THE practice of grooming one's body used to be solely considered 'a woman thing'. Nowadays, however, more and more men are seeing the benefits of 'manscaping' as the modern man has moved on from the idea that making an effort to make yourself: a) more attractive and b) more hygienic, is in any way emasculating.
But just because many of us are cooler with the idea of manscaping, it doesn't mean that we always do it right. Given that a nick on your nuts is a lot more serious than a nick on your neck, it seems necessary and appropriate to publish some guidelines to body grooming. Some of you may also be manscaping virgins who've never shaved lower than the nape of your neck – fear not. I'm here to guide you on your manscaping journey (although not literally, you'll have to do that yourself).
What Is Manscaping?
Manscaping (coined from 'man' and 'landscaping') is a term used to describe the act of shaving, trimming or waxing a man's body hair. It's not a new practice but its popularity is more prevalent now than at any other time in modern history. It's no longer a surprise to see a man walking into a hair removal clinic and while most men don't necessarily want all of their body hair removed, the majority of young men want to keep it trimmed and tidy.
There are plenty of reasons for this – pressure from partners, gym culture, porn culture and the extra optical inch that pubic hair removal supposedly provides have all been cited – but the bottom line (pun intended) is that it just looks and feels better.
A Step-By-Step Guide To Manscaping
The first step to manscaping is deciding what areas of your body you want to shave/trim/wax. If you're indecisive or completely clueless then here's a simple guide on how to tackle everything from brows to balls.
One of the most defining and prominent features on a man's face, your eyebrows prevent sweat, moisture and other gunk from sliding down your forehead and into your eyes. Unless you want to rock a monobrow, you might want to consider tidying them up. The idea is to retain a masculine appearance while taking some of the weight out of the brows, removing any stray or straggly hairs. Use scissors to trim and cut longer hairs, and use tweezers to pluck stray hairs. Be careful not to overdo it – you don't want to end up with thing patchy eyebrows. If you're currently rocking a monobrow then be careful to only remove the hair between the two brows and not eat into the brows themselves; otherwise you'll make your nose look more pronounced.
Increased growth of ear hair is an unfortunate by-product of ageing. While middle-aged men are the most affected, some guys can start sprouting hair from their ears as early as their twenties. Tweezing works best for the outer ear as it not only allows for greater precision, it also extracts the hair at the root, meaning it'll take longer for it to grow back.
Inner ear hair should ideally be trimmed with an electric ear and nose hair trimmer. You can use scissors but best make sure it's a blunted grooming scissors so you don't nick the delicate skin around the ear.
Alternatively, you can head to a Turkish barber and let a professional torch them off.
Nasal hair is there for a reason. It traps dirt and bacteria, preventing them from entering your body through the nasal cavity and wreaking havoc on your health So it's best to leave them alone.
Having said that, clearly visible nose hairs are gross and unsightly and do need a little attention. Cut them with grooming scissors or a trimmer as above. Don't pluck them as plucking can draw tiny amounts of blood which can lead to infection.
Like a lot of the areas of the body that you're considering grooming, the chest does not have to go totally hairless. Unless you're going for the bodybuilder/stripper look. The goal for manscaping your chest is to make it tidier and less caveman-like.
If you do want to get rid of it completely, the best options are shaving or waxing. You can also have it professionally removed via laser hair removal. If you just want to keep it tidy then get yourself a quality electric hair trimmer. Set the guard according to how short you want the hair to be and off you go. Adjust the guard accordingly depending on the pattern of your hair growth and desired finish.
Most guys opt to have a totally hairless back and with good reason. Have you ever met someone that has a thing for back hair? Me neither. Get rid.
Unless you have a loving partner or a very sound friend, then I suggest you head to a salon and let the professionals take care of it. However, if you don't have the spare time or cash then there are a few other options. There are grooming tools – the ManGroomer being one – designed to shave back hair. These shavers have an extendable arm to help reach the entire back area. You won't be left with the same smooth results as a wet shave but you also won't put your back out trying to twist and turn in front of the bathroom mirror.
Alternatively, you can use a hair removal cream. Simply smear the cream thoroughly on your back, leave for 5-10 minutes, depending on the instructions and wash off using a washcloth or loofah. Both the hair and cream will rinse away.
Again, you don't necessarily have to groom your armpits to be truly manscaped. Underarm hair is acceptable for even the most groomed of men but who doesn't want to stink less and look better? For beginners, it's best to use a beard trimmer or hair clippers to trim your armpits to a 1.5/2cm. Less hair means fewer bacteria and makes it easier for your deodorant to work. Your significant other/colleagues/fellow commuters will thank you for it.
Arms & Legs
Most men, even manscaping pros, will leave their arms and legs au natural. However, if you find your arms and legs a little too gorilla-like, you may want to trim and tidy them. I recommend using a trimmer on the 1 or 2 setting so they still look somewhat natural. If you want the hair gone, you can use a hair removal cream or get them waxed if your pain threshold is high.
There are three common reasons why guys groom their groin area. Number one, it's aesthetically pleasing and hygienic. Number two, there's plenty of research to back up the idea that potential partners prefer a man to be neat and tidy downstairs. And number three, many believe that trimming your bush gives you an extra optical inch.
Some men prefer to be hairless down there, others just want a nice trim. As always, you can go to a professional and get waxed or lasered. But most guys will tend to their privates themselves. Brace yourself. We're going in…
Bush: To trim or shave your bush, pull your skin taut and start trimming/shaving using a body groomer. These devices have special guards to help prevent nicks and follow the curvature of the body.
Balls: Shave, don't trim! Taking an electric device to your nuts will only end in pain and suffering. Use a high-quality wet razor, ample amounts of shaving cream and slow, careful strokes. Rinse the hair from the blade regularly.
Shaft: Not the detective. Use the gentle technique as you've done with your testicles for an instant illusory extra inch. Take care not to shave too far into the bush.
Backside: If you have the time and the funds, it's best to leave the grooming of your backside and perineum (gooch) to the professionals.
You can choose between waxing or laser hair removal. Prepare to wince! If you prefer to try it yourself at home then set your body groomer to a low setting and shave very carefully.
Manscaping can be a little daunting for beginners. But, before you know it, you'll be a pro. All you need to do is invest in the right tools and take your time. It'll be worth it and your partner will thank you for it.