Proper hygiene is a concept that nearly any human being already is aware of, or can be made aware of the benefits. Yet in spite of this, proper information on field hygiene and male hygiene is often difficult to find or altogether never taught. This is a concept I’ve long talked about, but in the light of the new COVID-19 situation, I feel like a full article is due.
This is going to be just the basics, since hygiene can vary tremendously depending on factors such as your climate, your body type, your genetics, etc.
I’m going to break this down into 4 main categories: Body Care, Hair Care, Facial Care, and Facial Hair Care. But before I get into the meat of this, there are a few caveats.
1) Garbage In, Garbage Out
You need to maintain a proper diet and exercise. If you eat fast food and soda all day, and never work out, your hair and skin are going to reflect that. Furthermore, if you live in filthy conditions such as never washing your bed-sheets and pillow cases, this is also going to create issues. Even simply working out and stretching for 10 minutes every single day goes a long way.
Proper hygiene fits into overall wellness. Think of your body like a garden- you need to take care what you put into it, find proper information for how you take care of it, and regularly maintain it with healthy routine and planning. Over time, it will grow into something healthy and beautiful.
2) My circumstances
I work outdoors, in Texas, for hours on end, wearing tactical clothing and gear. See, 5.11 is not an aesthetic. This stuff is uncomfortable, unfashionable, and only exists to serve a utilitarian purpose. I would never wear stuff like my TacLites around casually. And I’ve got a Kevlar vest on top of that. In addition, due to the national shortage of police and security, I’m often called in to fill security posts on short notice. This means that I can have minimal prep time on top of the previous conditions. So I am pretty much the worst case scenario.
I’ll be recommending a few things, but I receive no endorsement from any of them. This is all stuff I had to buy with my own money and find out on my own through trial and error. Still, you’re going to have to experiment. Whatever time and money you spend, the benefits of proper hygiene far outweigh the costs.
3) Charisma, and attractiveness, have little to do with physical looks.
Charisma and attractiveness are heavily dependent in how you present yourself, which includes your hygiene, how you dress, how you behave, your social skills, and your work ethic/long term planning. For example: Lemmy of Motorhead was ugly, throaty, warty, and he absolutely oozed charisma. Men wanted to be him and women wanted to be with him. Lemmy was also an incredibly nice guy.
The concept of “women only go for assholes” or “the friend zone” is perpetuated by narcissists who thought acts of kindness would magically turn them into giant studs. You gotta know how to talk to people, and how to express interest in someone. And if you’re in the line of duty, knowing how to talk to people and navigate social situations is imperative.
We all know that one guy who uses Dawn dish soap to wash himself. Don’t be that guy. Here are essential body care tips.
One of the biggest products I can recommend to anybody is Witch Hazel. This stuff is the hygiene equivalent of WD-40 in that you can use it for so many different things. For example: it makes for some dang good aftershave. You can also find it virtually everywhere. I get the standard T.N. Dickinson’s brand, though most brands work well.
The next biggest thing I can recommend to everyone is a Fingernail Scrubber. They’re not expensive, hell you can order them for $5 off Amazon. They come in a variety of configurations as well, so you can scrub however you need. Cleaning your fingernails and toenails is important. (How do you know if you need to wash them more? If you’re cutting them and you smell something like cheese.)
Body Wash vs Bar Soap is pretty simple, since each have their own uses. What you’ll need will depend on where you live. If you work out in the Texas humidity like I do, a body wash that really exfoliates the pores is important. This will also help stop acne from appearing due to your sweat. If you live somewhere with dry heat, like Arizona or Nevada, you’ll want a body wash that really hydrates your skin. The best brands for skincare are TreeHut and Shea Moisture. I can pretty safely recommend them all across the board and they’re not terribly expensive. Just do a bit of research on what will best suit your needs.
