Ask most middle-aged or long-term married men what the word manscaping means and they’ll probably look at you blankly, muttering something about rockeries or garden layouts designed by men. Few will know all that much about the act of trimming their body (and facial) hair, and fewer still will be regular exponents of the habit.
I’ll admit that I was in that camp for a long time. It had never really been a thing when I was younger, and certainly not something that was ever mentioned by friends or by my ex-wife. I have European history in my recent family line, so am far from hairless, though thankfully am not one of those guys who looks like they were the inspiration behind Teen Wolf.
When I became single I used it as an opportunity to look at a number of things about myself, and this included my physical appearance. I didn’t change loads, but I did decide to explore what manscaping was and what bits of it I wanted to do.
It was an eye-opening journey.
There are guides and videos online that I simply can’t unread or unwatch. The things some men do to their bodies is horrific, not to mention time-consuming. The potions, the lotions, the ointments and equipment must cost a fortune in time and money, and the risks are massive. I knew pretty early on that I was going to have to come up with a routine that didn’t require repeating every few days or I’d soon end up covered in a combination of stubble and shaving cuts in places that have no right to see either.
To start with I needed to decide how I was going to proceed; wax, shaving or trimmers. I have a bit of an aversion to waxing, truth be told, which probably stems from a misadventure on a previous stag do. We were due to wax the groom’s hairy chest but didn’t remember to bring any waxing strips with us; when it came time to do the deed we found some birthday candles instead (they’re made of wax, right?) and got the barmaid to drip wax onto the groom’s chest. Trouble is, she held the candle too close to the wax so it didn’t cool and dry quickly, instead bubbling away on the surface to leave a scar the shape of New Zealand. His bride wasn’t best pleased…
I’ve also had a go at waxing my leg before for a charity thing. My. God. The pain. I only did a few strips, but it was as if my leg had been plunged into the same fiery pit of hell as Katie Hopkins will end up in. Other than the time I got my head chopped off by a chainsaw and then fell into a vat of salt (long story…), I’d not experienced pain like it. The thought of applying that to my more intimate areas brought tears to my eyes. Waxing was not for me.
Instead, I grabbed my trusty trimmers and attacked the more seen and more PG areas of my body first. Using a different set of trimmer blades than I do for my face (seriously, some people use the same for everything…) I began by going to town on my armpits. I’d never even thought about armpit hair before, it was sort of just always there, but I quickly realised that looking like I had a 90’s Axel Rose in a headlock wasn’t sexy.
I didn’t want to go totally shaven, though, as not only does that look a little weird to my eyes but it takes a lot of upkeep and I am seriously lazy. A trim was deemed sufficient to my untrained eyes, though I did spend a while working out how long it should be. It’s like when a man shaves off his beard; no man does such a thing without first trying different lengths to see what they look like, before then trimming his moustache into all manner of designs from handlebar to Chaplin. In this case I took it down and down in stages. Of course, I went too far at one point and trimmed the middle more than the edges, which gave me a reverse mohican that I was not impressed with, but that was soon sorted out.
Next up was staying on top of eyebrows, nose hair and ear hair. Loads of guys will flat-out deny that they have a problem with any of these but, trust me, we do. Hairs in your inner ear make sense as part of the aural process, but long ones poking out are just wrong! They soon disappeared thanks to a handy trimmer attachment, which also did for nose hairs. Eyebrows are generally dealt with at the same time as haircuts (with my barber also employing a trick involving fire to get rid of any remaining ear hairs), which is always a shock when you see your eyebrows thinned massively, but they do need a little care between trims. No threading or plucking, mind you; I’m not that metrosexual.
Moving down the body I followed this up with my chest. This is one of those places where I have heard differing opinions; some women love a little chest hair, whilst others want their man as smooth as a dolphin. I figured there was no in-between; again, it was either keep it neat or shave it off. No woman wants to feel a stubbly chest, but I simply couldn’t envisage a world where I’d have the time nor inclination to shave my entire chest regularly. Hell, I don’t even shave my face daily. I opted for the occasional trim but to keep it generally as it was. Thankfully it’s not at the same sort of levels as a Hasselhoff rug, so I got off lightly.
I also thanked the old gods and the new for not having a hairy back. I’ve seen some bloody weird contraptions for shaving back hair, none of which look easy or reliable. I just know I’d forever have a patch I didn’t notice, or would jokingly shave a pattern and then get distracted and forget about it – out of sight is out of mind after all.
Legs are a strange one. I once had a friend who shaved his legs for charity and didn’t tell anyone that he liked it so much that he kept them shaved for the best part of a year. I’ve seen the struggles women have keeping their legs hair-free, be that through using creams, waxes, epilators or razors. If I ever become a pro swimmer or cyclist then I’ll go there, but for now I am leaving my pins well alone.
All of this leads to the final area to be considered, which is arguably the most important of the lot. What a man does with his pubic hair is a big decision and one which perhaps says a lot about him. If porn is to be believed (and what in porn is fake after all?), all men these days shave everything. EVERYTHING. I had never, ever, ever thought about letting a blade come anywhere near my meat and two veg; the very thought of it makes me wince. There are guides online on how to do it which involve a lot of skin stretching and care.
When evolution designed the scrotum it was definitely built by developers or engineers rather than designers. It is in some ways very practical, but is not attractive to look at nor easy to maneuver. Making it bald does little to improve it, other than likely covering it in shaving scars which can be perhaps passed off as a shark attack.
No, once again it was not going to be the hairless route that I went down. Instead, I decided on a tight trim and making sure that everything looks cared for. I even decided against any sort of patterning or shaping. On women I’ve seen Brazilian landing strips, heart shapes, totally shaven, au naturale and everything in between, but the thought of pulling down my boxers to display a perfect rectangle of pubes is strangely mortifying.
Whilst it’s not expected that women trim their body hair for men, it’s certainly appreciated by men when they do. Oral sex is never fun when you have to use both forearms to hold back the wild bush, so it can become more fun for everyone when thought and care is taken. I’d never ask someone to do something for me that I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself, so it’s only fair and right that I take similar thought and care about myself.
I’m still in two minds about applying scents and lotions afterwards, though. One step at a time, eh?