There are plenty of reasons why, as a modern man, you might want to remove your natural body fuzz.
For sportsmen, being sleek lessens chafe and can enhance performance, for desk jockeys being free of body hair can be more comfortable and hygienic. Or perhaps you simply like the look and feel of a smooth body.
Our guide to body hair removal for men gives you the info you need to be as smooth as you want to be.
Razor or wax?
Not even our prehistoric forefathers we unanimous in their love of extensive facial and body hair. In fact archeologists have discovered that our caveman ancestors shaved with sharp flint tools or used shells pressed together – a primitive form of tweezers – to pluck away stray hairs.
Fast forward to Roman times and the upper classes used pumice to abrade hair and volcanic glass to shave it away. Today shaving remains a quick and easy way to remove unwanted hair, but because it cuts the hair at the surface of the skin, the blunt ends regrow within 12 to 24 hours, creating the uncomfortable stubble we know as 5 o’clock shadow.
While it can be painful, waxing pulls out both the hair shaft and the follicle, resulting in a better finish and longer lasting smoothness. As Tony Sagoo at Looking Good Beauty and Grooming says:
“Overall results [of waxing] will last longer than shaving. Some hair growth may appear after approximately 10 days; but some people can go between four and eight weeks with good results”.
When you wax, the regrowth is much finer compared with when you shave. Wax once and provided you keep on top of it, next time it’ll smart less.
For swimmers and cyclists the aerodynamic advantage to be gained from full body waxing is key to going faster.
Hair removal expert and blogger Tony Sagoo quotes a study by the American College of Sports Medicine which found that compared to other swimmers, those who were freshly shaven “experienced a reduction in blood lactate, a decreased VO2, and an increase in stroke length”.
For cyclists, hair removal is more than streamlining, it also prevents lycra sportswear from chafing and helps nicks, cuts and grazes heal more quickly.
But it’s not just athletes who benefit from waxing. If you’ve ever sat sweltering behind your desk at work, you’ll know just how hot and uncomfortable “sit down” occupations can be. The same goes for van, lorry and taxi drivers stuck behind the wheel all day. Waxing your body can keep your skin cooler, helping you perspire less and smell fresher.
And for those of us whose body hair is increasingly white and wiry, waxing can help us look our best. As beauty practitioner Sheryle Delucia says: “Waxing can take years off you.”
How do you wax?
For first time waxers it’s best to get someone qualified to do it for you. Not only will a professional beauty therapist minimise the inevitable pain by being quicker and more efficient, they’ll also use professional grade products which are better for your skin.
Qualified waxing specialists will happily tackle chest, back, shoulder and leg hair and will wax intimate areas as well. A full body wax might also include your feet and toes – an important consideration if you wear sandals or flipflops.
And don’t spare those pesky areas like your ears and nose. As expert waxer Andy Rouillard said in an interview with Grooming Guru UK, removing hard to reach hairs is a “public service”.
Professional salon tips
Before you attend your appointment, Aylesbury Wax recommend that you take a shower to open your pores and warm your skin to prepare it for easier hair removal. Don’t apply any body moisturiser at this stage. Your skin needs to be free of oil which will stop the wax from sticking to the skin.
Keep your skin in good condition prior to waxing and in the weeks after by exfoliating: The Waxologist recommend you use a mechanical exfoliator – one with grains/beads in it – which you mix with water and apply to your skin. Alternatively, buy yourself some exfoliating gloves to use with your regular shower gel.
Get your waxing aftercare off to the best start. Jack at Jack Dunn Male Grooming says to bring a clean t-shirt or top to your appointment because: “Freshly waxed follicles, sweat and friction is never a good combination!” For a leg wax or any other intimate area, loose fitting cotton trousers, and cotton underwear are a must.
Jack also advises sipping from a bottle of water while you’re on your way to your appointment. He says staying well hydrated keeps your skin supple for the waxing treatment.
It’s a good idea to choose some quality aftercare products too. Writing at Scratch Magazine, Lisa Stone says applying a gel or cream containing aloe vera or cucumber is ideal to treat sensitive areas of skin. A good therapist will advise you of the right products to use.
Once you get home, check for stray hairs the wax missed and tweeze them out. Should you spot a hair a day or two later, it’s probably best to leave it alone. As Aylesbury Wax explain:
“We are trying to get all your hairs into the same growth cycle and random tweezing will make the hair unavailable for waxing next time and so it will not get synchronised with the other hairs”.
Tips for waxing at home
If you are shy or nervous about going to a salon for waxing, it is possible to do it at home, provided you follow some important guidelines.
The key to effective home waxing lies in the preparation. Waxing expert Andy Rouillard says:
“Exfoliate the day before and if you’re waxing on a warm day, or are someone who perspires a lot, add a light dusting of talc to the skin before you go ahead”
FashionBeans writer Lee Kynaston suggests using pre-made wax strips that you warm in your hands before applying. Press the strip down firmly taking care to cover as many hairs as possible and making sure it adheres properly.
Professional beauticians work quickly on larger areas of skin, but for guys who’re waxing at home Lee’s advice is to work in “small sections and whip the wax off in the opposite direction of the hair growth”.
The mantra “be brave” should be on your lips. Whip the strip off quickly as you can – don’t be tempted to pull it off slowly because it’ll only result in patchy hair removal and aggravated skin.
Any odd bits of wax remaining after you’ve finished, you can remove with baby oil before moisturising your skin with a product containing healing tea tree oil or aloe vera.
Is waxing for you – or is it something you’d rather give a miss? We’re always open to debate, so let us know what you think – or tell us of your experiences with hair removal…