Male Grooming Advice for Firefighters – How to avoid getting all hot under the collar!

The image of a fireman as a macho, tough and fearless man is one we are all familiar with. Despite the fact that the nature of the job is often dangerous and very serious this doesn’t mean that male firefighters aren’t interested in their physical appearance. Over the past 15 years there has been a massive cultural shift in attitudes towards male grooming. Prior to this the thought of a man with a ‘skincare routine’ would have led to much sniggering and speculation about his sexual orientation but thankfully times have changed. It used to be cool for men not to care about how they looked and a ‘real’ man certainly didn’t use moisturiser!

Breaking news: there is nothing macho about sun burn and using a moisturiser doesn’t make you less of a man. So a ‘real’ man should grin and bear it: sun burn, dry skin, spots, chapped lips and razor burn? I say, no way! The statistics show that the amount men are spending on male grooming products (i.e. lotions and potions for the hair, face and body) has increased dramatically since the late 1990’s.

From Caveman to new man:

Unless you’ve been living in a cave since 1989 (if you have been I hope it’s not too draughty!) you can’t have failed to notice that in this age of media saturation we are constantly bombarded with images idealised male perfection. Now you know how women feel! Muscular, hairless and tanned models with rock hard six packs stare out at us from the covers of fitness magazines, sports stars model underwear on giant billboards, on screen we see shirtless movie stars with bulging muscles and reality TV stars that have Botox, their chests waxed and eyebrows plucked!

So where does that leave the ordinary man on the street who simply wants to improve the way he looks but doesn’t have a stylist, a nutritionist, a personal trainer and millions in the bank? I believe that taking care of yourself and making the most of your appearance is not just reserved for pop stars and male models. Every man regardless of their age or income bracket deserves to look and feel great.

First impressions:

People shouldn’t judge by appearance but they do, you do, we all do! When you look in the mirror how do you feel about what you see? Is there room for improvement? Would you like clearer skin, less spots and to deal with your shaving rash? If so then read on! You may never be on the cover of Men’s Health magazine (sob!) or a gorgeous sex symbol (double sob) but here’s the good news…

“I’ve noticed that these days younger guys in the fire service are more interested in male grooming because they are more aware of the adverse effects of not taking care of your skin. They also are more fashion conscious.”

Tony Formela, Firefighter

There is only one you! You are unique so the aim of this article is to offer TEN TOP TIPS to help make the very best of yourself without it taking lots of time or money.

1. Use a face wash

Wash your face with gentle, foaming face wash twice a day (morning and evening) and you’ll see a marked improvement in the condition of
your skin in no time at all. Effectively cleansing your skin is essential for any guy who wants to look good. Keeping your face clean is the cornerstone of any grooming routine. As your face is the part of you that is most on show it therefore makes sense to look after it. Rather than wait for spots to appear before taking action, using a good quality face wash is an effective, pro-active approach to keeping blemishes at bay and also helps to give your complexion a fresh, healthy glow. Getting into the habit of cleaning your face twice a day, EVERY day (morning and evening) is not only amazing for your looks but can be really enjoyable too!

2. Use a face scrub

What is a face scrub? A face scrub is a lotion that contains small ‘bits’ that when applied to the skin in a gentle, circular motion (avoiding the fragile under eye area) helps to remove dead skin cells, smooth the surface of the skin and helps prevent ingrown hairs from developing. Use a walnut- sized amount of face scrub divide this amount between your nose, cheeks, chin, fore-ahead, neck and if you’re feeling adventurous the BACK of your neck too! Remember: you’re not sanding floor boards so go easy on the pressure. Your skin is delicate so please respect it especially if you’ve got blemished skin. Always wash
your face first and never use just after a close shave as doing this may seriously aggravate your skin. Using a face scrub three times a week will make your skin look amazing!

