Lance’s Guide to Man Grooming, Part Two: Rock Your Body
Previously, I offered you copious unsolicited advice about taking care of your face. I went on and on about moisturizers and how to shave and lip goo and slathering your delicate skin in rough exfoliants to scrape years of dead flesh away.
This time, and without any prompting whatsoever, we’re going to travel below the neck and discuss the care and maintenance of the man body. There are, of course, several obvious similarities between your face and your body. Both are covered with skin, for example. And really, that’s about all we’ll be concerning ourselves with. You’re responsible for taking care of your muscle and bone and vital organs, I’m just going to advise you regarding the daily regimen for the biggest organ of all — and no, not that. Someone certainly has an inflated sense of self, doesn’t one? I’m talking your skin, not your skinflute. Please.
Like your face, your body probably needs a little more pampering than you’ve been willing to give it. I think men tend to think that to be all manly and macho, they have to treat their bodies roughly and with little love. But I suggest you have a talk with your significant other and see if they’d rather be cuddling with someone who feels like sandpaper and burlap, or someone with silky skin they want to run their hands over, and I mean every inch, friends. Sure, treating your skin right will prolong its life and give you a better looking naked self overall, but let’s face it; what we really want is to have the kind of body that other people want to run their touch all over.
So, first things first: What are you washing yourself with? Don’t be scared, there are no wrong answers here. If your answer is “Soap,” that’s fine. That’s my answer, too.
Have you ever noticed that you don’t really care how soap works, all you want is that it makes you smell good? People buy Ivory or Zest or Lux or whatever primarily because they like the smell of it. There’s no such thing as “pure” soap, but like everything else in this consumer-oriented world, you can pay a little or you can pay a lot for soap.
So what’s the diff? The ingredients, as usual. And sometimes, just the name that’s been wrapped around that bar of lard and organic garden leavenings. Popular American soaps, some of whose names I mentioned before, are almost entirely chemical-based. And so what? Everything is, when you think about it. But some chemicals cause allergic reactions, and some of those soaps are so harsh in their attempt to cleanse your skin that they also dry it out, removing all the oils its trying to hard to manufacture. Again, squeaky-clean is for dishes, not your body.
You’re probably using a perfectly good soap already, and if you (and your lover) are happy with how your skin feels and smells, why change? But just because you asked, here are the three, yes, three products I use to lather up my skin:
- Provence Santé Bergamot Soap – This is my everyday soap of choice. Provence Santé is in France, duh, owned by a master soapmaker (yes, in France, they have master soapmakers called savonniers) and they triple-mill their soaps and create them from organic ingredients so they feel very silky on your skin as you lather up and they don’t dry you out. Bergamot is my favorite scent. (Verbena is a close second.) It’s a citrus, vaguely lemony scent but less sweet and cloying so I don’t smell like freshly polished furniture or a clean kitchen floor. Bergamot is an ingredient in Earl Grey tea, which I cannot stand, but it works as a soap. Provence Santé makes soaps in several lovely natural scents, like lavender, honeysuckle, apricot, linden and verbena.
Provence Santé Bergamot Soap: 3.5oz bar $4.50>
- Kiehl’s “Eucalyptus” Liquid Body Cleanser – I bought this on a whim, as I sometimes do because toiletries are a sort of hobby with me and I was intrigued by the eucalyptus scent. I use it with a body scrubber sheet thing I bought at The Body Shop, or sometimes when I have a, um, guest in the shower with me I find it’s easier to use a liquid than to try to manage holding onto a bar of soap and doing… everything else. Anyway, this leaves me smelling really clean, I’ve gotten more than a few “you smell really nice!” compliments after using it and it’s also easy to pack in your ditty bag to take on trips.
Kiehl’s “Eucalyptus” Liquid Body Cleanser: 8oz bottle $13.00
- Jack Black “All-Over Wash” – I needed something for the gym that I could use to wash everything. Sure, they have this big ol’ pump thing filled with some viscous fluid that is purported to clean you, but I work out at Gold’s and I pay $35 a month, and what sort of soap are they going to give away when they can’t even offer towels, for crying out loud! I’m better than that. Jack Black’s “All Over Wash” is exactly that. You can use it in your hair, on your face, under your armpits, on your feet, everywhere. It has a nice, manly fragrance and it rinses off clean, leaving me feeling all refreshed and envigorated after my butt workout.
