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Is Using Lotion a Black Thing?
May 23, 2014 7:38 AM   Subscribe

I can’t help wondering how many other, noncosmetic, nonashiness-related parts of your lives are so completely different that they’d make you ask each other, “For what!?” ...What I think is most fascinating about your question is the reminder that sometimes we simply have no idea what’s going on with other people from different backgrounds. Forget stereotypes and biases related to stuff we talk about all the time—we have actual, huge blind spots where it never occurred to us that our experience might not be the only one.
posted by The corpse in the library (199 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm a mixed race Latina who gets ashy as heck, but I didn't know to call it that until I was at a racially diverse Girl Scout Camp. Man, that thin mountain air just dries you out. All the little African-American Girl Scouts and me would be trading lotion every day, lest our knobby knees look like we'd been kneeling in chalk dust.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:49 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


I'm white and went to a well-integrated school. I grew up religiously putting lotion on my elbows and knees because I was "ashy", but I had no understanding that 'ashy' referred to the color. Your elbows got dry, and it was uncomfortable, so you put lotion on them. I was in college before I realized what ashy actually meant.

This also coincided with Bath and Body Works becoming a thing. If someone who wasn't your best best best friend had a birthday or you needed a Christmas present, you got B&BW lotion or a candle. No need to even contemplate a different gift. Mid-90s probably saw a huge uptick in lotion wearing across the U.S.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:50 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


I'm not quite fish-belly pale but I have a strawberry birthmark on one leg and yeah, it gets ashy. Red ashy, though I never had a name for it. Unsurprisingly, I'm a regular lotion user.
posted by immlass at 7:54 AM on May 23


This reminds me of a few months ago when there was that AskMe about deodorant where everyone was flipping out at the OP for daring to ask if it was okay not to use deodorant, and that made me feel all guilty and bad for also not using deodorant until I remembered that I'm East Asian and most of the people answering were presumably white.
posted by Conspire at 7:54 AM on May 23 [22 favorites]


One of the first full realizations of how my liberal but extremely white home state was inadvertently racist was coming to the Big City where the drug stores had a shelf to an aisle of hair products targeted at African Americans. It must really suck to live in an area where you stand out so much, you are so isolated, that you can't even get the right hair dye without special ordering it because no one bothers to cater to your demographic. And no one else notices! It isn't purposeful discrimination on any part - why would a store stock products less than 1% of the population buys? If no store stocks them, how would you notice they were missing? I have no idea where my black classmate (I can think of one girl. Literally one.) got her hair cut.

(Also, yes, white people use lotion, but we tend not to notice how dry out skin has become until it is painful/cracked and bleeding. I've never had this happen with knees, but it's certainly an issue with hands, elbows, and heels. Women are better about using lotion than men, but part of that is the aforementioned B&BW scented effect.)
posted by maryr at 7:55 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I'm still confused about the washcloth issue. I grew up using a washcloth, switched to a loofah during the aforementioned B&BW era, and then switched to just soap when I was a poor college student and had no household supplies. And by soap, I mean leftover gifted B&BW body wash from the 90s.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:00 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]


that made me feel all guilty and bad for also not using deodorant until I remembered that I'm East Asian and most of the people answering were presumably white.

Heh. I'll never forget getting on the train in typhoon season in Japan. Insane humidity, heat around 30 degrees C, pouring rain. Me sweating through my clothes within 5 minutes of stepping out the door, and it can't even dry because of how wet everything is. My shirt is wet with sweat, undone 2 buttons, tie loose, sleeves rolled up, hair wet with sweat by the time I get to the station. I showered probably 45 minutes previously and already look and feel like a mess. And then I see all these dudes on the train wearing suits looking cool as cucumbers, not a trace of sweat, buttoned up and hair impeccably styled. I'm thinking "how in the hell are they doing that?" My big sweaty white self must have looked and smelled just gross to everyone in town that whole summer.

I also recall staying at a friends for a couple of nights before I left the country after my lease was up. After I finished getting showered one morning, his elderly mother said to me "you are a good foreigner because you don't smell like a dog when you are wet". There was also the commonly-held stereotype that white people smell like sour milk.
posted by Hoopo at 8:09 AM on May 23 [10 favorites]


Growing up in an ultra-white suburb of Seattle, I never saw black hair/skin products on store shelves until I went to boot camp (Orlando) in 1986. However, I should have known something was up since during high school, I listened to KFOX radio and to this day remember this catchy jingle:

"Ashy, ashy, ashy
Don't you hate that winter skin?
What ashy can do to the looks of you
Is a (something something) sin.

Yeah, I thought I was real urban for knowing that!
posted by auntie maim at 8:10 AM on May 23


I had the opposite conversation to this when I was in 7th or 8th grade at an overwhelmingly black middle school in rural Alabama.

Black Classmate (in locker room after gym): Hey man, you got any lotion?

Me: Me? No, why?

Classmate: What do you mean why? Don't you get ashy?

Me: What's ashy?

Classmate: Um, you know, um ashy!?! Like my knees (shows me knees).

Me: I guess not, I mean, I might, but how would I know?

Classmate: Yeah, you're pretty much all ash to start with anyway.

And scene.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:11 AM on May 23 [98 favorites]


I'm pale as hell and I get ashy. *Maybe* it's less noticeable with pale skin but you can still see the terrible texture and if your joints are ashy especially the dead skin is this awful grey color like with anybody. I'm pale, but I'm not grey-colored.

I've always used lotion every day (cocoa butter for body and hands, face lotion for my face), Vaseline in the winter or if I'm looking rough, and I carry lotion in my purse. I don't understand how people don't use lotion after washing, doesn't your skin feel all uncomfortable and tight?
posted by rue72 at 8:12 AM on May 23 [9 favorites]


As a white woman with severely dry skin, I had no idea that lotion use was starkly divided by race. My experience is: use lotion on your entire body every day, or spend the whole day scratching. This was quite eye-opening!
posted by chainsofreedom at 8:12 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]


Super whitey white girl here and I definitely wear lotion. I try to wear it daily, but don't always remember. When my skin gets dry, it doesn't look ashy so much as…like a crocodile? Either way, it feels bad and is not especially pretty, so I lotion up. My lotion also has spf in it.

I'm currently dating a pretty dark skinned guy and I came over with a sunburn over the weekend. He poked at it and looked surprised when I yelped and jumped away. "Does it hurt?" he asked. I had never even considered that there are many people who have never had a sunburn. It was one of those eye opening moments where I realized I'd never considered anything outside my own experience.
posted by chatongriffes at 8:13 AM on May 23 [11 favorites]


Oh, and the Sweet Potato vs. Pumpkin thing the article alludes to is a North/South issue rather than a White/Black thing.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:13 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Or, on preview, what rue72 said.
posted by chainsofreedom at 8:13 AM on May 23


I don't understand how people don't use lotion after washing, doesn't your skin feel all uncomfortable and tight?

I know right? Plus sweat rashes and the like go way down if you lotion up properly.
posted by The Whelk at 8:17 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Huh. I learned to use shea/coco butter lotion from my (white) British wife, who used it for her dry skin.

She had been living in Atlanta, Georgia during much of the eighties though.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:17 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I'm white and the only thing I can add to this is "Pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie?"

Yes to both.
posted by SansPoint at 8:18 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Bill Burr has an entire bit [NSFW] specifically about this.

"See, that's why you've got to hang out with everybody. There's too much information in the world, and every group misses out on a little bit. White people totally missed the lotion seminar."
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:18 AM on May 23 [24 favorites]


The washcloth thing is weird. I feel like when body wash became popular in the 90s most white people switched over to those bath poof things. Or at least white women. The young bachelors of my acquaintance often seemed to keep a bar of soap and two rusty bic razors in the shower, sometimes no shampoo even.
posted by Diablevert at 8:19 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the Sweet Potato vs. Pumpkin thing the article alludes to is a North/South issue rather than a White/Black thing.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:13 AM


It's a "people who like superior pie vs people who like pumpkin" divide, really.

Kidding (not kidding, totally serious) aside, I find the way food divides that aren't divides at all in the South become racial divides outside the South. I assume it's a lingering effect of the Great Migration, but it's still funny to me that people find it odd that I, as a white person, eat collard greens. How could you not?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:20 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]


I had never even considered that there are many people who have never had a sunburn

I'm half whitest-white, half-Puerto Rican--my father is fairly dark-skinned--and I haven't had a sunburn since I was about eleven years old. For whatever reason, as I've aged, I haven't gotten any darker, but I just don't burn anymore. I know I ought to wear sunscreen--and I do, sometimes, particularly on my face--but it's hard to remember because there are just zero short-term consequences. Then I see both of my in-laws having bits of skin removed and resolve to buy a gallon of the stuff at Costco.

And yes, I get a little ashy in wintertime, even though I'm just average-tan-colored, but I really only lotion my hands and face, which gets pretty bad. Also I use a washcloth. I can't fathom not using one. It squicks me out, actually.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:22 AM on May 23


Yeah, if I don't use lotion at least twice a day, my Wonder-bread skin gets so red you can see the flakes, especially on the joints. And I'm talkin' the good stuff, not the froufrou watery perfume business.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:22 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Is it weird not to use a loofah/washcloth/something? I just use my hands, and have one of those scrubs with tiny bits of walnut shell in it.

I get ashy. I never heard that term before today - I'm white, and, maybe relevantly, also Canadian. Damn everybody gets cracked, dry skin in the winter, so maybe lotion use isn't as different of a thing in Canada? I do notice I pretty much never used lotion during the summer, until I hit 30 and suddenly I needed to moisturize year-round. I moisturize my face (with a lighter lotion) and my knees and elbows daily, and my whole legs after I shave (about twice a week).
posted by joannemerriam at 8:25 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Sweet Potato vs. Pumpkin thing the article alludes to is a North/South issue rather than a White/Black thing.

And neither should be a pie. Seriously.

The ashy skin thing is something I have had since my teens on my elbows (and ankles), but until now I have not given a moments thought beyond thinking of it as "dry skin".

Am I reading this that skin, whatever the dominant skin colour, flakes off white-ish? Another thing I'd never considered.

