Making Yourself Presentable


People closely observe hygiene and appearance, so it’s critically important.

Wash yourself consistently and thoroughly.

Keep your teeth clean.

Always groom yourself, though avoid over-grooming as a male if you would prefer to appear heterosexual.

People will closely observe your face, so pay extra attention to maintaining it.

Honor the dress code wherever you go, and make sure to never be the least well-dressed.

Why obsess about appearance?

People only take you seriously when you appear healthy:
  • People draw many intuitive prejudices from your presentation.
  • Good hygiene is the implication of health through hiding any odors or dirt.

People begin their story about you based on the impression they get from your grooming:
  • You don’t need to look fabulous, but certain ways you can look or smell will violate folkways and mores.

Wash consistently

You will often not think you smell bad:
  • Our bodies become accustomed to the smells around us in as little as 20 minutes.
  • If you’re interacting with a new culture, you’re almost guaranteed to smell like any food that was in your origin culture that’s not in the new one.

Scrub your entire body with soap and water:
  • You don’t necessarily need hot water to wash yourself, but if you have hot water wait for it to come through the pipes before stepping in.
  • Soap chemically attaches itself to soil on the skin, then water washes it away.
  • Antibacterial soap doesn’t perform any differently from ordinary soap, but can often damage the skin’s microscopic ecosystem.
  • Bar soap is cheaper, lasts longer, has a lingering scent, and is more ecologically friendly than body wash.
  • Conserve soap that’s worn down to a sliver by attaching it to another bar while wet.

Wash your hair with shampoo:
  • If your hair squeaks when you pull on it, you haven’t rinsed all the shampoo out.
  • Routinely washing hair can dry out hair and cause dandruff.
    • Only wash your hair every few days for the body’s oils to come back into the hair.
  • Dandruff cures:
    • Shower with cooler water.
    • Add vodka to shampoo to moisturize and strengthen hair.
    • Rub aloe vera onto the scalp.

Routinely wash your hands:
  • Wash before and after you touch anything you must keep clean.
  • Obsessively cleaning hands will make the skin crack, so use lotion.
  • Ironically, obsessive handwashing implies mental illness.
  • If you can’t get your ring off your finger, lather it with soap or run it under freezing water.

Clean more vigorous substances off your hands with specific things:
  • Permanent marker (rub hand sanitizer into your skin)
  • Food stains from fruit or other organic material (wipe hands with vinegar in a towel or rub a raw potato into it and let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse)
  • Tree sap (rub with nail polish remover or alcohol-based hand sanitizer)
  • Grease or engine oil:
    1. Apply hand lotion before working on a project
    2. Mix cooking oil and sugar in hands (bath oil and salt work as well, but will irritate any cuts/scratches).
    3. Scrub into hands focusing on knuckles, cuticles, nail beds, and palm creases.
    4. Wash with warm water (cold water won’t remove the oil, but hot water removes the body’s natural oils).
    5. Scrape any grease under fingernails with a nail stick.
    6. Use a nail brush to scrub dish soap into uncleaned areas and rinse with warm water again.

When you’re done, clean off any visible particulates (e.g., hair) before putting the soap or dispenser back.

Maintain your teeth

Dental hygiene is necessary for your image, but also critical for health.

A poor diet can harm teeth:
  • Chewing ice creates microscopic fractures in the teeth.
  • Drinking soda pop and eating candy can coat the teeth in acid and sugars that damage tooth enamel.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption decreases saliva production, increases dry mouth, and promotes tooth decay.

Brush your teeth twice a day:
  • Only products with Novamin can repair your teeth.
  • Make toothpaste yourself:
    • Sprinkle baking soda onto your toothbrush
    • Use apple cider vinegar or mouthwash
    • Mix your own in an airtight bowl:
      1. 6 tsp baking soda
      2. 1 tsp Stevia powder
      3. 4 tsp vegetable glycerin or 2 tbsp coconut oil
      4. 10-20 drops of peppermint oil

Improve your brushing:
  • Brush your teeth before eating:
    • Brushing is supposed to remove plaque, not food.
    • Since food softens the enamel brushing right afterward can harm teeth.
  • Water reduces toothpaste’s potency, so don’t wet the brush with water.
  • Squeeze from the back of the tube to get all of it:
    • Squeeze it all out with hairpins.
    • Attach a binder clip at the end of the tube to get every last bit.
  • Brush in a circle while angling the toothbrush to get between the gums.
  • Routinely leave teeth-whitening toothpaste on your teeth for a few minutes before rinsing.
  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water to eat anything afterward without an aftertaste.
  • Store the toothbrush in a low-moisture location.
    • Attach it to a clothespin to make it easily accessible.
    • Get an electric toothbrush to very thoroughly clean your teeth.