Jack Black “All-Over Wash”: 6oz bottle $12.00
- Sharp’s “Happy Me All Over Wash” – If you’re looking for something that’ll get you really clean, and exfoliate and moisturize at the same time, Sharp’s “Happy Me” contains fruit enzymes for gentle exfoliation (less-than-gentle exfoliation is available below) with almond protein to moisturize. What you want to do with this stuff is step out of the water and use this with a washcloth and lather everything up without rinsing it away at the same time. Getting the benefits of all its ingredients sort of depends on you taking some time with the productand your bodyand not rushing things.
Sharp’s “Happy Me All Over Wash”: 8.5oz bottle $12.00
Ha! Fooled you! I said three, yes three products and then I listed four, yes, four different soaps! And why did I do that? Reasons escape me.
Anyway, do I need four different kinds of soap? Of course not. But what’s need got to do with anything?
I’ve been taken to task by some readers for even suggesting that you use anything with scruffing material in it on your face. “No, no!” they proclaim most vehemently, “Never use anything with abrasives on your face, you’ll end up all red and raw and icky looking! For days!”
Well, that’s never happened to me. I wonder if these readers are, like, using the facial exfoliants on dry skin rather than wet, or perhaps being a little too hard on their own skin and, rather than using gentle circular motions to exfoliate, they’re applying the lotions as if their face needs sandpapering to smooth the rough spots off.
But now we’re talking about your body, not your face, and I’m sticking to my guns; what you want in an exfoliator creme is something with little bits of hard stuff to scrub your dead skin layer off. You’ll be amazed at what your skin feels like following a good exfoliation and I suggest you do it according to your own schedule. Me, I do it about every other week. I take a nice long Sunday shower and rub the stuff into every surface of my body and rinse it all off and just stand there in the warm water feeling cleansed, smooth and beautiful.
- Heavy Duty “Turbo Scrub” – If you’ve never exfoliated your skin before, this stuff will scrape off every layer of deadness like nothing else. Be warned: This is not for sensitive skin! Turbo Scrub contains large bits of apricot pit and walnut shell and pumice to do a job on your neglected skin. Then, to soothe you back into everyday life, it has kiwi, orange and aloe vera oils that give it a fresh, citrus scent that isn’t cloying or overwhelming. I use this about once a month in the shower, and unless your skin is made of leather, that’s all I think you’ll probably need.
Heavy Duty “Turbo Scrub”: 10.5oz bottle $18.00
- Zirh “Body Bar Scrub Edition” – Some guys, they don’t do lotions. The idea of anything but a bar of soap in their hand in the shower makes them feel, I guess, less manly. “Man need hard, square thing in hand,” they think as they stand there not touching themselves. Okay, I even have a solution for you. Zirh has a soap bar that smells good, has a cooling menthol feeling (like your whole body is smoking a cigarette!), and it contains little tiny bits of loofah! Yes, that silly sponge thing! But no one else ever need know that when your lathering up with a blue bar of soap, you’re also exfoliating your skin and moisturizing at the same time!
Zirh “Body Bar Scrub Edition”: 5.3oz bar $14.50
- Anthony Logistics “Sea Salt Body Scrub” – Now we take a step into territory meant for those among you who really, really enjoy running your hands all over your own body. I mean, sure, you can invite someone else into the shower with you with some sort of “Wanna exfoliate me?” come on line, but you know that no one turns you on like you do. So why not spend some real money on yourself and really luxuriate in the feeling of your own hands massaging your own skin with some fragrance-free blue gunk filled with sea salt and sea kelp and, I dunno, gold and diamonds maybe? In all seriousness, this junk works very well and is milder than the Turbo Scrub and, being fragrance-free, no one will know you just spent 30 minutes naked, feeling yourself up.