But, it's on my elbows... who pays attention to those?
posted by Mezentian at 8:25 AM on May 23


In the great Washcloth Debate, where do loofahs fall? I grew up using washcloths and switched to loofahs when I got into body wash in, yes, the 90's with Bath and Bodyworks.
posted by chatongriffes at 8:27 AM on May 23


I don't understand how people don't use lotion after washing, doesn't your skin feel all uncomfortable and tight?

Funny you should mention this. I'm white and in my mid-30s and just for the first time this year the skin on my face started to dry out after the shower. It was only uncomfortable for a few minutes, but it also started to cause redness above my lip after I shaved.

So last week I bought my first ever face cream. It is fucking wonderful.
posted by Hoopo at 8:29 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


I'm obsessed with my elbows, Mezentian, specially my left elbow. I have Old Man's Elbowitis and it looks terrible, to the point that a toddler has asked me what's up with it. But I seem to have found the cure: some facial lotion for "mature skin" I bought by accident (it turns out "mature" means 65+) and am afraid to use on my face but I'm using up on just my left elbow and it's taking care of the Elbowitis like nothing else has. It would probably erase my nose if I dared use it as intended.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:29 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]


This was a very interesting article. Thanks.

As a data point, I am from quasi-rural Michigan and I had never heard the word "ashy" in reference to skin before reading this.

The opening remark, "there’s something fascinating about race-related differences," is an understatement, and I have a quibble with the wording. This seems less a "race-related" difference and more a question of optics. The cultural weight given to non-ashiness, in other words, has less to do with "race" and more to do with pigmentation.

Someone in the article was quoted as writing, "visible ash or crust earned you the dozens for days." I find it interesting when cultural norms, in this case at least, are based on simple physics. Dead skin refracts more light and has higher contrast on dark skin; this simple idea had never occurred to me before, because I am about as pale as pale can be.

I use lotion only in winter because I get itchy otherwise.

I like sweet potato and pumpkin pie equally.
posted by tempestuoso at 8:30 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


So last week I bought my first ever face cream. It is fucking wonderful.

Metriosexuals are so early 2000s. :)

I only partially kid, since my cracked heels (what the hell skin?) have me slathering them in urea (in an actually product, I'm not urinating on them or anything) and using pumice stones all of a sudden ... and all of a sudden I have the heels of a 20-year-old.

I'm not even considering using any kind of lotion ... but if I did I reckon I'd be amazed.
posted by Mezentian at 8:33 AM on May 23


I grew up in Arizona, where if you don't moisturize, you'll end up flaking all over the place. I went to a high school that was very diverse and it wasn't at all odd for some random chick in the bathroom to ask, "Do you have any lotion, I'm ashy as hell." No problem, what flavor?

Once in the middle of biology, a chick yelled out, "Hey girl, you got some lotion?" It's still a joke with my friend Summer and I. We'll be in the car going some place, and my hands will feel dry, "Hey girl, you got some lotion?"

Ever since childhood, I've been using lotion, and I've converted Husbunny, who has skin alergies to the practice.

Lotion for all!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:37 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Oh but watch out because on the one hand, you don't want to walk around all ashy,* but on the other hand, you don't want to walk around all shiny, either. That's more of a problem for people who are especially light or especially dark, but ugh the GLARE.

*I always heard ashy call outs not just as "ashiness is ugly" but also, when it came to children, sad. Like if a child has ringworm or his hair is sticking out everywhere or he shows some other obvious sign of neglect. Like, your mother doesn't love you? You don't even have lotion?!
posted by rue72 at 8:40 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Metriosexuals are so early 2000s

I know, I used to openly mock my best friend for all of the products he had in his washroom and now I fear I've set out on that same path.
posted by Hoopo at 8:48 AM on May 23


White dude here. I have never ever ever used lotion. I just looked at my elbows for like the first time ever and they look fine. I can't see my knees (for the pants in the way) but I'm going to go ahead and assume they're fine. All the women in my family have always used lotion. The men never (as best as I could tell). My mom and grandmother would wipe excess lotion on me when I was young and I hated it.

My really good friend/roommate, black, uses lotion. We've never talked about it. Having spent the last 17 years in Atlanta I had pretty much already figured all this out.

I always used a washcloth but then switched to one of those spongy things when I noticed how much more totally awesome they are. In my present situation I use a washcloth.

I didn't realize there was a pumpkin v sweet potato pie issue as they are both just the best (along with pecan, of course, which is the actual best). If there is a North v South thing going on this wouldn't surprise me as I've fairly concluded that Northern cuisine is barely fit for the compost -- who knows what all crazy wrong notions they have about food. I once had chili in upstate New Hampshire the details of which are NSFL.
posted by bfootdav at 8:50 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


I do find the whole intersection of race and masculinity and lotion so fascinating. I remember when I first moved out of small town (read: entirely white) living and joined a gym where I was one of the few white regulars and certainly felt like the only gay guy there, and I was young enough that the latter was really something I felt aware of, so I definitely felt the need to 'butch it up', and while in and around the weights and other gym equipment, this met my (admittedly stereotypical) expectations, the locker room was a different story. I felt left out because my gym bag didn't have three types of powder and two kinds of lotion.


(That changed pretty soon though because that stuff works and it smells good.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:53 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Oh my God. That washcloth link. My wife and I (she's black, I'm white) have given each other shit about each other's washcloth preference for years. Neither of us had any inkling about the "white people don't use washcloths" thing. I love it.
posted by duffell at 8:54 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


If there is a North v South thing going on this wouldn't surprise me as I've fairly concluded that Northern cuisine is barely fit for the compost

Amen! I mean really, who the hell eats navy beans for christsakes?!? Yeah, sure, we've got an obesity and diabetes epidemic going on down there, but at least we don't eat kale!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:58 AM on May 23


I think that growing up, things like lotion were considered one of those fru-fru nouveau-riche-y materialistic, vain things that my salt-of-the-earth immigrant family (especially the men) did not indulge in.

And then I moved to New England for college where the cold dry winters caused my hands to crack and peel, and I bought some lotion to alleviate that. (Which I hid in the corner of the bathroom cabinet so that my roommates would not find out I used it)

Also, washcloths: until today I thought it was some kind of "proper bougie" thing to use that I, who grew up as a "buy ivory soap in bulk" person didn't see the need for. Maybe wash clothes are a southern thing that flinty Yankees don't bother with?
posted by deanc at 8:59 AM on May 23


I use washcloths because they're machine-washable and (in that way more) reusable.

I'm black (mixed-race) and started using lotion all over my body when I moved from California to Virginia because the harsh winters left me itchy all over and made my hands crack.

Now that I'm back in California, I only need to moisturize my hands year round and my back and shoulders in the winter.

Regarding sunburn, the fact of the matter is black people can and do get sunburned and African-Americans are more likely to die from skin cancer than white Americans.

I've been sunburned a few times in my life and, yeah, it sucks. As with all things, spending time in direct sunlight should be done in moderation and, unlike with other things, with proper protection.
posted by mistersquid at 9:01 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


If any of you straight white men out there with prematurity dry and aging skin still feel Werid about lotion let me remind you there are Captain America branded skin care lines out there.

( returns to his Patrick Bateman-y routine which can take a whole damn hour sometimes.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:01 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]


I did not moisturize this morning because I was sort of in a hurry and sort of just not thinking about it, and now reading this thread is making me all itchy. I opened the desk drawer that I was sure had the moisturizer tube in it and it's not there! DAMMIT.
posted by rtha at 9:02 AM on May 23


Visible ash or crust earned you the dozens for days.

Oh, man, did it, even as very young children. It was crazy -- no one commented on running around with a snotty nose, even kids who wet the bed didn't get teased all that much about it, you could be wearing handed down hand me downs, and it was alright. But walk outside with ashy legs and arms, and e'erybody just teed off on you.

I've therefore been a lotion user for about 3.5 decades.

In my observations over the years, it's definitely a black thing, for the most part, but even the non-black males I've lived with who would crack wise about other "non-masculine" things they saw me do or use never commented on it when they saw lotion among my personal effects -- I guess they always assumed it was for, uh, other purposes.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:04 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


So which coworker will you ask for lotion? Who's most likely to have it?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:05 AM on May 23


Regarding sunburn, the fact of the matter is black people can and do get sunburned and African-Americans are more likely to die from skin cancer than white Americans.

This was why I was so surprised that he was treating my sunburn like a totally novel thing! I was like seriously? You've never ever been sunburned? But he claims no.
posted by chatongriffes at 9:07 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


White guy. I might have used some hand lotion a dozen times in my fifty years. Other than that, nothing.
posted by octothorpe at 9:07 AM on May 23


. I don't understand how people don't use lotion after washing, doesn't your skin feel all uncomfortable and tight?

I'm not sure what that means. How could skin be tight?
posted by octothorpe at 9:09 AM on May 23


White guy here. Yesterday I was saying goodbye to a black female coworker who was leaving us. When she took my hand she told me I needed lotion.
posted by jonmc at 9:11 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Wife: Where's the Shea butter I just bought?

Me, mid 30s at the time: I thought I put it right on the top shelf in the fridge.

Her: ROFL

Me: ?

I've never had any use for lotion. I just checked - knees, elbows, heels... Nope. No dry skin.

Is this one of those Chapstick things, where the more you use it, the more you need to use it?
posted by ctmf at 9:12 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]


Also, white guy with no washcloth over here and I'm pretty sure most of my friends don't either. Some have those frilly "puff" things, but your hands can lather just as well as those.
posted by Hoopo at 9:16 AM on May 23


But how do you exfoliate then?
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 AM on May 23 [9 favorites]


I wonder how the increase in people getting tattoos has affected lotion purchases by race. Ever since I got a large tattoo on one of my lower legs, I have to make sure to check - and usually put lotion on - any time I'm leaving my lower legs visible. Otherwise there's a nice layer of visible dry skin over the top, which I've just learned is what's meany by "ashy".

Thinking about how many people have tattoos now, people have to be becoming more aware of the visible effects of dry skin on how they look.
posted by evilangela at 9:17 AM on May 23


So which coworker will you ask for lotion? Who's most likely to have it?

