The Art of Manscaping ; everything you wanted to know but were reluctant to ask!
Updated: Nov 6, 2019
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Every now and again, I get asked if I offer waxing. I don't but always recommend my friend Ashanti who runs the Ashanti Treatment Rooms in our neighbourhood, Spitalfields. In this detailed post, I address the topic of Body Hair Grooming for Men. A very special Thank You to Ashanti for the most amazing waxing treatment I've ever had!
Ashanti is an experienced and skilled waxing therapist. She uses her own technique of waxing and uses special wax that is just the right temperature and not too hot. Yet, it is as effective as traditional hot wax, with the convenience of less pain and longer lasting results.
She uses both the waxing roll on stick, and a spatula for certain areas, especially the sensitive ones! Needles to add, I was very impressed with her technique, skill and the way she did the treatment. She clearly knows how to put the customer at ease and minimise the pain he feels, drastically, by using a certain motion and method.
Her waxing treatment is long lasting, and I didn't feel the rather uncomfortable and irritating prickliness when one's body hair begins to grow back, that much! Having your hair pulled from the root during the treatment is only of the reasons for this advantage. The technique the therapist uses, her experience, the quality of wax etc, are all contributing factors towards combatting discomfort when hair starts to grows back.
Most men who get waxed by a professional and skilled therapist who uses waxing products of the highest quality and uses the right technique and skill, would experience a long lasting result in smoothness, from 4 up to about 6 weeks. A therapist has to be specifically qualified to wax men’s bodies and Ashanti understands the pain, issues and concerns Men (particularly those who are new to waxing) have. She is very re assuring, professional and understanding. As men, our body hair generally tends to be thicker than that of women, and therefore we experience more pain than women do, when being waxed. Besides, our genitalia (which most of us doubtless consider our most significant area!) has to be handled with care! Contrary to popular belief (thanks to guys being silly on Television, Films and in funny videos on Youtube), having your intimate areas waxed does NOT have to hurt like hell! First of all, you need to get that thought out of your head. Hear it from me!
The occasional tiny flecks of blood is normal during waxing sensitive areas (especially during your first time or if your body hair is particularly thicker). Some of you would have already experienced this. But honestly, I only had this problem during the first time I got waxed. It never happened again. Perhaps it was the quality of the wax, or the technique and skill the therapist used, the fact that my skin hasn't been "used" to it before, or perhaps a combination of all of those factors. Ashanti also shows you how to position yourself in certain ways so your skin is stretched properly, making it easier for her to get all (even the shortest of) hairs off. This also makes the overall waxing procedure easier to do. It just feels like your skin has been exposed to hot air, but only for a second. The pain then disappears.
Body Grooming for Men
Manscaping is an art form on its own. Few men prefer to have a full body wax. More and more men are now opting to have their private parts waxed. Popularly known as The Boyzilian, it is the male version of the Brazilian Waxing treatment, popular with most women. A Boyzilian is when all the hair on your nether regions are removed except for a trimmed (triangular shape recommended for men) strip on your pubic bone/lower pelvic area, below your abs and just above your penis. A Hollywood Wax is when everything is waxed off in the nether regions. This is more popular with women than it is with men.
Most men prefer to have some body hair (in the right places) while having their intimate/private parts waxed. Some guys prefer to have the hair on their chest, back, buttocks, scrotum and penis waxed off while others prefer to hold onto their chest hair or have it clippered and trimmed, following it up with a back, sack and crack wax. It’s just like some men preferring to have a clean-shaven face, while others opting for designer stubble, hipster beards, a goatee or moustache look. OK, so here’s the proper way to have your body manscaped. Read this article in full and follow this method. You are sure to impress your partner when you take your clothes off. Who isn’t turned on by a well groomed, clean and tidy man anyway? The best part about Male Grooming is that you can be well groomed and still hold onto your scruffy look if you prefer. It is just that this would be a groomed scruffy look. Groomed just to the right level, without making you look over-groomed or over-plucked!
