Tag Archives: winter

The sloshed galosh

3 Mar

Waterproof Tretorn ankle boot

It’s completely unfair. Men have such slim choices in footwear in comparison to women. I’ve had feedback from all sorts of guys asking for “waterproof dress boots” and rubber boots in something other than black, brown, and dark green. It’s dismal. It’s dismal until we start demanding differently.

Humans seem to be innately aware of the importance of footwear. It’s the base on which we stand! People notice your footwear and you notice theirs – I’ve even had homeless people check out my shoes, so what does that tell you? When I’m in clean and polished shoes, I feel great, when I’m in dirty, scuffed shoes, I hang my head. Somehow the more looked after the footwear, the higher the self-esteem, no matter where you come from or how much (you perceive) you’re worth.

Today I’ve thought about some things, read some stuff, and had conversations with shoe experts to bring you fellas some practical information about choices in waterproof footwear, caring for your footwear,  and sloshing through the wet and still cold season of late winter / early spring.

I spoke to Crissi Giamos, the Director of Public Relations at Town Shoes, about waterproof boots. Though we’re into a new buying season now, keep Crissi’s brand suggestions in mind for fall / winter 2011 and beyond: Sorels, Hush Puppies, and some rubber Diesel models.

Town Shoes carries good old rubber boots by Tretorn and Scotland’s Hunter that are great for cold winters and wet springs, though unfortunately not in any fun colours or patterns for the guys. I have a pair of quiet brown Tretorn rubber boots with plush interior and I think they’re great!

It seems that a guy has to sacrifice either fashion or practicality in footwear because fashionably practical seems an illusion. Then a friend of mine reminded me that Australian Blundstones are water-resistant, long-lasting, and hard-wearing. I’ve had a couple of pairs of Blunnies myself and was very pleased with them, though they are NOT good in snow – no tread. Blundstones go with lots of things from smart casual to weekend casual looks.

TIP–> Crissi suggests to leave a pair of shoes at the office so that you can remove your dirty, wet outdoor footwear and feel good in a clean, dry pair of indoor shoes.


Salt is corrosive and seems to eat leather footwear! To me, salt used on sidewalks and on roads to melt snow and ice is massively overdone here in Toronto. When I lived in Saskatchewan, they used sand for traction under feet and rubber which is a much nicer alternative to salt that gets into the water system and messes with the soil.

Anyway, Crissi suggests a commercial salt remover for salt stains, and gives the following four steps to keeping your footwear clean and long-lasting:

  1. Clean with a damp cloth (it’s sloppy out there, gang, so clean daily).                                                TIP–> keep a cloth near where keep your boots so cleaning is within easy reach
  2. Use a salt remover (some people suggest using diluted vinegar for cleaning salt stains, but Crissi says vinegar will dry out the leather).
  3. Spray with All Protector.
  4. Polish when necessary (from every few days to a couple of times a month if you can).


I had a client in from Alberta last month complaining that he couldn’t find any galoshes to buy. He went to an old-school shoe store and had the proprietor dig in the stockroom for toe rubbers and eventually produced a pair thought to be from 1964.

For those of you who don’t know what a toe rubber or galosh is, it is a rubber covering for the  bottom part of your shoe to keep your footwear dry. Men wore these like crazy in the old days, but are scarcely seen anymore. I found this great site for toe rubbers and rubber shoe coverings to keep your footwear dry. As a more fashionable alternative, there are Scandinavian Swims, though according to their website, they do not ship outside of the EU.  However, Harry Rosen carries some styles during the fall and winter – here is an example of what they carried for fall / winter 2010.


Crissy says it’s clean, polish, and protect to keep a good-looking shoe or boot. I use an All Protector on my footwear which unto itself is a good general step in keeping your footwear in good shape, but sometimes we need to go further.

I really do in my footwear because I’m outside walking a lot. As we all know, there is nothing worse than a cold, wet foot, so I like to try to waterproof my footwear as much as I can. I have used a product called Dubbin from the Kiwi Outdoor line (made with silicone, giving a consistency like Vaseline) to waterproof my leather walking boots and it’s very effective, though use with caution: if you’re using on an other-than-black boot, it may darken the leather. Still, you might just want to use it around the part of the boot where the sole meets the leather to repel the water from this joining seam.

Another product I use to keep the leather of my footwear clean and supple so that it doesn’t crack, is a cream conditioner. I’ve had different versions of this cream cleaner and I’m happy with the results – I like to use it on smooth indoor and outdoor shoes to restore their moisture, spiff them up, and give a dull shine.

For those of you who opt for rubber boots, these are totally practical and low maintenance – they just need  a rinse! I like to give the outside of my boots a moment under the tub faucet and then dry them off before I go out – makes an enormous visual difference and I feel better in the clean boots.

Wet feet

Antonio Centeno, founder of A Tailored Suit, has an excellent article about waterproofing your footwear on the Art of Manliness website. When I spoke to Antonio, he stressed “using maintenance products consistently” to keep an outdoor shoe or boot in good condition – sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Borrowing from his article, Antonio explains how to deal with footwear that is already wet:

  1. Remove excess water from the outside of the shoe using a dry rag or towel.
  2. Pull the moisture from the inside of the shoe with a crumpled newspaper or a small dry towel. The key here is to draw the moisture out, so every hour or so replace the moist paper with dry paper.  Depending on the extent of the soaking, this could take from 2 hours to 2 days. [I think cedar shoe trees might work here too, depending on how wet your shoes are, as they absorb moisture from the inside of our shoes.]
  3. Do not place the shoes near a heat source; let them dry slowly at room temperature.  If you heat them you will cause the moisture to leave too quickly and greatly increase the chance of the leather cracking.  Cracked leather cannot be fixed on a man’s shoe or boot.
  4. Once the shoes appear dry and no more moisture is being drawn out of the shoe, clean and condition with a leather balm or cream and finally polish normally.  Over the next week ensure you clean and polish after every wearing.