The cat lady with the giant purse.
posted by ctmf at 9:18 AM on May 23 [17 favorites]


I was like seriously? You've never ever been sunburned? But he claims no.

Yeah, I think being sunburned with first- or second-degree burn may be more or less rare among darker-skinned people.

Still, he should know (if he doesn't already) that damage caused by the sun may not result in (the symptoms of) sunburn but it will cause genetic mutations to his epidermis which increase his risk for skin cancer.
posted by mistersquid at 9:19 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


This post and thread are fascinating, because I spend an embarrassing amount of time lurking at Reddit's /r/SkincareAddiction, in which there is a fervent community belief in slathering oneself with moisturizing and skin-treating products. And yet the discussion at SCA is mostly either general, in an "everybody has skin" way, or geared toward a white or (pale) Asian audience. (See also comrade /r/AsianBeauty.) Lots of threads about acne and eczema (general problems), almost as many about rosacea and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (usually pale person problems); very few threads about ashy skin or keloid scars (usually person of color problems).

This isn't a dig against SCA, which is a fantastic resource. I'm mostly amused by my own blithe naïveté, like my SCA-inspired revelation that "oh my god, coconut oil and petroleum jelly are FANTASTIC moisturizers!!!" In response to which, an anthropomorphized century of POC skincare gives me a deadpan look like, "...Yes. Yes they are."
posted by nicebookrack at 9:21 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


You are free to come to my house and confirm that yes, we are white and have washcloths. How does anyone with a child not have them, they are perfect for just face and hands, and getting morning gunk out of your eyes. I have always used them, I don't know where the stereotype might have come from.

I only use each one once, maybe twice, though. Then I hang it on the rack to dry and then it goes in the dirty clothes. I did use them more when I wore makeup than I do now.

I am sure I do get ashy, but you can't see it. Me and the husband go through lots of lotion in winter for elbows and such but in summer I just moisturize my face most days.

At some point I did develop feet that could use a belt sander, though, pumice ain't cuttin' it. What the hell, body.
posted by emjaybee at 9:27 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Right, so can you non-washcloth people explain to me how you wash your face? Do you just slather some soap on there and run your face under the shower head? Do you not get water in your eyes?

My dad still keeps two washcloths. One for his face and body and one for washing his behind. He's religious about keeping them separated.

White girl, from the south, and I was raised on washcloths and daily lotion. I ignored the lotion until I went out West and my skin practically cracked as I walked around Utah. Then again, I've got such dry skin that I've been known to take a bath with baby oil in it during the winter to prevent the dreaded itchy alligator skin.
posted by teleri025 at 9:29 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


And the washcloth for your face is used only on your face and itself washed and dried very regularly, it's also a good we to rub on exfoliating grit substance. ( how else do you coax blackheads and the like to come out if you don't have a face cloth dipped in near boiling water that you lightly touch to the spot of the obstruction and slowly draw it out?)
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I happened upon a comment on reddit the other day in which a white woman had borrowed some white pants from a dark-skinned roommate and was told to "be sure to wear black underwear so it doesn't show," which was followed by epiphanies all round. The little differences really are fascinating.
posted by darksasami at 9:35 AM on May 23 [19 favorites]


I’ve never heard of not using SOME kind of washcloth-like thing. Although a lot of people like the spongy thingamajigs, I’ve always preferred the old-fashioned terrycloth squares because you can throw them in the washer after every use and not have to worry about whether or not you’ve rinsed them out thoroughly enough. (I use a cloth instead of a sponge in the kitchen for the same reason.) If people are doing it, it must be fine, but I think I'd miss that fresh-scrubbed feeling now that I've gotten used to it.

Skin care aside, the question of minor cultural differences really is fascinating. With the exception of class and religion, I’ve mostly lived and worked among people who (on the surface, anyway) aren’t terribly different from myself. It hasn’t been a conscious choice; it’s just worked out to be more convenient that way, and I’ve had too many other things to worry about to try to change it. Still, when these conversations come up I do wonder what sorts of things I may be missing out on.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:41 AM on May 23


Right, so can you non-washcloth people explain to me how you wash your face? Do you just slather some soap on there and run your face under the shower head? Do you not get water in your eyes?

I am a recent washcloth convert specifically for the purpose of makeup removal. But shower wise I use a body wash+poof. Any particularly stank areas get their own dash of body wash plus hand scrub. I use one of those apricot scrubs for my face, and I just rub that in gently while facing away from the shower and wash it off under the shower head, eyes closed.

If I need to wash my face otherwise I'd splash water on it, lather up my hands and wash, and then rinse by splashing water.

Whether one ought to face towards or away from the showerhead seems to be a separate matter of contention. My family once got into an argument about this at the dinner table and called me at college to provide the deciding vote. (Away, unless rinsing face/hair as above.)
posted by Diablevert at 9:43 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


I had a similar experience, darksasami. In 9th grade a friend (black) and I (white) had a confused few minutes disagreeing over which color bra was best to wear under our school uniform to avoid it showing through.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:43 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


I'm Mediterranean and live in one of the driest, windiest parts of Alberta. I never needed lotion much when I lived farther North, but it's essential down here. I also really didn't know what humidity was until I went to Kentucky in July.

I haven't had a chance to RTFA, but I hope regional weather differences have been considered.
posted by Calzephyr at 9:43 AM on May 23


I think the washcloth thing, like the pumpkin/sweet potato pie deal is the child of the birthplace of African-American culture. Not geographically this time, but economically. In earlier times when running water was not so ubiquitous, people washed more efficiently with washcloths. Out of this came a culture of associating cleanliness with the practices and thus became part of the lessons handed down through generations. I believe you would see a correlation, regardless of race, between parents and/or grandparents growing up in a home without reliable running water and washcloth use.

(on edit, make that grandparents and/or great-grandparents, because water's been pretty solid in the US even in rural areas for a while now)
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:44 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


how else do you coax blackheads and the like to come out if you don't have a face cloth dipped in near boiling water that you lightly touch to the spot of the obstruction and slowly draw it out?

Chemical exfoliation, motherfucker! Do you speak it?

Also, hydrocolloid dressings are literally magic.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:45 AM on May 23 [10 favorites]


Many South Asians use lotions and oils. Slathering the scalp and skin with coconut oil is pretty common for my folks in the old country.

The only lotion you need is plain old petroleum jelly (vaseline); everything else is overpriced and studded with unnecessary chemicals; I learned this the hard way during a recent psoriasis outbreak. Lubriderm and Aveeno stung bad but good old Vaseline provided quiet relief.
posted by Renoroc at 9:55 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


The capacity of the Internet to turn every interest into an obsession with an intricate maze of acronyms never ceases to amaze me.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:56 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]


Whoa, I'm white and just realized my elbows are ashy as hell. Time to start using lotion.
posted by scose at 9:57 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


So which coworker will you ask for lotion? Who's most likely to have it?

The two most likely candidates are in a big meeting right now, but I thought I remembered that one of the women's rooms has a good kind of lotion (i.e. not stinky) and I was right! Now I am moisturized.
posted by rtha at 9:59 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


> And then I see all these dudes on the train wearing suits looking cool as cucumbers, not a trace of sweat, buttoned up and hair impeccably styled. I'm thinking "how in the hell are they doing that?" My big sweaty white self must have looked and smelled just gross to everyone in town that whole summer.

Not only that, your earwax was different, too!

The gene that keeps East Asians from having stinky armpits also gives them dry earwax. We have ear picks and you get Q-Tips.
posted by needled at 10:05 AM on May 23


Lubriderm and Aveeno stung bad but good old Vaseline provided quiet relief.

I have eczema and dry skin on my hands, and I use fragrance-free Curel.

I just noticed it's called "Curél" in the US, which would probably confuse and annoy our French-speaking population here
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:10 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


nicebookrack: "very few threads about ashy skin or keloid scars (usually person of color problems)."

OK, so, speaking of race/racism and skin and all that. One thing I have often noticed while looking at bodies of people of various races is that black people tend to have more "outties" than white people. I could be wrong, of course, but I'm pretty sure, at least, based upon the adult entertainment that I've seen, such is the case. This might not be a good representative sample for whatever reason (I don't know why it wouldn't unless casting agents for black people decided that an outtie is more attractive sexually for the viewers who specifically have a desire to see black people, which seems really fucking odd to me, so I figure it's more likely that it's just a statistical thing...)

And then the question was why. I thought maybe there was something due to a class issue maybe? Or different ever strange scenarios (cultural things, doctor training)...

But is it possible then, that what I'm thinking is an "outtie" in this case is really just a keloid scar? If black people tend to get them more frequently than white people, then perhaps what I'm seeing as an "outtie" is really just such a scar (is that what an outtie is? I thought it was like, leftover umbelical cord that didn't fully shrink after being cut (i.e. was cut further "out" than those who have innies)....

Anyways...

I'm a white dude. As for lotion. My mom always used it and we had washcloths growing up. I eventually stopped using washcloths. i shave my head and out of habit rarely use shampoo (though I have horrible dry scalp (you know, it's a fun past-time to see how large a flake you can pull off...) I recently bought Nizoral and that seems to help.

My Dad was from Oklahoma, so maybe the washcloth is a South thing? My mom from Oregon, but some of her family came from Missouri... I never thought using a washcloth or lotion was "weird". I used a loofah for a while, but mostly it's just more work than I care to deal with. I'm hairy as fuck so lathering is damn easy since soap kinda clings to hair and just does great lathering on its own.

And I get horrid horrid horrid scaling on the back where my low-top shoes hit the back of my ankle. It's not typical dry skin, it's like really really rough. Pumice can help that, but again - lazy.

I always assumed really fucking white people (like, Northern Europe white) used lotion and such because our skin is so delicate, I didn't realize it wasn't such a thing. At least not as much as within the black community.
posted by symbioid at 10:16 AM on May 23


I'm white and grew up using washclothes. I didn't realize that could be considered weird until a friend of mine made fun of me for it in junior high. My mom's from the South, so it could be a Southern thing.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:25 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Oh, speaking of body odor: behind my ears, where my glasses sit... smells like.... cheese. I DON'T KNOW! My cat loves it though. I refuse to try to see if it tastes like cheese...
posted by symbioid at 10:27 AM on May 23


Am I the last one who still calls the products "moisturizer" and "face cream?"
posted by kanewai at 10:27 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


What accounts for the lotion sales in areas with different demographics?
posted by ChuckRamone at 10:31 AM on May 23


I use a washcloth and I'm white and my family is from the Northeast. I stopped for a while when I moved out of my parents' house and started living like a wolf, but now I'm a sensible adult and have gone back to them.

