I recently received an urgent email from a reader named David Rattray, who raised a troubling issue.
It seems, like many men, whenever David steps into the shower, he finds himself confronted by a confusing array of hair- and skin-care products.
Since it will mean less work for me, I will allow David to explain this problem in his own words.
"As the proud owner of a newly renovated shower and bathroom," he wrote, "I find that there are now many different bottles containing (and I am guessing here) many different cleansing formulations designed to be applied at critical points in the showering process.
"As a guy, I find this overwhelming. I firmly believe that basic skin care begins with a bar of Irish Spring and a facecloth. Men can easily operate these two items in the three minutes before the hot water runs out."
In his email to me, David also rightly points out it is almost impossible using "mature eyes" to read the teeny, tiny writing on all the (bad word) bottles in his shower and locate the one bottle that has the word "shampoo" hidden on it.
"There are entire paragraphs about complex beta protein agave fruit scrubs and warnings that it is not intended for internal use (if you are drinking in the shower, you have other issues).
"I cannot tell you how many times I have washed my hair with conditioner. I once washed my hair with Eco-Wash, only to find out later this product, technically speaking, is meant for dogs. It worked pretty well. I smelled like a freshly groomed poodle all day. Our dog does not shower daily, so I have no idea why it is in there."
In conclusion, David declared: "It would be interesting to know if a portion of your readership (read men) are wrestling with similar issues."
Well, David, the answer is no; you are the only one. Ha ha ha. OK, I am kidding around in a light-hearted manner about an extremely serious issue. Next to determining which goaltender to select for his office hockey pool team, this is probably the most serious hygiene issue facing modern man today.
Fortunately, there is a simple explanation for this problem, David. But I have no idea what it is. Ha ha ha. OK, again I am kidding. The problem here is that, like many men, David lives in a household run by a group of people we will refer to as "women."
These confusing grooming issues do not occur in male-only households. Most guys require only one product for keeping themselves clean. It comes in a basic-black plastic bottle with a label stating: "GUY WASH FOR GUYS WHO LIKE TO WASH!" Because many guys have a hard time reading tiny words, the letters on the label are roughly the size of Zdeno Chara, the 6-9 defenceman with the Boston Bruins.
It is also acceptable for a standard guy to clean himself with a traditionally masculine product like soap-on-a-rope, especially if it is in a manly shape, such as a NASCAR vehicle or a power tool.
The truth is, skin care and hair care are not encoded in the male DNA. Some guys -- I am thinking here of teenage guys -- do not even think it is necessary to clean themselves until a tiny portion of their brain informs them that persons of the opposite gender will not find them attractive if they smell like the bottom of a mouldy hockey bag.
As my friend Dave is already aware, it is a different story in a household run by women.
In our home, which contains two women in the form of my wife and daughter, if you were to line up all the hair- and skin-care products in our various bathrooms, they would stretch (hold on while I do the math) a very long way.
Based on a quick survey of our bathrooms, a modern woman requires an extensive array of organic, super-hydrating shampoos, conditioners, lotions, unguents, emollients, oils, creams, washes, frostings, flat-iron sprays with straightening mist, curling sprays for glossing and defining, and ultimate-control sprays for hold and flex.
My wife and daughter also find uses for exotic items such as Hawaiian Ruby Guava Body Wash, cranberry and pomegranate sugar scrub, and something called Sprunch Spray.
What I'm trying to say here, David, is that yes, this is a confusing and potentially terrifying area for modern men to deal with on a daily basis. So just hold tight to your Irish Spring and your facecloth, because thinking about it too much will curl your hair.
Although I'm guessing Sprunch Spray can take care of that.