If you have problems with acne, there are some good options from Cetaphil as well. (Ex: When I was working in pizza places when I was 20, I used Cetaphil so much because of all the grease from work.) There’s also a hidden advantage to body wash, and that is shaving. Regardless of which regions get the razor, a good body wash will make your shaves a lot more comfortable and help prevent razorburn. A good facial scrub will have the same effect for your face, but we’ll get to facial stuff a little further down.
As for Bar soap, the benefits come into play for people who are on a tight budget. Most quality bar soaps are $5 a pop and last a good while. Bar soap is also very good for people who fly a lot, work offshore, are in the military, work private contractor stuff overseas, etc. Again, the Shea Moisture brand linked above has several different kinds of soaps, although I personally prefer to buy bar soap from local beekeepers. The products at honey farms are all organic and healthy, and it helps support beekeepers who do a ton for the local environment. It’s a win-win. My favorite honey farm in Texas sells some dang good bars of soap for $4 a pop, and they ship all over the US.
Body Lotion is another important aspect. Bottles of standard lotion are good things, but a dedicated body lotion really does wonders for your skin. Especially if you have hard water where you live. It’s not a gay thing to moisturize- you don’t want your skin to look like Frosted Flakes. Again, the TreeHut and Shea Moisture brands have some good body lotions.
One of the most overlooked yet most important aspects of field hygiene is Foot Care. While the type of boot or shoe you wear does matter, this is not a gear review. (Though I do have one on a pair of HAIX boots coming down the pipe.) Instead, just gonna focus on ways to wash and care for your feet.
The type of sock you wear is important. A good sock helps prevent sweaty, stinky feet. This article here has some good input. Another important aspect is foot powder. If you play sports, if you’re an athlete, and especially if you’re in the line of duty, foot powder is a miracle. I use the plain Gold Bond brand stuff that you can buy at any CVS.
Airing your feet out is also important. On days that I don’t have work, I walk around the house barefoot and only put socks on when I’m about to head out. A good body lotion can help your feet drastically, especially when you wash in between your toes. A standard lotion to put on after the shower can also work just as well, depending on your circumstances.
Pocket hand sanitizer is also a good thing to carry around if you’re on duty. Using hand sanitizer at places you may be stationed also makes a difference, such as my School Resource Officer gig. (Or, I should say: When I was a School Resource Officer, before the COVID-19 quarantine.) Parents and teachers definitely took notice that I was clean and hygienic. I know several guys who work security for hospitals, and they make sure to hit those hand sanitizer stations regularly when making their rounds. Depending on where you are stationed, the staff there might appreciate seeing you participate in their policies for cleanliness.
Deodorant vs Cologne is a bit different than bar soap vs body wash. Deodorant is essential. Don’t skimp on that shit, because sweat is the biggest problem for BO. I’ve found brands like Arm & Hammer and Old Spice are alright, but it doesn’t last very long. Again, I am the worst case scenario. The stuff I have found to work the best for the line of duty is the Dove brand 48 hour deodorant + antiperspirant.
Cologne is optional, but generally you get what you pay for. I wouldn’t recommend going cheap, and I would implore you to avoid any AXE body spray. But you don’t have to break the bank to look good! If you’re new to the world of cologne, the Dior brand offers a nice variety of options at different price ranges. (Ed. Note Hermés has decent mens offerings as well, and most upscale department stores will gladly help you find the perfect scent)
This next part is going to be a blunt, but it’s important. For whomever needs to hear this: Wash your dick and asshole! It’s not a gay thing… when a woman is going down on you, I guarantee that she doesn’t want to be smelling shit or dick cheese. You gotta scrub everything down there- dick, balls, taint, ass, the whole 9 yards. I make damn sure that my dick is the cleanest part of my body. I also happen to know the infamous Double Dick Dude from Reddit (some people would have an aneurysm if the knew who he really was, aha) and he can make sure everything down there smells clean. Y’all ain’t got no excuses. An easy test for your butt is to take your index and middle finger and touch your asshole in the shower, then smell them. They should smell completely clean. If they don’t, get some soap or body wash on your fingers and scrub your asshole.
