Essential Toiletries

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Thursday 14th October 2010
In this article
  • The basics.
  • Pain and scar control.
  • A word about expiration Dates.

Quick… pick one: ice chest or medicine chest?

Admit it, you picked the ice chest. And we’re guessing you have no qualms about how to stock that. To be sharp is to be prepared. Read on for the SharpMan skinny on what you should have on hand in the other one. There are actually some new products worth mentioning, too:

Acne Cream

This may bring back nightmares of your teenage years, but when a random pimple pops up you’ll be glad you have it. Origins has a great product called Spot Remover, a clear gel you can apply to flare-ups to get rid of them quick. You can also rely on old faithfuls like Clearasil and Oxy.

Basic First Aid Supplies

Cotton swabs (a.k.a. Q-tips) and cotton balls are a must. Once you start stocking them, you’ll be amazed how many uses you come up with for them, from cleaning your ears each day - which hopefully you have already been doing with one tool or another - to applying medicine. For information on how to safely clean your ears, see SharpHealth’s "What Did He Say?" Ear Maintenance 101.

It’s a good idea to have a pain reliever like aspirin or some other type of anti-inflammatory on hand; it’s also smart to have some Tylenol, too.

SharpNote: Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol is different from ibuprofen, the active ingredient in Motrin or Advil. Acetaminophen reduces fever and relieves pain, but it doesn’t have the same anti-inflammatory effect as ibuprofen. Acetaminophen can be easier on the stomach and have fewer side effects.

Speaking of stomach upset - doesn’t it always happen in the middle of the night? Thank us later, but stock your medicine chest today with some Pepto-Bismol for upset stomachs and an antacid like Tums for those moments of too much pizza. Why suffer when relief can be just a few feet, away? On the other end of a stomach ache, don’t forget about an antidiarrheal, such as Imodium A-D, which comes in liquid, caplet and chewable tablet form.

You know you’re going to bang yourself up, so a topical antibiotic cream, such as Neosporin, is a must. There are several varieties, so choose the one that suits you: regular Neosporin, Neosporin Scar Solution, Neosporin Plus Pain Relief and Neo to Go (pocket-sized). For those SharpMen who are allergic to Neosporin, look for Polysporin.

Some sort of cold and sinus medicine is also nice to have handy because when you have that stuffy-head, fever-feeling, the last thing you want to do is walk or drive to the store. A new product in the cold fighting arsenal is Zicam, which is clinically proven to reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms. And just in case that sneezing doesn’t turn into a cold, some Benadryl or Claritin can ward off those annoying allergies.

For those summer months when allergies aren’t the only annoyance, and bites, stings and rashes are just an evening outside away, a bottle of calamine lotion can provide some welcome itch relief. Or, for a pre-emptive strike against the enemy, some bug spray with the ingredient Deet is a cheap and worthwhile investment. Trust us, there are no SharpThreads that go with angry, red welts.

It’s also a good idea to have some bandages at the ready. If you think real men shouldn’t be caught with a Band-Aid around a freshly paper-cut finger, get Band-Aid’s new Liquid Bandage — a protective covering that is not obvious once applied. If you’re worried about scarring, keep some Mederma Cream on hand. It isn’t cheap, but it has been known to make a severe burn the size of a baseball nearly invisible once completely healed. Neosporin Scar Solution is another option that is little more affordable and might be more convenient because it comes in strips that cover the wound (similar to a Band-Aid).

To be complete, your first aid kit should contain some alcohol wipes or ethyl alcohol, which is good for sterilizing things like thermometers (another first aid necessity). Hydrogen peroxide is also handy and can be used to kill bacteria. Because they serve different purposes, it is probably a good idea to have both of these inexpensive solutions on hand.

Cold Sore Meds

If you’ve had one, chances are that there are additional cold sores in your future. And who wants that? Keep some topical cold sore treatments such as: Carmex or Abreva on hand.

Dental Items

You probably brush two, maybe even three times a day, but maintaining your dental health is not complete until you have flossed. And in addition to keeping your gums healthy and your teeth less susceptible to cavities, you won’t have to use a business card to get the pepper out of your teeth after dinner. For information on how to floss without damaging your gums, see SharpHealth’s Getting Back to the Health Basics.

While dental floss is a must, there are a few dental items that you may want to consider having around, such as an over-the-counter teeth whitening system. Relative to the cost of custom bleaching trays from your dentist, Crest Whitestrips are a bargain — and a convenience. Just grab a box and slip that strip on when you are watching TV at night. Just think, you may be so proud of your whiter teeth that you'll want to floss.

Nail Clippers

There are a lot of things that qualify as a turn-off: from bad breath to greasy hair. But one thing that goes beyond unappealing - into the area of almost creepy - is when a guy has long nails. "Long" is anything more than just a sliver of white. For info on how to trim safely, see SharpHealth’s Nail Care For Guys.

Having made that point, it should be pretty obvious that the same goes for those ten other digits on your feet. If you’ve mastered the nail clippers and want to move up in the manicure tool kit, check out SharpMan’s Figuring Out How to Use That Manicure Tool Kit You Got for Christmas.

Don’t have enough to trim? See SharpHealth’s Stop Biting Your Nails.

Nose/Ear Hair Trimmers

A stray tuft of hair on your head can be cute, but there’s nothing endearing about a stray in your nose or coming out your ear. So the bottom line is that with ear/nose trimmers as affordable as $10, there is no reason you shouldn’t have some - and use them. To brush up on your technique, see SharpGrooming’s Ear Hair: What Gives?


Thinning ozone layer aside, the facts are in about the dangers of sun exposure. If you just can’t keep out of the sun, stock up and make slapping on some sunscreen part of your daily grooming routine.

For more information about sun protection, see SharpHealth’s ___. SS: Please link.

Expiration Dates

We’ve spent all this time telling you what to put INTO your medicine chest, now we want you to keep track of when it’s time for it to go. All over-the-counter medications and most grooming products have an expiration date printed on their packaging. The official party line is that an expired product loses some (or all) of its effectiveness. We say, why take a chance? Going through your medicine chest twice a year is a good idea. Consider linking this quick and painless "To Do" item with setting back or bringing forward your clocks.

This article last updated on Thursday 14th October 2010
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