Flossing is very important, but mouthwash has very little to do with dental health.
  • Rinsing your mouth with hot water (especially salt water) after eating will usually remove most bad breath.
  • In fact, halitosis is a marketing word made by Joseph Lister, the creator of Listerine.
    • Bad breath is relative to naturally-occurring food odors.
    • The cultural differences are most pronounced when someone visits another country.
  • Dissolve 1 tbsp Epsom salts or 1/2 tsp baking soda in 1/2 cup warm water to make natural mouthwash.

You can whiten your teeth if you’re self-conscious about it:
  • Most people don’t care about white teeth as much as bad breath.
  • Rub the inside of a banana peel on your teeth for 2 minutes to absorb the minerals into your enamel.
  • Make a baking soda/strawberry teeth whitener:
    1. Make a paste of 1/2 tsp baking soda and a mashed-up strawberry.
    2. Spread onto teeth with a toothbrush or finger.
    3. Let it sit for five minutes, rinse out and brush with toothpaste.

Avoid bad breath:
  • When brushing your teeth, brush your tongue to get rid of most bad breath.
    • If you don’t have a toothbrush, scrape it with a spoon or wipe it with a paper napkin.
    • Invest in a tongue brush to clean it thoroughly.
  • Lick your wrist and smell it to know how your breath smells to others.
  • If you routinely wake up with a gross taste in your mouth, drink a glass of water before going to bed.
  • Use breath mints when with others for an extended time (gargle salt water if you don’t have any).
  • Eat parsley to remove the odor of garlic or onions.
  • If someone offers a mint, you likely have bad breath and you should take one without questioning them.
  • Bad breath usually comes from your diet.
    • Drink water after drinking other beverages to purge odor-incubating sugars from your mouth.
    • Watch strong foods like garlic or onions
    • Fiber-rich vegetables increase salivation and wash away bacteria.
    • Crunchy vegetables scrub off the teeth.
    • Calcium from dairy products help re-mineralize teeth.
    • Chewing gum helps produce saliva that lowers the potency of acids in the mouth.

Groom yourself

Most cultures require grooming because it gives an added impression of hygiene.

To look well-groomed without trying, have a proper diet and exercise regularly.

Never groom around others, especially when you’re trimming nails.

You can often remove or mask odors without washing:
  • Peel an orange.
  • Vigorously rub the area with baking soda, then rinse.
  • Rub vodka into your skin (especially for foot odor).
  • Soak or wash in vinegar (especially for garlic/onion odor).
  • Soak or wash in mouthwash one or two times a week.
  • If a skunk has sprayed you, soak the affected areas in tomato juice.

Keep your fingernails trimmed and filed.

  • Wet your fingernails and the trimmer before cutting to prevent nails from launching across the room.
Sweat management is the simplest way to minimize odors:
  • Sweat is either propionic acid (smells like vinegar) or isovaleric acid (smells like cheese)
  • Eccrine glands secrete mostly water to cool the skin down, but apocrine glands (primarily around the armpits, groin, nipples, and eyelids) are responsible for most body odor.
  • Multiple sources alter sweat production:
    • Strong-smelling food like red meat, seafood, egg yolks, garlic, onions, yogurt, beans, asparagus, cabbage, and spices
    • A well-balanced diet low in sulfide-causing compounds
    • Medication that can increase sweating
    • Hormonal changes like puberty or menopause
    • Genetics
    • Good hygiene or deodorants that cut down on bacteria or antiperspirants that cut down on sweating
  • Deodorant masks body odor
    • To increase its effectiveness, apply it the night before.
    • Apply baking soda powder or lemon juice directly to the armpit.
    • Make deodorant yourself
      1. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup cornstarch, tapioca starch or potato starch until it’s clump-free.
      2. Add 8-10 tbsp coconut oil 1 tbsp at a time, mixing each time, until the mixture is like dough.
      3. Cut a 1 ft square piece of cling wrap and spoon the mixture into it.
      4. Place inside an empty toilet paper tube, then mold the excess to form a mound.
      5. Wrap the excess cling wrap around the mound on top, then set in the freezer
      6. Take off the cling wrap cover and push the stick from the bottom as you use it.

Make your hair look cleaner and more even with hair conditioner:
  • Soak it in hair conditioner for at least half an hour.
  • You can make conditioner out of household items like honey, olive oil, Epsom salts, and vodka.

You don’t need perfume or cologne, but it adds to your image:
  • Cologne should only give a slight aroma to someone hugging you.
  • Splash a tiny bit onto your wrist, then rub your wrists together.
  • Do not apply more than once.
  • Apply Vaseline before spraying to lengthen how long the scent stays on you.

Men and women should usually stay clean-shaven:
  • A man can maintain a well-groomed beard, but must treat it like a second head of hair.
  • Shave with the hair’s grain and keep the razor as clean and sharp as possible to avoid small nicks and cuts.
  • Use a lubricant like shaving cream, olive oil, hair conditioner or soap lather to avoid dry-shaving and risking more cuts.