I hope all of this information helps, lads. I’m still trying to locate something cool AND waterproof for you to wear that doesn’t have to go over your shoes, but the designers just don’t seem to be doing them! If any of you find slick waterproof winter footwear, please do us all a favour and post the link here, and if not, talk to your local retailers and ask for what you want – you may have influence!

Pie face

17 Feb

It’s February and we are in the dead of winter; we’re at our driest, lightest, and flakiest. Of course I’m talking about skin, not pastry.

If you had a look at me right now, you would see winter woe personified: dry, papery skin, my face seems more deeply lined than it was a plump 6 months ago, there are red patches on my hands, and because of my horrendously sensitive skin, you would also see little red splotches on my cheeks caused by rosacea brought on by winter wind. I’m really quite a dish come February.

We Canadians really get the crap kicked out of us during the winter

There’s so little moisture in the air outside and dry heat inside, that we’re literally cracking. I’ve personally got split skin in my right nostril (treating it with antibacterial ointment on a Q-tip, in case the same thing is happening to you).  Some people will experience painful cracked skin on their hands in the winter from the lack of moisture, and for those clean freaks out there, having your hands wet for a good deal of time will exacerbate the problem, keeping your hands raw and red.

How to make it better: Use rubber gloves to wash dishes and moisturize your hands. Some people use moisturizer every time they wash and dry their hands. If this is too much for you, see if you could get into the routine of moisturizing three times a day, before you eat, say, and if that is unrealistic for you, at least try for one time after the morning shower. (And if you won’t even do that, I’m not sure why you’re reading this blog). I don’t care if you guys think this is pansy – pansies are smart and much more comfortable in their skin during the winter and are not open to invading germs that crawl into the cracks of the broken skin – guys that care about their skin are simply keeping themselves comfortable and keeping themselves healthy – nothing wimpy about that.

You fellas will have some different issues with your skin than I have because you have more testosterone in your bodies. Testosterone makes for a thicker and oilier skin with it’s own characteristics, but no matter what your skin type, we’re all affected by winter.

Here are some tips to make things better from me and this week’s co-pilot, Brian Lao, founder of Bread and Butter Skincare for men:

Winter skin

Brian says that a guy’s main winter skin issues are dry skin, cracked facial skin, and chapped lips. “We need some sort of moisturizer on our face to make sure that our skin doesn’t get all dried out.”

The Bread and Butter philosophy is “to create products where nothing is put in, said or done that is without purpose”. Brian talks about commercial lip balms adding flavour and fragrance which actually encourage us to lick our lips which dries them out even further. “We take out all the flavour and scent out of our lip balm so that the temptation [to lick] isn’t there,” and allowing the balm to do what it’s supposed to to: protect your lips.

Oily skin

Though it seems counter-intiuitive, oily skin wants moisture, so those of you with shiny skin, reach for a water-based moisturizer without parabens – nasty liquid plastics used as preservatives that are in almost all grooming products that your skin will absorb. Parabens are usually listed at the end of the product’s ingredient lists in the form of methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butylparaben, and less common isobutyl, isopropyl, and benzylparaben, so keep your eyes out for these.

Most of the Bread and Butter products are about 95% natural; Brian doesn’t use parabens in his products as they “are one of the top 5 irritating substances to human skin. Parabens are highly toxic and have been linked to breast cancer.”

Dry skin

Exfoliating to remove the dead skin cells from the surface of the skin is a good move – this prepares the fresh skin below to receive moisturizer that I hope you are heavy-handed in applying as a dry-skinned person. If you skip this step, “there will be too much dead skin on the surface and these block the hair folicles, creating conditions for ingrown hair,” Brian explains.

Sensitive skin

Wash in warm or tepid – not hot – water. My research shows that our skin contains proteins and fats that help retain the natural moisture and hot water can remove this natural seal. With me, a long hot shower makes my face and body break out into red splotches and my skin feels tight – a terrible feeling!

Try a natural soap and moisturizer. Commercial soaps contain all sorts of nasty ingredients (alkalines, chemical colours and scents) that can dry out and irritate the skin. I use the lather of a natural locally-made oatmeal soap on my face, and with flakes of real oatmeal in the soap, it’s great for a gentle body exfoliation.

Be gentle on your skin. Try not to apply too much pressure as you wash and moisturize, sensitive-skinned lads. Applying pressure to the skin arouses the blood vessels near the surface of the skin and can make a flushed face – I’m so sensitive that even applying a moisturizer gives me red cheeks!

Everybody’s skin

The top layer of human skin is composed of cells in the epidermis that have about a 27 day life cycle, the cells rise up from the innermost layers and later die on the surface of the skin that I understand to be 20 – 30 layers deep – that’s a lot of spent skin cells. Because of the nature of our skin, we can all benefit from an exfoliant. The sloughing wash lessens the possibility of ingrown hairs as Brian mentioned, prepares the skin to soak up the moisturizer, and it helps give a closer shave. It also makes our skin glow and look more youthful, and it feels better too.

One thing I love about the exfoliant in the Bread and Butter daily face cleanser is that the tiny exfoliating beads are made of bamboo and rice powder. Brian tells me that commercial exfoliants use plastic beads to work off the skin cells. “Why would we use products that wash plastic beads down the drain?” he wonders. B and B uses recyclable packaging and does their part to reduce materials and energy use – another reason that I like them.

If it will be helpful to you, gentlemen, I’ll do a summer skin care blog this year and ask Brian to join us again to talk about summer skin issues and solutions.

Until then, keep clean, keep smooth, and keep hydrated – the moisture of spring will find us soon enough!