OK, let’s start with the face. Your hairline (above your eyebrows) has to be neat. Sarah will use small tweezers to clean it up, or small wax strips if your hairline is quite unruly. If you have hair on your ears, they have to be waxed off too. Unsightly nose hairs need to be clippered/trimmed with an appropriate tool, or waxed (you might sneeze a bit!) to get better and longer lasting results. If you have a beard, sport designer stubble or a goatee etc, then make sure you maintain your facial hair and keep it trimmed neatly, in good condition. Trimming and clippering are very important. Hair on cheekbones (particularly if close to the nose, eyes or temples), is not a good look! Waxing it would be the best option. If you can afford to, go for laser hair removal treatment but make sure you go to a reputed salon and ask for a consultation first.
Now let me tell you about the perfect way to have your body groomed. If you can wrap your body hair around your little finger, then it is time for trimming and waxing. It is best not to let the hair grow too long as it hurts more while waxing. The longer the hair, the more painful the procedure. So if the length of the hair reaches from the tip of your little finger to your first knuckle, it is advisable to book yourself in for Manscaping! If the length of your body hair reaches from the tip of your little finger to half way to your first knuckle, then that is also enough in length for waxing. Ashanti can trim your body hair with clippers before waxing. Make sure you discuss this upfront in order to allow enough time for this procedure, although it does not take long.
Waxing is definitely better than trimming, clippering or shaving. It may be more painful, but a skilled and experienced therapist like Ashanti would be able to drastically minimise the pain. And imagine how long lasting the results would be? The hassle of shaving, trimming, clippering or using hair removing creams is something I hate, and I'd rather put up with a tiny bit of pain and not have to worry about body hair for a long time. When it is time for waxing again (usually within 4 to 6 weeks), your body hair would grow back finer as waxing pulls the hair from its roots. This enables it to grow back finer and regular waxing certainly makes the hair finer, and finer over a few sessions. But it is important not to break the cycle. If you shave or use hair removing cream when your hair grows back after waxing, then you risk having your hair grow back thick. This might cause you the same amount of pain and discomfort you felt when you had waxing done for the first time. So, use your common sense!
Using trimmers and clippers, scissors etc to get rid of body hair on your nether regions can be a difficult task. It's difficult to reach the hair on your perineum, between your buttocks, or even see your buttocks properly. The folds in your scrotal sack make it even more difficult to get rid of hair using such methods. And given the fact that your skin in these areas is very sensitive, it is advisable not to take such risks. There are certain body shaving tools from popular brands that say their products are save to use on your private parts, but I wouldn't take the risk unless you have a lot of patience, time and a very steady hand and a way with mirrors! Waxing is the way to go, if you want to save time and get guaranteed results.
The Body in Brief
Hair on your chest, arms, under arms, legs and pubic triangle (below the lower abdomen, just above the penis) should all be clippered or neatly trimmed. Hair on your inner and upper thighs (on either side of the penis and testicles should be waxed. The hair on the nape of your neck, your back (if any), shoulders, hands and feet can also be waxed off. You can also ask the therapist to "blend-it-in" while clippering the hair on your hands and feet. This gives a more natural look. Hair on your shoulders and yoke (top part of the back, just below the neck, and above the shoulders on either side) should also be waxed off. Some guys prefer to keep a natural neckline which the barber/hair dresser would blend in using scissors and clippers. Others would prefer to have a neatly sharp/shaped neckline which gives a more groomed look. Hair on the neck may seem unsightly and can only work if you have long hair. But then again, this depends on your look, style and so on. The best option is to stick with a clean and natural looking neckline.
The Crown Jewels!
The hair on your testicles, buttocks, butt crack (or cleavage as some call it) and perineum (the skin between the bottom of your testicles and anus), all have to be waxed off. This is not just a matter of grooming, but also a matter of cleanliness and hygiene. Keep it neat. Keep it clean! Well, the way I see it as that we all have a duty to offer the person who’s going down on us a clean area to work on. They shouldn’t have to floss their teeth at the same time! Well, maybe after dinner. Lol! So, jokes aside… I've heard girls (and some guys too;) say how annoying it is to get public hair in their mouth.