One of my kids uses one. The other is reluctant.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:31 AM on May 23


White, Southern/Texas, grew up washclothing and everyone I knew washclothed*. I now use a combination of my hands and a Japanese Beauty Skin Towel (which is basically an unbunched bath poof, though its texture is pretty hardcore) with body wash.

I only use lotion when I need it, which tends to be in winter and during Santa Anas. My husband is approaching 40 and has just begun using lotion and moisturizer.

*In 8th grade in the mid 1980s, my best friend and her family went to England and she apparently had some kind of hotel front desk meltdown after going down to report with great displeasure that they were not given washcloths and the front desk had no idea what the hell she was talking about. And this happened over and over, hotel after hotel, for like 3 weeks. She came back with very favorable reports about the record stores but feeling as if she needed to be soaked in bleach as she had not technically bathed in 3 weeks. I was like seriously, did you not know you can put soap on your hands and apply it to your body and she was all well, I figured that out eventually but it's still not okay. I was never *that* dependent on washcloths.

I do use washcloths on my face. They get used once for washing my face, and then I'll keep it around to wipe off brushes/fingers during makeup application, and then I'll flip them over and wipe down the sink/counter, then they go into the basket for washing.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:32 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Oh, that reminds me! I met someone in grad school who was a very superior European and who claimed that the American preference for washcloths and those shower poof things was because we had been taught that we were dirty if we touched our naked bodies. I don't think that's the reason, but it's a theory.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:34 AM on May 23


I grew up using both washcloths and lotion in an Italian-American family. I stopped using washcloths for anything other than my feet after permanently staining all of the ones I own with whatever ends up on your heels when wear sandals and flip flops in NYC. (Gross, I know.) There's no way those things are going on any other part of my body now. I exfoliate using my towel, I guess.

I still use lotion on my face, but usually forego my elbows and knees in the interest of time, even though I am just dark enough that I get visibly ashy in the winter. I never know whether I should apologize for it, which is a thing that people do.

My mostly-WASP boyfriend uses lotion more religiously than I do, because dry skin. In fact, I mostly use his lotion. No washcloths, though.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:34 AM on May 23


But how do you exfoliate then?

Towel, and sometimes that weird gritty shower gel stuff my wife has

Right, so can you non-washcloth people explain to me how you wash your face? Do you just slather some soap on there and run your face under the shower head? Do you not get water in your eyes?

you close your eyes.
posted by Hoopo at 10:44 AM on May 23 [11 favorites]


*In 8th grade in the mid 1980s, my best friend and her family went to England and she apparently had some kind of hotel front desk meltdown after going down to report with great displeasure that they were not given washcloths and the front desk had no idea what the hell she was talking about.

There were flannels in our hotel room in London, but then again, they had a lot of Americans coming through there.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:46 AM on May 23


made me feel all guilty and bad for also not using deodorant until I remembered that I'm East Asian

My girlfriend's parents are Chinese and she doesn't need to use deodorant, and it's so unfair! What is going on, here?! You'd think I'd be swimming in her bacteria now and her in mine, but I remain smelly and she remains un-smelly. What's the physiology??
posted by zeek321 at 10:51 AM on May 23


There are people who don't use wash cloths?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:51 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


My girlfriend's parents are Chinese and she doesn't need to use deodorant, and it's so unfair! What is going on, here?! You'd think I'd be swimming in her bacteria now and her in mine, but I remain smelly and she remains un-smelly. What's the physiology??

I am Caucasian and I never wear deodorant. I only smell if my shirt smells (i.e. synthetic funk).

I don't know why this is. If I did, I'd bottle it and sell it.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:56 AM on May 23


I'm super white, and I have to say I have tried to get into lotion, I really have, because as a lady I always felt bombarded by messages telling me that was what I was supposed to be doing (including but not limited to other lady friends giving me weird looks when they asked for it while at my house and I didn't have any), but it makes my skin feel weird and oily and sometimes it makes me get all red and breakout. So, no lotion for life amen. (Except for sunblock, because hoboy.)

Also, I'm a bar-soap-and-hands kinda human, and I promise that I am not (that) gross. Really.
posted by likeatoaster at 11:03 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


I just use my hands, and have one of those scrubs with tiny bits of walnut shell in it.

Just be sure it's not one of those brands with micropearls of plastic in, because that shit is really, really bad for oceans.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:03 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]


I've heard something similar to what hoopo said about wet dogs, this time from a black friend who told me that was the rap on white people when she was growing up - we smell like wet dogs.

As for lotion, I need lotion in the winter more than any other time. Elbows and especially hands just get ridiculous. If I skip two days my hands will crack and bleed. I was hoping this was a sign of a monstrous super power or something, but I'm just an ashy white dude who smells like a wet dog.
posted by Mister_A at 11:04 AM on May 23


Fascinating. Growing up in SC in the 70s/80s with parents (for all their many, many sins) instilled in me a deep hatred of racism of any kind, there was always something...different about my black classmates. Some superficial stuff like the clothes they wore or the music they listened to. But there was also something visceral, and not skin color.

It was smell. Black people smelled differently than I did. I finally figured out years later after Mrs Primate became the brand identity goddess she is that it was simply that companies marketed different smelling products to different "demographics." But for years, in the back of my mind, I wondered why I felt on some gut level that black people were in some indescribable way "different" and how, despite my degrees and upbringing and experience I could possibly still have this feeling. It was branding all along. It was all about the money. And I wonder how many voters people still war with that feeling. Great article, thanks!

Obligatory: "Try to put it all behind me / But my redneck past is nipping at my heels."
posted by digitalprimate at 11:08 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


I don't understand how people don't use lotion after washing, doesn't your skin feel all uncomfortable and tight?

No, I guess. I really have no idea what that even means. I don't understand the whole lotion/ChapStick thing. I can't stand the feeling of either on my skin, it's like oily water.
posted by spaltavian at 11:10 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Oh, while we're on the subject of possibly-exotic-possibly-ordinary things that people do in private -- do people actually "tuck children in"? Who does that, and what is it actually, and what's the purpose, and where did that come from?
posted by rue72 at 11:10 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Ooh I just remembered another anecdote. Freshman year, my roommate Allen was in the bathroom putting on some lotion while I brushed my teeth. We were in South Florida, very hot place. I was like, "Allen, why are you always putting on lotion? Your skin doesn't look dry to me." He chuckled and shook his head and gave me a look that said "you're figuring this out aren't ya."
posted by Mister_A at 11:11 AM on May 23


Yeah, digitalprimate, I had that same problem until I was in a beauty supply place with only white people around and I recognized the smell--it was a hair relaxer product. I had thought it was just "how the black kids smelled." I felt both racist and stupid for not figuring that out, but like you, as a teen I felt bad for even noticing that a black kid smelled differently than me and so just banished it from my mind and didn't think it out logically.
posted by emjaybee at 11:12 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


White and washcloths my entire life until I discovered the scrubby wash. . . things? Longer than a wash cloth, made of plastics of some sort. Great for exfoliating.

Washcloths from my mom's side of the family. My mother grew up in a poor farming community, perhaps that might explain it. My grandmother and grandfather on that side always preferred baths over showers too, even though their home had a shower for as long as I could remember. But, I seem to recall hearing stories about the days when baths were the only option.

I can't recall what the wash cloth situation was on my dad's side. I think they had wash clothes too, but we city folk. However, one generation before that (my great great grandfather) was poor farmers as well. So there really could be something about the economic side of running water.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:13 AM on May 23


I'm white, from the midatlantic, have extremely dry skin and moisturize all the time, and I never knew there was a name for all that dusty white stuff on my elbows!

Also had no idea that there were even human beings who did not use washcloths until I did a study abroad program in Spain and it took me weeks to find a store that even carried them. Definite world-expanding moment.

octothorpe: How could skin be tight?

Seriously, after a shower it feels like my face doesn't fit.
posted by capricorn at 11:17 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Really, the fewer lotions/creams I use the better I feel. I just use a simple shampoo, bar soap and a face moisturizer with sunscreen (a relatively new addition).

Hand cream? So what I have to reapply every time I wash my hands? I easily wash my hands 10x or more per day. What a racket.

Lip balm or chapstick? That's just going to get on my glass and or food.

The 'moisturizer' I use is drinking 8+ glasses of water a day.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:18 AM on May 23


do people actually "tuck children in"? Who does that, and what is it actually, and what's the purpose, and where did that come from?

Yeah they do. My parents divorced when I was quite young. I lived with my Mom, for whom "tucking in" didn't involve any actual tucking. It was sort of pulling the covers up and a kiss goodnight on the forehead, and turning off the light.

My Dad though? It was showtime with the tucking. He'd pull the covers tight and tuck them under the mattress at the foot of the bed and around the sides. I actually hated it because I roll around a lot and it made me feel stuck.
posted by Hoopo at 11:20 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Reading the comment thread, I can't help but to think that what I know as "wash-cloths" must be something completely different than what you all are talking about since I and -everyone- I know has wash-cloths, knows what they are, and uses them. While I have switched to using those scrubby mitts for bathing, washcloths are used regularly in my home. I've never been in a hotel that -didn't- have them and I'd certainly be as confused as the 80s England visitor over the lack of such an item.

Also, for the record, my foster sister and brother were those really pale, tow-headed kids that you could see a shiny pink scalp when their hair was wet... totally smelled like wet dog after bathing, no matter how perfumed the soap or shampoo. The rest of us white(-ish) kids (blondes and brunettes) did not have this effect.

