Teaching Good Grooming to Your Son
When it comes to grooming, teen boys have a hit or miss philosophy. They may spend an inordinate amount of time on their hair, only to walk out of the house without brushing their teeth.
Joyce Anthony, of Erie, Pa., says teaching her son about grooming wasn't easy. She finally resorted to good old-fashioned bribery. "I was having trouble getting my son to shower, wash his hair, etc.," she says. "I started out by telling him for each time he showered and washed his hair, we'd add a dime to a jar and he'd get the money at the end of each month. Eventually, he just decided he felt better when he got compliments from others on how nice he looked, so we decided the money wasn't needed."
The Mom Advantage
Consider the following data from the Harrison Group/VNU Teen Trend Report, conducted by the Harrison Group, a leading market-research firm located in Waterbury, Conn.:
- Forty-nine percent of teen boys are comfortable speaking to both their parents about hygiene.
- Sixteen percent of them are not comfortable speaking to either parent.
- The remaining group prefer speaking to their mother over their father.
- Twenty-four percent of teen boys are comfortable speaking only with their mother about hygiene.
- Eleven percent of teen boys are comfortable speaking only with their father.
Since many boys are more comfortable talking to their mothers about grooming, moms are in a great position to teach their sons good grooming habits. The question is how?
According to Dr. Joel Schlessinger, a board certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Omaha, Neb., and the president and founder of Lovelyskin.com, a skincare and products Web site, the need for teen boys to start shaving can vary greatly, from 10 years old to late teens. The best time to start shaving is when fine hairs (known as "peach fuzz") are causing social embarrassment or create problems between Mom and Child. "There is no reason that once a child shaves, they have to shave every day from then on," Dr. Schlessinger says. "Initially, shaving may be once a week or less, depending on the growth pattern and personal preferences."
Usually, it is easier for teens to use electric razors than it is a disposable razor. Disposable razors take more finesse, and there is a greater chance they will cut themselves.
Even though moms may have been nagging their sons to brush their teeth for years, hair is usually the first thing the young male takes a genuine interest in. Moms need to take advantage of this interest by purchasing hair care products that will help their sons get a system into place. Beverly Hills celebrity hairstylist Billy Lowe says male teens respond better to systems rather than having to piece things together for themselves.
"Rarely will male clients spend the time to read, research or ask questions about products, so they either purchase the wrong products, or nothing at all," Lowe says. "Then, if their hair doesn't perform well, they get frustrated, and ultimately give up."
By buying products that go together, moms can help simplify hair care for their sons. Many product lines, such as American Crew or Paul Mitchell, are creating systems for males to make it easy for them to understand how to use.
"Male teens are on the go," Lowe says. "They are active in sports, school events, socializing, and they want products that are convenient, easy to pack or things that offer travel-size packaging for those on-the-go times. And as sensitive as teens are, they certainly don't want products that look 'girly'. Product lines are very savvy about packaging for the male market and are developing attractive packaging for the male audience. No frills, no poof, just clean and simple."
It's also important to find your son a good hair stylist. Avoid cut-and-curl-type places where both grandmothers and little girls go to get their hair cut. Many cities now have hair salons that cater to men. The atmosphere is male, sports are shown on big screen TVs and a neck massage or hot towel wrap are often part of the service. Teen boys can relax in this type of salon, which motivates them to go as often as needed.
Deodorant and Cologne
Tackling this sensitive issue takes the finesse of a swordsman and the courage of a bull fighter. Dr. David Bank, a board certified dermatologist and director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., says that Mom needs to remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. "Be persistent, relentless and encouraging," he says. "When you begin to smell odor, it's time to offer deodorant soaps and antiperspirants. If you notice that your son is sweating more than the average teen or expresses that he is uncomfortable about his perspiration, which is very common among teen boys, there is Certain Dri Antiperspirant, the only non-prescription antiperspirant with the active ingredient of 12 percent aluminum chloride, the most effective active ingredient available in an over-the-counter antiperspirant."
Using cologne is a personal choice. Teens will often use cologne as extra insurance against odor. Just remember to tell them that less is more when it comes to cologne!
Dr. Schlessinger feels that most young men would be willing to talk to their mothers about acne, as they really want the problem solved.
"If acne is a problem, it is best to discuss this with the teen and see if it is time to visit a dermatologist," Dr. Schlessinger says. "Over-the-counter treatments containing benzoyl peroxide are of some value, but don't always work on stubborn cases of acne, so it is important to set reasonable goals to make sure the acne doesn't scar before you seek medical help. Washing should occur twice a day, but there is no particular benefit to washing more than twice daily, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as athletics or jobs that expose the teen to oily films on their faces."
Many acne products are over hyped by TV or infomercials. It is best to see what your dermatologist recommends. "The biggest trend for teens is to be seen by dermatologists earlier rather than later for acne and skin problems," Dr. Schlessinger says. "It used to be that a trip to the dermatologist was a last resort. Now, clear skin is 'di rigeur' for high school kids, so it makes the teen with acne stand out in comparison. Newer treatments are available now that make regimens more simple and 'teen-ready'. One new drug, Xiana, combines a retinoid with clindamycin. This takes two very common drugs used topically and combines them."
Teaching your son good grooming habits takes sensitivity and consistency, but remember that by teaching these habits, not only will you and your son get immediate benefits, but someday your son's future wife is going to thank you!