For Every Top Shelf, There’s a Bottom Shelf


When pulpy crime novelists write about the deep, dark corners of the world, what they’re actually referring to is the middle cabinet in my bathroom. It’s wedged into the corner like it’s hiding from someone. And that someone is you. Here, I stash the products in ugly, clinical packaging and the bottles of slightly embarrassing origin that I can’t live without, but that I can live with out-of-sightline. But I’ll open it today, for your entertainment and maybe also even for your service.


Prescription Dandruff Shampoo

After spending years trying every dandruff shampoo on the drugstore shelf and only growing older, I realized enough was enough. My dermatologist was like, “Yeah, NBD, here’s a prescription shampoo you use twice a week.” It’s freakishly bright red, completely scentless, and it LITERALLY WORKS. Why does this even need a prescription? I don’t get our healthcare system, but I do understand the limits of Zinc Pyrithione.

Equate Gentle Skin Cream

In a thrifty mood at Walmart, I bought the “compare” version of Cetaphil’s thick skin cream. And while the Equate tub is OK, it’s not as good and kind of smells like a yoga mat past its prime. Both creams’ packaging is in a color palette apparently chosen by a 7-year old named Ryan. Hideous, but forgivable. Again, my dermatologist recommended the Cetaphil cream to me and she’s more influential in my life than any beauty editor, sorryyyyyy.

Irish Spring + Butt Cream for Long Bike Rides

This is boyfriend stuff, but I do use the Irish Spring on my armpits after a workout. That soap is NUCLEAR. The chamois créme is for delicate application to one’s buttcheeks before a long bike ride. I love the accent in créme. This is for BUTTS. The brand is ASSos.

Mixa Lotion

This is here mostly as a flex that I hit up a French pharmacy once. It’s heavily perfumed so I only use it on days when I want to relive my blissful Paris birthday, when my bath was interrupted by an Airbnb host named Flo who forgot her the bathroom...where I was bathing.

Some matches

To dispel poop fumes, obviously.


I’m too lazy/cheap to color my hair, but I do blow-dry some highlights with Sun-In. The woman on the bottle is making the exact same face I do after I pee in the pool.

Vanish PFB

A nice lady named Olga told me that PFB was the best product to prevent ingrown hairs, and then proceeded to rip out my hard-earned pubes. She was right! This bottle is probably expired, which tells you about the state of my pubes. (Thriving.)

Various Bath & Body Works Products

I can’t help it! I’m a creature of nostalgia. I took a bath with In the Stars the other day and the musky scent reminded me of a crowded afternoon at Atlantic Center. Sigh. I miss that place.

Olay Fresh Outlast Purifying Birch and Lavender

What exactly is purifying birch? I dunno, but I’d love to be the person who invents new woods. I just follow my nose, and this cheap body wash smells clean and slightly sweet. The ridiculous water wave of random foliage on the package makes my brain hurt, so I decant the pearlescent blue goo into a Muji container and leave the full bottle here.

Steroid cream for that one dry patch on my right calf

Every winter, I get a few itchy dry patches on my leg (some years it’s the left, some it’s the right—I take it as a prank from God), and my brilliant derm hooked me up with this prescription steroid cream that, unlike many over-the-counter big-promising eczema creams, actually works. Doc said if you use it too much though, it’ll bleach your skin.

Plenty of Coppertone Sport

This is the best stuff for any outdoor scenario in which you’ll be sweating. Like, uh, running? Maybe chopping wood, tossing tires, or constructing a giant palace made of fresh corn. If you need me to think of any more scenarios, well, I can’t.

OK friends, you got it out of me. Secrets = revealed. Or at least 12 of them. Now can we please pretend the visible corners of my life are otherwise perfect?

—Alex Beggs

Photos via the author.