Helping Someone With Hygiene Problems?

I'm seeking suggestions with a tricky situation. A teenage boy attends our church (alone) and has real hygiene problems. I would like to buy him some relatively inexpensive, but nice male products to give him, i.e. shampoo, soap, facial skin cleanser. Can anyone recommend good products and even more importantly, can anyone recommend a kind way to give him these things and suggest he use them? His father is gone and he is pretty pitiful.



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May 3, 20070 found this helpful

It is so tough to convince teens that hygiene is important. I could not get my own son to care for his skin until he was fifteen but I had to find what worked for him. He now uses Axe deoderant because that is what his older stepbrother uses. Around here, that deoderant is the IN thing. He was really too lazy to wash his face so I found some stridex wash clothes. Now he doesn't need to wash, he just wipes the cloth over his face in the morning and at night and his skin is almost clear. This was after wasting money on doctor's visits, prescriptions, etc. until I found something that he would actually use. Perhaps the best remedy for your "friend" would be to find him another friend to give him the advice. Kids value the opinion of their peers. Also, once he notices girls... he will have real incentive to clean up.

May 3, 20070 found this helpful

Stridex pads are perfect, quick to use anywhere. Teens often need more sleep than they give themselves. These alcohol-based wipes can even be kept beside the bed! Now that I am through my teen years: I cut mine in half, works the same.


I am curious as to how to politely tell a teen to cleanup. If you are friends with the mother you could talk to her....and just mention someone gave them to you. You might not want to say you bought them for him, that could be insulting(pity case, she should have bought them herself). I like the idea of getting another teen to give them(mentor-like). Good Luck!

May 3, 20070 found this helpful

Thank you both for posting. I had considered asking another teen for help. I think you're right about that. Will give both products a go.

By Karen (Guest Post)
May 3, 20070 found this helpful

I can't speak about any type of products but depending on how many young males are in your congregation, perhaps make a small basket for everyone of them--or perhaps for the females too, if he is the only or just a few young men==again it would depend on how many you'd have to buy for and your financial situation. That way he is not singled out as offensive. I wonder if you wrote various companies outlining your problem, if they'd not give you several types of samples for everyone of the young people in your church and you could make nice little gift baskets for them all.


A man who travelled a lot and was always getting little shampoo bottles, soaps etc. while in hotel rooms and had waaay too much of this stuff, had his wife make up a variety of these for all the little girls in our cong. years ago. She bought (or you could make) little drawstring purses with all these hotel sized soaps, etc. for the girls. They were very much appreciated and made the girls feel very special.

May 3, 20070 found this helpful


Teenagers are or should be interested in girls... You can approach with your Care Bag in that way... I suggest bagging the items or wrapping them in brown paper with a nice ribbon/bow and include a card expressing you care and why... He may need a caring friend he can trust or relate to...I don't know enough to call it well... Oh, his self esteem could be down as well...


We did this for a guy at my fulltime job... He turned his act around and we learned of his depression, money woes, etc... Of course we praised him on his good quailities...


By gretta in ok (Guest Post)
May 3, 20070 found this helpful

most teenagers would be more willing to use, and less offended, something popular. Like Tag or Axe


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May 3, 20070 found this helpful

what about a trusted man in the church. i am not a boy but if a man talked with him and befriended him i would think that would help him in all sorts of ways.

By An from MS (Guest Post)
May 3, 20070 found this helpful

I would make it a gift basket. Put some shaving gel, razors, deodorant, shampoo, nail clippers, toothpaste, Listerine, dental floss, etc. but also include snacks like slim jims, movie candy, chocolate bars and maybe some boxers and tshirts.


And if you really wanted to be discrete make a female gift basket and give them away as a prize. You may can get your church to pay for the gift baskets since it is going to a good cause. Just make sure that certain boy gets the prize.

