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We all know how to brush our teeth, wash our hair, keep up with washcloths, choose the right antibacterial soap, and get wax out of our ears, or do we? Here is essential information most people don't know about their daily cleansing routines.

From brushing our teeth to getting waxy buildup out of ear canals, experts tell us that most of us are doing it the wrong way. Here are five aspects of personal hygiene in which small changes can make real improvements in your wellbeing.

1. Teeth Aren't Supposed To Be Brushed Right After You Eat

Many of our mothers insisted that we march straight to the bathroom to brush our teeth when we finished supper. It turns out that brushing immediately after a meal can cause as many problems as it corrects.
Brushing is intended to get food particles off our teeth. There's no doubt that brushing your teeth is effective for this purpose, but in certain situations, brushing can also remove enamel.
When you consume foods containing lemon juice, which typically has a pH of 5.5 (mildly acidic), or vinegar, which typically has a pH of 3.2 (very acidic), the combination of the bristle and the acidic liquid acts as a kind of lubricant for your toothbrush. You get more particles off your teeth when you brush with acidic liquids in your mouth. Unfortunately, you also "lubricate" the enamel on your teeth so that it is more easily worn away. The holes you create in your teeth are invisible to the nake eye until they are invaded by cavity-causing Streptococcus bacteria. By that time, it's too late to undo the damage and the only thing you can do is to go to the dentist to get a filling.

2. Most People Use Shampoo The Wrong Way

If you watch shampoo commercials on television, you will see models in the shower with mounds of suds in their hair lifting dirt, debris, and dandruff out of the hair and off the scalp. The problem with sudsing up when you shampoo is that if you can see the suds, you have used too much shampoo.
Harsh, alkaline, detergent shampoos break down the keratin protein in hair. Using a sudsing detergent on your hair every day is a sure way to rob it of its luster and shine. It's much better to use a shampoo that (1) doesn't irritate your eyes, that is, it is not excessively alkaline and (2) doesn't make lots of suds. 
The bubbles from detergent shampoo actually dry out and kill cells on the skin of your scalp, forming tiny flakes of gray and white dandruff, sometimes making the skin of your scalp itchy.
Another problem most people don't realize is caused by using the wrong shampoo is acne of the forehead. Products that contain the chemical sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), identified in the UK and Commonwealth countries as sodium dodecyl sulfate, make piles of foam. The problem is that they also break down the cells in the top layer of the skin of your scalp. In fact, this chemical is used in research laboratories to extract DNA from blood and skin samples. 
If you don't take care to rinse your hair from front to back when you shampoo, you can get this product on your forehead, where it causes tiny red pimples that can get infected. It's best to rinse front to back no matter what shampoo you use, and to avoid products that contain this ingredient.
Continue reading after recommendations

  • Choi YS, Suh HS, Yoon MY, Min SU, Kim JS, Jung JY, Lee DH, Suh DH. A study of the efficacy of cleansers for acne vulgaris. J Dermatolog Treat. 2010 May. 21(3):201-5. doi: 10.3109/09546630903401454. PMID: 20394494.
  • Kaliyadan F, Aboulmagd E, Amin TT. Antimicrobial activity of commercial "antibacterial" handwashes and soaps. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2014 Jul. 5(3):344-6. doi: 10.4103/2229-5178.137799.
  • Photo courtesy of stevendepolo via Flickr:
  • Photo courtesy of mliu92 via Flickr:

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