September 13th, 2009
“The Frisky”, a Turner-run equivalent to this site for women, has recently posted an article simply entitled “10 Things Women Don’t Understand About Men“, in which they ask some really ridiculous questions about men’s behavior. That being said, obviously, such an opportunity will not go ignored here- so here are the answers for The Frisky’s “10 Things Women Don’t Understand About Men“.
1. What is so hard about asking for directions?
It’s all ego and a little bit of wanderlust. The predominant theme, of course, is the ego- and in a general sense, the desire to fix something for oneself. Men typically are acculturated (at least in the west) to be as little interdependent as possible, which is precisely why the problem of “we’re lost” is generally fixed by the thought of “I’ll find a way out by myself”. As well, most guys have a kind of passive desire to discover things for themselves, as opposed to following directions- meaning, in essence, that it’s more “fun” to see the inner mechanisms yourself than to have someone explain it to you in detail.
2. Why do you need a gadget to unlock your car door?
I’m not sure why (stereotypical) women pretend like they don’t have their own gadgetry to fool around with- like vibrating mascara brushes (yes, that does sound dirty) and the like. In general, men like gadgets because they represent the new and the strange- and a lot of guys like the status bonus of having the latest and greatest stuff. As ironic as it may be, this is the exact reason why many self-important “businessmen” once ran around with pagers strapped to their belts- it had nothing to do with convenience as much as it had to do with the ambiance it perceptibly gave them.
3. What is it about “Star Wars”?
“Star Wars” is famous because it is generally accepted to be a really good genre-defining movie. “Star Wars” isn’t what we would consider some sort of tear-jerking masterpiece of writing, but what it does is evokes a sense of fun that only the Sci-Fi genre can. Similarly, movie series like the “Indiana Jones” series do this well not because of the complexity of the story, but because, in a kind of “Flash Gordon” sort of way, we get a kick out of the simplicity and action. Many guys will argue there’s a lot of depth to “Star Wars”- that may or may not be true, but it seems to mainly boil back down to the idea of the genre being fun for the sake of fun.
4. And the “bro hug”? Hug it out or don’t hug it out, you know?
As I’ll also note below, men do not like to touch each other, mainly because inter-male affection is frowned upon in most Western societies. In India and many other countries, this is very different- but you get what your culture has borne, and in this case, it’s a strong sense of personal space between members of the male sex. Would you much rather have us holding hands and hugging affectionately (as happens in the streets of India much more than it does between members of the opposite sex)? I think not.
5. When you keep one seat between you and your buddy at the movies, are you saving room for the holy spirit or what?
See the above. It also happens to give us more leg room and more arm room, which is ultimately more comfortable. If you ever take the time to look, most men sit fairly spread out, which is often cited as an attempt to be dominant and mark space. Females, trained to be relatively compact (both possibly as a sign of submission and also as a way to prevent showing panties in a skirt), do not do this.
6. Why are you so hung up on the bitchy girls?
Why are you so hung up on bitchy guys? The answer is simple: no-one likes problematic people, regardless of gender.
7. If you want to break up with us, why don’t you say so?
I’m not entirely sure where this question comes from (smacks of some angry female author making an article about an ex-boyfriend or something), but the general answer to this is just as complex as with girls: a lot of reasons. Some guys like the sex. Some don’t know how to safely break it off. Some don’t know if they want to break it off themselves. It’s always different and very hard to describe, and very dependent on the situation at hand.
8. Forget about putting the seat down, why don’t you ever change the toilet paper roll?
What kind of silly question is this? Guys are different. I have a good few male friends who actually get so semantic that they debate which way the toilet paper should be hung. If we’re making grandiose stereotypes, allow me to continue with them: we do it because the ever-present debate of toilet paper hanging has yet to be remedied.
