Hi, all. Here's my article on men and moisturizers. I'm pasting it, to retain my anonymity, ha ha ha.
Thank you very much for your input.
We All Sit Here Itching
I thought we’d made progress since, say, the 1970s, over what men were allowed to admit re primping and their bodies. I never saw “Saturday Night Fever,” but wasn’t this movie supposed to be groundbreaking, showing that it’s OK for guys to be a little vain? Guys got perms in the 70s and 80s, and used blow-dryers, but apparently they did not, have not, and never will admit publicly that they moisturize.
I felt a little guilty after I posted my question “Do real (men) swimmers moisturize?” on the USMS forum because my curiosity was based on two rather critical flaws, the first being my own implied assertion that real (women) swimmers moisturize like crazy and share tips on the best moisturizers out there, when in fact only once, many years ago, did I witness a woman putting on moisturizer in the locker room, and only once did I ask what she recommended (Eucerin), since I was finding that, especially during the winter, I was breaking out in a bright red itchy rash every night after swim practice.
My other flawed assumption was based on a single conversation with a friend, who joked about how her husband and other men in the locker room talked about what to do about cracked heels. When checking my source (the man involved), it turns out this was a one-time-only conversation, and the recommendation (Vaseline) was tried but then dropped because it ruined this guy’s socks.
Despite my somewhat misleading post on the forum, I decided to take the quiet road and let the dudes duke it out re lotions nonetheless. Thus, while many men on the forum admitted to moisturizing after swimming, it was as if they were sharing a terrible, terrible secret. The topic switched quickly to sports (Duke/Carolina basketball game; Duke/Carolina colors), backstroke, and whether British men qualify as real men because they wear cufflinks and punctuate sentences funny. There were references to the moisturizing benefits of Super Glue, spackle, 10W-40 oil, and sandpaper blocks, as well as advice on how to soften those tough-to-reach rough spots between the shoulder blades.
Given these men’s apparent moisturizing shame, I decided to do some true research: I trolled the main lotion aisle at Rite Aid. Overall it was pretty girly. The big ads above the aisle all featured women touching their bare knees, their faces, their manicured hands. Most lotion bottles had girly fonts (swirly, curlicued) and often featured some sort of flower logo or a picture of women’s feet. There were three bottles on the bottom shelf that were specifically for men—all were black and huge—Dial for Men, Vaseline for Men (two kinds).
There was a small cluster of medicinal-looking lotions, like Eucerin, Aveeno, and Cetaphil, yet they were close to Aquaphor (which I associate with changing babies’ diapers—apply Aquaphor to clean bum before attaching clean diaper) and thus these more medicinal skin balms seemed to suggest, a little bit, anyway, diaper ointment/rash avoidance. Plus they were in the middle of all the more girly bottles and tubes. At the very end of this section were Gold Bond, Bag Balm, and a few other more neutral bottles with square type fonts and no feminine overtones.
I walked down to the next aisle, where men’s hair color and shaving supplies were located. Mon dieu! I had forgotten that most poor men have to shave their faces every morning. This almost makes up for women having to go through childbirth, in my opinion. These bottles of aftershave and body wash nearly strutted off the shelves with their masculinity. Lots were black with electric-looking blue type, suggesting “Danger, High Voltage.” They had names like “AXE Twist Revitalizing Shower Gel,” Old Spice “Swagger” Body Wash, and Old Spice “Pure Sport High Tolerance Body Wash” (to me, fancy ways of saying “You stink! Please shower after exercising!”). Adidas had a brand of aftershave called “Dynamic Pulse” that advertised itself as being “developed with athletes.” All of Gillette’s and Right Guard’s bottles looked either like razors or powered robot toys. There was even a product that looked like 10W-40 oil, straight out of the garage, called “Head Lube 30 (SPF),” for guys who shave their heads and don’t want to get sunburned.
Thus, I begin to conclude, rather stupidly, I admit, that marketing still has a lot of power over what we as a man or a woman can publicly admit to doing or using in, say, a locker room. It appears from the forum discussion that a man brought up the topic of lotions with his wife, who then asked her manicure/pedicurist what percentage of her clients were men (the answer: 40%). When this man mentioned this statistic on the forum, out came the caution flags: Do not talk about moisturizing or pedicures in the men’s locker room if you are an age group swimmer! (Or if you are a masters swimmer changing while age group swimmers are present.) Implication: You’ll get beaten up.
Poor men! What a pity, in some ways, that these taboos still exist. One guy on the forum said that he had inherited (“as part of the wedding dowry”) some Michael Bolton CDs and regularly had to clear his lawn of signs saying “X Listens to Michael Bolton.” Yet when I looked at Michael Bolton’s hair on one of his YouTube videos (let me be clear—I do NOT like Michael Bolton’s music either), I thought—a good look for male masters swimmers who can still grow out their hair. Michael Bolton has (or had) fluffy, braidable hair. I’m quite sure guys did not grow up braiding one another’s hair; whereas I’m quite sure most girls did do this growing up, and it’s very soothing.
But I digress. For not talking or sharing moisturizing tips/best products among themselves, the men on the forum actually had a lot of good products to suggest and seem equally susceptible to insane chlorine itch post-swim. Most innovative idea, born of desperation (the poor guy was driving and itching and beyond himself, close to the brink of driving off the road over a cliff to make the itching stop): suntan lotion found somewhere in his car. Other suggestions: Body Shop Hemp Hand Cream, Body Shop Shea Body Butter, Bigelow moisturizer, Flexitol Heel Balm and pumice stone, Working Hands, Eucerin Calming Cream, Zim’s Crack Crème, Neutrogena Men Ager Fighter Face Moisturizer (aside: expensive! 1.4 ounces costs $21.85 on amazon; it does come in a black box, though, and the name is very tough), Neutrogena in general, Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap, Bag Balm, India Pale Ale (for a soft stomach), Cetaphil, Vaseline Intensive Care, and free lotion samples from hotels.
I think the answer to my question “Do men swimmers moisturize?” is, emphatically, yes. Do they talk about it with each other? No. Do we women talk about moisturizers in the locker room? As far as I know, only me, once, many years ago.
What do women talk about in locker rooms? Ha ha ha. “Stuff.” What do men talk about in locker rooms? Apparently what they are going to eat after practice. Specifically, will they have the chicken or the beef burrito today? (This last assumption based on one interview. Thank you, Z.*) (*Identity has been changed to protect privacy.)
Personally, I still haven’t found a lotion that works. But I hadn’t thought to try suntan lotion. That’s next on my list. I use a brand that isn’t tested on animals and smells like oranges. Yum!