May 3, 20070 found this helpful

Since Mother's Day is coming up, why not ask the mothers in the church to donate items for teen girls and boys and then host a small reception after church or between the services and let each boy or girl teenager take a certain amount of items, honoring them as a Mother's of God's gift for us to share with Him, as He only lets us borrow them sometimes for all our lives and sometimes not, according to His will.


Make sure that you ask for new items and more mens that women's, since all women have a drawer of things they have bought and not tried. Men tend to use everything they are given or buy. Ask the smaller children to bring a small gift or toy they don't play with anymore and let them pick from those, and that wouldn't leave anyone out.

Do you have anyone in the church who makes soap, aftershave, ect. Maybe they could ask a couple of teens to test their products for them and then tell them what they might do to improve the product or packaging,ect. Making sure this young man is selected along with others.

In our church we have a member who told that he was never taught hygeine at home and had NOT BRUSHED HIS TEETH IN 17 YEARS, before meeting his now wife, hard to believe, but he has never been known to lie about his up bring. Also this teen maynot have the money to buy such items and Mom just doesn't have it to give, being a single parent.

God Bless
Martha in TN

By Wendy from Oz (Guest Post)
May 4, 20070 found this helpful

I don't know what products to suggest, but how about telling him that you won them in a raffle & he reminds you of a much loved cousin, nephew, etc. so you decided that you'd like to give it to him.
You could also suggest that you've noticed him alone & you wondered if he'd be offended if he would be your 'adopted' son ... in a loose type of way ...
Or, perhaps ask his help with some new 'tech' product, even your computer .... won't hurt to act a little 'dumb' ... & it could be an opportunity to give him the gift ... as well as giving him the opportunity to open up to you & maybe become a friend whom he could come to whenever he needed some parental advice. Maybe adopt him into the family ....
Good luck & please let us know how you go with him.

May 4, 20070 found this helpful

I work with mostly special education/economically disadvantaged high school students, and when we need to address the hygiene issue, we involve the school nurse. Since the nurse is a licensed professional and maintains confidentiality, it makes it less 'personal', so there aren't any hard feelings, embarresment, etc. In addition, by involving the school, they can help with other services the student may need (financial assistance, counseling, etc...). I would still try to get him some older big brother, father friends in the church of course, and involved with things! My job involves focusing in on the kids who try to get by unnoticed (hence, so do any issues at school or home that may impair their education), to get them help, counseling. Sadly, it can be easy for a kid without parental involvement who really needs help to get passed over if they are quiet, not getting in trouble, and do things in a manner not to get noticed (which is a survival skill/defense mechanism of sorts), especially in larger schools. Good luck - he sounds like a great kid!


May 4, 20070 found this helpful

Thanks to all who responded, the nicest people read Thrifty Tips! I appreciate all your suggestions.

May 4, 20070 found this helpful

When I went off to college, my cousin's church group adopted me - my hygiene was fine and I didn't know I was poor but to them we must have seemed that way. They sent me a box of stuff to take off to college and it was huge and contained grooming things -shampoos, soaps, powders etc. and it was thoughtful but it still stung. They were well off and my folks were not and I went to church somewhere else. Now as an adult it still makes me feel odd. I know they meant well but....
The suggestion of a gift bag or gift basket is excellent! I would do it for a girl also though because no one wants to feel singled out. I might also suggest a gift card from some place like Walmart so he could get the things that he needs that you don't know about. An older man or older teenager to help him is an excellent idea. You are such a caring and conscientious person to think of this. So many kids need help and there is no one there.

By Lynda (Guest Post)
May 5, 20070 found this helpful

What good advice from everyone. In my experience, I'm up front and would ask, "Has anyone ever been a good friend to you? Would you want some help if someone offered it? I'd like to confidentially offer a few things I believe you can use, including a gift card for those things I can't possibly know you need, would you like that? As you get to know me, you will see that I have done this for others and I'd like to do the same for you now. So, I'll let you know when I get my special surprise box prepared for you, and
in it you will find that gift card. Whenever you think you'd like to do a little shopping for yourself, I'll be happy to arrange transportation for you as well. This is part of how I "Do unto others as I'd want them to do unto me.", the Golden Rule of the Bible. Then, as you are able, you might one day be able and will pass on the favor to someone else? "