9. Why do you ask for our number if you have no intention of calling?
There’s an insane amount of stigma attached to calling a girl, which some guys balk at. Additionally, some guys (myself included, at times) do not understand the proper protocol for certain number-givings. Merely deciding to call is hard enough- if you were vague in any way (or made appearances of being reluctant to give the number), often a guy will read that as a subtle sign and merely not call. In other cases, if you gave the number in a casual situation (i.e. in the sense of a club or meeting or business sort of thing), many guys will not call because they think it falls into the “box” of the aforementioned group, and that it would be rude to call. Even if they do decide to call and want to call, there is something rather intimidating about calling out of the blue for a date- try cold calling a male friend sometime.
10. Seriously, do you not smell that?
There’s actually some validity to the idea that men smell differently than women- but hey, let’s presume that we both do in a similar way. Pending that everything else is equal, everyone (regardless of gender, age, etc) has a very hard time smelling their own body odors after a while, mainly because they acclimate to the smell. Because of that, you too probably smell in some respects, no matter how much cleanser and perfume you may be wearing.
June 19th, 2009
Grooming is something of a funny topic for most heterosexual guys. On one hand, society frowns upon unwashed men who refuse to keep themselves clean and neat- and, at some sort of arbitrary line, critiques men who overdo it. This strange binary of normalcy-versus-”metrosexuality” is often a point of stress for most men trying to look better- and, as a result, I get a lot of e-mails on the topic. So, to allay fears and answer a whole lot of questions in one fell swoop, here you have it- a definitive guide on grooming.
Part 1: General Grooming
Obviously, the number one thing you need to do to keep your skin and body in general clean and healthy is to take good, cleansing showers. Unlike what most will indicate to you, the average man has very little use for expensive bath soaps or extensive scrubs- many of the things you find at a grocery store will be just as good, cheaper, and generally easier to use. If you can, begin your shower by shampooing your hair, then work your way down with a body scrub- this way, gravity pulls the dirt down, and thus you don’t end up messing up anything you cleaned before. Additionally, if you can stand it, start with warm water and end with cold water- the former opens up pores and brings blood to your skin, the latter closes your pores and forces the blood back to your organs, theoretically improving circulation.
A warning- yes, you can overdo showers. As a general rule, unless in a special situation, no more than two a day- and even then, consider forgoing extensive shampooing, unless you must. Excessive showering can dry your skin out and leave your hair lifeless- it takes away the natural oils you need.
Shaving is best done immediately after a shower, or at least soon after, when your facial hair is still relatively soft and moisturized by the shower itself.
Begin by rubbing warm water on your face where you plan to shave. Grab your shaving lotion and apply- don’t do too much, especially with gel-style shaving cream, which often is best applied rather lightly. As best you can, take a clean razor and follow the “grain” (direction) of your facial hair, which will not only help prevent cutting yourself, but also provide a much more satisfying, closer shave. Afterwords, rinse your face and the razor, dry the razor (pending it’s a disposable- this helps them last longer- avoid tapping them on the side of the sink, it can screw up the blades), and then dry your face off with a clean towel.
There are many different things you can use during or after a shave that supposedly helps- balms, aftershave, electric razors, you name it- so feel free to give them a shot. Many people have different types of facial hair (many men have incredibly coarse hair, some have very fine hair), so a lot of finding your “ideal shave” will be trial and error and personal preference.
This is a rather hot-debated topic.
Here’s the gist: do not, under any circumstances, shave your entire body bald. For some reason, there is a ridiculous presumption towards this trend that spawns (in my opinion) largely from a desire for women to do the very same thing- but avoid the temptation. Most women I have talked to on the subject generally agree that some body hair is attractive and normal- it’s body hair in excess that is really bothersome.
If you do decide to manage body hair, get yourself an electric razor with a guard or otherwise trim the hair in a way that maintains the hair, but keeps it light. As many will tell you regarding pubic hair, “trim, not shave”- a particular rule I feel applies to almost anywhere on the body. It is entirely appropriate to, within reason, lightly trim down scraggly leg hairs or body hairs, and obviously the pubic region should be trimmed both for sanitation and aesthetics.
