You know, oncology it wasn’t always so difficult to be men. Back in the day it was perfectly acceptable to simply look nice. Guys didn’t have to care about trends or plan outfits, our eyebrows were free to connect and co-mingle, and washing our faces with a bar of soap was considered sufficient, or so they tell me; I don’t actually know first hand. Needless to say those were some dark times, and things have drastically changed. For the most part that change has been for the better. We care more, we take pride in our appearances, and as a result we feel better about ourselves. Then again, all of this enlightenment that’s taken place over the years — groom your eyebrows! get a facial! pay attention to what’s going on in fashion! — has, unsurprisingly, created more work for us. Of course, we have no right to complain since women have endured this kind of painstaking attention to outer detail since, well, since the beginning of recorded history, pretty much. In that way women do have the advantage of being taught about these things from the beginning, whereas we’ve been left to play catch-up, and since men are such an open and communicative bunch, the knowledge some possess really doesn’t spread that easily. With all of that in mind, it’s time to tackle what could be considered the most divisive, the most evolved, and the most time-consuming post-metrosexual ritual known to guy-kind; the grooming and/or removal of unwanted or uncontrollable body hair, more commonly known by its street name, manscaping.

viral fashion 2012 dsquared runway mens fashion grooming manscaping smooth hair removal bodyNow for those who don’t know, or have refused to learn, manscaping can be anything from a subtle trimming and maintaining of extraneous follicles to the complete and systematic removal of every trace of post-pubescent maturity from one’s person. We like to refer to these as extremes. Caught in the middle are any number of varying grey areas, from trimming one area and leaving all the others, to shaving some and not all. You name it, and it’s guaranteed that some guy somewhere has tried it out. Personally this writer subscribes to the belief that there is no “best bet”, no universal do-this-not-that, because every guys knows how he feels most comfortable. While it’s almost impossible not to be influenced by some kind of beauty standard, and that beauty standard is sure to impact the way you see (or would like to see) yourself, don’t let fashion be the only deciding factor. If you feel like yourself with a hint of fuzz, rock it like you mean it. The same goes for those who prefer to be smooth as a baby’s ass. Bottom line, you do you, m’kay?

Then there’s the question of where to trim and why. While there is, again, no black-and-white answer, let’s viral fashion 2012 manscaping runway versace body grooming mens beauty hair skinlearn a few things, shall we? First and foremost, remember that with any area you might choose to trim that’s visible to those who aren’t, shall we say, close friends (think lower legs, arms, chest perhaps), there’s not much hope for discretion. If your friends and acquaintances are the types to, oh I dunno, rib you mercilessly for falling into the trap of vanity and shearing your pelt, and that sort of thing would bother you, not only should you rethink trimming those forearms, but you should probably get new friends. Also worth keeping in mind is that trimming longer hair gives the subtle appearance of having slimmed down, what with the lack of extra volume. On the other hand, strategically trimmed and manicured body hair can actually give the illusion of definition where there really isn’t much (or any), sort of like a strategic five o’clock shadow for below the neck. From a hygiene angle, shorter or no hair in areas like under your arms or your chest can cut down on the possibility of body odor since sweat has less to cling to. And as those of us with internet access probably know, clipped, shaped or shaved hair in…certain private access areas…can be, um, largely beneficial from an aesthetic point of view and that’s all we have to say about that for propriety’s sake.

viral fashion 2012 manscaping wahl clipper trimmer body hair removal grooming mens beautyFinally, of course, we come to the issue of “how”. For all intents and purposes there are four primary methods for doing the deed. First is hair clippers, which as the name suggests won’t actually remove the hair, but come in very, very handy for trimming and maintaining. The up side is that they’re pain free and pretty much fool-proof to use, it’s just that they can be a little tough to maneuver over the contours of a body, so it’s probably best not to do this when you’re short on time. Then there’s shaving, which seems like the logical next step up from using clippers. Pluses include ease of motion and the possibility for thoroughness, while the minuses are things like razor burn, ingrown hairs, uncomfortable re-growth (which: terrible) and stubble on the surface between shaves. In my book, shaving any large area of your body is pretty much only recommended for those less-hirsute gentlemen out there. You’ve been warned. Third up are depilatory creams, and because the beauty industry is quick to capitalize on a trend, viral fashion 2012 manscaping nair for men mens grooming body hair removal cream depilatoryyou don’t have to worry about being seen buying a pink bottle of Nair. There are plenty of “For Men” products out there, so take your pick. While depilatories are relatively painless for the most part, they usually smell absolutely horrendous, and can also leave behind prickly little pieces that the cream didn’t quite get. If you’re not careful, or if you’re just a sensitive kind of guy, they can also irritate or outright burn your skin, so for goodness sake, be careful, and DON’T use it in an area where safety is particularly valued, if you get what I’m saying. That’s an embarrassing viral video just waiting to happen. Last but not least is, naturally, waxing. First and foremost, do not attempt to use at home waxing kits because chances are you will screw up somehow. There’s a reason why people get paid to do it. Now waxing is the single most thorough way of removing hair from any surface — next to laser treatment at least — and the pain you’ll probably endure will be worth it if your goal is silky smooth skin on any area of your body. While it’s probably the most expensive method out there, you don’t need to do it nearly as often as the other methods will require. Out of all of these options, though, waxing is the only one that actually demands a second party’s involvement, so if you’re the self-conscious type, it might not be for you.

A few parting words before you snap the guard on your clippers and get to work; if you’re just starting out, remember that less is more. Trim too little and you can always go back to edit, trim too much and you might look like a hairless dog. Neatness counts. This is one area of grooming where taking the short cut really won’t work, so don’t rush through it and do your best to keep it consistent. Above all else, though, try to make it look (somewhat) natural. Too perfect, too manicured or too “done” shouldn’t be the goal if you’re not going completely bare of all hair. So there you have it. Simple, no?

by Justin Friedman