Ideally, a strong kind male would fulfill the role better in all ways. However, if God has placed it on your heart to help in this way, just pray that He will
prepare the heart of the young person to receive it in the manner you intended, as well as to lead men to intervene and help YOU to help him, as you phase the job out to them, according to Titus 2.
God bless your efforts, and be alert to ANYTHING being taken the wrong way and nip it in the bud asap. Females are to help females and males
to help males, for obvious reasons. It's wiser and safer, saving temptation, and friendship that might have been distorted otherwise, if even by accident. God keep and watch over you in all of your decisions.
: )

May 10, 20070 found this helpful

I moved out at a young age, 14, after growing up in a very abusive and neglectful environment. I can truly sympathize with this kid. I didn't know how to take care of myself and grew up around boys. It wasn't until my late twenties that I started to take an interest in being more like a "girl" and wished that I'd had a mother, sisters, or girlfriends who'd shown me the ropes. It wasn't until last month that I had my first real haircut that wasn't received in a stripmall. It felt good to treat myself to something that made me feel beautiful. When you're poor and your family isn't able to build you up and give you strength due to the situations at hand its hard to believe in yourself and to take care of yourself. It sounds like he's just trying to find "something." Some meaning, some guidance, and a little of himself. I know that feeling. I've been there.

I highly recommend an older male from the church to be a mentor and not another teenager. It would help if the person had come from a similar background so that they can relate to each other. I grew up for a short time in a shelter and the college students would do their internships there and interact with the other kids. It was really hard to relate to them. Many grew up in very well off families and what we needed more than textbook advice was actual life experience and someone who beat the odds and overcame the same obstacles. Just seeing someone fight similiar battles plants in your mind a seed of hope that you can do the same. Those people are like heroes to us. A teenager can be helpful as a good friend, but this kid needs a mentor and a life coach. Good friendships come soon after you make friends with yourself first. Right now, he needs to focus inward and learn who he is so he can share that with others.

Outside appearance is a sign of emotional appearance. He sounds as if he's going through some hard times. In a way, it's a call for help. As well as getting a mentor, he also might need a counselor. A mentor offers friendship and guidance, a counselor offers mental and emotional maintenance. The mentor is the best person to suggest counseling. There are so many resources for low-cost and for his situation even free counseling. When you are that overwhelmed by life you need someone to take you by the hand and gently lead you to help. Counseling is painful, and he will mostly have problems with it and going but if someone can pick him, drop him off, and be supportive it can really help.

I'm not sure if you're aware of what you're taking on. This person lost their father, he's not able to take care of himself and no one else in the family is helping either. There appears to be more here than hygiene problems and a gift basket is band aid to a greater problem. He is a teenager, this is such a difficult and vulnerable time. Please help him. If it wasn't for my friends I wouldn't be who I am. It took me years to become truly appreciative and this boy may not even seem thankful or aware of the effort and sacrifice but trust me, there will come a day when he will appreciate what everyone has done for him. And like I am with my son, he will also be there for someone else. Just like those who helped him.

I hope this helps and isn't too wordy. It hit very close to home and my heart goes out to this boy and to those who want to make his world a little brighter and teach him to learn and love who he is. Once he connects with himself, everything else like self maintenance will fall into place. Start from the inside and work your way outward.

By Lori (Guest Post)
May 11, 20070 found this helpful

Thank you for posting such a thoughtful and informative letter about this problem. My husband is also of the opinion that he needs a mentor. I am going to speak with our pastor and try to get some help for him. I really appreciate you sharing your point of view.
Thanks to everyone who posted. The nicest people read Thrifty Fun.

