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Toiletries 101 for guys

There are only 10 products most guys will ever need in their bathroom cabinet.
/ Source: Special to

Hey guys, your bathroom has an overpopulation problem. While the health-and-beauty industry breeds men's products at a breakneck pace, expect the assault on your shelf space (not to mention self-esteem and masculinity) to intensify. Hazelnut-extract under-eye anti-puffing serum is great if you're a 53-year-old Beverly Hills housewife, but less-complicated elixirs are the way for young guys to go.

So chuck the exfoliating scrub and bronzing mousse, in favor of these 10 essentials for getting clean and looking good.

1. Soap: The classic cleanser, created when alkali and grease are mixed, has been detoxifying body parts since King Tut used it to scrub the stink from his pits. Bars like Ivory and Lever 2000 are only boring in a fresh-smelling, healthy-skin kind of way. Feeling wild and crazy? Get different sizes or scents for the shower and sink.

2. Toothpaste: Unless you live in certain European countries that shall remain nameless, Colgate, Crest, and company are pals from way back. As the commercials promise, keep the choppers polished (and give Mr. Tongue an occasional scour) and your sparkling smile will attract romance and repel the oral surgeon, unless she's cute and single.

3. Dental floss: Continuing with the oral fixation, let us not forget to floss. Toothpaste's tedious cousin will never boast triple-action stripes, but Aquafresh alone ain't gonna snag every popcorn shell from Tuesday's matinee. Plus, scientists speculate that a man free from between-teeth crud is less likely to have plaque gunking up his arteries.

4. Moisturizer: Lavender-perfumed crème de corps on your elbows? Girly. Rubbing a dab of unscented Vaseline Intensive Care or Lubriderm into your mitts after chainsawing logs and welding rebar (or washing the dishes and bundling the recycling)? Smart, unless your girlfriend prefers chapped, red hands. Works on feet and other scaly-skinned areas, too.

5. Sun block: Wrinkles are on a faraway horizon, so why slather on sun block? Because with the ozone layer thinning faster than Jessica Simpson on a low-carb diet, that big ball of fire in the sky can, at worse, promote cancer and, at best, a dorky farmer's tan. Better shield exposed skin with some SPFs: 15 for daily doings, 30-plus for outside sports.

6. Antiperspirant: Everybody knows a lonely stoner who brags about never using deodorant, pointing out that sweating is how the body cools itself and expels toxins, and that antiperspirants might cause Alzheimer's. Whatever, B.O. boy. We say, plug those underarm pores with evil chemicals, rather than risk odor and wet spots.

7. Shaving cream: Chaps who prefer bare skin to the ZZ Top look, or who rock facial topiary somewhere in between, need a buffer between blade and dermis. Scrape smoothly with Edge gel (found in cans at drugstores), Kiehl's cream (tubes, department stores), or any shaving product that softens, lubricates, and rinses away when whiskers are gone.

8. Shampoo: Over are the days when great-grandpa rubbed a bar of soap on his mullet; shampoo (the word stems from Hindi for "press") is a modern must-have. Stick with something simple — most of those fancy ingredients will end up down the drain — unless you crave built-in conditioner or a dandruff-busting potion.

9. Hair product: Skip to No. 10, if your noggin is closely sheared or your mane behaves without the benefit of cosmetic science. But if you and your barber prefer a glop of gel or smear of pomade, always keep the over-lacquered Gotti boys in mind when selecting a hair product (please, just one!) and amount to apply (less is more).

10. Lip balm: So powerful is the threat of crusty lips that even macho men apply this lipstick-shape product. (Or they could just nab a pot of Carmex.) Think of the trusty ChapStick tube as bullet-size protection against sun, surf, and biting your lower lip while playing air guitar. Pop it in a pocket, and your medicine cabinet has one less occupant.

Ian Hodder, who's partial to Colgate Total Fresh Stripe, is a writer in Brooklyn, N.Y.