I'm definitely going to ask among the black members of my family about the wash-cloth thing. Maybe it's regional. We're all from the Southwest or West Coast.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:20 AM on May 23


Although I am so white I'm pale green and my formerly black, now bright silver hair is merely wavy, let me shout out for black hair product. Hair food, hair oil, and hold/shape products that can keep my schnauzer-fur in perfect place without greasing up my hats and moto helmets. If I'm not using Clear Ice, it has to be clay wax, and that's horribly messy and expensive.

Also, I like smelling like chocolate/cocoa butter (Palmer's rules!) and argan oil. The carrot-oil stuff's pretty great, too, but I have to watch out for turning my hair peach if the carrotseed oil has been dyed "carrot" orange.
posted by Dreidl at 11:22 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


A lot of people seem to oversaturate thier skin with lotion it looks like, applying it like sunblock, I got taught backstage to put small, half-pea sized dots in my fingers than rubs them in at critical Face Poiuse, use less, no glaring super-saturated oily skin feeling.
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 AM on May 23


Tucking kids in - definitely a thing. I'm approaching 30 and from the UK, and my parents/grandparents tucked me in at bedtime when I was small. It sort of involves tucking the quilt/blankets under the kid slightly at the edges (where kid meets bed) so that they feel cosy and held, but also saying goodnight, kisses etc. I still tuck myself in sometimes.
posted by lokta at 11:24 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]


Oh, while we're on the subject of possibly-exotic-possibly-ordinary things that people do in private -- do people actually "tuck children in"? Who does that, and what is it actually, and what's the purpose, and where did that come from?

I asked my Mom to tuck me in once; I must have been about six or seven. She threw a blanket over my head and said, "Consider yourself tucked."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:26 AM on May 23 [14 favorites]


Actually, now that I'm thinking about it the tucking-in process/ritual is kind of necessary when you're very small and your bedclothes are much bigger than you - double if you've managed to wriggle into a very well made sheets-and-blankets bed. It's hard to navigate yourself to comfort from underneath, but easy for the adult doing the tucking-in to arrange the comfort for you.
posted by lokta at 11:27 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Yeah, my parents definitely tucked me in. My dad would read to me (some random book I wanted to read, then the Bible, first stories from the Old Testament, then Psalms, every night he did it), then say goodnight and pull the covers up. My mom was much more into the "tucking" aspect, so she would tightly tuck the covers under me, then say goodnight. I usually freed myself from the tight covers the moment she left the room.

Even as an adult, a lot of nights I make the bed around my wife while she lies in it, and we call that "tucking."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:29 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


White, from LA. I grew up using washcloths.

I only use lotion when the skin on my hands starts to crack( sheepskin mittens/gloves in winter help; I bought lotion in NM in the summer when this happened).

I'm on the last leg of a Germany trip where the 1st two places I stayed at didn't have them....and the department stores only carried terrycloth mitts.

I take more showers than baths these days, but soaking in a tub for a while helps a lot with exfoliating.

Texans say Santa Anna wind too, huh ( and it makes sense, given the Alamo.
posted by brujita at 11:31 AM on May 23


She threw a blanket over my head and said, "Consider yourself tucked."

GO TUCK YOURSELF
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:32 AM on May 23 [11 favorites]


My dad would read to me

I used to ask Mom to read to me. She'd say, "That's why I had smart kids, so they could read to themselves."

(Looking back, I'm sure she had a ton of work to do to keep Dad off her case. But it makes for funny stories.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:32 AM on May 23


Oh, while we're on the subject of possibly-exotic-possibly-ordinary things that people do in private -- do people actually "tuck children in"?

Only the ones who actually love their children.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:36 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]


No lotion, no deodorant, against sleep and nightmare.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:36 AM on May 23


I'm pasty-ass white and use lotion on my entire body every day. My skin definitely feels tight and uncomfortable and awful without it. I always have a little bottle of lotion in my purse and I have multiple bottles scattered around the house (in every bathroom, by the bed, by the sofa, by my computer) and at work because I MUST have moisturized hands. People who don't use lotion because "it's oily" are clearly using the wrong kind of lotion.
posted by joan_holloway at 11:40 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Ugh, forgot. I use the same soap everywhere - no separate body wash, shampoo, soap. It all started with Dr. Bronner's, until they went hemp (which allergy I have mentioned before). One body surfactant worked just fine everywhere, though daily hair washing then required a conditioner/grease of some kind.

My tobacco and clove almond-oil soaps are made locally by Mr Kitty's; I get them at the farmer's market. My back-up, non-artisanal soap is Greek tobacco-oil scented olive oil bar soap. I think it's $10 for 6 bars, and they make my t-shirts and socks smell nice in the drawer where I store the bars, before I use the soap.

For one thing, why would I buy water and a petroleum-derived container in addition to the active soapy ingredients? For another, I do not want dozens of weird chemicals on my body or the local water system. All those liquids are hard to travel with and worse, fly with. And, my local hipster soapmakers need the business.
posted by Dreidl at 11:44 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Do you just slather some soap on there and run your face under the shower head? Do you not get water in your eyes?

Yes, no. (Close eyes first, so your eyelids get clean too.)

White guy here, who dislikes oozing any creams or lotions onto my skin. That stuff smells terrible, and I like my skin tight. Ashy skin? Never knew this was an issue until today.

Re: washclothes, my parents use them, I never do. (My mom's also in the camp with the filthy rag of a dishcloth near the kitchen sink, which grosses me out, how can you even touch that? I use a sponge, instead.)
posted by Rash at 11:47 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Seriously, after a shower it feels like my face doesn't fit.

Uh, you might wanna have that checked out, Buffalo Bill.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:49 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Just make sure that when you tuck yourself you use lotion.
posted by symbioid at 11:51 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Mid-90s probably saw a huge uptick in lotion wearing across the U.S.

Nothing takes me back to Catholic school gym class circa 1995 like the scent of Sun Ripened Raspberry lotion.

Also I'm white and totally get ashy. For which I use lotion. I don't think it has the same cultural space in white culture/doesn't have its own dedicated term, but it's definitely a thing.
posted by Sara C. at 11:51 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I've never heard the term "ashy" before today. Never used a washrag until I joined the Marines and they required it - always just used my soapy hands.

He'd pull the covers tight and tuck them under the mattress at the foot of the bed and around the sides. I actually hated it because I roll around a lot and it made me feel stuck.

Man, I loved that feeling. I loved when dad would come back from deployment and I got the good tuckings!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:55 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Even as an adult, a lot of nights I make the bed around my wife while she lies in it, and we call that "tucking."


I would not say having this done to me as an adult is my favorite thing about sharing a bed with someone, but it ranks higher than I ever would have imagined.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:56 AM on May 23 [9 favorites]


Dish sponges gross me out because how often do people sanitize those things properly? Whereas my family has a drawer full of scrubby dishcloths that are used once and then banished to the laundry bin, from whence they are washed together with hot water and bleach.

When I lived in an apartment and paid for laundry by the load, at my height of depravity I would wash my face washcloths and dishcloths TOGETHER. They're all getting bleached anyway. But I did draw the line at washing them with dustrags.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:58 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Chemical exfoliation, motherfucker! Do you speak it?

Also, hydrocolloid dressings are literally magic.

[posted by nicebookrack]


Your comment should have received more notice. This thread is making me cringe with all the terrible things people are doing to their skin. Walnut shells? Super hot water? Too-tight feeling after a shower? Y'all need /r/skincareaddiction -- science-based (not marketing-based) skincare guides that will solve all those problems. Washcloths are accepted but not required.
posted by Toothless Willy at 12:01 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Clearly Metafilter is in desperate need of a SkincareAddiction FPP, titled "Get Those Tiny Uneven Knives of Prickly Walnut-Shell Satan Away From Your Faaaaaace!"
posted by nicebookrack at 12:06 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


Tucking-in is done as part of the overall bedtime ritual for young children, usually toddlers, and there's a practical side!

First you press the blankets into the outline of the child's body against the bed so it's tucked under them on all sides. Tightly, but not uncomfortably tight. This makes them cosy and feel like they are being held, etc, but it's also to get them to stop squirming around because they have to hold that position and not untuck themselves in order to get you to read/ad-lib their bedtime story!

Not excitedly pointing at the pictures, not turning the pages themselves, not with a popup book, not using an activity book, not with interactive questions, just listening and BEING STILL. That gets their body to calm down while you try to wear out their mind and attention span with the story. It's stealth technique for training little kids how to fall asleep.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:15 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


In 8th grade in the mid 1980s, my best friend and her family went to England and she apparently had some kind of hotel front desk meltdown after going down to report with great displeasure that they were not given washcloths and the front desk had no idea what the hell she was talking about.

This happened to my family, too! My grandmother was SCANDALIZED that there were no washcloths in the hotel. In all caps. She still talks about it, 20+ years later.
posted by Sara C. at 12:18 PM on May 23


I just went to check out /r/skincareaddiction as I have eczema and dry skin, and can't use any lotion or sunscreen I've yet found without breaking out in sweat rashes. No help over there :(

I'm white; if I were black I'm pretty damn sure social pressure would've got me lotioning no matter what and that's the point
posted by lokta at 12:20 PM on May 23


keloid scars (usually person of color problems)

UGH YES I get the worst fucking keloids from the littlest scars and also have the irritating joys of DPN around my eyes and nose, and all over my neck. I've had most of those frozen/burned/zapped off with excellent results, but the keloids are there for life I guess.
posted by elizardbits at 12:20 PM on May 23


And I pass so easily that my various nationalitied doctors are always terribly bemused by the presence of these poc skin conditions.
posted by elizardbits at 12:21 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


White American kids had educational films like the MST3K'd Keeping Clean and Neat and Body Care and Grooming. Were there equivalent insulting, shame-based educational tools aimed at other kids in that era, or were they just left to feel even worse because they weren't included?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:27 PM on May 23


My family also had the "NO FACECLOTHS IN THE HOTEL SHOWER - WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?!?!" reaction in the UK. A load of us were there for my cousin's wedding. My mom and her sisters ended up taking a sock into the shower to use as a washcloth. Because you've got to use something.

