Manscaping can seem like a dirty word for some gentlemen. There are many misconceptions about manscaping, some of which can make men not want to groom because of a fundamental misunderstanding about what manscaping is. Thankfully, the practice has seen a resurgence from the initial backlash and a growing, though maybe grudging, acceptance.
Before anything else, you should know what manscaping actually is. The literal dictionary meaning is "the trimming or shaving of a man's body hair so as to enhance his appearance." Yeah, it is a silly name for grooming, and while that definition works, it kind of glances off of the deeper meaning. First, there is more behind doing some manscaping than just a cosmetic appearance. Sure, that is a benefit, but there are some practical reasons behind the practice too. Also, there is this belief that when we talk about manscaping, we are only discussing below the belt hair removal. Sure, you want to groom down by the twig and berries area too, but there are other parts of your body that get the manscaped treatment.
There is some legitimacy to that too. If you just get rid of the hair down there and don't focus on any other part of your body, it would be a jarring visual, going hair to none and back. It is wiser to groom and gradually trim, making it a gradient and less a sudden change. This means manscaping is a whole-body procedure, from your head to your feet.
Benefits of Manscaping
So when it comes to manscaping, what are the benefits? It turns out there are quite a few.
It has physical benefits.
The first benefit is that manscaping is physically good for you. Body hair is great during winter when it helps hold in heat and keeps you a little warmer than you would otherwise be. During the summer, that same heat retention is less advantageous. What happens when you are too warm? You begin to sweat, of course.
Now, some sweat is good for you. As we just said, sweating happens when our bodies get too warm. It is the natural way to regulate that heat as when the sweat evaporates, it leeches away some warmth away, cooling the body. Sweating also helps let you know about your hydration level. If you are not sweating enough, it might be a sign that you need to drink some water. Keeping hydrated is obviously crucial to staying healthy, so if you don't have a proper sweat going, then you should make sure you have the right level of hydration.
That said, too much sweat is no good. The bacteria living on your skin reacts with the sweat you produce to create that nasty body odor we all hate. When you have excess body hair, it can trap the moisture from your perspiration, leading to more odor than would usually happen, as well as some further health issues.
Did you know that men can get yeast infections? Several reasons cause this, but poor hygiene and grooming are two of them. Gentlemen should already know this but to the ones who need a reminder, and you know who you are, make sure you clean after getting your workout in. Too much hair down there turns it into a breeding ground for the kind of infections we do not want, especially in sensitive areas.
So when you take your manscaping seriously and trim down, you prevent sweat from being trapped, which keeps you drier and smelling better. You will also sweat less, so having shorter or no body hair does double the work for half the effort.
Manscaping will help in social situations too.
Proper grooming goes over very well when you are out and about. When with your significant other, it is not the worst idea to get some input on what they like too.
This is not to say that you should change yourself for someone else or even feel the pressure to do so. However, a relationship takes work and some compromise. It would go a long way with your partner if you were to groom yourself and trim down, especially in the right areas.
Also, let's be real here; we are talking about grooming and basic hygiene, not changing your lifestyle, or that you are losing friends to stay in a relationship. If you can't be bothered to do the bare minimum, you should not be in a relationship in the first place. Further, it would be very hypocritical of you to expect a significant other to groom and trim when you are not willing to do the same.
So take the time to check with your partner on how much body hair they like on you. They might surprise you and say they prefer hair, they might like more trim, but it goes a long way to show you care about their input, and they might reward you for it later.
You will feel better about yourself.
Have you ever gotten a haircut that you liked and not walked out of the barber with a bit of swagger? Sure bad haircuts can suck, but getting a good trim makes you feel better, more confident. This is the same thing with manscaping.
Groom yourself; you will feel more confident. Body hair can hide muscles, so if you have been getting fit in the gym, clearing the forest off of your chest will help show all the hard work you have been doing. Having an untamed mess does not allow you to look your best. When you don't look as good as you can, you will not feel as good as you can. Take the time to clean yourself up, it will help you feel better, and that confidence can snowball into bigger and better things.
How to Manscape from top to bottom
Okay, so now that we have shown why it is better to manscape, let's go over how to actually do it.
Starting on your head
First, let's talk about how to take care of the hair at the top of your body. Your hair should be taken care of by a barber. Unless you are entirely shaving it off to go bald, do not cut your own hair. Even if you are planning for the bald look, a professional will do the work much better than you can. Doing it yourself will not work out well for you and will not look how you want it to look.