A friend of mine recently told me that one of the reasons he had intimate waxing done was because it made his penis look bigger! That’s becoming one of the many reasons guys have their private parts waxed these days, apart from hygiene and cleanliness. I guess it is the same idea behind athletic or muscular guys having their chests, abs, backs and butts waxed as it makes the muscle definition on their bodies stand out more. All the women I know say they prefer their men to make an effort and be well groomed, but not over-groomed. It also shows that you take care of yourself, which I think, is a very attractive trait in any human being, male, female or transgender.
What I have done…
I have the full Manscaping treatment (as mentioned above) done at least once every 6 weeks. My body hair grows slower. If you are particularly hairy, it is best to have it done once every 4 weeks. You will get the hang of it as you will know when you need a wax. I usually have an all-over full body wax twice a year. This is when all the hair on my body is waxed off and every inch of my skin becomes smooth. Once the skin has calmed down, I exfoliate the skin twice a week (it is best to allow 3 to 4 days between exfoliation), and moisturise with natural shea butter. Somehow, this helps maintain my skin tone. If I were to use body lotion, I go for cocoa butter.
Aloe Vera gel is also very good (especially Holland & Barrett's own brand), and the gel is best used to calm the skin down after waxing. I exfoliate my body with nylon body scrub gloves (available at Boots & Superdrug chemist), or a loofah mit. Sometimes I use body scrubs that contain sugar or sea salt. I use a mild non perfumed shower gel. I sometimes use an exfoliant that I have mixed myself at home, with table salt or fine granulated sugar, some coconut oil, a little honey and lemon. Once I have massaged my skin with this mixture (or exfoliating nylon gloves and shower gel), I wash off and dry myself by pat-drying my skin with a towel.
Then I moisturise my skin with shea butter which I have bought in solid form (African & Caribbean beauty shops sell them), and melted it into an oil form, in moderate heat. You can also use cocoa butter cream or oil, or Bio oil. Coconut oil or Vitamin E oil are also brilliant. I prefer non perfumed products, and natural/organic coconut oil is definitely one of the best products you can use on your skin. Whatever you use, make sure you massage it into your skin in circular movements. Start from the feet up. Ashanti uses a wonderful moisturising lotion on your body after waxing. And it was amazing and helped soothe down the post-waxing soreness.
Your skin needs to be in top form; hydrated and moisturised. This all may seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be once you get the hang of it, as you'd do it quicker. Practice does make perfect! You just get used to it. Investing time in maintaining ones appearance always helps in the long run. Regular exfoliation and moisturisation also help combat the signs of ageing, and wrinkling or sagging of the skin. During cold & chilly winter months one wants to snuggle up to someone special. You want to look good while making love on a rug in front of that fireplace(!) or rolling around on silk sheets!
Hints & tips from Ashanti
During the waxing treatment you have to stay as calm as possible. Relax. Try not to think about the pain. Try making some conversation to divert your way of thought. Being relaxed and breathing properly will be helpful. For example, breathe in deep and breathe out when the wax is being peeled off. Just like the motions at the gym when you breathe out while lifting or pushing weights, and breathe in when lowering. The lotion Ashanti applies on to your body after waxing needs to stay on until you have your first shower. Leave it on overnight to get the best results, and to soothe any soreness you may have experienced during or after waxing. She recommends body lotion as a moisturiser to keep your skin smooth, supple and hydrated. Regular use of body oil and cream can be too heavy after a waxing treatment . The skin needs to breathe. Do NOT have a shower for up to 24 hours after waxing, and do NOT use the gym or do any kind of exercise up to 48 hours. No hot baths and no steam/sauna at least for one week.You can use any type of shower gel you want but I would advise you to stay away from heavily perfumed ones if you have sensitive skin, which may need extra care. Wait at least for 24 hours after your waxing treatment, before having any type of sexual encounter! This includes any form of penetration, oral or anal sex or masturbation (you don't want your penis to end up sore, if you have had any hairs off it waxed!).