(I had no idea this might be a racialized thing; my white American husband doesn't use a cloth and I do, but, like most cultural differences between us, I assumed it was either a Canada VS US thing or a North America VS Newfoundland thing. Now I am very interested in washcloth use and how it shakes down along regional, ethnic, race, and class lines).
posted by erlking at 12:29 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Now I am very interested in washcloth use and how it shakes down on regional, ethnic, race, and class lines

To the spreadsheets!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:31 PM on May 23 [9 favorites]


Thank y'all for reminding me to pack a washcloth along with Q-tips for my upcoming trip since both are essential for me but apparently not all people and so I need to make sure I bring them.
posted by maryr at 12:33 PM on May 23


I've never heard the "ashy", always "husk" or "husky".
posted by 445supermag at 12:34 PM on May 23


Although I am so white I'm pale green and my formerly black, now bright silver hair is merely wavy, let me shout out for black hair product. Hair food, hair oil, and hold/shape products that can keep my schnauzer-fur in perfect place without greasing up my hats and moto helmets.

I've had the opposite experience. I'm Irish and Nordic decent, so I've got light skin but thick hair. One day I used my friend's Afro Hair Care Product, and it was if I had dumped a pile of viscous goo on my head that took days to wash out. I had a worse experience when I used this cream he used before shaving. It burned, and burned bad.

Although I also like the smell of shea butter!


I felt both racist and stupid for not figuring that out

I've seen a few comments like this, and I don't know if not being aware of another ethnicity's skin care regime really climbs to the level of "racism."
posted by kanewai at 12:39 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Murray's pomade was a "black" hair care product. I believe it was developed by an African-American man, as a matter of fact. But, like many R&B records and Michael Mcdonald, it has cross-over appeal.
posted by Mister_A at 12:48 PM on May 23


Oh man, chemical exfoliation is the shit. I struggled along for ages trying all sorts of exfoliating facewashes with bits of walnut shell in them or those little microbeads, and they did nothing. Well, the apricot scrub with walnut shell in it eventually gave me hives. And trying manual exfoliation with a washcloth or those exfoliating brushes did nothing either. I even tried the equivalent of no-poo for my face, hoping that maybe just leaving everything alone would yield the best results. Finally switched to AHA products, and the difference is enormous. Now my skin feels super smooth, and I never have that gross "there is so much dead skin on my face" feeling and dull skin look that I used to get.

Also, I'm frankly a little baffled at all the people who don't moisturize their face. Everyone in my family does, including the men: my dad and brother have always used a bit of Nivea. It's not even about looking ashy. Your faces seriously don't feel weird and dry?
posted by yasaman at 12:51 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]


bedtime ritual for young children, usually toddlers
Make that preschoolers. (Hi, I'm the user who hits preview a dozen times and still never stops editing)

As a male I never fuss around with washcloths/facecloths, but I get the skin lotion and exfoliation side benefits from shaving daily. My mother was the only one in the family who used them religiously, and I sort of assumed they were somehow related to women's makeup routines. She would always scramble to make sure there were enough guest facecloths in the bathroom for like 2-3 per individual when company stayed with us, too. (White/Anglican of British descent, if anyone's making a spreadsheet.)
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:57 PM on May 23



Also, I'm frankly a little baffled at all the people who don't moisturize their face. Everyone in my family does, including the men: my dad and brother have always used a bit of Nivea. It's not even about looking ashy. Your faces seriously don't feel weird and dry?


A lot of lotions irritate my skin, even expensive fancy light ones. Sometimes I break out. I have pretty good skin and try not to mess with it unless there's something actively going on.

My face doesn't feel weird. Mostly I put sunscreen on it in the spring/summer though I should year round I know. But my face doesn't feel weird. Different skin gonna different.
posted by sweetkid at 1:01 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I never moisturized anything until I woke up one day and my skin had magically transformed from slightly oily to so dry that my hands crack and bleed if I don't slather them with moisturizer five times a day. I honestly have no idea what happened. I just think there are all sorts of environmental and physical factors that determine whether people need moisturizer or not. I would have told you that it felt gross two years ago, and now I can't function without it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:01 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


lokta, I would strongly recommend making a post on SkincareAddiction if you've poked through the archives without success for info about non-allergenic sunscreen/lotions. People on SCA know A LOT about sunscreen and are very helpful about product recommendations. (I'm on mobile so I can't really search much, but IIRC physical sunscreens tend to be better for people with sensitive skin than chemical sunscreens, but maybe also make other people break out more—or maybe the other way around? This is why I don't have fancy "Expert" flair next to my username on SCA.)
posted by nicebookrack at 1:03 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


I would like to throw in to the discussion that my very caucasian raised rural and poor grandmother used to wash my cousins and I (as kids, you sicko) with what she refered to as a "warsh rag" which was apparently made of some sort of sand paper or shark hide. She would twist it into a point and then ream out our facial orifices one by one (thankfully stopping with the facial ones!) before moving down the line to the next kid in some sort of assembly line type fashion.

My PTSD is largely the reason I have forgone the use of said "warsh rag" as an adult.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:09 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Personal anecdote PSA: I'm black and "never burned in the sun" and never used suntan lotion... and had basal cell carcinomas removed when I was 17. Use your suntan lotion and stay out of the sun, people of all colors! I'm also prone to crazy keloids, which meant goodbye to piercings and a forewarning against tattoos, dammit.

Also,I remember a very early E.R. episode when Carter was treating a little black girl and freaking out about her mysterious skin condition and either the girl's mother or a black nurse was all, "her knees are just ashy." That introduced the term to all of my white friends in school! (The "what color bra do you wear under a white t-shirt" question was also quite revelatory).
posted by TwoStride at 2:21 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]


I didn't "get" lotion until my nipples started chafing in the winter and my hands started cracking. Old school soap did leave skin tight and "wrong" but about 20 years ago body wash blew up and never had the same problem, remember when it was called "shower gel?" Nowadays there's so much cheap lotiony soap in bar form too. Now what's wrong-er to you: no rag at all, or rage, Boody and all? Lulz
posted by aydeejones at 2:22 PM on May 23


Use your suntan lotion and stay out of the sun, people of all colors!

YES. I'm Indian American and actually burn irritatingly easily, I just burned last weekend in NYC and I didn't even go out that much - that doesn't happen THAT often but I burn a lot in warmer areas like Miami, Costa Rica, etc. I went to Costa Rica with my brother and we went on this boat tour with just us and all white people, and my brother, who is a little darker than me, was bragging about how he didn't have to wear sunscreen because he's not white, and everyone was laughing. The next day he was so burnt that I had to carry his backpack and mine all day because it hurt his shoulders too much. I was like, hello, you cannot go on a boat all day with no shade in freaking Costa Rica without sunscreen.

Also, yeah, skin damage affects everyone. I hate when white people are all, "you're so lucky, you don't have to wear sunscreen!" or fellow nonwhite people are all, "I'm so lucky, don't have to wear sunscreen" because that shit is really dangerous.

I'm actually a little relieved that I burn surprisingly easily because it keeps me putting on sunscreen.
posted by sweetkid at 2:27 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Keeping Clean and Neat and Body Care and Grooming.

"oh no, you're filthy again!"
posted by The Whelk at 2:28 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Oh yes, 10th, I know the warsh rag. Basically anything you use water on is warshed--dishes, clothes, and windows, too.

Folks originally from PA, so grew up with a washcloth and Ivory. Now use a bath pouf with Rainbath shower gel. Mmmmm, soft and sudsy Rainbath.


As a mostly committed face and hand moisturizer, I try to keep the horny toad look to a minimum. However, because I hate the feel of lotion on my feet, it's always going to be ugly.

At some point I did develop feet that could use a belt sander, though, pumice ain't cuttin' it. What the hell, body.


Exactly. Went barefoot constantly as a kid with lovely feet. Now it's knife sharp calluses an inch thick. WTF is with that?


A redheaded friend of mine spends 30 minutes lubing up from head to toe after showering, and she has the most beautiful glowing and dewy skin. Frankly, I think it's genetics, but given I haven't the discipline or patience, I'll probably never know.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:29 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


This thread is why I just slathered on the complimentary Creme Du Corps all over myself post-shower at the gym.

I smell like a faintly medical bee hive.

Just so you know.
posted by The Whelk at 2:31 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Mmmm, creamed corpse.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:38 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


I have feet that actually get itchier the more calloused they get, so I am continually attacking them with pumice stones and Vaseline for reasons that have nothing to do with aesthetics. Eventually I will convince myself to buy the Baby Foot Peel, which makes your skin slough off like a snake's and hits the sweet spot between "GROSS!" and "COOL!" that is my weakness. Search Google Images for "Baby Foot Peel review" and admire the bloggers competing to peel aalllll their foot skin off in one connected foot-shaped piece!

Also Japan apparently has the best, most magical sunscreens, according to /r/AsianBeauty, if you're willing to pay ¥¥¥¥¥ for that extra UVA/UVB PA+++ bang for your buck.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:46 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


Also Japan apparently has the best, most magical sunscreens

They also have spas where you can stick your calloused feet in the water and fish come up and eat the skin off. For reals.
posted by Hoopo at 2:53 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Realtalk, that is on my bucket list. It's like see the Northern Lights, Timbuktu, fish eat off my foot calluses, and then I can die.
posted by Sara C. at 2:57 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


I'm a Fitzgerald type IV, and I use lotion daily because I'm just dark enough that dry skin on me shows up as white and flaky, which is gross. I'm partial to Nivea and have been since childhood. Those old Nivea ads were cool, weren't they? And because there were nothing but white people dancing in towels in those 70s ads, it never occurred to me that white people didn't use lotion. This article is the first I've heard of such a thing.

Anyway. I have burned twice, and crazily enough, both times it was at Randall's Island at concerts. I thought being a dark-ish girl in the Northern Hemisphere was my protection. I have no idea how those burns happened, but yes, I wear my sunscreen without fail. But it's always been that, sometimes, the sun actually feels like it's stinging me. I'm not in the sun much. And I need prescription Vitamin D supplements now, alas.

As for the washcloth/no washcloth, I grew up using one, but have used a loofah since college. It's harder to scrub behind the ears with the same dexterity with a loofah as a washcloth, so I do have little cotton cloths for the ear area.