The only exception to the above rules is when you have a “rug” of back or chest hair. If you somehow manage to look like Tom Selleck in Magnum, PI, you have a problem. Wax it or shave it.
Fingernails and Toenails
Most men forget about these. Do not do so.
Within reason, one should have as manicured fingernails and toenails as possible. Dirty fingernails make you look unkempt and dirty, and generally signal overall nastiness. At least every week, clip your fingernails and toenails, and keep them short and rounded- do NOT, under any circumstances, square them off or otherwise “decorate” them. Push back the cuticles, but avoid cutting them unless you know how- you can easily develop an infection.
Manicures are acceptable only if polish is not used. Get one if you must before an excessively formal function or something. Or, even better, learn how to just keep your fingernails nice and tidy at home and avoid the charge altogether. The best way to achieve this is soaking your fingers in hot water, clipping them, applying some sort of cuticle lotion (or, more reasonably, olive oil), pushing back your cuticles gently, and cleaning them off and removing any dead skin. You can, of course, do the same for your toes, pending you want to put forward the effort.
I hate to admit this, but the new Axe commercials are accurate: Women do not like men with “crunchy” or over processed hair.
If you have short hair, and choose to use product, prefer waxes (or perhaps pomades) over gels. Gel, which had something of popularity back in the early ’00s and late ’90s, has a bad habit of making hair “clumpy” and hard- something entirely unattractive in an increasingly natural hair world. Whatever you use, use it lightly, applying through your hair (back-to-front) to allow for an even look. If you’re confused or otherwise need help, ask your hairdresser- often, they will be able to tell you what works for your hair best.
If you have long hair,the key is to keep it clean- which may require conditioner or other products. If you have to use them, use them- messy long hair is absolutely horrible.
Part 2: The Extras
We’ve covered this, so I won’t go into excessive detail, but just keep the main idea in mind: do not go overboard. Cologne should be a nice little secret that women smell when very close to you in a very brief whiff, not an oppressive cloud that dominates the olifactory system of everyone who gets within twenty feet of you. Also remember to pair your cologne with whatever deodorant you are wearing (or ideally, wear a scentless deodorant)- don’t conflict people with smells.
Yes, you can use these and maintain your masculinity. Hell, PDiddy made money off of hawking Proactive and talking about his acne, you really can’t be faulted for maintaining your own. Facial scrubs keep acne and various oils at bay, make your skin look healthier, and are ridiculously easy to use- there’s no reason to pass them up.
Facial scrubs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and prices, but don’t obsess over them- just find something cheap and efficient and use it. Most facial scrubs are rather harsh, so do not use them more than once every two days, lest you dry out your skin and tear it up excessively.
Use it as much as you please. Just don’t use lip gloss or anything silly like that.
Teeth Whitening Products
These are incredibly expensive, but invaluable for those who drink copious amounts of tea, soda, or coffee. Crest Whitestrips seem to be the common tool for such ends, but many other options work well. In addition, many teeth whitening toothpastes exist that will help you keep your teeth relatively white and clean- feel free to check them out. If teeth whitening is really an issue, consider going to a dentist and having an actual whitening procedure done.
DO NOT USE. Do not become an orange Oompa-loompa. They do not work. Get a real tan.
DO NOT USE unless absolutely necessary.
February 22nd, 2009
Many men find choosing the right cologne to be an intimidating and overwhelming task. If you’re new to it, no doubt you have some feelings of confusion and stress; even those with experience must navigate the new scents and new challenge each season brings. With these 10 key points, including the help of a professional beauty advisor, WellCultured.com has the advice you need.
Have an idea in your mind of what kind of impression you want to give off. Your scent should reflect your personality, first and foremost; if you’re a rugged outdoorsy type, you probably wouldn’t fare so well with a light floral.
