Pool prep: A guy’s guide to manscaping, swimwear and more

05/17/2014 3:29 PM

05/18/2014 6:34 AM

So much awkwardness can be on display at the pool or the beach. There’s the innocent, most common faux pas: the guy carrying a bath towel, wearing his athletic shoes – but seemingly aware that he is near a body of water evidenced by his swim trunks. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got an offensive category of swimwear. Remember Borat?

With Memorial Day coming up, it’s time to start getting ready for pool season – and that doesn’t just mean adding extra weight at the gym. We’re talking manscaping, sun care and finding a good-fitting suit and towel of your own (so you don’t unfurl your wife’s to discover a bunch of florals and polka dots).

Manscaping

“Nobody likes a forest,” said Diana Schmidtke, a Los Angeles-based men’s grooming expert who has worked with a number of celebrities.

Schmidtke (www.dianaschmidtke.com) is a champion for the average guy and knows that most men aren’t going to wax away their body hair.

“I’m not saying you’ve got to do complete hair removal, but trim down,” she said, suggesting men use grooming tools on the chest and armpit areas.

Plus, less hair equals less sweat.

Hair care

The ocean’s saltwater and the pool’s chlorine will dry out your hair quickly. For men with lighter hair, the chlorine also can leave a green tint.

Using a leave-in conditioner will create a barrier of protection between your locks and the saltwater or chlorine, said Schmidtke.

“If you’re going to throw one more thing in your beach bag, it might as well be a conditioner,” she said, adding that it’s important to rinse your hair when you get out of the water.

Sunscreen

Steer clear of sunscreens that contain words like “shimmer” in the description. That’s a code word for glittery and girly smelling.

Gerilyn Manago, Men’s Health fashion editor, recommends Jack Black Sun Guard Sunscreen with SPF 45 as an oil-free sunscreen that doesn’t have a strong scent (www.getjackblack.com).

For the face, she said Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen is great option, and recommends it for guys who are bald or balding to place on their heads because the formula absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave you shiny.

A common sunscreen mistake?

“Shaving right before you go to the beach or pool,” Manago said. “Some sunscreen ingredients can irritate your skin. So, if you’re wondering whether or not to get rid of your stubble, leave it for now and shave it when you get home.”

When you’re out in the sun, remember to re-apply every two hours even on overcast days, as the UV rays can still reach you.

And don’t forget to apply sunscreen on commonly overlooked spots like your ears, neck and lips, she said. For lips, Manago suggested trying a lip balm with SPF, such as Jack Black Intense Lip Balm in Natural Mint.

Footwear

For warmer months, guys can trade out their chukkas and winter boots for boat shoes, sandals and slip-on sneakers, Manago said. She lends these fashion editor picks:

• Converse X John Varvatos Laceless Chuck Taylors have the signature Converse Chuck Taylor Vintage Slip with wax-coated canvas upper, rubber outsole, pinstripe lining and a laceless design.
• Swims’ Sport Loafers have a mesh upper that is breathable and a rubber sole that is water-resistant. Plus, Manago says, it will keep the guy in style whether on the sand or on the boardwalk.
• Fabric Thong Flip Flops add a pop of color, becoming an easy way to upgrade your look for spring or summer.

Towel

Look for one that is generous in size. Beach towels are usually at least a foot longer than bath towels. The other main difference between bath and beach towels is that towels made for the beach or pool tend to be thinner so they can dry more quickly in the sun.

Yes, there are “Duck Dynasty” and superhero towels. But we recommend keeping it simple with a solid color or simple pattern such as stripes. Target has collegiate, NCAA-licensed towels that will show off your school spirit if you really want to go with a graphic.

Swim trunks

Shorter inseams are picking up in popularity this summer, as well as swimwear that can double as casual weekend shorts, said Keith Brown, president of State Traditions (www.statetraditions.com), which will be launching a swim line.

The State Traditions line combines classic and current with a subtle embroidered state and country imagery to lend a custom feel to the line.

When shopping for swimsuit, finding the right fit is most important.

“Regardless of your tastes in colors or patterns, if it doesn’t fit right, it won’t feel right,” Brown said. “Make sure you can stay active, but the fit doesn’t need to be oversized.”

Another shopping tip?

Find a color that’s not in your normal rotation of spring and summer shorts, Brown says. If your rotation, for example, is dominated by khaki, gray or white, opt instead for a red, yellow or stone pair.

“It doesn’t have to be wild or wildly different,” he said. “But the variety in your wardrobe will keep you wanting to put them on and hit the water.”

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