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Banish first date funk

To ensure that your first date won’t be your last, here are some V-Day tips—from dressing up right to managing embarrassing health problems.

by Karl De Mesa


You may only ever get a single chance to impress someone that first time on a date—even in an age when the young consider that term obsolete and “hanging out” is the preferred method of courtship.

After all, women aren’t generally attracted to men with poor grooming habits. Come to think of it, neither are men. Imagine dating someone hot—but with smelly armpits, bad breath, dirty fingernails, donning slept-in clothes. It’s not exactly a turn-on.

First things first

“Most love gurus will agree on the saying that `without self-love, you may have lost the ability to attract the type of relationship you really desire,’” declares dermatologist Jose Roel Tolentino, M.D., F.P.D.S. “Attractiveness of a person offers appeal and pleasure to the senses. It is multidimensional.”

Translation: You fixate on the tiniest details on the first date. Assuming dressing up right is the least of your problems, let’s focus on basic hygiene. Managing embarrassing health problems is key to ensuring your first date isn’t going to be your last. Upkeep and general hygiene are one thing, but prepping for a date is something altogether. While men are generally okay with donning fresh clothes and doing more than the usual grooming, women tend to take a first time date far more seriously.

“Women come to [my] clinic for various reasons,” says dermatologist Angelina Onrubia, M.D., F.P.D.S. “They range from acne [or] acne scars to simply wanting to have smoother, clearer skin. Filipina women are very conscious about their appearance. They equate whiter, smoother skin to beauty.”

She shrugs. “I wish though that Filipina women learn to love their skin color, even if they're morena. I think skin health should be a prime concern and not skin color; clear, smooth, healthy skin is beautiful skin.”

Nix the garbage mouth

On the oral front, beyond brushing, flossing, and having plaque-infused teeth professionally cleaned, dentist Lyna Romero, D.M.D. has a message for all the smokers out there who may go on a first date with a non-smoker: “Girls often complain that kissing a smoker is like kissing an ash tray. Well, because it’s true.”

Dr. Onrubia shares the same sentiment: “No offense to smokers, but I find it hard to be with someone for an extended period of time who reeks of smoke. Unfortunately, the smell of smoke is not only evident in their breath, but it also sticks to their clothes and hair.” Dr. Romero adds, “Smokers probably won’t follow suit on the orders to quit. Realistically we tell them to lessen smoking—at least for the first date.”

Dr. Tolentino has his own story for our medical tableau of faux pas, with someone he dubs “a beautiful colleague of mine.” He goes: “After discussing [a] report, I discovered that she had halitosis. ... I did not take it against her because on our encounter she may have been riddled with a lot of clinical and academic work. … If conditions are right, though, I might gently tell her about it [next time] for her self-improvement.”

A series of unfortunate events

There are a lot of things that can go wrong on a first date, especially if a person goes into it thinking they’re not on their A-game best in terms of hygiene or beauty. The medical terms can sound amazingly like various plagues: hyperhidrosis or chronically sweaty hands; stress-induced dermatosis that creates dandruff, falling hair, or itchy blisters on the legs and hands; and the almighty deal-breaker for both sexes: acne vulgaris.

“[Looking your best gives confidence] definitely,” explains Dr. Onrubia. “I have seen a lot of patients with severe acne who, on their first consultation, are very self-conscious and depressed. When their pimples clear up, there's a noticeable change in their overall demeanor. They carry themselves differently—they stand straighter, they fix themselves up more. They're more confident. It's wonderful to be part of that transformation.”

Don’t go to the doctor expecting a miracle cure. Like anything about the human body, things are best done gradually and in moderation.

Dr. Onrubia sighs, “Some people come to the clinic expecting an overnight miracle. And when the medicines don't work in a week or two, they give up. A very important part of the consultation is making them understand that it takes time for the medications to work. You have to be patient, you have to give the medicines four to six weeks to start making a difference.”

For more tips on putting your best foot forward on that all-important first date, grab a copy of the February issue of HealthToday, out now in bookstores and newsstands.

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