Ashanti applies a soothing oil-based solution to my skin after waxing. This helped minimise the little bit of soreness I felt during the treatment. Ingrown Hairs can be irritating and unsightly. How do you avoid or have this problem treated? After about a week post-waxing, you can start to exfoliate your skin. You can do this once a week, in the shower, with a sponge, exfoliating glove or a mild body scrub. Refer "What I have Done" section above. You can also try Ashanti's Body Scrub treatment. It would not only help maintain your skin in top condition, but will also make you feel revitalised, rejuvenated and pampered! If you have any ingrown hairs, Ashanti will use a special tweezer to take it out. You can always squeeze it out yourself, but I think it is best left to the professional as doing it incorrectly can cause the skin to feel irritated, get broken or torn. She also recommends having unruly eye brows, and any unsightly hairs on ears and nose waxed. Trimming is a short term fix and you hair would grow back sooner, just like facial hair which would need constant tending to. I kept asking her many questions, and we shared what we had both learned; her as a Therapist and Me as a client. I have tried out and had cross promotional deals with various beauty & hair salons in the past, as well as health & beauty services. Besides, I am very much into grooming, so here're some more tips for you.
Tips from Me!
Avoid wearing tight clothing or those with fluffy insides within 24 hours following the treatment. Also avoid wearing tight boxers, briefs, thongs or dance belts (if you are a dancer or performance artist!) or jockstraps (if you wear them for support during sport or in the gym, but then again.. don't do any exercise up to about 48 hours).
Underwear needs to be cotton, preferably seamless or at least with seams that are not thick. They should either be well fitted but not tight, or slightly loose.. well, you’ll know what you’d be comfortable in anyway! Trust me, you’ll know if the underwear you’re wearing isn’t right. There’s nothing pleasant about raw skin being rubbed with clothing while you’re moving around. Use your common sense. For example, if you have had your inner thighs and the skin on and around your testicles waxed, you'd want to wear loose fitting boxer shorts, or not so loose but slightly more fitted boxer shorts, rather than briefs as they may cause chafing.
Applying Aloe Vera gel generously after waxing and topping up before going to bed, and also just after your morning shower could dramatically reduce the soreness and redness (if any!) within a day or two. This is what I do, from the day following a waxing treatment.
Exfoliate the skin every 3-5 days to prevent ingrown hairs, starting 2-3 days after the treatment. This will also ease further waxing treatments and reduce pain during the process. Always exfoliate in circular movements and do not rub the skin too hard. Nylon gloves and loofah mits aside, there are also many body scrubs available in the market. Go for mild, non perfumed ones with reasonably large granules. Salt scrubs and sugar scrubs are very good exfoliators too. If you are in or near London Liverpool Street area, book Ashanti's Body Scrub Treatment.
Talcum powders, deodorants, anti-perspirants, perfumes and self-tanning products should NOT be applied over the treated/waxed areas within 24 (or preferably 48 hours). Heat treatments; sauna, hot baths, sunbeds, swimming etc must all be avoided for 24 hours after waxing. I'd advise 48 hours, just to be on the safer side. Do NOT apply make-up, self tanners or tinted moisturisers and try not to touch the areas waxed!
Massage non perfumed body products (lotions or creams) after a shower, on slightly wet or slightly damp skin (after mopping or pat drying your skin with a towel that is!), with gentle movements. This lets the product get absorbed into the skin well. For exfoliation, sea salt based scrubs (or pure sea salt) are the best! It has drawing and cleansing effects which prevent the build-up of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Start gently exfoliating on the second day (48 hrs) after waxing (or a few days later if you still feel sore after 48 hours). Regular exfoliation makes the skin smoother and prevents ingrown hair. But some people would prefer not to exfoliate for up to a week following a waxing treatment. You will know if your skin is still a bit tender. So work on it accordingly.
Moisturise daily to prevent dry skin. I would recommend non perfumed or organic/fair trade brands that are plant/herb based. If any inflammation, swelling, redness, raised bumps or chemical reaction in the skin is visible, seek medical advice immediately! Contact your GP/Doctor.