This is straightforwards but important, since this is the body part that people will be looking at the most.
Bar soaps can work for your face, but I like a good facial scrub. The one I use is called Morning Burst to wash my face, neck, and behind my ears. It can be found at every cornerstore and pharmacy, as part of a basic bitch line called Clean & Clear. They get the job done and are a good value per dollar. I like them because they really clean out pores, too, which helps me not get acne from all the sweat buildup due to working outdoors.
Lotion is important, you are pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to types and brands. You got Gold Bond, Aveeno, Vaseline, the list goes on and on. You even got avocado lotion, coconut lotion, shea lotion, etc. Witch Hazel is also good for your face, and for the MtFs out there: it’s particularly useful before putting makeup on and after taking makeup off.
This next part is extra important: Always. wear. sunblock. It’s not a macho thing. I’m used to both Texas climate and rain forest climate, maybe been sunburnt 3 times in my entire life, and I still wear sunblock every day. You need to take care of your skin. Now, what works best for you is going to vary. I use an Aveeno brand lotion that’s also got SPF 15 in it, and that gets me for the whole day. I don’t want to say white boys, but: white boys may need something stronger, like SPF 60. You may also need to reapply it throughout the day. I know our more pale staff members go for the highest SPF rating they can get.
Your mouth is an important thing to take care of as well. Chapstick can be very useful. Vaseline on the lips can also help a ton. Nobody wants to lock lips with you if your mouth is dirty, your breath is bad, or your facial hair is greasy.
An often overlooked aspect of facial care is your dental hygiene. Now I am not a dentist, but you’d be surprised how many dudes don’t floss. It’s just as important as brushing. Mouthwash is also important, and there’s no shame in carrying some breath mints, Orbit or Trident gum, etc around with you. I got bad breath, I should probably take up stock in Listerine with how much of their product I buy, but I make sure that people don’t smell anything rank when they interact with me. It’s doubly important in the line of duty, where people love to judge and present stuff you say or do completely out of context.
And perhaps the most overlooked part of facial care: Eye contact! Knowing how and when to maintain eye contact is important. Addressing a crowd vs addressing a person require different kinds of eye contact. An important aspect of self defense and working in the line of duty is knowing how to watch the hands without being creepy or offending someone. Alternatively, what happens when someone gives you a furtive glance or a quick peek? That’s a red flag. So why wouldn’t someone react the same way if you did that to them? Maintaining eye contact and knowing how to observe people is of the utmost importance tactically and socially. (I would implore listening to Chuck Haggard talking about this topic as well, who has a lot of good input.)
Hair probably plays the single biggest role in getting laid. Your hair should look good, smell good, and most importantly it should feel good. See, ladies love to run their hand through your hair. If it’s all greasy or hard from bad product, excessive good product, or not being properly washed it will put a damper on the moment.
I’ve had many different kinds of haircuts; I’ve had hair down to my shoulders, I’ve had a mohawk, I’ve had a high-and-tight, I’ve had a quiff, I’ve had a fade, I’ve had a tomboy, I’ve had a slicked back haircut, I’ve had a ducktail. I understand that hair care is a bit more esoteric due to the multitude of hair types and hair fashions out there. Not to mention the other factors that come into play. I won’t pretend to know what your circumstances are, instead I’m just going to throw out some brands that I have had good luck with.
Again, Shea Moisture is going to be my first recommendation. It’s a brand that I can safely recommend all across the board. It’s particularly good if you got that Ethnic Hair™ like I do.
If you’re on a tight budget, the OGX brand is going to be your new best friend. Now, these people do make body washes and body lotions, but their hair care products are the star of the show. Just click that link to their website and you’ll be blinded by the number of different options. You can also find them all over pharmacies, cornerstores, and supermarkets. And by all over, I mean all over. (Below is a picture of a Walmart pulled from Yelp.) Keep a lookout for their 50% free label bottles, which cost between $5-6.
