is best for my hairstyle?
How can I get rid of dandruff?
What can I do about grey hair?
How can I prevent a spotty scalp?

Q. How much shampoo should I use?
A. Generally speaking a blob the size of a 50p coin is plenty if you have medium to long hair. If it’s shorter, a 20p sized is enough. You’re better off using too little than too much since over-shampooing can strip the hair of its essential oils, leaving it dry and brittle. To apply, thoroughly wet your hair and rub the shampoo between your palms before applying - this will ensure better coverage. Massage in and rinse thoroughly with tepid water to remove any residue. Never use hot water as this has a drying effect on your hair and scalp.

Q. Is it normal to lose a lot of hair from shampooing?
A. Incredibly most of us lose between 40-100 strands of hair every day as the hair reaches the end of its growth cycle. This is not as drastic as it sounds when you consider that the average scalp has around 100,000 hairs. The good news is that those hairs are not lost forever - once a hair is shed a new one begins to grow from the same follicle to replace it. Washing your hair doesn’t cause hairs to fall out - it merely dislodges the ones that are already loose and tangled amongst the ones that are (thankfully) staying put. Shampooing is actually beneficial because it helps remove oil, grime and dead skin cells which can interfere with follicle function.

Q. Should I use a conditioner?
A. If you want to improve the look, feel and manageability of your hair, yes. Regular shampooing tends to strip hair of its natural protective oils and brushing, blow-drying and adverse weather conditions cause damage to the hair’s outer surface. Each hair is covered in tiny cells which look a bit like fish scales and damage causes these to stand out which makes the hair look dull and out of condition. Conditioners work by smoothing down these scales so the hair looks smooth and shiny again. They’re also great at reducing static. Even greasy hair benefits from conditioning though it generally requires less.

Q. What causes hair loss?
A. The most common cause of permanent hair loss in men - androgenic alopecia or ‘male pattern baldness’ - is due to the way hair follicles react to sex hormones in certain men. Ironically, it is the very hormone that gives us our maleness - testosterone - that causes our hair to vanish. The process begins when the scalp begins to convert testosterone into another substance called dihydrotestosterone. Unfortunately for us, this new substance makes hair follicles shrink until hairs no longer appear from them. Make the most of what you have and maximize the life of every strand with products designed for fine or thinning hair.

Q. How can I make my hair look thicker?
A. To start with keep your hair scrupulously clean - dirty hair tends to lie flat making it look thinner - and use shampoos and conditioners designed for fine or thinning hair. These contain special polymers which plump up the individual hair shafts making them up to 20% thicker. It is also worth ditching the comb and using your fingers to style your hair as over-brushing can also make hair look flat. Getting the right cut is important too - next time you visit the hairdresser ask about razor cutting - this gives a more textured (and thicker-looking) finish to hair.

Q. Which styling product is best for my hairstyle?
A. Though there are no hard-and-fast rules, some products are better for achieving and maintaining certain styles:

  1. Wax is best used with short, choppy styles and for achieving ‘bed hair’. This is ideal for difficult to control hair or for adding texture but isn’t great with thinning or greasy hair because it will weigh it down, making it look flat. Apply sparingly to dry hair and use on the ends to add definition to the style.
  2. Pomades are good for medium length, slicked-back styles where you want hold but with a bit of shine too. They're also useful for flattening down stray hairs. Rub a small amount through damp or dry hair or use all-over if you want a wet-look.
  3. Gels are great for all hair-types and styles but are particularly good at giving hold and adding volume to hair. Rub into wet hair and blow-dry, lifting the hair slightly as you do or rub into towel-dried hair and allow to dry naturally.
  4. Sprays are ideal for thinning hair since they add volume but don’t weigh it down. Use sparingly and create extra volume with a hairdryer. For more adventurous short styles or ones that require twisting, dreading or spiking consider cake, shaper or fibre. Use sparingly and work through dry hair with your fingers.

Q. How can I get rid of dandruff?
A. The easiest solution is to use an anti-dandruff shampoo which will help remove the flakes and prevent more from developing. It’s also worth looking at your lifestyle as stress, crash diets and binge drinking are thought to trigger attacks in certain people. Since dandruff is often linked to a deficiency in zinc, a supplement in this mineral often helps as does upping your intake of vitamin A, found in eggs, milk and oily fish. Oh, and spend more time outside - one study showed that men who work outdoors suffer form less dandruff than men who spend most of their time in stuffy offices!

Q. What can I do about grey hair?
A. Going grey is part of the natural ageing process and there’s some evidence to suggest it may be genetically programmed. There is, however, a unique product called Restoria which returns grey hair to a natural looking colour over a period of weeks by working with the natural chemistry of the hair. Alternatively you may simply want to keep your hair grey but improve the look and feel of it. The main problem is with the texture of grey hair which tends to be coarser than pigmented hair as it contains more air bubbles which make it thicker, dryer and stiffer. To combat this there is a classic grey shampoo and conditioner especially formulated for grey hair. These contain extra rich conditioners to keep hair supple, along with ingredients to strip away the yellowish tints that some grey hair can have.