As for your hairstyle, we are not going to tell you what it should be. There are too many diverse designs, and they all look great on different gentlemen. We only have two pieces of advice here that would be appropriate.
One, find a hairstyle that works for you. What we mean here is that some hairstyles will not look as good as you hope, so make sure that what you do fits your face and doesn't distract from the rest of you.
Two, make sure you keep on top of it. You should take a trip to the barber every one to two months, and you will usually notice when it is time. Splitting the difference and going every six weeks might be the best idea. Some men need to go sooner, and others can hold off for another few days, but on average, it would be best to stick with this timetable.
As long as you do those two things, whatever hairstyle you choose should look great and keep you looking fresh.
Just a little lower, and we need to focus on your facial hair. This is something you can and should do yourself, unless you are looking for an extravagant beard shape or design. With facial hair, the first rule should be to stick to the KIS method: Keep It Simple.
So, how should you groom it? There are three main methods for shaving, electric razors, safety razors, and straight razors. Ideally, you should actually have a combination of them, either an electric and a safety, or an electric and a straight. The reason you should have an electric razor is to help you trim down before completely removing the hair.
If your beard is too long, the electric razor is there to help make it more manageable. There are multiple guard sizes to help you get it into a more shaveable length. Once you get it down to a stubble, it is time to break out the safety or straight razor. Safety razors are great options to give you a close, smooth shave, but for those of you looking for the closest shave possible, a straight razor is the best option for you. They can be intimidating, but we have instructions that will help you use a straight razor the right way.
Once you have your head taken care of, it will be time to move down to your chest and abs.
Clearing off your chest and abs
When it comes to chest hair, you have a few options. This is where consulting with your significant other really starts to come into play. If they like your chest hair, you can skip this step and continue on with the rest of your body. If you and they prefer less, here's how to go about it. Before you shave, you should determine how much hair is coming off.
If you are getting rid of it all.
If you are going to remove it completely, then a safety razor will be the way to go. It might not be the best idea to use the straight razor here, as it can get a little challenging to handle when not working on the face.
Also, the safety razor should be different than the one you used on your face. For one thing, facial hair is different from body hair; it is thicker and typically more coarse. This will cause some extra dulling on your razor, which you do not want to then use on your chest or other body parts. Using a dull blade will lead to more nicks and cuts, and the more you can avoid that, the better.
Another reason you don't want to use the same blade on your face and body is biological. We carry bacteria on our skin, but the ones on our face are different from the rest of our body. That cross-contamination can be harmful, especially if you nick yourself and bleed. Using a separate blade will help you avoid unnecessary and dangerous infections.
Once you have the right shaving equipment, you can do it at your own pace; just be careful around your nipples. A good idea is to cover it with your pinkie and then work around it. Shaving requires a smooth surface to have the best results, and nipples very much the opposite of that. Don't allow yourself to get cut because you didn't take the time to prevent it.
If you are only trimming it down
If you are going to keep some body hair, that makes your life easier. First, you will use an electric razor instead of a safety blade. That will make the shaving process much faster. Second, you want to select the size guard you prefer to get to for the correct length. Don't just start there; you will work your way to it, especially if you have thicker chest hair.
You want to work from the outside in, shorter on the outside and thicker on the inside. This is a more natural look, one that will also help make your pecs and ab muscles look more defined, again rewarding you for your workout.
You also want to fade based on how you want to look. Do you want your stomach to be bare but not your chest? When you are getting closer to your abs, the hair should get closer to the skin. Don't let your hair look like a steep cliff, where it goes from thick to nothing in an instant. There needs to be a gradual shortening, something that will not be jarring to see.
Finally, when trimming down, you need to consider how your hair will feel when growing back. What will be the point of grooming to look good if you are going to mar your skin with scratches when the hair itches? Make sure you have a good conditioner to use, something safe for your skin that will soften the incoming hair.
Time to shave your crotch.
Okay, so we've done our upper body, and now it is time to head below the belt. As you already know, there are a couple of sections to handle here. We're going to take this one section at a time, working our way down throughout.
Above the shaft
When grooming above the shaft, you likely want to have something there, but not too much. Hair is a buffer, and there are some friction issues that can arise if you get rid of it all. Plus, when it grows back it can really itch, so it will be much more comfortable if you leave it at a manageable level.