Another brand that’s good for just a few dollars more than OGX is the Maui Moisture brand. You can also find them all over the shelves of local stores.
On the more expensive side of hair care products, John Paul Mitchell Tea Tree is some good stuff. It’s not some ridiculously expensive amount, but it costs noticeably more. You definitely get what you pay for with this stuff though, and several TKB staff members swear by it. Another brand I have loved is the Mixed Chicks brand hair products. Which, as the name implies, if you’re mixed race like I am it’s specially made for your hair.
Conditioner is just as important as shampoo. A good shampoo washes the scalp without stripping oils out of the hair, a good conditioner washes the hair. But those are not the only options available for your hair. Leave-in Product is very good, particularly if you have curly hair. You can find some at nearly any of the brands I just linked above. Tea tree oil is another good product. Just make sure that whatever you use absorbs into the hair. Ex: Some people say putting lotion in your hair will help it curl, and while that is true, lotion doesn’t absorb into the hair. The result is that your hair will be looking really greasy after just a few days of regularly putting lotion in.
Pocket combs are cheap and useful. I like to comb tea tree oil into my hair when I’m going to be somewhere formal. When I had a mohawk, combing tea tree oil into it was how I took care of it all day every day. If you’re carrying a bag of some sort and have longer hair you may be better served by a hair brush.
You also have several ways to dry your hair.
Dry Shampoo is a spray in product that absorbs oils in the hair. Very useful if you need to leave the house in a hurry, because as the name implies you don’t need to wet your hair to use it. However, it’s not a substitute for actually washing your hair in the shower. If you’re called in last moment to work, such as police or security, this stuff is a godsend.
Towel Drying is another option, and the best for curly hair. My hair is real dark, real thick, and real wavy so I use this method often. Scrunching your hair with a towel really helps the texture. I put leave-in product or use a comb on my hair afterwards when it is still wet. The downside to towel drying is that it takes the longest amount of time.
Blow Drying is another quick option alongside dry shampoo, however heating products are generally frowned upon since they can easily dry out or damage the hair. I wouldn’t recommend blow drying if you have curly hair, but it’s absolutely an option if you have straight hair.
Here’s a tip for anybody looking to grow their hair long: Hairburst. I knew about this product way back when they were just called HairVits and were some company out of a garage in the UK. They’ve since expanded pretty heavily and ship worldwide now. It’s probably the best long term hair solution out there.
Facial Hair Care
Facial hair is like contouring for men. The right style and grooming of facial hair can really accentuate your features. Like when I say that Jason Statham has perfect hair? Sure he is bald, but he has literally perfected the stubble beard. Jason Statham is a pinnacle example of how to be both very stylish and very masculine.
I’m going to start with shaving advice and then get to grooming advice for growing your hair out.
As I’ve already mentioned: I am in the line of duty, which means I need to shave regularly to stay within uniform requirements/regulations. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of time to shave before I go into work. On those occasions, I use green label shaving cream. The green label stuff has aloe in it, so it doesn’t irritate or dry out the skin. But shaving cream won’t hydrate or soften the skin either. It’s for a quick shave. When I have the time, I use a proper shaving soap.
There is no substitute for a wet shave using a proper razor blade and shaving soap. There isn’t really a standard soap, blade, or method I can recommend however… It will depend on your skin and your hair and your genetics, so you’ll need to do a bit of research. Fortunately, with the magic of the internet, there are plenty of resources available to you. Here is a basic 101 of wet shaves. Here is a basic 101 of the puck method for shaving soap. Here is a basic 101 of the bowl method for shaving soap.