Q. How can I prevent a spotty scalp?
A. If you do not already use a shampoo for oily hair then switch to one - this will help remove the build-up of dead skin cells and oil that may be clogging your hair follicles and causing spots. It is also worth gently exfoliating your scalp once a week with a fine-grain hair scrub. Also using a tea-tree oil shampoo will help as this is a natural antibacterial agent.

 

FRAGRANCE

What is the difference between aftershave and eau de toilette?
Where is the best place to apply fragrance?
How much fragrance should I use?
Can fragrance ‘go off’?
Can I use aftershave on sensitive skin?

Q. What is the difference between aftershave and eau de toilette?
A. Eau de toilette has a greater concentration of fragrance (and less alcohol) than aftershave making it stronger. Cologne is stronger still as it has the highest concentration of pure fragrance. Eau de toilettes and colognes do not smell more powerful than aftershave of the same fragrance - rather the extra strength means these last longer since they contain less alcohol (which evaporates quickly). Many men do not realise that aftershaves are not actually supposed to be worn for their fragrance but - as the name suggests - they are for closing the pores after shaving. Although aftershaves are scented the fragrance will usually last less than an hour. If it is a fragrance you seek then you should choose an eau de toilette or a cologne.

Q. Where is the best place to apply fragrance?
A. The traditional place is on the pulse points (behind the ears and on the wrists) where the elevated body temperature helps disperse the fragrance. Unfortunately, this elevated temperature also means that the fragrance evaporates quicker. For a longer-lasting effect, spray fragrance on your chest. Because this area is not exposed to the air the fragrance will last longer and movement will help waft the fragrance upwards so that it’s still noticeable. Wait a few seconds for the fragrance to dry before getting dressed.

Q. How much fragrance should I use?
A. Probably not as much as you think. For one thing, women have a much better sense of smell than men so you don’t have to douse yourself to be noticed. The safest bet is to stick to the ‘two-sprays rule’. Remember too that your skin type will affect how long a fragrance lasts. The oilier your skin the longer it will stick around - up to a maximum of about six hours with most fragrances. If you have dry skin you can prolong the effect of the fragrance by first rubbing your skin with a little moisturiser.

Q. Can fragrance ‘go off’?
A. Yes. Once opened a fragrance will last for about a year to 18 months if you look after it properly. That means keeping it in its original box (or in the dark) to protect it from light and keeping it somewhere where there aren’t huge fluctuations in temperature. For this reason bathrooms are not actually the best place to store fragrances - bedrooms tend to better.

Q. Can I use aftershave on sensitive skin?
A. If you have dry or sensitive skin avoid putting aftershave directly on your face as the alcohol in them can irritate the skin. Use an aftershave balm or post-shave soother instead - these tend to be alcohol-free and are specially formulated to soothe post-shave skin without irritating or drying it out.

 

ORAL CARE

How long should I brush my teeth for?
How can I combat bad breath?
Are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones?
What is the best way to floss?
Why should I use a lip balm?

Q. How long should I brush my teeth for?

A. According to dentists the minimum recommended amount of time you should spend brushing your teeth each morning and night is 2 minutes (30 seconds spent on each quarter). Many electric toothbrushes have built-in timers that tell you when the two minutes are up.

Q. How can I combat bad breath?
A. Luckily, there’s plenty your can do to stop the dreaded halitosis. To begin with use a good toothpaste containing plenty of active ingredients. Reinforce this by gargling daily with a quality anti-bacterial mouthrinse each morning. Then floss your teeth regularly to remove any food particles lodged between your teeth - a prime cause of bad breath. Chewing sugar-free gum can also help by increasing saliva production which will dislodge bits of food trapped between the teeth. Finally, before your go to bed drink a pint of water - especially if you’ve been out drinking. This will help prevent dehydration and waking up with a dry - and stinky - mouth.

Q. Are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones?
A. The big advantage with electric toothbrushes is that they do most of the work for you. Some also have timers which encourage you to keep going for the full recommended 2 minutes (which can seem like an eternity with a regular toothbrush). The trick with electric brushes is not to brush as you would with a manual toothbrush - simply place the brush head against each individual tooth and the oscillations and pulsations will do the rest.

Q. What is the best way to floss?
A. Try to form a letter ‘c’ shape around each tooth with the floss. Then run the floss up and down the side of the tooth, making sure you go below the gum line as you floss. You may notice a little bleeding at first but this will stop once your gums get used to the flossing. Aim to floss at least twice a week. If you find it fiddly, try doing it without looking in the mirror - this can make it easier because your co-ordination won’t be thrown by seeing your mirror-image.

Q. Why should I use a lip balm?
A. Unlike the rest of our skin, our lips don’t have any oil-producing glands so they’re particularly vulnerable to chapping and cracking, especially during winter. Licking them only makes matters worse because the combination of moisture and cold wind speeds up water loss. Using a lip balm keeps them supple and can help prevent cold sores. In summer, opt for one with a protective sunscreen. And no, there’s no truth in the rumour that lips become ‘addicted’ to balms!


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