Why is there the phrase “knickers in a knot” but not “boxers in a bunch”? This April in Singapore, the hottest day of the year was recorded at 35.9°C. The worst to me? It was only April. Coupled with the average humidity level of 84 per cent, and sparingly light winds if Mother Nature had mercy, you wouldn’t be able to imagine what our crotches feel like most of the time.
One Tuesday a couple weeks back in May, after an early morning game of basketball with the boys, we sat by the sidelines. While beads of perspiration gathered up and trickled past furrowed brows, we broached the unlikely topic of underwear. Now, as straight men, our conversations are unintentionally skin deep: that “work is relentless”, that someone “tried this omakase place”, that something is “ridiculous in this bear economy...” That morning, though, we debated singularly on the relevance of underwear amid climate change and the perpetual Singaporean summer. Considerations around protection, support, a sense of security and propriety were pit against concerns such as comfort, ventilation, odour, and even confidence.
What felt like nine sweltering minutes went by before the group dispersed into the shower cubicles. Our crotches had been exactly like sweat-drenched, heat-radiating boxers in a bunch.
Though I am not overzealous about free balling, I contemplate it from time to time to cope with the dreaded double whammy of heat and humidity here. For some, freeballing in summer has the same energy as attending a fancy party with minimal make-up—it is about comfort, confidence and a touch of fabulous. Yet, for others like me, it may not be so much a flex as it is pragmatic. Combining the opinions of those around me and on Reddit, it seems reduced perspiration, a lower chance of bacteria growth and odour, and better ventilation are compelling reasons cited by men when asked why they might free ball.
Regardless of motivation, going commando in public, akin to rocking up bare-faced to a soirée, is a ballsy move. My advice as an aesthetics doctor is to invest in some self-care.
At the core of comfort and confidence is self-care. Thankfully, skincare and grooming have burst through the seams of the feminine realm, slowly seeping into the daily lives of men, queer or not. Those who are not yet on board may see skincare regimes as means to achieving the pretty Korean star look, but as a mostly reticent member of the male species myself, I implore even the quintessential macho guys to take skin and body care more seriously. In my field of work, treatments sought by male patients are very commonly for acne scarring, the regrettable result of sheer negligence that does not plague women as much.
Especially for severe acne scarring, treatments are typically customised, taking advantage of different cool equipment and technologies for optimal effect. Bear with me as I geek out: one of those that amaze me is Ultherapy, a non-invasive treatment that lifts, smoothens and tightens skin. Bypassing skin’s surface, Ultherapy is able to deliver the right amount of ultrasound energy at the right depths and temperature, in order to trigger a natural response under the skin, jumpstarting the regenerative process that produces fresh, new collagen. Ultherapy is commonly used to lift skin on the neck, chin and brow, and to reduce lines and wrinkles. With an appointment, patients are usually in and out the clinic in an hour tops; some even get it done over lunch break.
For the bolder (or more macho, if you please) among us, one of the injectables that stand out as an especially efficient treatment is Profhilo. It super-charges skin with a high concentration of the formidable hyaluronic acid (HA), stimulating the production of new collagen and elastin, both of which give skin great texture and brightness. Profhilo delivers deep hydration and treats skin laxity, helping to lift and tighten it too.
Coming out of my awe of potion-like chemicals and marvellous technology, I lament the predicament of men who suffer from pubescent acne and its emotional and mental implications. If only men felt empowered too, to begin caring for their skin from adolescence as women usually do. I mean, if we collectively have such poor facial and dermal hygiene, what could it be like where the sun doesn’t shine?
In my advocacy for self-care and living well, comfort down south is just as big a deal as the rest of the body. The ultimate nemesis of modern-day grooming needs no introduction: we have a troubling love-hate affair with hair—too much, too little, too patchy, too thick. Down south though, more want their lawns mown, be they flat or hilly terrains, to prevent ingrown hair and pimples that come with an inevitably sticky, itchy crotch in tropical weather.
IPL, short for intense pulsed light, is an effective way to get rid of hair permanently. It involves long-term treatment every four to six weeks, where high-energy light is used to permanently destroy hair and hair follicles where you don't want them. You'll have less scratching and pinching, just good ol’ hanging.
Where a partner is involved, smell must be the chef’s kiss. There is now a gamut of hygiene products dedicated to the cause. Check out a ball wash, rub or deodorant the next time you are in a drug store—they help to fight odour, leaving us fresh, clean, and hopefully, yummy. It would also be wise to invest in a set for when shorty gets low, low, low.
Next time the mercury level hits over 33°C and the potentially bashful idea of free balling comes to mind, don’t get your boxers in a bunch. Do what is necessary so you can shake, shake, shake it, bruh.