American habits of personal hygiene and grooming make their own cultural statements. In other cultures, it is perfectly acceptable to wash and deodorize less frequently than is common in the United States. To fit in well in American life, however, it pays to be aware of some important American priorities regarding cleanliness and grooming. Americans do not like to sense even a mild level of body odor in others.
An American will take a bath, or more commonly a shower, at least once a day. People involved in sports or fitness activities may shower more than once a day. To take a shower in the United States means soaking your body completely in water, covering it completely with soap lather (often using a deodorant soap), rinsing the lather thoroughly, and then drying completely with a towel.
Many Americans use talcum powder after their bath or shower, but virtually all well-groomed Americans use an underarm deodorant before they get dressed. Americans purchase several billion dollars worth of deodorant every year. Feminine deodorants and douches are also widely used. There are even specialized foot deodorants.
Once properly clean and deodorized, the American will put on clean clothes, including socks and underwear, so as not to carry over any of the previous day’s odor from dirty clothing.
Shaving, hair care, dental hygiene, and the use of fragrances and perfumes are covered in the sections that follow.
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