After Care Tips from Myself
Once your skin is waxed, it will be a little bit sore. So Ashanti applies a calming and soothing body lotion to moisturise the skin. Aloe Vera gel or Tea Tree lotion is good too. Calamine lotion is another alternative but it might stain your clothes, so it is best to apply it before going to bed, and using a protective sheet over your bed sheet and another one under your duvet. Do yourself a favour and follow the after care advice in this article properly. You may want to save it, or even print it out and read it. Do NOT use soap or wash with hot water on your skin for 2 days, or 3 days to be safe. No cold water either. And strictly NO perfumed products, whether shower gel or body lotion! If you have had your under arms waxed, avoid deodorant for at least 2/3 days. Dab some aloe vera gel there. It seems to combat perspiration and gets absorbed into the skin easily, leaving no residue. No saunas, sunbeds, sunbathing or jacuzzi for up to 2/3 days. If you have had your nether regions waxed, then strictly no sexual intercourse for at least 72 hours. No touching or fondling either! I know this rule might have been broken by many (I once let someone go down on me a few hours after having a waxing treatment done and kept saying "No teeth please!" Lol :). So how do you wash and get clean, I hear you ask? Here’s how…
Wash your skin (mild shower or bath) with lukewarm (tepid) water only. Pat-dry with a soft towel (do not rub!), and moisturise immediately with aloe vera gel, tea tree body lotion (or a mild non perfumed moisturiser). I generally start applying aloe vera gel on my skin from the day following my waxing treatment. You can get these at many health retailers, or buy online. If you have the time, then buy an Aloe Vera plant and grow it at home. You can learn how to hand fillet/peel by watching videos online. Just ask Mr. Google. He knows everything! After your skin has calmed down over the next 2/3 days, it is advisable to wash with a mild non perfumed cleansing agent such as Aqueous cream (available from chemists) or a mild shower gel, non perfumed is the best, any shower gels for Babies are perfect too as they are some of the mildest ones in the market. Use the cleansing agent (shower gel) in the shower on your private parts, and all over the body if necessary and wash off.
Aloe Vera gel is one of the best after care body product I have ever used so far. So moisturise with it. The home-grown, hand filleted plant gel would feel sticky and smell a bit strange, but it is very good for you and is best applied at home, massage on to skin and allowed to air dry. So walk around naked and free for a few minutes! You can also hold a blow dryer in a warm (not too hot) setting with one hand, circulate the air on skin, and use your other hand to gently massage or pat the gel into your skin, helping it get absorbed into the and any residue will evaporate. Note that if you hand fillet aloe vera gel at home, and apply it on to your skin, you will notice some tiny gooey lumps in it. You can brush these off. It's harmless. The gel will will feel sticky at the beginning, but would gradually disappear once you have massaged into the skin.
Back to Square One & Concerns of Discomfort
In most men, the hair would start to grow back in about 4 weeks. It might take longer in most Caucasian or light skinned Men as their body hair tends to be finer than men of darker complexions. But everybody is different as I've seen Caucasian and light skinned men (especially those with black, brown or ginger hair) with thicker and darker body hair than the Blond or fair-haired guys. If you don’t follow the after care routine as explained above, you might have to suffer from ingrown hairs, which to be honest, is a complete nuisance! If your body hair is thicker, then you are more prone to this problem. So, proper after care is a must.
You will notice that your hair tends to get finer and finer when it grows back after each waxing treatment. A bit of irritation or itching is quite common when the hair grows back. But I have not experienced this after Ashanti's waxing treatment. But it has happened in the past, after being to other waxing therapists who may not have used the best quality of waxes, or may have had a technique that wasn't as good as Ashanti's. So here’s what worked for me during those times.
Do NOT scratch! You will only make things worse. Eurax cream helps soothe itching. Baby powder or preferably Prickly Heat powder is also useful. Best applied after a shower. Pat-dry your skin and then powder the affected areas. Nappy Rash cream for babies can also help. But, if by any chance your skin gets broken, chafed or damaged due to you not being careful, then a Doctor might prescribe any of the variety of creams available out there; Clotrimazole, Fucidin, Daktacort or Canesten. Always go to your GP if you end up with a skin problem like this. But this is very rare and only tends to happen with guys who don't follow the after-care advice properly. Although you might feel your skin is drying out, it does the trick. None of these products are expensive, but you might need a doctor's prescription to get certain medicated creams. They can be purchased online of course. But it is always best to see a doctor first as there are differences in types of skin damage; chafing, broken skin, itchy/irritated skin, fungal infections etc. I hope to do a separate post about this (Men's Skin Conditions & Concerns), in the near future.
Did You Know?