You can use a safety razor here if you are looking to remove everything altogether, but an electric razor is much easier to use to get the proper length. Again, you can taper down with the sizes until you have it how you like it, so you won't have to worry about snags or anything. By making sure everything goes smoothly, you can move onto the more sensitive regions.
By the shaft
So now you want to get rid of the hair by the shaft. First, be ready to become a bit of a contortionist. You'll need to shift your legs around and be prepared to work one-handed a lot. Because of the sensitive nature of this area, we strongly suggest that you take your time. There are few things we can imagine that would be as uncomfortable as nicking or cutting your man parts.
If you insist on using a safety razor, then you need a good shaving cream. You want something clear for this area, a gel that will let you see what you are doing. If you go into this section blind, you are much more likely to cut something. Shaving here requires a smooth, taut surface, so you need to move your leg and pull the shaft in opposite directions, opening the area up to be shaved. Again, take your time and take steady strokes, so you get rid of it all. You don't want to go over the same spot too many times because you'll risk irritating the skin. That's why electric razors are great; shorter hair is easier to entirely remove than longer.
Repeat on the other side, and you'll be ready to move on.
Time for the balls
So now we have come to the last of the sensitive regions. There is a time and a place to shave here, and that is after a warm shower. We want minimal shrinkage here, as it is much safer to work with the skin when it is looser and more flexible. Electric razors are very tricky to work with down here. They like smooth areas, and you do not want them getting snagged. Safety razors are also a no-no for that same reason. If you want to trim hairs here, hair-cutting scissors are the best bet.
You will be working with one hand again, as you should use your non-dominant hand to move everything out of the way. Just like the rest of the area, you need to make sure you take your time to avoid cuts and injuring yourself.
Now for your back
Manscaping is not just reserved for the front of your body; your back needs grooming too. There are two challenges to shaving your back, though, it is hard to maneuver your razor to get there, and it is hard to see. So the question then becomes, how do you shave an area you can't see and can't reach? Well, there are a couple of solutions to this challenge.
Have some help
Your first choice is to get someone to help you do this. While it is the best option, it can be awkward. Having a helpful significant other will be the prime choice, someone you are comfortable with and who is willing to do many things for you that would make others think twice. If they take care of it for you, your problems are solved, and your back is clean and clear.
There are still some options if you don't have someone to help you, depending on how flexible you are.
On your own
If you are on your own, you can still do this. First, find a second mirror so you can watch what you are doing. Second, you will want to have a razor that reaches all of your back without having to maneuver around too much or shift your hands often. If you are constantly adjusting how you are holding the razor, then the shave will not be smooth and consistent.
The best thing to do is get an extended razor, something you can use to reach every part of your back. For electric razors, the Mangroomer Ultimate Pro Back Shaver is the way to go. This will make the shaving process faster and much more convenient. However, it is not something you can bring into the shower with you. If that is something you would rather do, then get a non-electric razor like the baKblade 2.0 Plus to help you remove the hair while wet.
However you want to do it, there are options with extended razors, something you can use to make shaving easier for you if you are on your own.
You could just pay someone to do it for you.
Another option, and the best one if you have the money, is to go somewhere that will have a professional who can take care of the harder to reach back hairs than you could. This is actually an option for your entire body, one that we will get into further when we talk about other options.
What about your arms and legs?
Depending on the thickness and how much hair you have there, arms and legs need grooming too. For those gentlemen who have very hairy arms and legs, a trimming might be in order. Take your electric razor and gradually go down to the hair length you are comfortable with; you don't need to shave it all off.
The same goes for your legs. Don't remove all your hair if you don't want to; the electric razor will trim you down just fine. However, if you are looking for completely smooth legs, a fresh safety razor and your regular shaving cream will do the trick. Just remember, gentlemen, that if we don't want to shave our legs, we have no reason to demand others shave theirs. Don't ask others to do what you are not willing to do yourself.
How about the armpits?
Armpits are another area that having some hair is a good thing. Armpit hair plays a valuable role in protecting your skin in an area that sees a lot of friction. The hair acts as a barrier between the skin that moves as you walk or make any arm motion. Without it, your armpit can become sore and raw, which can turn debilitatingly uncomfortable.