May 20, 20070 found this helpful

Hi, great to see someone thinking about another. I was on my own (father died) with a sixteen year old sister at just barely 18 years old, and I can tell you this from personal experience. There may be more help needed than he will ever admit to. Find some excuse to give him a gift, and don't worry that he's going to be offended, trust me on this one. Someone once gave me eggs saying there was a special at the store for flag day! I felt blessed, not offended. You are in the right place at the right time to help, God put you here you'll know what to do.

I do have a connection to Mary Kay cosmetics, and they just came out with a new skin care line for men, MK Men, all the products match and work together, the excuse if you go that route could be that because they're new, you wanted to see what he thought of them. I'm looking for consultants right now, not required to add people, but I have a staffing background and I want to. Some start just to get the products for 50%, so that's an option. You can check into them or the consultant/discount idea at my web site, One of the main reasons I'm in Mary Kay, is thier value structure. They openly declare that they operate "God first, Family Second and Career Third and the Golden Rule" And they live by it, have for fourty years. I like the idea for this young man, because they all go together as a set, you don't have to explain why you gave him soap, shaving cream (add your own rasor) etc, it's available separate, if needed.

If you don't do that, look for something else that is sold in matching packaging like a set, even if it's not MK< he will assume it came that way, not that you thought he needed that much help! As far as the girl thing, he might care about that, or he might be so into his own survival right now that the next meal is more important. Are you sure he has a place to live? Not a place to stay, somewhere stable? Renting a room for some token amount can go a long way.

But any way you do it, know that it's a way that God may have put this seed in you to open the door to something greater. You see that he needs personal care products, but he really needs more> I know becuase I wasted my twenties struggling terrified to admit to anyone that I needed help. Now, I'm in nursing school with two kids abandoned by the wrong husband, and if it wasn't for my faith I would sincerely not have survived to this point. There are no accidents! I love MK for me, becuase of the values. But anything you do for this young man could quite sincerely turn his life around. Offended isn't likely to be an issue, as long as you present it with a sincere heart and very casually. I like the set idea, if not MK something simmilar. Thank you for thinking of someone else, I wish I had been lucky enough to come across such a kind heart when I needed that. Taking care of a sixteen year old, I was more afraid than average to ask for help.

Oh, one more thing. From personal experience. Please, please, please don't look at your approach from YOUR perspective, think if possible from where he is. Not easy. But think to yourself, someone with this much need, how much of an 'excuse' would HE really need to be able to accept help? Now from where you are in life, but from where he is?

Also, try to see from his perspective what he actually needs beyond this, being careful to work within his values and what matters to him or is of greatest concern to him and that will help you have confidence that whatever you offer in help will be appreciated. It will be anyway, but you'll know you are truely helpful.

I've worked with homeless people through school, was myself for a very short time after my Mom died, and I pulled it together myself but not everyone can do that. I have heard time and time again, that they know what they need (people in need, not just homeless) but that well meaning people don't seem to care to ask, or forget to. That might help too...but please don't let concerns about how to help keep you from helping...remember, flag day egg sale? I'm very intelligent and I knew that wasn't likely, but all I saw was the love behind it, and we ate eggs and made cookies and it's still one of the fondest memories of gratitude that I have with my sister. I appreciated it, regardless. He will too.

This is going to the first time ever that I've had a reliable finanical situation for the children and myself, when I complete the RN, and it's been years of pain and suffering alone to get here. YOU could have been called to change the course of a life, and who knows how many other lives you will touch in the process as this young man continues on his path? You're BOTH very blessed, take care.
Mary Anne


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August 25, 20090 found this helpful

Years ago I worked with a woman a few years younger than me and we all noticed she had bad breath and b.o. So one day I went to a discount store and bought a bunch of sample size deoderants, tooth pastes, mouthwashes, travel size bars of soap, and some cheap toothbrushes and put them in a bag and gave them to her. I told her I had been cleaning out my linen closet and decided I had too much of that kind of stuff that I had bought to try different brands. Well, it didn't help her cleanliness any, but a few days later she told me her 12 year old son was really enjoying using them. Our manager knew what I planned on doing and when this woman told me that her son was enjoying the products, we just shook our heads.


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