A number of guys I spoke to confessed to me their grooming mishaps, the top ones being nicking themselves while shaving their nether regions and regretting using hair removing cream down there. NEVER do that! The skin on your private parts is very sensitive and hair removing cream, if left for even a minute longer, will burn our skin. Hair removing creams dissolve the hairs on the surface of the skin. They do not remove the hair from the roots. Thus, the hair tends to grow back quicker. If you read the labels on the products clearly, they state that the cream should never be used on your nether regions; testicles, perineum, penis shaft, around the anus, and even on or around your nipples. The skin on these areas is super sensitive, so don't make stupid mistakes and then suffer in pain!
Shaving can be quite risky too, given the folds of the skin in the testicles and the skin on the perineum and anus and cleavage between the buttocks being hard to see and reach, thus resulting in nicks and cuts. It's bad enough having those on your face, on those occasions when you shave in a hurry. Imagine having to put up with soreness and irritation if you end up with nicks and cuts on your balls! Ouch!!!
Besides, the results of shaving are very short lived as shaving your body hair means the hair grow back quicker. This would become more frequent and fast if you regularly keep shaving your body hair. Besides, the irritation can be felt more as opposed to waxing treatments, during which the hair is pulled out from the root, thus resulting in the hairs growing back finer, making the next waxing treatment easier than the previous one. When shaving, you're only cutting the hairs from the surface of the skin, hence they tend to grow back quicker, and sometimes even thicker. This is why many Men who go for the clean-shaven face look tend to realise that their facial hair tends to get thicker as it grows back after each shave.
There are men out there that shave their body hair, and I also know of men who shave their arms and legs too! But if you are going to have your body hair waxed, it is best to wait until the hair grows back long enough to be waxed again, than shave when the stubble appears. Some guys, especially Sprinters, Swimmers & certain Gym Bunnies(!) prefer to shave there arms and/or legs. Waxing is much better due to the hair being pulled off from the root.
A Beauty Therapist I once met told me she made the mistake of giving her husband alcohol before offering him his first waxing treatment. She thought it would numb the pain, but it backfired. Alcohol dehydrates your body, so the pain must have been increased when the hairs were pulled out of the pores on his skin as the skin would have been extra dry too, depraved of its natural moisture. She had to stop half way through due to the increased pain, and he ended up shaving away the rest of the hair! NEVER GO FOR A WAXING TREATMENT AFTER YOU HAVE HAD ALCOHOL! Another therapist told me that taking a Nurofen pill about 30 minutes before the treatment should minimise the pain. I didn't feel much of a difference to be honest. There are also Desensitising Sprays out there that one can put on the skin before a waxing treatment so the skin feels numb and the pain factor would be drastically reduced. I have decided to try this next time and will report back it it actually worked.
Always book a skilled and experienced therapist such as Ashanti. Quality is what you are looking for here. Do NOT blindly purchase waxing treatments off coupon sites just because they come cheap. Men who have done this have told me that the treatment was not very professional and the service was unsatisfactory. Business owners who sell coupons on these sites have also told me that the type of client they tend to get is not the type they would prefer. So it can work both ways. An experienced therapist like Ashanti will know everything about the cycle of hair growth, the technique to minimise pain, after care, and proper technique to use while waxing men.
This article was written after a lot of research and feedback I gathered over a few months, by talking to various men I came across. I have been updating, every few months, ever since I first wrote it in the summer of 2012. I have also tried various waxing therapists and can honestly say that Ashanti is the best. I will continue to add and share more information with you guys, as and when I find out about new things.
The men who gave me feedback ranged from teenage guys to middle aged men and older/mature men, hailing from a variety of ethnicities, ages, backgrounds, and with varying body types, sexual identities (straight, bi, tri, gay, curious, open minded), and income brackets.
Not surprisingly, they all said they’d prefer a waxing treatment that is affordable, quick, easy and fuss-free with minimal pain and long lasting results. And I can’t think of anyone better than Ashanti to deliver exactly that!
Copyright Credit: The Art of Manscaping; Body Hair Grooming for Men (article) by Emmanuel Ray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at http://emmanuelray.com/2012/10/16/art-manscaping-beauty-agents/. Permissions beyond the scope of this license can be obtained by contacting the writer via http://emmanuelray.com/