Oh, and I cannot stand either pumpkin or sweet potato pie. Peach cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream FTW!
posted by droplet at 3:14 PM on May 23


Nivea has the best aftershave and a good shave gel, that's all this white dude knows. That's be an interesting cultural slice and dice... Shaving preferences
posted by aydeejones at 3:16 PM on May 23


Texans say Santa Anna wind too, huh and it makes sense, given the Alamo.

Dunno why Texans would be talking about them as they're an LA phenomenon, named after the Santa Ana Canyon, not 'the Napoleon of the West', Santa Anna.
posted by Rash at 3:19 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Right, so can you non-washcloth people explain to me how you wash your face?

After stepping out of the shower, I wrap a towel around my hair that always stays in place and never, ever falls forwards, knocking all the spa candles off the counter. Then I apply facial cleanser, lean over the sink, and gracefully splash water upward as it sweeps across my skin, removing all traces of dirt.

No, I was like, 30, before I figured out that only worked on tv and that I should try washcloths.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:43 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]


I just squirt a pump or two of cetaphil into my hand while in the shower, put on face, and then rinse under the shower head with my eyes closed. And I'm a washcloth user. I don't understand how a washcloth would be involved in face washing, though I'll admit I do enjoy a good exfoliation from time to time.
posted by Sara C. at 3:51 PM on May 23


So would someone from the "continent" (Europe, or thereabouts) answer me this: why are there *never* washcloths in hotels? What do people use??
posted by dbmcd at 3:53 PM on May 23


dbmcd: is it so strange to soap up and rinse off with one's hands? I stopped keeping washcloths around years ago, because they just seem like more trouble than they're worth. I can imagine they would be useful for people who have jobs that get them really dirty, or for people who have to clean off the gunk which adheres to small children, but for ordinary everyday hygiene they seem like total overkill.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:02 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


If your skin feels "tight" after washing then you probably have hard water and would benefit from a shower filter.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:03 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


So would someone from the "continent" (Europe, or thereabouts) answer me this: why are there *never* washcloths in hotels? What do people use??

With the hair of your most recent lover.
posted by The Whelk at 4:05 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


Maybe wash clothes are a southern thing that flinty Yankees don't bother with?

I grew up such a Yankee that my family lives on Cape Cod and grows cranberries for Ocean Spray. We had washcloths.

I don't use them anymore, though, as I need the higher-end amount of exfoliation; these days I use scrubby-gloves for the body, and the face is a DIY scrub of a squirt of Cetaphil with a sprinkle of cornmeal mixed in. Only occasionally lotion or face cream. Washcloth wipes the Cetaphil off my face unless I'm washing my hair too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:08 PM on May 23


It probably has something to do with bidets.
posted by Sara C. at 4:09 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


As for washing my face without a wash cloth I just put soap in my hand foam it by rubbing my hands together under water then apply hands to face.
posted by Carillon at 4:10 PM on May 23


I have washcloths, the ones from Target with a scrubby backing. They're great for exfoliating. First I put Cetaphil on it to wash my face, then I put body wash on it to wash my body and those "hard to reach" areas in particular. Then I hang it up to dry and throw it in the hamper with the other bleach stuff. My family never used them growing up but at some point after college I realized that you can't bleach a loofa and how disgusting it was to not bleach something that touched your unwashed private parts.
posted by bleep at 4:13 PM on May 23


So would someone from the "continent" (Europe, or thereabouts) answer me this: why are there *never* washcloths in hotels? What do people use??

Take a bar of soap, get it wet. Lather with hands. Apply.
posted by spaltavian at 4:23 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Fictional tale: One day a guy sits on a girl's desk at work. The girl (Caucasian) says "Could you not do that? I eat lunch here." The guy (African American) says "I wash my butt. My butt is clean." The girl has a private epiphany, is disgusted at herself, and goes out to buy some washcloths. She realizes her family told her to take a shower but didn't tell her what to do in there. This has been a fictional tale.
posted by bleep at 4:24 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


A couple years ago I found out that the "Cherokee" and "Italian" ancestors I had were really (or at least claimed on the census) black, which led to some tortured fractions and the conclusion that I'm nominally 3/16ths black, or "Indiana White" as we call it. Right now I've got one ashy elbow, which seems about right. I grew up using washcloths, and one of the reasons why I still do is because if I don't, I get wicked ingrown hairs all over my legs and ass. I remember having one of those weird lightbulb talks with a black buddy a couple years ago about how he hated having to shave since he got little curly ingrowns all over. I commiserated as best I could, but at least mine have the advantage of being dark enough under the skin that I can pluck 'em out with tweezers (at which point they unfurl like tiny springs).
posted by klangklangston at 4:25 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


"With the hair of your most recent lover."

But what if the state assigns you an alopeciac lover?
posted by klangklangston at 4:26 PM on May 23


Sorry you're legally required to be in a Jim Jaramusch film then.

It's in the EU founding document and everything.
posted by The Whelk at 4:37 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


"I am Grey. I stand between the candle and the star. We are Grey. We stand between the darkness and the light."



"What does the candle represent?"
"Life."
"Whose life?"
"All life, every life. We're all born as molecules in the hearts of a billion stars, molecules that do not understand politics, policies and differences. In a billion years we, foolish molecules forget who we are and where we came from. Desperate acts of ego. We give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps. And pretend our light is better than everyone else's. The flame reminds us of the piece of those stars that live inside us. A spark that tells us: you should know better. The flame also reminds us that life is precious, as each flame is unique. When it goes out, it's gone forever. And there will never be another quite like it. So many candles will go out tonight. I wonder some days if we can see anything at all."

posted by polymodus at 4:44 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Texans say Santa Anna wind too, huh and it makes sense, given the Alamo.

I think that may have come from my post. I grew up in Texas, but I live in Los Angeles. In Texas they just call it wind.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:59 PM on May 23


Nobody uses sponges? The synthetic kind. You scrub up nicely with them, and can put them through the wash when they need it. I know all the stores don't have racks of sponges just for me.

Once again Mefi is proving that I'm the weird one, because I never need lotion. It makes me look like I got conked in the head by an oil tanker. Then again, I live in the middle of a big overheated estuary, and oil-encouraging humidity is not hard to come by. I remember needing face cream the first time I went up north, but the other times, I was okay.
posted by cmyk at 5:09 PM on May 23


In Texas they just call it wind.

Katabatic winds require slopes.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 5:36 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


My mother goes through absolute gallons of lotion. I never use the stuff. Of course, I grew up in humid-as-hell Texas and now live in grey, dripping Seattle, while she lives in Iowa; that might have something to do with it. When we had a spell of unseasonably cold weather here (i.e. it was below 20 degrees farenheit for a week) my poor kid's hands got so chapped they bled, and we had literally no idea what to do about it until Eyebrows McGee said "AQUAPHOR, YOU TERRIBLE PARENT."*

I tell you what, though, I wish I had learned at 26 and not 38 that if you moisturize oily skin every day, your acne goes away.

*paraphrased
posted by KathrynT at 5:36 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]




I thought I was exfoliating just fine without a washcloth until I went to a Korean spa and the scales fell from my... just about everything, actually.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:46 PM on May 23 [8 favorites]


I use one of these on my face. (I also use an electric toothbrush - I am gonna be in sad shape if I ever forget to pay the electric bill ...)
posted by needled at 7:53 PM on May 23


I grew up with washcloths, but it was during a couple of weeks in hotels in mainland Europe I got really into using one each day. Now I use one a day: to wash my face, generally without any cleaner, and the then rest of me, using homemade soap. Then into the wash with it. I bought a stack of 100 washers off eBay for this very reason!
posted by Kaleidoscope at 11:46 PM on May 23


I tell you what, though, I wish I had learned at 26 and not 38 that if you moisturize oily skin every day, your acne goes away.

Pulling this out for emphasis. I have what all the 90s teen magazines described as combination skin on my face, and the only time my oily bits get oily now is if I don't moisturise.

I also wish someone had told me that SSRIs can cause acne, before I suffered for a year on the wrong meds. Acne is, surprisingly enough, not great for anxiety/depression. :(
posted by daisyk at 12:46 AM on May 24


is the invisibility of dry skin a light-skin privilege?


Facepalm
posted by Fists O'Fury at 3:59 AM on May 24


Australian with white skin here. I assume "ashy" means flaky dry skin? I've never heard or seen that usage before today. Huzzah for new learnings! My skin gets dry and itchy and flaky in summer, dry and cracked and red in winter, and I use moisturiser all year round. I regret it if I don't.

Anyway, 'washcloths' are 'flannels' to my English mum and 'facewashers' to apparently everyone else in Australia, and I don't know anyone who doesn't use them (or at least have them in their bathrooms). I've been in dozens of hotels and motels in Australia & NZ, and they all have them. So come and holiday here instead of Europe! Washcloths for all!
posted by andraste at 4:46 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]


White woman here, who isn't a redhead but inherited the milk-white, burns-easily, dries-out-easily redhead complexion anyway.

When I was a kid, I used washcloths because that is what there were in the 60's and 70's. When shower poufs came out, I gladly switched. I now use: a scrubby pouf for washing (I use Lush shower gels), a scrubby towel-thing for my back, makeup remover cloths to get the makeup off my face, and a Clarisonic brush for my actual face. My face is so much happier with the Clarisonic than it was with various exfoliation tools - crushed shells and Buf Pufs were too irritating; and with the Clarisonic I can just use my regular skin cleanser and not have to buy an extra product for exfoliation.

And lotions - I help keep Bath and Body Works in business. My skin gets dry. And I love the scent. For my hands, it's those L'Occitane tubes - I keep random skin cream tubes everywhere I go - house, purse, desk. Same with lipsticks/lipgloss/lip balms.

Aaaand I use Vitamin C serum mixed with a glycolic serum for my face. And when I go out to more than just the grocery store, I wear BB cream and makeup.