3. Use a moisturiser

A moisturiser will help hydrate and ‘plump’ the skin helping you to
look gorgeous. Apart from washing your face the other vital tool in your skincare toolbox is using a good quality moisturiser. A well moisturised face can make you look healthy and sexier! In a nut shell a moisturiser is designed to make the external layers of the skin softer and more pliable by increasing hydration (water content) by reducing evaporation therefore acting as a protective barrier especially after shaving. Your face is the part of your body most exposed to the elements therefore it needs a helping help to keep hydrated and protected.

4. Don’t pick/squeeze spots and stop touching your face

We all know that if you have a whitehead on your face then the temptation to squeeze it is really strong. Not only does a ‘ripe’ spot look unpleasant it can also feel painful. As much as possible don’t squeeze it as it can infect the blemish further and may lead to scarring and as much as possible try to avoid touching/fiddling or playing with your spot(s) as bacteria or dirt on your fingers can transfer onto your face and make things much worse so keep fingers/hands really clean.

5. Sauna/Steam rooms for a skin treat

A great way to look after your skin is to have a sauna (dry heat) or spend some time chillaxing in a steam room (wet heat). The heat will open your pores and release toxins which is really beneficial to your complexion especially if you have blemish-prone skin. Most gyms/sports centres have a steam room or sauna so why not pop in once a week for a few minutes. Ideally have a quick shower after your workout and wash your face a mild, foaming face-wash before your ‘steamy’ session and splash with cold water afterwards, pat your face dry with a clean towel, apply a small amount of moisturiser and drink lots of bottled water to rehydrate your body. Not only is this a great way of perking up your complexion and increasing circulation it’s a really effective stress-buster.

6. Use a clay face pack

What is a face pack? It’s a cream/lotion that you put on your face and leave until it dries. When it ‘hardens’ you rinse
it off. One of my favourite things to do is to apply a face pack. I’m out of control, I know! This is particularly effective if you have oily skin as it is a fantastic way of drawing out impurities, tightening open pores and deep cleansing your face. To avoid confusion: a face-pack and face- mask are the same thing. Splash your face with warm water, spread a small amount on your forehead, cheeks, nose, chin and neck (and back of neck) and leave for a just a minute or two. Then dampen face with warm water to loosen the clay mask before removing with a clean flannel or sponge. Splash face with cold water and pat face dry with
a clean towel. Do this once or twice a week and see how gorgeous you look!

7. Don’t neglect your hands

Apart from the face your hands are the area of your body that are most exposed to the elements and the vast majority of blokes completely neglect them. Your hands are one of the first things people notice
and the state of your hands (and nails) says a lot about you. Rough, dry and cracked hands with dirty, untrimmed fingernails look terrible. Few things create a worse first impression than dirty, untidy or bitten fingernails. Not only do chewed fingernails look terrible it can also lead to nail infections. Here’s my top tip for guys who bite their nails: STOP immediately!!! Also, avoid using overly harsh hand-wash, washing-up liquid or chemicals that may irritate and dry the delicate skin on your hands. Protect them with rubber gloves or barrier cream. When I finish applying moisturiser (with sunscreen in it) to my face I’ll add some to my hands even in winter as this helps to protect them from the damaging UV light keeping your hands looking younger for longer. Use a good quality hand-cream after you wash your hands. Carry some hand lotion in your bag so you’re not caught out. Dry, flaky hands can be very uncomfortable. Before you go to sleep apply some moisturiser. Keep your fingernails clean by using a nail brush or pointed nail file after showering (when your nails are
soft) and trim them regularly using curved nail clippers and file off
any rough edges using a nail file or emery board. For a professional result why not visit your local beauty salon for a manicure. These days it’s increasingly popular for men to have their nails pampered. It’s not called a man-i-cure for nothing!

