How To Manscape Like A Pro
Nowhere is the complexity of modern masculinity more apparent than in the world of male grooming. Beards may be ubiquitous in 2016, but hair below the neck is far scarcer, according to recent studies. Braun estimates that 62 per cent of men aged 25 to 45 attend to their body hair on a regular basis, many of them driven to depilation not just for hygiene, but due to a new-found “confidence”. It would appear that the health and fitness boom, feminism, gay culture and relentless advertising have shaped our collective preference for silky-smooth skin.
Despite the statistics, hair removal, wherever it takes place, is a potentially treacherous task and must be undertaken with the correct tools, some good lighting and, above all, self-restraint. Moreover, not all men manscape in the same manner or, indeed, for the same reasons. We identify the five most common manscapers, and explain how to go about the job – without it ending in a rash or a bloodbath.
Unless you have a perfectly chiselled torso, we would avoid going completely “skin”. A bit of body hair can hide a multitude of sins – a fact made abundantly clear by the fact that most sedentary men tend to look like a sea lion after they’ve had a thorough waxing.
It follows, then, that Mr Natural prefers to tame the fuzz on the front of his body with an adjustable clipper. This is no small feat: hair is extremely resilient and, in terms of tensile strength, stronger than steel. A hard-wearing tool such as Braun’s new body groomer should plough through the roughest of thickets with no snagging or pinching (a crucial feature when attending to that infamous “optical inch”).
Specialist waxers, such as Ms Vanya Volovsek of the Aveda Institute in London, can fake a “natural” look by gradating hair so that it blends in seamlessly with smooth skin, eliminating telltale lines where waxed areas end and fur begins. “The trick is in going over areas with a used wax strip so that it doesn’t remove absolutely all of the hair,” she says. “And if the remaining hairs are long, you can always trim them.”
For swimmers and cyclists, shaving seconds off a personal best is as much about regular depilation as it is about daily training. OK, we exaggerate, but hairless skin improves both aerodynamics and wound-healing.
Shaving your legs can be done at home with a dedicated product or with your existing four- or five-blade razor (just don’t repurpose the same cartridge that you would use for your face) and a basic hair clipper.
Begin by taking out the bulk of your hair with a trimmer and then jump in a hot shower to soften the hairs. Lather up with a shaving cream that offers a substantial amount of cushioning and glide. As with your face, always shave with the grain and only go against it if absolutely necessary.
Finish with a hydrating body lotion, such as Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Balm, to replenish lost moisture and soften skin. You’ll also need to get exfoliating with Malin+Goetz Peppermint Body Scrub on a regular basis – if there’s one thing that’s sure to cripple your performance, it’s an irritatingly itchy ingrown hair.
Remember, it is important that athletes abstain from working up a sweat within 24 hours of shaving. Heat will make shaved areas more prone to irritation.
The selfie addict
The selfie slave understands that the two-dimensional nature of an Instagram post means shapes and angles often require greater-definition IRL (this, incidentally, is why he insists on holding his iPhone at a 45-degree angle above his head). It follows, then, that eyebrows need to be groomed in such a way so as to accentuate natural contours and open up the face.
To mercifully divest yourself of the caterpillar lying on your forehead, draw an imaginary line from the middle of each nostril up to the forehead. The point at which the line intersects the brow is where you can separate your monobrow with a pair of clean, sharp tweezers. (It is always easier, and less painful, to tweeze post-shower. Much like shaving, always extract the hair in the direction that it grows.)
To determine where the brow should finish, draw another imaginary line, this time from the outer edge of each nostril, diagonally past the corner of the eye, all the way up to the brow. The point at which the line meets the tail of the brow is where the hairs should taper off.
As for shaping the brow, always err on the side of caution or, better yet, employ a professional to thread the tiny hairs. Men should always lean towards a straighter shape, according to Browhaus head trainer Ms Priya Kerai. Tidying up at the arch is acceptable, but get too tweezer happy and you can unwittingly fall into Mr Cristiano Ronaldo territory.
The neat freak
Attending to one’s nether regions requires the flexibility of a Cirque Du Soleil contortionist, and DIY jobs often end in unsightly rashes and razor cuts (one study estimates that more than 11,700 people went to hospital with pubic grooming injuries between 2002 and 2010). Fortunately, you can employ someone to help with the deforestation using hot wax. London’s Ministry of Waxing offers gentlemen the “boyzilian” as well as the infamous “back, sack and crack” treatment.
The protocol preserves modesty as much as is humanly possible in these scenarios. “We start with the client lying on their back for the boyzilian,” says head trainer Ms Chloe Scriminger. “He bends one leg out, froggy-leg style, and then the other. The shape of the hair all comes down to personal preference – you can opt for a landing strip, a triangle or have it all off.” If going bare is a little too extreme, the hair can be gradated for a more natural look.
As for the back, sack and crack, there’s no need to get on all fours. “He flips over onto his front and we ask him to part the buttocks while we nimbly do the deed.” Speed, therefore, is key. As is a good shower beforehand.
The long gamer
Extremists such as the Long Gamer aren’t prepared to go about the job of depilating every four weeks only to have their follicles jump back into action a couple of days later. The speed with which laser technology has progressed has meant that permanent hair reduction is now a viable (and increasingly affordable) option for many men. It is especially useful for areas that are unlikely to come back into fashion, such as the back and shoulders.
Lasers work by seeking out the pigment (melanin) in hair before shooting a pulse of energy down the follicle where it eventually retards growth. Over time, the hairs grow back finer, if at all. The sensation is like being pinged with an elastic band. Made of hot metal. Repeatedly.
Most medispas tend to multitask with just one run-of-the-mill laser suitable for all skin and hair types. Avoid them. The PHI Clinic in London relies on two gold-standard devices (the Gentlemax Pro and the Palomar Vectus, if you’re curious) for the best possible results. On the right candidate – a man with pale skin and relatively dark hair – eight to 10 treatments spaced five weeks apart should yield a noticeable reduction in body fuzz.
The catch: hair exists in three stages (growth, cessation and rest), so not all your fur will be above the skin at any one time. Different areas have different amounts of dormant hairs (as much as 80 per cent on the arms, for example), so persistence, patience and commitment are key when it comes to laser treatment.
Illustrations by Mr Joe McKendry