#2. Night vs. Day
Having one single scent to carry you through your day is perfectly fine. But on important nights like when you have a date, it’s good to switch things up; would you wear the same clothes on a nice date as you wore earlier that day to school or work? No. A day scent should be lighter and understated whereas a night scent should be a bit sexier and dark.
Winter, spring, summer and fall all are linked to different sorts of scents. Sure, there are some you can wear year-round, but it’s sometimes best to just give in and have colognes designated for different times so they complement the weather better.
Winter – dark, heavy, musk
Spring* - clean, floral, green
Summer – citrus, fresh, water
Fall – oriental, woodsy, spicy
*=Use the spring months to experiment a little; the transition between the cold and the hot make it more acceptable for funkier fragrances.
#4. Plan your spray
Everyone has their own natural smell as it is. When choosing a cologne, keep in mind not only that, but the way your body smell mixes with your deodorant, soap, hair products, everything. Ultimately, it’s the way you smell with all of those combined that you’re basing your cologne to work with. Needless to say, if you switch hygiene products, be sure to test your cologne out on your updated odor.
#5. Try the scent on your skin
Fragrance ads in magazines show what their product smells like against paper, not you. Department stores, such as Macy’s, have counters that allow you to test products out for free, so take advantage of the opportunity. When first starting out, it’s helpful to bring along someone with experience in buying fragrances, or just someone whose general judgment you trust and value; be careful not to ask the salesperson for their opinion, since most of them work on commission.
When you think you’ve found a scent you like, it’s sometimes hard facing the price tag. That’s why samples are so wonderful. Not only are they extremely affordable, but the small size allows you to try them out without making a full commitment. Discount department stores, such as Target, commonly offer good selections of samples.
#7. Where to spray
According to Theresa, Sephora.com beauty advisor, apply 2-3 sprays to your pulse points. The major points are your neck, the back of your knees, your elbows, your wrists, and your stomach. “Men tend to spray only above the belt area,” she says. “The thing is, the places on your body that create the most heat will give off the most of the smell, so feel free to go all the way to your feet.”
#8. How you apply is everything
So you’ve gone out and tested out different colognes and have found one you love. You bought it. You know where on your body to apply it, but how? Depending on your personal preference, application process will vary man-by-man. Some men who are looking for a lighter impression may choose to spray the air and walk through it, whereas men wanting a lasting fragrance would need an alternative in order to make more of a statement.
Spray. Do not rub. I repeat: DO NOT RUB. “One common mistake is to press the wrists together after spraying on a scent,” warns Theresa. “This actually ‘crushes the bouquet’ of your fragrance, altering the scent, though it may intensify it initially. There is no need to do this and for the truest sense of your scent, just let the wrists dry naturally.”
Another thing to keep in mind is to spray directly on your skin, not your clothing. The alcohol comes into play in this, due to it possibly eating away at the clothing, as does the fact that your shirt has a faint smell of detergent that will affect your overall odor.
The first sprays should be in the morning, but don’t forget to reapply it about 8 hours later in order to stay fresh.
#9. What type of scent to get
Perfume is the most intense form of fragrance at 15%-30% fragrance compound, followed by eau de parfum at 8%-15%, eau de toilette at 4%-8%, and eau de cologne at 2%-5%. The more fragrance oils, the longer the scent will last.
Some men even enjoy having an after-shave from the same line as their perfume. After-shave calms the skin after shaving and leaves the scent there in an understated way. Though not all retailers, offer after-shave for all their fragrances, some do, so be sure to take advantage when possible.
#10. Don’t let the cost scare you
If you’re going for quality colognes, you’re probably facing anywhere from $45-$100. Initially it may seem like a high price, but keep in mind how long it will take you to go through a whole bottle (roughly a year, if applying multiple times daily). There’s also the alcohol content and the fact that alcohol will allow you to have the same scent for a few years. My grandmother has had Chanel No. 5 since the early 1970s and it still smells almost as good as new bottles!
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