As you wake to the idyllic sound of birds chirping, you cast a casual glance at your alarm clock and a creeping panic settles over you: you overslept. Today, there will be no time for idly reading your email, thoughtfully sipping coffee, or singing in the shower. Your nine-o'clock meeting is thirty minutes away, and if you leave the house as is, you risk assaulting your fellow commuters with your stench.
With just a few minutes to get dressed and out the door, what can a guy do? Male grooming expert Nick Burns has some tips for shaving time off your morning routine.
Skip the shower: The average person spends eight minutes in the shower (and add another two to three just to dry off). Instead, use a wet, warm towel to wipe clean the three places that are prone to odor: your armpits, groin, and feet. Then, spray (yes, spray) Vaseline Men Fast Absorbing Spray Lotion on your entire body. It absorbs in 10 seconds or less and has a light scent, so you'll smell fresh without wasting time or overwhelming your fellow commuters. (Plus, there are myriad health benefits to moisturizing.)
Don't skip the antiperspirant: Underarm odor is not caused by your sweat. In fact, sweat is odorless. The odor comes from the overgrowth of bacteria in your armpits. The dark, warm, sweaty area is like Miracle-Gro for stink. Antiperspirants use aluminum salts to plug up the sweat glands and prevent bacteria-friendly moisture. Most people apply antiperspirants right after showering — but when your skin is still hot, it can't absorb it as well. Since most antiperspirants work for 24 hours or more, apply it before bed — this ensures that your body has time to absorb it, plus it will save you precious minutes in the morning.
Wash your face (without water): When you sleep, your skin continues to pump out sweat and oil because blood circulation to the skin increases. Meanwhile, the stress of rushing to get out of the door as quickly as possible will cause an increase in cortisol, which prompts your skin to release even more oil. To look rested and refreshed (and help prevent acne), mop up that excess oil. Use a gentle, moisturizing, pre-moistened washcloth to wipe away dirt and oil in seconds without disturbing the skin's natural barrier. No water or drying needed.
Dry shampoo your hair: Most men wash their hair every day, but barbers agree that doing so strips away the natural oils, resulting in a dry, itchy scalp. Instead, wash twice a week and use a conditioner on the other days. If you're due for a cleaning and running late, steal some dry shampoo from your hygienically-inclined partner or roommate to freshen up your hair. Made with a super-fine absorbent powder (usually from a kind of clay), it absorbs the oils that accumulate in your hair to extend and refresh your style. If you have fine or thin hair, it will absorb oils to help restore your volume.
Skip your shave: Shaving quickly can leave your face cut up like you went a few rounds with a cheese grater (and lost). To shave properly, you need to take your time — and when you're counting the minutes, lathering up and dragging a multi-blade contraption across your face is ill-advised. It can take up to ten minutes to shave with a wet razor, and an electric razor can take nearly as long. Switch up your routine so that you're shaving at night. If you have a light-colored beard, you can grab some hair clippers (without the guard) and trim your beard as short as you can — you'll look clean-shaven, even though you're not.
Nick Burns is a men's grooming writer and co-author of The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face. He has a red beard (like a pirate) and lives in San Francisco.