Keep your skin looking healthy:
  • Don’t neglect skin problems like eczema, rosacea or psoriasis.
  • Don’t use store-bought skin moisturizers, since they will often make your skin dry and ashy over time.
  • Rub Vaseline into the skin, especially on cracked elbows or heels.
  • Mix honey with olive oil or with eggs and some flour to make your own lotion.
  • Add vinegar to a bath to help with extremely dry skin.
  • Try to prevent acne:
    • Acne skin products often cause more breakouts over time, so don’t use them.
    • Drink plenty of water and oolong tea.
    • Keep your phone screen clean along with anything else that gets near your face.
    • Wash your pillowcase daily or cover it with a clean towel or t-shirt for at least a few weeks.
  • If you must pop acne and can’t because it’s too painful, put it under hot water for a few seconds.
  • Wear red clothing to hide any breakouts or puffiness.
  • If you get a sunburn, take a hot shower the next day and then use a lint roller.
  • Reduce the appearance of bruises by holding a banana peel or vinegar-soaked cotton ball on it for 10-30 mins.
  • Regularly apply honey to scars to bleach them.

While warts aren’t uncommon, they are unsightly:
  • Apply duct tape or apple cider vinegar to the wart consistently.
  • Dissolve an aspirin in water to make a paste and apply it, then tape over it with duct tape.

Depending on your body and culture, a tattoo might look good on you:
  • Hang a picture of a tattoo you want somewhere you’ll see every day for a year.
  • If you still want it after a year, it’s worth getting.
  • Keep in mind that the tattoo will stretch over time and changing/updating it later is often expensive and painful.

Advanced grooming

Most males should neglect advanced grooming unless they want to appear homosexual, but females usually need to maintain themselves more than males.

Make sure your body looks healthy without makeup before applying it.

  • Make sure to maintain any parts of your body that aren’t covered.

Store your makeup in a glasses case.

Most advanced grooming is contextual to culture and trends:
  • Observe and imitate your peers.
  • The beauty industry delivers a continuous message of “you’re not good-looking enough” to market their products.
    • Since beauty is relative, most women are attractive to someone without much change even if they don’t believe it.
    • Many elements of appearance like hair color, body hair, body type, makeup, and complexion are completely a matter of culture and preference.

Try to use natural skin treatments:
  • Look at the slivers on the ends of tubes:
    • Green means the product is all-natural.
    • Red means it has both natural and synthetic ingredients.
    • Black is an all-synthetic product.
  • Mix beeswax with any oil to make a lotion-like formula.
  • Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer.
  • Make your own body scrubs and bath bombs instead of buying them.

Keep your nails healthy-looking:
  • You don’t need a manicure if you work with your hands frequently.
  • Pedicures are essential if you’re accentuating your legs, but otherwise a luxury.

Remove unwanted body hair:
  • Shave your legs and arms, but don’t bother with a product or constant shaving.

Your jewelry should accentuate your natural features:
  • Jewelry should draw more attention to your face.
  • If you wear a necklace, you should have a story behind it.
  • Draw more attention to your hands, legs, and feet with rings or bangles, but avoid excess.

Pay particular attention to everything around your face

Use facial masks, face scrubs, and makeup to accentuate your natural features.

Keep your lips healthy by avoiding lip balms that use drying agents.

Use lipstick to draw more attention to your lips.

Hair maintenance:
  • Keep your hair healthy with plenty of conditioner.
  • Trim your hair’s split ends before they run and rub Vaseline on them.
  • Squeeze a lemon or lime into your hair to stop it from frizzing in humid weather.
  • Speed up hair growth:
    • Eat onions, garlic or salmon.
    • Massage aloe vera into the scalp and let it sit for an hour.
  • Good hair styles don’t have to be complicated or elaborate.
  • When you go to a hair stylist, take a photo of what you want before you go.
  • Color, straighten, and curl your hair carefully.
    • Since hair is dead tissue, more messing with your hair will fray it and make it frazzled.

Pluck and shape eyebrows to make your face look like an oval:
  • Your eyelashes should look long and healthy with an eyelash curler.
  • Long faces need a flat shape to break the aesthetic.
  • Round faces need a high arch with a definite curve.
  • Square faces create balance with a curved shape and more angle.
  • Pointed chins start with a high arch and curved brow and add more volume.
  • Alternately, remove your eyebrows and use eyeliner.

Grooming crises

If you have dark circles under your eyes:
  • Apply coffee grounds for about 12 minutes.
  • Routinely apply 1 tsp raw honey for 20 minutes.

If you have red, puffy or irritated eyes:
  • Hold an ice cube to it.
  • Use Preparation H (it’s meant to constrict blood vessels).
  • Mix equal parts Epsom salts and hot water, then wait until it’s cooled to a comfortable temperature before applying.