8. Feet: Look after them!

Guys, have you ever noticed those things dangling at the ends of your legs? They’re called feet and it’s a good idea to look after them especially during the summer months when they are on display. It’s incredibly off-putting to see dirty toe-nails and yellowy hard, dry skin. So keep your feet clean! Bacteria and fungus just love damp, dark and warm places. It’s bacteria
that causes the cheesy ‘pong’ so don’t provide them with their ideal environment. Wash your feet daily (especially after exercise) and take spare socks to work and the gym. Change your socks regularly. Your feet are often stuffed into tight spaces for hours at a time gasping for air, so occasionally take your shoes off (when appropriate!) to let them ‘breathe’. Dry feet thoroughly (especially in between the toes) with a clean towel after showering. Use some foot scrub, pumice stone or metal foot file to keep dead skin build-up at bay. For a extra thorough feet treat book a pedicure at your local beauty salon! More and more guys are now having treatments like this so there’s no need to feel embarrassed or self- conscious about going along.

9. Nasal hair

Have you ever been talking to friend or family member and rather than listening to what they say all you can see is their dangling nasal hair? It’s a little off-putting isn’t it? I have often been transfixed by a dangly growth of nose fuzz protruding from someone’s nostril area. We all have nasal hair but some seem blokes seem to be cultivating it for a charitable cause: Nasal Hair Aid! In my humble opinion nasal hair should remain in the nostrils and stay out of sight. In the same way you clip your garden hedge there is an effective way of keeping nasal hair at bay so you don’t frighten pets or small children: a nasal hair trimmer! So if nasal hair really gets up your nose go and get buy a nasal hair trimmer today! They usually cost under £10 from Argos.

10. Lifestyle: nutrition, stress and sleep

No conversation about male grooming would be complete without looking at the bigger picture. As well great skincare, what you eat, drink and your lifestyle will greatly affect how you look and more importantly how you feel. My number one tip male grooming is to drink more water. Most guys don’t drink enough. From the firefighters I’ve spoken to, dehydration is one of the major challenges they face. Not only will increasing the amount of good quality water (I prefer filtered or bottled water) that you consume greatly improve your complexion but can significantly improve your concentration and energy levels. Aim for at least 2 litres a day. Keeping a bottle of water on you at ALL TIMES (where appropriate) will make you more likely to drink it, so sip regularly throughout the day as it’s really important to keep hydrated between ‘incidents.’

“Working in hot conditions, exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals, stress, shift work as well smoke inhalation can contribute towards prematurely ageing your skin.”

Tony Formela, Firefighter

Products, naturally…

I have literally tried dozens of products over the years but I’ve had the best results with products without preservatives or artificial ingredients. I particularly like the Bulldog skin care range as all products are less than £10.

Bulldog face-wash

This foaming face-wash is a must have for all guys who want to look after their complexions. It has a fresh, light fragrance and is kind to the skin as it thoroughly cleanses the skin without drying it out.

Bulldog face-scrub

A face-scrub helps to remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and it ideal to use prior to shaving. The small ‘bits’ contained in this product gently exfoliate your skin leaving it looking fresh and healthy.

Bulldog products are fantastic if you’re new to male grooming as they are inexpensive but really effective. They also do a great daytime moisturiser as well as shave and shower gel. The whole range is made without harsh chemicals and is therefore gentle on the skin.

Available in most major supermarkets.

Conclusion

Maybe you’re effortlessly gorgeous and look ‘magazine cover ready’ the moment you wake up! If so then lucky you but for us mere mortals we need a bit of help. If your routine is simply brushing your teeth twice a day to then suddenly jump into using moisturiser, face scrubs and face packs might be too much. My routine has evolved over 25 years. Start with small actions then build over time. Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours a day to devote to taking care of your looks I hope these tips help you.

The Beckham Factor… he’s got balls!

Thank god for David Beckham! He is comfortable showing that he cares about his appearance and takes pride in his looks. He has inspired lots of men to embrace ‘manity’ (male vanity!). Even Wayne Rooney has had hair restoration
surgery!

As much as the stigma of men looking after themselves has radically changed there is still room for improvement so stop putting up with feeling unhappy about your looks! A small effort with minimal expense can not only improve your looks but can reduce stress and improve your self-esteem.

Take care, have fun and may the moisturiser be with you! Tristan 🙂