Read CHAPTER III - THE BACHELOR’S TOILET of The Complete Bachelor Manners for Men , free online book, by Walter Germain, on

The first care of a bachelor is his bath or tub. To-day, houses especially clubs and bachelor apartments are fitted up so luxuriously that each tenant has his own individual tiled bathroom, which he uses also as a dressing room. But where these are not, the tin or the India-rubber bath tub serves as well the purpose of our first ablution. A cold bath to many is a good refresher and awakener, but there are others again whose constitutions can not stand the shock, especially in winter, of icy-cold water. For cleansing purposes, tepid water is best, or a mixture of hot and cold, so as to take the chill off.

A gentleman takes at least one tub a day, and that, as may be inferred from the previous remarks, when he arises. If the tub is in the bedroom, have a rubber cloth placed under, and fill it only half full. The sponge is used for the bath, the wash rag for the washstand. The body should have a thorough soaping. The soap should be either Castile or a pure unscented glycerin. Sweet-scented soaps, perfumery, and sweet waters of all kinds should be eschewed. The Turkish towel is the best for drying, and it should be vigorously but not roughly applied. A flesh brush may be also used with comfort. As soon as the body is perfectly dry the bath robe or large Turkish towel, which some prefer to wrap themselves in, like Indians, should be resumed and shaving begun.

Every man should learn to shave himself. Razors are very delicate instruments and should be kept in thorough order. Safety razors with little blades for each day in the week are excellent, but if you use the ordinary razor add to your collection from time to time, until you have at least half a dozen. Once a month send these to a barber to be stropped, and strop them yourself both before and after using. Wipe them dry with a piece of chamois cloth and put them back in their cases. The best strop is of Russia leather or of canvas.

Warm water is not absolutely necessary for shaving, as some beards are soft and resist heat.

If possible, arrange a shaving stand with a triplicate mirror and places for your razors, shaving mug, brush, and soap. You can purchase one of these, with the entire outfit, for a few dollars at any of the large city shops. A ring or little silver or metal hook for shaving paper can be placed on one side of the stand. A cleanly man shaves every morning. After shaving, wash the face with a little warm water and wipe it thoroughly dry. Add to the water a few drops of ammonia or of Pond’s extract, if the skin is liable to chap.

In the fashion of beards, the clean or smooth-shaven face, the pointed beard, and the simple mustache are those generally in vogue. Should you wear a beard, you should have for it a special comb and brush.

A small tin basin, a package of sea salt, and a special wash rag are the requisites for a morning eye bath. Sea salt and warm water are recommended by oculists as the best tonic for the eyes.

The teeth next claim your attention. There is nothing more disgusting than foul breath, which comes frequently from neglected teeth. Use a soft toothbrush. Avoid patent tooth washes and lotions. An excellent tooth powder is made of two thirds French chalk, one third orris root, and a pinch of myrrh. Any chemist will put this up for fifteen cents. Tepid and not cold water should be used. In rinsing the mouth a drop or two of listerine added to the water is excellent. Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day morning and evening. Never use soap on your toothbrush. Get a spool of dental silk it will cost you eight cents and draw the thread between your teeth before you retire, so as to remove any substance which might have got into a crevice. And, above all, have your teeth examined carefully by a good dentist at least twice a year.

See that your toothbrush is sweet and clean, and place it handle down in the tooth mug.

The hands should be well washed and dried, tepid water, scentless soap, and a smooth towel being used. The nails should have a vigorous rubbing with a good nailbrush in the morning before your meals and before you go to bed at night. The nail file and nail scissors must be used as often as possible. Remember, dirty finger nails betray the vulgar and the unkempt. A man with dirty hands is impossible.

The nails should not be pointed, but well rounded and kept free of bits of callous skin around the base, called “hangnails.” Finger nails should be kept short, just a bit beyond the fleshy tip of the finger.

The nails of the toes should be kept as carefully as those of the hands. In summer a little talcum powder on the feet will prevent the odor of perspiration.

The fashions for parting the hair change with the times. At present it is the direct part in the middle which is most fashionable. Very young men wear their hair unusually long, but this fad is uncleanly. The hair should be cut at least once a month, and a glimpse of the skin of the neck should always intervene between the roots and the collar.

Pomatums and greases and scents of all kinds are sticky and injurious. If you suffer with dryness of the scalp rub a little vaseline into it occasionally. Washings with tar soap or with a little alcohol and rosemary are beneficial. The scalp should be well brushed with moderately firm but not hard bristles. The best brushes are those without handles, known as army and navy. Water is bad for the hair. Constant combing with a fine-tooth comb is apt to irritate the scalp and provoke dandruff, which can be allayed by brushing, shampooing, and the use of borax and warm water.

Turkish or Russian baths are beneficial now and then, and the vigorous massage after a thorough steaming is admirable for the skin. A man should be scrupulously neat about his toilet articles and appliances. In your bathroom you should have a rack for your coarse and fine towels. Always place the towel you have used at the side of a stationary or on the back of a movable tub to dry. See that the soap is removed from your sponges, and once a fortnight clean them in one quarter of an ounce of borax dissolved in tepid water. Let them soak for an hour, and squeeze them out in clean water.

Hairbrushes are washed in a little soda put into a quart of hot water. The brush must be dipped downward so as not to wet the back. When they are cleansed they can be rinsed in cold water and stood on their side, after the water is shaken out, until quite dry.

Nailbrushes must be turned on their sides, after using, so that the water will not soak in and crack their backs.

A man’s toilet articles, whether in silver or wood, should be of one distinctive style and material. Tooth and nail brushes should never have silver handles, but hair and clothes brushes with silver backs are very smart. They should be kept polished with a chamois cloth, and occasionally a little silver polish or whiting. Your bureau or dressing table is the place for the hair and clothes brushes, the combs, the toilet mirror, nail files, nail scissors, and such smaller articles. Your nail and tooth brushes and soaps go on the wash-hand stand. Your sponges are best put in a little wire basket at the side of the wash-hand stand, or the immovable washstand if your room or bathroom has the latter convenience.

Your bedroom should be ventilated and all the windows opened after you leave it, and you should have at least one window up during your sleeping hours. If you have a movable tub see that it is aired each morning after using.

Always make a change of clothes and of shoes when you come in from a busy day and from the street. Nothing ruins clothes so much as lounging about your room in them. And last but not least, as it contains the essential of all these rules and hints, be always immaculately clean.