A gentleman’s guide to manscaping

Worried about waxing? Unsure about shaving? Petrified of plucking? Here are our top tips and tricks to help you become a smooth operator...

A full-on chest rug might have been de rigueur back in the Seventies but, with body hair out of fashion and a prominent survey by Cosmopolitan revealing 70% of women prefer a man with a tidy trunkline, it pays for a gentleman to master the now-essential art of manscaping.

So, whether it’s your shoulders you want free of fur, your chest hair kept in check, or you just fancy doing some judicious pubic topiary, here’s how you can become a smooth operator…

Tip #1: Choose your weapons, carefully

A man has four main options when manscaping: he can wax, shave, apply a depilatory cream or use a specially designed body hair trimmer.

Depilatory creams like Veet For Men Hair Removal Cream, weaken hair at root level so they fall away and offer similar results to waxing but without the pain. They can irritate sensitive skin if you don’t follow the instructions to the letter, however and aren’t recommended for your nether regions.

Far simpler solutions are shaving – the process is essentially the same whether you’re wielding a blade to your chin, chest or more precious assets – or trimming using gadgets like Braun’s All-In-One MGK5260 trimmer or Panasonic’s ER-GB80 Beard, Body & Hair trimmer – which represent the simplest and most convenient way to deal with body hair – even if you’re contemplating shaving Private Ryan.

Tip #2: Be wary when waxing

Waxing removes hair below the surface of the skin (you’re effectively ripping the hairs out from the root), so the results are generally smoother and longer lasting than with shaving, which tends to leave hairs with blunt ends that can be itchy when they grow back. This makes it especially good for areas like the back, shoulders, legs, armpits and toes where the last thing you want is noticeable stubble.

You can wax any part of your body with products like Nad’s Body Waxing Strips For Men but even with these easy-to-use strips the process can be fiddly, not to mention eye-watering, and stories of DIY disasters are legion – which is why most men interested in an alabaster bod via waxing leave it to the professionals.

Tip #3: Prune before you shave

If you’ve ever tried to remove a beard with a razor without first trimming it back a little you’ll know how difficult – not to mention agonising – going from 0-60 with hair removal can be.

Whether you’re waxing or shaving, you’ll make the process much easier if you trim back your hair with a trimmer – or scissors – first. Go as low as you can if you’re shaving but leave hair about 1cm in length if waxing as the strips need something to attach to.

Tip #4: Set to work when your hair is dry

Many of today’s hair removal gadgets flag their ability to work in the shower as a major benefit. But, if you’re remotely worried about trimming off too much, you’re better off manscaping when your hair is bone dry.

This is because hair relaxes and expands when wet, returning to its normal length when it dries. Trim any hair when wet and you may find it looks considerably smaller once dry – which may be a little troubling in some areas…

Tip #5: Don't get carried away

You wouldn’t mow just half of your lawn and you shouldn’t just trim some of your body hair either. To ensure a natural look you need to balance out your body hair.

If you’re trimming chest hair make sure you also tackle any hair on your stomach and groin, too, or it’ll be obvious you’ve been manscaping. Likewise, if you’re trimming pubic hair make sure you trim your stomach and chest hair too so it matches in length.

Tip #6: Assess the aesthetics

Manscaping’s popularity lies in the fact that it’s generally thought to make men’s bodies look better. And that’s certainly true if the body in question is Anthony Joshua’s. However, if your pecs aren’t perfect and your abs aren’t A1, though, think about a light trim rather than a total shave and be careful about taking too much off down below.

Pubic trimming may be famous for adding an extra ‘optical inch’ (it does). But, if you’re a guy carrying a little extra weight, cropping too close can reveal the infamous ‘fat pad’ that tends to form just above the business area. Bottom line? Body hair might ruin the line of your Speedos but it can also hide a multitude of sins.

Tip #7: Keep your skin taught

In the same way you use one hand to pull skin taught when shaving your face, if you’re shaving the skin on your body it pays to use the same technique.

If you’ve plucked up the courage to shave downstairs (and according to a survey by Gillette 20% of men do) then make the process easier by splashing them with plenty of cold water to tighten things a bit first. As guys who’ve tried it will tell you, it makes all the difference.

Tip #8: Don't forget your aftercare

Whatever method of hair removal you opt for, aftercare is essential. In the same way that the skin on your face benefits from a soothing aftershave balm, the skin on your chest, legs or crown jewels will thank you if you slather it with some post-manscape love. Perfect for the job is Clinique’s Post Shave Soother which is non-sticky, fragrance free and contains skin-soothing aloe to reduce irritation.

If ingrown hairs are a concern – and they can be as problematic on chests as on chins – make sure you apply a product like Tend Skin’s Ingrown Hair Solution which is formulated to minimise the risk of razor bumps after hair removal.

Aftercare is just as important if you’re waxing as skin can be sore and sensitive for a few days afterwards. Ideally, avoid hot showers, getting too sweaty and tight clothing until things settle down and minimise irritation with a product like Outback Organic’s Post-Wax Spray which contains soothing and antibacterial essential oils.

Looking for more hair-cutting hardware? These are the trimmest clippers for at-home haircuts…

Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.

Further Reading