Anthony Logistics “Sea Salt Body Scrub”: 12oz bottle $25.00
Wet, Wet, Wet
So, after you’ve scrubbed your skin raw to remove all the hard, rough, angry bits and you’re now all soft and smooth and shiny, you need to… yes… moisturize.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of (and pleasure to be derived from) moisturizing your skin. You don’t need to do this daily, even though there’s this guy at my gym? Right? And every morning after he showers, he stands in front of a full-length mirror naked and applies lotion to every inch of his skin. Frankly, I am both turned-on by this (because he has a very nice body) and slightly repulsed (hey, buddy, get a room), but his skin looks great, and that’s the bottom line. You want nice skin? You want your honeys to want to touch you all over, to be beggin’ for it, to whisper in your ear, “I love your skin, baby.” Then moisturize, stupid!
- Heavy Duty “Body Lube” – Fun to ask for: “Do you have Body Lube?” Heavy Duty’s Body Lube compliments their Turbo Scrub because they both have a similar citrus-orange scent. The nice thing about this body moisturizer is it goes on smooth, soaks in to the skin and doesn’t feel greasy or too wet. Some moisturizers feel like they take forever to absorb, and your clothes stick to your skin and you end up feeling more icky than before you showered. Body Lube, like all moisturizers, should be applied as soon as you’re out of the shower so the excess moisture already on your skin, and the steamy surroundings, can all be used to best advantage. This also comes in a convenient pump, so it’s easy to get out of the bottle when your hands are all slick.
Heavy Duty “Body Lube”: 8oz bottle $18.00
- Brave Soldier “Infusion” – Brave Soldier products are formulated for athletes, so right there you know you can pull this out and feel all macho and shit. I mean, look at the name, for crying out loud! Not “brave little soldier,” like mommy might say. No, it’s Brave Soldier! Capital B, Capital S! Still, they use all-natural ingredients, the scent is lemongrass musk, it’s supposed to both moisturize and heal your skin by balancing your Ph (you don’t need to understand, bottom line is your skin feels better and is more elastic) and they promise that after only a few applications, you’ll notice a healthier glow.
Brave Soldier “Infusion”: 6oz tube $18.00
Your Hands Need Help
There are a few parts of your body that take extra punishment. These tend to be the parts that stick out and do more work than the parts that sort of sit there looking beautiful. For example, take a look at your hands.
Here we have a couple of extremities that are always active. Grabbing, pointing, rubbing, scratching, clutching, pinching, flexing, waving…. You’re exposing your hands to all sorts of things you’d never do to your face, and let’s not even go into the crap that gets caught under your nails. Chances are you don’t do much to take care of them, but when you stop to consider how hard they work, isn’t it time for some hand pampering?
I don’t condone slathering your paws in oily creams that make it hard to pick up the hammer when work reconvenes, and/or creates an oil slick on your keyboard, making all the letters so shiny that the hunt-and-peckers among you keep mistaking the H for the N. What we’re going for here is not to create hands that are so soft that holding them is like grabbing a down pillow covered in buttery-soft suede (no matter how appealing that may sound, you want your man hand to feel like man hands). Rather, what we want to do is avoid having your significant other grab onto your hand and draw back a bloody stub because your skin is a network of ragged peaks and valleys.
- Heavy Duty “Hand Gear” – By now it must be clear that I love Heavy Duty’s range of products. They are uniformly very effective at their individual goals, and collectively they leave your skin feeling tingly clean and soft and you even smell good. Lots of products try to make men smell like leather or a pine forest or some weird non-specific masculine perfume that overwhelms like a trip to Vegas. Not so Heavy Duty, and the hand cream is greatbut use it sparingly! A little goes a long way. When you first apply it, it feels very greasy, but as you keep massaging it into the skin, it becomes more matte and smooth and lasts a long time. An added benefit of Hand Gear is that it also heals minor cuts and abrasions.
Heavy Duty “Hand Gear”: 3.5oz tube $15.00
- The Body Shop “Hemp Hand Protector” – The upside of this product is that it’s made of hemp, so you can feel a ll cool and “fuck the man” and “I’m all about the environment and free your mind and blah blah blah.” I mean, let’s get real, hemp has lots of emotional baggage tied to it, so you can use that to your advantage if you wish. The downside, for me, is that this has a somewhat medicinal scent that I don’t find attractive. But, if what you want is a very effective hand lotion that will make your skin feel instantly softer and smoother, this’ll do that.
