I guess it’s my karma that, in writing skeptically about the trend of anal grooming—and the insecurity-driven marketing behind it—I would inevitably be sent a dozen pitch emails about...my testicles. Are they too hairy? Too smelly? Too sweaty? Too dry? Don’t worry! I was assured, amid dozens of locker-room euphemisms for “testicles.” We have just the thing.
In case you didn’t know, there’s a trimmer that promises a pinch-free experience for removing hair from your balls, by the upstart Meridian. The deodorant brand Old Spice sent a gigantic cardboard treasure chest to my apartment, filled with products from its new “Below Deck” line, designed to “help your most precious cargo feel drier and cleaner.” Dollar Shave Club released a “Ball Spray” to “freshen up the family jewels” with a “pepperminty” scent. And then there’s the product-design nightmare known as “DUDE Wipes,” which are honestly too ugly (not to mention environmentally unfriendly) to write any more about.
I’ll be honest with you: I have no insecurities about my balls. And as a gay man with a body count that would make Jesus weep, I can also tell you with a fair amount of confidence that most balls tend to smell, feel, and look pretty similar. But just in case my own experience in the field isn't enough, I fact-checked my claims with the dermatologist Harold Lancer, M.D., one of Beverly Hills’ most sought-after skin experts.
He said that there are some special considerations. “It’s not a matter of the skin so much as the location,” he said. “They get a lot of friction, irritation, heat, and skin-to-skin touching. Perspiration in the region can be excessive as well...leading to excess sweat or odor accumulation.” In other words: Yes, it’s very likely you sometimes have sweaty, smelly balls.
This may lead you to believe that your balls require a level of skin care that’s different from the rest of your body, and Dr. Lancer has had patients who are concerned enough about their cojones to book an appointment with him. But even though he has some of the most cutting-edge machines and gadgets in dermatology at his disposal, his advice is usually always the same. “It’s almost always treated with proper education on the cleansing, grooming, and after-bathing skin-care needs,” said Dr. Lancer. As for the special products? “It’s a matter of excessive marketing.”
The truth is, your balls respond to cleansing just like the rest of your body does. In his opinion, the only area of your body that requires different skin-care products would be the face, neck, and décolleté. So keep up with your facial skin routine at all costs—but feel free to keep it minimal when it comes to your boys. “A simple once- or twice-daily cleansing followed by towel drying” should suffice, he says.
If you are excessively sweaty, you may want to try an anti-fungal powder. And, sure, you could use whatever product marketed for use on your balls that you like if you so choose. Or, you could use one that’s made for the whole body—I really like this powder from HiKi. If issues persist with sweating or odor, try switching up your underwear or pants for a looser-fitting style. Or, Dr. Lancer says, you might consider a diet fix, one that lowers your alcohol and sugar intake, and see how that changes things.
Either way, the good news is that your balls don’t necessarily require any special, dedicated sprays, lotions, or potions. Of course, if you want to partake, feel free! Just be advised that, in general, disposable wipes can be harmful to the environment and may contain ingredients that cause (rather than alleviate) dryness or irritation. If there’s anything worse than sweaty balls, honey, it’s itchy, scaly balls.
All in all, it’s best to play it safe by keeping things as minimal as possible. In other words, take a shower, lotion up, and then leave your balls alone.
Cosmetics and wellness brands have exploited nearly every human insecurity imaginable for profit. So, are you ready to feel bad about your balloon knot?
Originally Appeared on GQ