-- high maintenance and proud of it!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:12 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Facepalm

Dude, stop touching your face, it's bad for your skin!
posted by rtha at 7:17 AM on May 24 [6 favorites]


Oh, and - pumpkin or sweet potato pie? Neither, growing up in my house, as my mom firmly believed that no dessert was worthwhile unless it contained chocolate. So even for Thanksgiving, when she felt tradition-bound to have a pumpkin pie around, Mom always made sure there was chocolate cake, or chocolate cupcakes, or chocolate truffles on hand for all of us chocoholics.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:20 AM on May 24


Dry-skinned East Asian girl here, living in a dry climate. I know from lotion, though I understand it's all individual preferences, depending on skin type.

Sometimes the more expensive lotions are worth it (L'Occitane) and sometimes they are only about the scent (KenetMD). I am not into the scents found in the B&BW lines, nor have I found them to be effective as moisturizers, a feature I find salient. On the other end of the spectrum, Vaseline petroleum jelly is too thick to spread and greasy.

Amazingly, though I hear they are bad for hair, dimethicones are fabulous moisturizers, as they literally create a barrier on the skin and leave my skin soft that no other non-dimethicone lotions do. And they can be had for a pittance, under the Aveeno label (at any pharmacy). I have now spilled all my secrets about lotion.

As for washcloth users, because I didn't read every comment, how exactly are washcloths used with a bar of soap? I can understand that you lather up with shower gel and scrub, but how does a bar of soap lather up a washcloth? Thanks for the edification.
posted by Pocahontas at 8:01 AM on May 24


Ok, so just to add to the tally:
White, southern, poor, grew up in heavily mixed area, mixed family
Washcloth: check
Lotion: Check
Tucking: check
Deodorant:only when doing any sort of activity that requires exertion, or on one of the many Virginia days that it gets above 90
Sweet potatoe or pumpking pie?: Both!

I've just recently started getting really obsessed (ok more like really fascinated) with "natural" skincare. My roommate made me a mixture of olive oil, organic honey, tea tree oil, and baking soda (as an exfoliant), and it is the best facial cleanser. . My next step is to completely rid myself of shampoo.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:01 AM on May 24


Ha! This reminds me of a hilarious conversation I had recently, about washing meat (before cooking). Apparently this also falls along ethnic lines.
posted by emeiji at 8:25 AM on May 24


I use washcloths so I can throw them in the washing machine after one use. And in the kitchen, I use a dish brush. It would gross me out to clean my skin or dishes with a cloth that had been sitting around damply collecting bacteria all day.
posted by mantecol at 9:39 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


On the topic of "things I do that other people don't get," I take fiber capsules every morning. They really help keep things moving down there. But whenever the topic comes up with other people, they look at me like I'm from another planet.

I know fiber is marketed primary to older people, but since discovering it, it has become one of the cornerstones of my daily regimen, and I regret it whenever I forget to take it. Highly recommended!
posted by mantecol at 9:48 AM on May 24


My Werid gut problems are always helped by a few fiber pills a week, however it can get ......interesting if combined with a week spent eating lots of salad.
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 AM on May 24


Wow, I never thought a lotion thread could be so informative. I have learned:

1. The term and concept of ashy
2. That some people use the term lotion for more than the scented products targeting teenage girls.

and now to the really important stuff

3. That moisturizer daily on oily skin reduces acne? really?
4. That SSRIs can cause acne!!!!!!!
Together they explain so much about my adult life and currently relatively acne free skin. Amzaing.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:56 AM on May 24


Black person here…

As for washcloth users, because I didn't read every comment, how exactly are washcloths used with a bar of soap? I can understand that you lather up with shower gel and scrub, but how does a bar of soap lather up a washcloth?

This is such a baffling question it boggles my mind. You really don't know how to lather up a wet wash cloth with a bar of soap?

But yes, lotion after every bath, good lotion, not cheap, overly-fragrant Bath and Body Works. I would be ashy 20 minutes after applying.

And yes, sweet potato NEVER pumpkin.
posted by shoesietart at 11:20 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


> I know fiber is marketed primary to older people, but since discovering it, it has become one of the cornerstones of my daily regimen, and I regret it whenever I forget to take it

I used to know musicians who swore by psyllium to keep them regular while on tour. You're not old; you're punk.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:25 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't even say I have bowel "issues." I just don't eat a very large volume of food. When I go out to eat with people, I'll still have half my food on my plate when they're done. And if i get really into my work, I'll sometimes forget to eat a meal or two. Psyllium is indeed what I take!
posted by mantecol at 11:34 AM on May 24


This is the thread where we talk about our showering habits, right?

About a year and a half ago I switched from washing my face with a loofah to scrubbing it with sugar and olive oil after a move from the East Coast to the West Coast. I'd always had oily skin (I rarely lotioned because I was oily already - just my feet), but since my move, my face was doing this weird "somehow both dry and oily" thing, with not-quite-excema on my cheeks and under my eyes. I did a bunch of digging for skin care, and ran across the olive oil and sugar recipe (essentially equal parts olive oil and sugar, use after wetting your skin, the sugar exfoliates and melts into the water, and you leave the olive oil on your skin) and tried it out in a plastic cup. It worked a treat, evening out both the oily and dry parts of my face, and I've used nothing else since. I also tried the mix on my upper arms, which always had miles of those tiny red dots of ingrown hairs, and it worked a treat there as well. I've been considering trying it on my legs.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:34 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


One of my key motivators to going to the gym is that te have SUPER POWERFUL showers filled with EXOTIC OINTMENTS AND UNGUENTS. My Home shower is a trickle (which is why I prefer baths, really with a paperback and glass of wine and cigarette.)
posted by The Whelk at 12:38 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


"On the topic of "things I do that other people don't get," I take fiber capsules every morning. They really help keep things moving down there. But whenever the topic comes up with other people, they look at me like I'm from another planet.

I know fiber is marketed primary to older people, but since discovering it, it has become one of the cornerstones of my daily regimen, and I regret it whenever I forget to take it. Highly recommended!
"

Protip: Apples and kale do all that just fine, without having to swallow pills, unless there's a medical issue.

I had to be on opioids for about four months after my leg thing, and ironically the gut/ass problems from the opioids was maybe even worse than the broken leg. I had to take all sorts of other pills to combat the side effects of the percacet.

"And yes, sweet potato NEVER pumpkin."

Nah, sweet potato's a bunk root next to a good pumpkin pie. Especially when people fuck it up with marshmallows and shit. The pie where the South wins is pecan, part of the holy trinity with apple and pumpkin.

"One of my key motivators to going to the gym is that te have SUPER POWERFUL showers filled with EXOTIC OINTMENTS AND UNGUENTS. My Home shower is a trickle (which is why I prefer baths, really with a paperback and glass of wine and cigarette.)"

I have never lived in a place, and only rarely visited hotels, where I could actually fit in a bathtub. For me, that's the whole point of Korean baths. (And I remember the frustration of finding out that "bathhouse" doesn't mean "a place where people enjoy baths.")
posted by klangklangston at 12:51 PM on May 24


Klang, go to Turkey. I was shocked to discover that, in Turkish baths, someone actually bathes you. I kind of thought it was going to be more of a sauna experience.

(There are no bath tubs, though there is a cold pool to paddle about in for a bit after you get bathed.)
posted by Sara C. at 12:54 PM on May 24


This is a good reminder that I want to try a Japanese bath when I'm in SF next month, if I can get the timing to work out. And, you know, work up my courage over the vast cultural differences and nudity.
posted by maryr at 8:22 AM on May 25


> As for washcloth users, because I didn't read every comment, how exactly are washcloths used with a bar of soap? I can understand that you lather up with shower gel and scrub, but how does a bar of soap lather up a washcloth?

This is such a baffling question it boggles my mind. You really don't know how to lather up a wet wash cloth with a bar of soap?


Lemme tackle both of these -

Pocohantas - you rub the soap real good with the washcloth, then scrub yourself with the washcloth.

And shoesietart - I think some people dislike the need to reload the washcloth thusly as frequently as you need to, or are unused to how little amount of lather you get as compared to a bath puff or the like. Hence the confusion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:39 AM on May 25


You're not old; you're punk.

A distinction without a difference.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:25 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Just google phrases like "raw coconut oil lotion" to find home recipes that should beat the expensive products, sweetkid, et al., but really the coconut oil is the important part.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:45 AM on May 26


I'm white from Minnesota and we always used washcloths growing up, but I switched to the puffs right around when I switched to showers as a teenager. My white male Oregonian partner uses a washcloth that gets washed only as often as our towels get washed. I travel often, and cheaply, and I don't bring anything to wash with, unless it's a really long trip.

I tend to scrub pretty hard with my towel as I'm drying off, so maybe it evens out there? My European travel problem came because I was staying in hostels and I packed one of those quick drying towels which have, like, no texture and I felt like I was constantly covered in dead skin.

I use an avon scrub on my face that I just apply with my fingers and rinse with cupped hands like in facewash commercials.

As for cleaning butts... it is my understanding that you don't want to get soap in/on your ladyparts because you'll mess up your pH balance and all of that stuff is really close together down there. Thus, it all gets cleaned with hot water and, um, external digital friction. But I wash my hands with soap several times while I'm in there so I'm not gross, I swear. I'm surprised no one else mentioned this. I would like to hear feedback.

Body lotion I thought was a sexy thing ladies did to be sexy, so I used it religiously until I realized I didn't have to for sexiness. Face lotion, on the other hand, was terrible for my skin unless I was super dehydrated in winter until sometime in my late twenties when it became necessary. It feels like I have some kind of dried glue mask on my face if I don't use lotion.
posted by MsDaniB at 5:57 AM on May 26


My boyfriend and I are kind of a cultural amalgamation of stuff. I'm an "assimilated" black woman, and he's an Asian man that was raised by whites and spent his life floating between social groups of whites and the most populous minority groups in his area (usually blacks and Latinos). I didn't use lotion regularly until I was diagnosed with eczema in college and told by a dermatologist that I kind of had to. I did not hear the end of it from my black classmates when I was younger, but I refused to care. He uses lotion religiously, even though is skin is fairly oily and pale for three quarters of the year. He also uses a washcloth. I did as well until my diagnosis, when I was told that it would agitate my condition. Until we met, he managed to maintain the impression that deodorant is optional for everyone, which I found astonishing, and he says that cocoa butter in particular is a black thing, not lotion in general.
posted by Selena777 at 8:09 PM on May 28


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