Even though you should not get rid of all your armpit hair, letting it grow into an unruly mess is not an option either. It is again time for your trusty electric razor. It has been a real trooper throughout this entire manscaping experience, and it needs to perform one final duty. Use it to trim down, but not remove, your armpit hair. You do this by lifting your arm and bending it at the elbow to have your hand touch the back of your neck. This arm position should open up the whole armpit and flatten the area out, giving you the smooth surface for your razor to do the best job. Repeat on both armpits, and your work is done.
How to handle nicks and cuts
When you shave, nicks and cuts will happen. With practice, patience, and experience, they will happen less, but they still occur. As long as you are careful, you can avoid the worst of it, but you will need to know how to take care of them if they happen.
Most of the time, if you cut yourself shaving, the best thing to do is apply pressure. Pinch the two sides of the cut together and hold them for a few minutes, usually three to five, for the best results. For more persistent cuts, a styptic pencil will help curb the bleeding. Having a bandaid, along with some Neosporin, would work to help the cut heal, though this is not what you do with every area.
Some, more sensitive, locations will bleed more because of how much blood flows to those areas. If you nick yourself below the belt, a bandaid will not be an option for you since the constant motion will wear out the adhesive on the bandage. Again, you should gently apply pressure to stop the bleeding. After a nick in this area, you should stop grooming and let it heal before continuing. Even the area out, so you don't look like you stopped halfway through, but don't press on with the manscaping until you are certain the area is safe to work around. Furthermore, keep an eye on the wound and be aware of any inflammation or redness as that can be a sign of infection, and you should see your doctor.
There are other manscaping methods.
If you are not up for shaving yourself, there are other ways to groom. After all, the manscaping process is a lengthy one, and not everybody has the time available to do it with the care it deserves. That's why there are some other options to do the job.
Go to a professional
Your first option would be to head to a professional to take care of you. Obviously, this will cost a lot more than doing it yourself, but the benefits can make it worth the price. Professionals are experts in the field, so they will likely do a better job of getting it exactly how you want it. Just think of barbers; you don't cut your own hair. You instead go to a professional who makes it look better than anything you could do with a pair of scissors.
Most of the professionals work with wax. Cringe and wince all you want, but it's one of the best ways to remove hair and make it more manageable. Waxing works by pulling the hair from its root so it is thinner, softer, and more easily handled when it grows back.
This is where the expensive part comes in. Most places offer prices based on the body part they are grooming. The cost then varies with which area or areas you are doing. Around the country, you will likely find yourself spending three hundred dollars or more for a full-body waxing. That very quickly adds up since they will recommend return trips every six weeks, generally at least four times, to ensure the process takes and the hair gets correctly removed.
If you have the money, this might be the best way to go when you keep in mind that the wax will make your manscaping process more manageable in the long run anyway. Just be prepared to spend a large amount of money to look your best.
Hair Removal Creams
Another option is hair removal creams, but these can be dangerous for men with sensitive skin. These hair removal creams, also known as depilatories, are very strong. They have to be in order to remove hair from your chest and back.
What happens with depilatories is they use chemicals to break down the hair, causing it to break and fall out. You then rinse the cream off, and the hair goes with it. If you are concerned about using a razor and don't want to spend all the money going to a professional, this is how you manscape.
However, there are a number of risks with depilatories and a few places you should absolutely not use it on.
Depilatories, by their very nature, irritate the skin while removing the hair. Allergic reactions are possible as well, which can cause rashes and other skin problems. You can also get chemical burns, especially if you leave the cream on too long or place it on the wrong spot. These burns can be especially dangerous, leading to infections and other health issues.
Putting aside those risks, if your skin is healthy enough, there is nothing wrong with using a hair removal cream on your chest and back, especially if you are hairier than the average man. If you are not certain if you like the idea of using a cream, you can do something called a spot test. Take a small amount of the cream and place it on a small, hairy area that you can conceal if you don't like the results. Follow the directions on the bottle and rinse off when directed, then inspect the results. If you like it, then you can continue with the cream on the rest of the area. If you don't like the results or have an adverse reaction, then you only have a small area that you used it on, and it's not a huge loss.
Your chest and back are two places hair removal creams can do work, but you should not put them on anything below the belt. That skin is way too sensitive for the cream, and you can cause severe damage to yourself.
When it comes to hair removal creams, if you want to use them, you can; just make sure you do it safely and on the right parts.
Manscaping is a valuable and beneficial grooming practice, despite its somewhat goofy name. If you take the time to do it right, the positive aspects of taking care of yourself will show up in the rest of your daily activities.