If you have unwanted redness in your face, apply a mix of egg yolk and lemon juice.

If you have a hickey (skin marks on the neck):
  • Apply a cold spoon or ice cube to the area.
  • Scrape it with a coin or brush with a toothbrush.

Honor the dress code wherever you go

Try to convey a story from bottom to top:
  • People will observe your shoes first, then your legs, then up to your face, then your chest.
  • Your choice of clothing demonstrates what social groups you’re part of.
  • Generally, aim for conservative old styles with a modest sprinkling of newer styles mixed in.

The simpler your outfit, the more straightforward you’ll appear:
  • Avoid anything cheap, fancy, shiny, or synthetic.
  • Don’t wear too many accessories, since it conveys insecurity.
    • Don’t try to match accessories either, since they’ll overwhelm the appearance.
  • Try to avoid stark colors (i.e., black, white, bright colors).

Dress at or slightly above those around you:
  • If you overdress, make sure you’re matching your appearance with better speaking than them.
  • As much as you can, try to coordinate with your partner if they’re with you.

Aim to coordinate, but only somewhat:
  • Intentionally mismatch at least somewhat to imply that you’re not obsessive about your appearance.
  • Only use patterns alongside patterns, since solids magnify the pattern too much.
  • Use collars to accentuate your neck (small neck means small collar).

Make sure you’re comfortable in whatever you’re wearing, though:
  • Your discomfort will make others uncomfortable.
  • Clothing represents an extension of you to others, even when you don’t care about it.

A. White Tie is the finest clothing possible:
  • Men should have a full dress outfit with a bow tie, a tailcoat, and a waistcoat.
    • Always have a pocket square with an different color than the tie.
  • Women should wear long, elegant evening gowns with a matching set of gloves.

B. Black Tie is most common for weddings, funerals, and other important occasions:
  • Men should wear a tuxedo jacket with a bow tie and leather shoes.
  • Women should wear a long evening gown or cocktail dress with dark, conservative colors.
  • Creative Black Tie is as formal as Black Tie but not as strict and allows less conservative cuts and fewer bright colors.

C. Business is similar to Black Tie with more gray tones:
  • Business is common for professionals and people trying to look good in job interviews.
  • Men should wear a matching two-piece suit with a tie.
    • Avoid bright ties, since they’ll distract from everything else.
  • Women should wear a skirt in a neutral color with a solid-colored matching blouse or professional top.
  • Black shoes tend to be boring.

D. Black Tie Optional or Formal Attire expects conservative and sophisticated clothing:
  • Men can wear the same as Business, but the tie is optional.
  • Women can wear a long dress, pantsuit or cocktail dress in darker or neutral colors.

E. Semi-Formal is similar to Black Tie Optional but doesn’t expect a proper evening gown:
  • Men can wear a two-piece suit with an optional jacket.
  • Women can wear a cocktail-style black dress with dress shoes or a long skirt with an appropriate formal top

F. Cocktail or Smart Casual doesn’t expect sophisticated attire but encourages a tasteful outfit:
  • Men can wear a casual shirt with a smart jacket and chinos.
  • Women can wear a knee-length skirt, dress pants or a blouse.
  • Festive usually themes after a holiday, so look for a colored outfit that matches the style.
  • Consider using tasteful scarves to accentuate your appearance.

G. Casual has a few standards:
  • Men can wear a polo and casual trousers with deck shoes.
  • Women can wear almost anything that looks nice.
  • Most “blue-collar” work uniforms are casual attire.

H. Informal almost looks like work clothes:
  • T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers or shorts and a tank top.
  • Watch for how much skin the culture permits you to reveal.

Match your shoes to the rest of your outfit:
  • Wear shoes that match the color and style of everything else you’re wearing.
  • For a comfortable pair of heels, wear dance heels.
  • Avoid felt-soled shoes if you plan to wear them outdoors, and always aim for rubber-soled if possible.

Store and prepare your garments properly:
  • Launder them and ventilate them before wearing.
  • Iron and press anything with a flat surface, but as little as possible (to avoid wear).
  • Never hang knitwear because it’ll stretch.
  • Remove stains and spots as quickly as possible.
    • Rinse the fabric with cold water and gently blot with a clean cloth.

Hold yourself correctly

Learn to be happier to immediately look more attractive.

Improve your posture:
  1. Stand up straight with your hands at your sides.
  2. Breathe out while forcing your belly in.
  3. Hold 15-30 seconds and repeat 10 times.
  4. When you turn your head, your posture should place your eyes squarely in the middle of your shoulder.

You look larger than real life on camera wearing yellow, but wearing green makes you look smaller.

When you think you’re prepared to meet people, make sure you know how to respect them!

This page is Part 2 of People Skills. Part 1 was Why People Skills Matter.