You just rode your bike to work. You’re sweating, and your face is bright red. How can you get presentable and look ready for the day in five minutes or less?
The very first thing to do is to stop the sweat. If all you’ve got is a restroom in which to fix yourself up, turn the cold water faucet on, cup your hands and immerse your face in the flowing water for about five seconds, then tap your face all over lightly with your fingertips. Do this two or three times, until your face no longer feels warm.
Then grab a bunch of paper towels—even toilet paper or toilet seat liners if that’s all that’s available—divide it into two bunches, turn the cold water on again and get the paper wet. Squeeze it dry enough so that the two clods of paper aren’t dripping.
Next, go into a stall—don’t ever take ANY chance of someone coming in and seeing this next step. Lock the door. Remove your shirt or top and hang it from the hook. Bend over, move your hair out of the way, and dab both bunches of cool wet paper all around your neck, especially the back of your neck. While still bending over, leave one wad of wet paper on the back of your neck and dab the other all over your chest. If you’re a female athlete, press the cool paper firmly under your breasts.
Take the wad from the back of your neck, stand up straight, and dab both bunches around your waist, just touching the skin lightly before moving to the next section. Touch the paper firmly to the inside of each elbow and the back of each knee.
Finally, use the paper to wipe your underarms, but press, don’t rub. Brush any shreds of paper off clothing and skin. By now you should have stopped sweating and your face should no longer be flushed. Put your top back on and go look in the mirror. If you have ‘helmet hair’ that’s smooshed flat, fluff it up with damp fingers.
If you use a bike for work transportation and ride with a backpack, get in the habit of carrying a dish towel torn into two pieces secured in a plastic bag. Those pieces are the perfect size for a portable cool down. Keep several of those torn-in-half dish towels on hand, and remember to toss each used set into the wash and put a fresh one in your pack.
Here’s a solution for a different grooming problem: if you worked out hard before bedtime, but don’t feel like washing your hair, change your pillowcases. Many people don’t realize how much they sweat during sleep. That sweat, along with various body oils, gets absorbed by the pillowcase. Pillowcases get dirty fast. Don’t make things worse if you’re hitting the sack with a scalp that’s already sweaty from your workout. Put your head on a clean pillowcase, and your hair will look a lot fresher in the morning.
Whenever you have athletic intentions, whether it’s a casual basketball practice in the gym or a day on the slopes, always have a clothing storage plan available so there’s an option to change and look presentable if something ever comes up afterwards.