As for the actual shaving, I would NOT recommend you use long, straight strokes. Instead, use short, gentle, diagonal strokes. This will really help get as close and comfortable a shave as you possibly can. Doing this with a wet shave is a world of difference. I don’t normally bring this up, but I happen to be on the autism spectrum. The sensation of a proper wet shave doesn’t bother me at all, and I can recommend this to other dudes with high-functioning autism.
Another thing I recommend is using Witch Hazel as aftershave. This, combined with the shaving method above, will really help stop 5 o’clock shadow. (A good tip for MtFs out there, as well.) Witch Hazel is also good for any shaving cuts, as demonstrated in the video linked. Also, I generally prefer Witch Hazel since it doesn’t have a scent to it. I personally would rather smell clean than smell like any kind of aftershave or cologne. As mentioned above, I am on the autism spectrum and thus I dislike the smell of most colognes and aftershaves. If you or a family member or a roommate happens to be on the autism spectrum, this is something to consider.
For growing your facial hair out, there are several things you’ll want to take into consideration. For starters, how to trim your hair as it’s growing out. This is important, as it will shape and texture your hair. You’ll want to invest in some scissors for nose hairs and cleaning up hair, too.
Another thing you’re going to want to invest in is a proper mustache wax. Trimming and waxing your hair as it grows out will shape it, so that it begins growing into that naturally. I prefer to buy from local businesses, there an excellent one here in Texas called Bearded Bastard. I use their Woodsman Wax for my mustache.
Now, something you don’t need to do but will certainly help is watching your diet. If you get more black coffee and olive oil in your diet, as well as the kind of peanut butter that you have to mix the oil in before you eat it, that will really help your facial hair grow healthily. Exercise and especially lifting also helps, because it boosts testosterone. While genetics may have the biggest role in how you grow facial hair, an increase in testosterone will help and it will provide tangible benefits elsewhere.
I don’t have the genetics to grow a full beard, the most I can do is a patchy Keanu Reeves beard. But I can cough and have a goatee appear. I didn’t wax it in that picture, so it’s going a bit billygoat mode, but it grows into that naturally since I constantly trimmed and waxed it while I was growing it out. (And yes, there is nearly a 6 year age difference between this pic and mohawk one. I am very much in the same boat as Keanu Reeves for aging.)
Some advice that I would give for dudes new to growing out facial hair: I would recommend mutton chops before I recommend growing a full on beard. The mutton chops can be styled a number of different ways and they go with so many looks. It also takes less time to grow. Can learn the best ways to trim it, clean up the edges, etc without much investment.
Other things I recommend for the quarantine
Normally this would be the part where I say I am supporting charity, but for the COVID-19 pandemic I’m going to recommend other things. For the police and security out there, 221b Tactical makes a MAXX-DRI vest that you wear under your body armor. This makes for more ventilation and it helps kevlar last longer since it’s not in direct contact with your perspiration and body. My friend Tommy of FreeFieldTraining also made a video on ways to clean and sanitize your duty belt and gear.
As I have covered many times over, I am not military and I never will be. So, an editor with military experience is going to take over and post some advice here:
Lastly, it’s important to cover actual hygiene in the field, for if the worst case were to happen and you are stuck innawoods for an extended period of time.
Baby wipes are your friend. Anyone and everyone should have a at least a pouch of them in their bag. Camp soap is also an option, but is not nearly as convenient. That being said, there are several key areas to cover for field hygiene, best remembered by this boot camp ditty, FATBUG.
F– Face. Naturally important to keep clean
A– Armpits. Of course these get nasty and should be cleaned
T- Thighs. If you’re spending a lot of time hiking there’s a lot of friction here
B-Buttocks. Swamp ass is nasty and chafing is an issue
U-Under the breast. (More of an issue for women and fatties but sweat can build up here)
G– Groin. Same as buttocks. lots of chafing and honestly it’s gross as fuck if you aren’t washing your junk.
Make sure you do your best to keep your clothing clean and wash it if you can. And the information above about taking care of your feet is even more important in a worst-case scenario.