The Body Shop “Hemp Hand Protector”: 3.5oz tube $10.00
- Jack Black “Industrial Strength Hand Healer” – Mr. Black strikes again by delivering a product in his signature black and blue tube that, he says, has been tested by “chefs, golfers and carpenters,” because, one assumes, those are the professions where hands are abused more than anything else, plus it would be imprudent to claim it had been tested by “sewage workers, cow inseminators and gynecologists.” What separates Hand Healer from the other products is some “special conditioners to improve unsightly cuticles.” Yay!
Jack Black “Industrial Strength Hand Healer”: 3oz tube $13.00
- Burt’s Bees “Hand Salve” – More of a paste (or, I guess, a salve) than a lotion, this comes in two sizes and includes a grizzled old farmer on the tin, so you can feel better about using it if you’re at all sqeamish that one of your manly friends will find out you’re actually taking care of your hands. The salve includes almond oil, olive oil, beeswax and vitamin E to soothe and soften, and like Jack Black’s claims of actual testing by men who use their hands every day, Burt’s salve has been used by farmers, and not the rich, sit-on-they-asses conglomerate farmers, but real, downhome, I love Willie Nelson like he was my own son farmers.
Burt’s Bees “Hand Salve”: 3oz tin $7.00
The last thing most people (and not just guys) think about is their feet. But here’s my thing which I shall share with you as if you are a bosom chum and not some random reader bored with the usual who ended up here by accident after doing a Google on the term “sewage workers, cow inseminators and gynecologists.” I do not enjoy feet, particularly, but I enjoy giving foot massages. Feet, I think, are the ugliest part of the body. Perhaps this is why I love shoes so muchthey protect me from having to look at feet.
Be that as it may be, when you reach down and (shudder) touch your own feet, you’re likely to discover all sorts of weird, hard, crusty places. Not to mention the fact that you haven’t clipped your toenails in weeks and where the hell did all that hair on the toe knuckles come from.
I want you to love your feet as you love all the other parts of your body. You may discover (as I did after a particularly grueling day of skiing followed by a four-handed massage at the Ritz Carlton in Bachelor’s Gulch, Colorado) that yours are very sensitive and, yes, even sort of erotically charged. For me, it’s my toes. Who knew?
- philosophy “footnotes” – If you haven’t done anything to your feet, start with an exfoliator to remove the dead stuff. Footnotes from philosophy contains granular pumice (volcanic lava! macho!) to scrub off the dry, icky bits, and eucalyptus and lavendar oils to soothe the parts left over. You can use this in the shower so no one knows what you’re doing, or spend some quality time with your feet and get one of those soaking, vibrating, hot water foot massage things and really go to town!
philosophy “footnotes”: 4oz jar $12.50
- Pré de Provence “Shea Butter Foot Creme” – Shea butter comes from shea trees. Duh. What you do is take the shea nut, boil it, and extract the kernal which turns into a buttery substance. Some of the benefits of this stuff are natural protection from the sun’s rays, wrinkle prevention, healing chapped skin and moisturize. So, these are all things you want to have happen to your feet, and luckily for you, there’s a product that does that. They also include tea tree oil for anti-bacterial help (since your feet probably stink from fungus) and peppermint oil for a nice cooling effect and scent.
Pré de Provence “Shea Butter Foot Creme”: 2.5oz tube $11.00
If your body is a temple, than your skin is the paint. Isn’t that comforting? You’re covered in temple paint.
Maybe your body isn’t a temple and you consider it more like a rental property, or something you have a long-term lease on with an option to buy. I dunno, I think we all tend to take our bodies for granted and not really take care of them much at all. We’re afraid of going to the doctor, we’re embarrassed about what our bodies do and look like, we’d rather just take a quick shower, lather up the parts we can easily reach, dry off, get dressed and leave.
I want you to take a couple of days a month and treat your rental property a little better than that. Slap on a new coat of paint. Take a broom to the cobwebs. Open up the closet under the stairs and clean out the crap you no longer want or need. Then spruce everything up, clean everywhere, make it shine and look like you care about where you live.
We’ve covered your face and body, the only thing left is your hairassuming you have any left. So we’ll discuss that in Part Three.
April 15, 2004