Men across the world are going to great lengths these days to achieve a smooth finish; on their bodies, of course. As they spend regularly a small fortune at the salon or put themselves under the daily ritual of the razor, the burning question is why? What’s so bad about body hair?
The main reason the majority of guys depilate is because they want to look good, feel confident and nowadays, copious body here is seen as anything but cool. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, more than 90% of women between 18 and 44 find back hair a turn-off. The male back is the area most women would like to see hair-free, followed by a smooth bottom.
Of course, it’s not just the women. When questioned, a surprisingly large number of men were of the same opinion about their own body hair. In a recent survey for a men’s fitness magazine, more than half of those responding felt the fuzz had to go in order for them to feel attractive and they told interviewers it was the thing they would most like to change about themselves.
Well, men are on to a winner here as a hairless torso is much easier, and certainly a lot quicker, to achieve than a perfectly sculpted one and many of our athletes have been putting the benefits of shaving and waxing for years.
One of the groups of sportsmen most associated with shaving (especially their legs) are cyclists. This isn’t vanity, serious cyclists remove the hair from their legs in case of unplanned contact with the road. Hairy limbs tend to grab the road surface putting the cyclist more at risk of tearing or abrading their skin (the infamous gravel rash). Without leg hair in the way, it’s also much quicker, easier and more hygienic to clean up the damage and apply dressings that stick in place for more than 20 seconds.
The top shaving tip from the professionals is to always do it in the shower. If you haven’t shaved before or for some time then rather than blunt several blades trying, you can trim away the thickest hair with scissors or clip with an electric shaver. The warm water and steam will ensure your pores are open. A good lather helps and you can use either shaving foam or many find hair conditioner does the trick. Always aim each stroke from your feet upwards.
Shaving isn’t the final solution. Your hair will grow back after within two or three days and it will be itchy at first so you’ll have to incorporate this into your regular shower routine.
Swimmers are not known for their hairy torsos and shaving before a swimming competition is a natural part of the preparation. While there is no denying, a smooth body looks great in the water, there is a science element to this and academic studies have shown significant performance improvements over non-shaven control group swimmers. As well as decreasing drag, many swimmers also claim it increases their awareness of the pool environment.
As we’ve said earlier, shaving is a very temporary measure. Waxing is a longer lasting solution with salon waxing lasting for up to four weeks. The downside is the slight discomfort and potential embarrassment of the salon but innovative warm wax treatments like Zeos For Men that can be applied at home are now available and are growing in popularity. The ultimate removal is by laser but this is priced out of many ordinary men’s reach and has been found to work better on some hair/skin colour combinations than others.
Professional bodybuilders work hard to achieve a perfect physique and they want to avoid allowing body hair to obscure the contours and muscle detail that sets them out from their competitors. Smooth skin is as synonymous to body building as the ever-present tan and both serve a real purpose.
International bodybuilding judge Cynthia James is quick to point out that a hair free body is the only way to adequately exhibit the symmetry and muscle detail of a professionally developed physique.
A successful shave is all about treating the skin well. A combination of exfoliation and deep moisturisation are essential to avoid ingrowing hairs that are irritating and can become infected and unsightly. Pre-shave, feed the skin by soaking in an oily bath enriched with oils such as sunflower or apricot. Post-shave, the skin should be exfoliated 24 hours later and moisturised again.
Not every part is easy to get to with a conventional shaver and our bodies are full of tricky contours and tight chicanes such as around the clavicle or over the tricky Adam’s Apple. Some men opt for electrolysis to deal with hard to shave areas as this is long lasting although it can take a similarly long time for the process to be complete as hairs are treated with an electrically charged needle individually. Others opt for hair removal creams or gels which attack the hair just below the epidermis. The downside is these can be notoriously smelly and some skins just don’t get on with depilatories, the results are also nowhere near as long lasting as some of the other methods outlined here.
If you plan on getting up close and personal, try to protect your significant other from getting lost in a jungle of nose or ear hair. Most people, male and female alike, will not admit to being turned on by nostrils sprouting luxuriant growth and, heaven forbid, anything that might be lurking in the nose locks.
There’s really no excuse. A pair of scissors with blunt ends (we don’t want any unplanned nosebleeds) will trim away the excess quickly and cleanly. You can also buy nose hair trimmers if you like to have gadgets or you are not careful with scissors. They will go with the trouser press.
Mono-brows are a matter of taste. If you don’t want to look like you have a misplaced moustache, the best way to put some appropriate distance between your brows is by either waxing or plucking. Plucking or tweezing is pretty much what it sounds like and like most things, the more decisive you are, the less painful it is. It also gets better with practice. Don’t do it just before a date, however, as the redness can take a while to die down.
With the right tweezers, you can pluck out the shortest of stray hairs. If you intend to wax then the hair must be about one-eighth of an inch in order for it to be removed successfully. You can buy products such as Zeos Waxing kits to use at home or you can visit a salon and have your eyebrows professionally styled. Waxing and plucking are both fairly long lasting (about a month).
Hair removal is something the majority of men deal with already on a daily (for some, more often than that) basis. Most men are old hands and understand how good it feels to be freshly shaved and well groomed. Depilating other troublesome parts of the body is simply an extension of that routine for some, for others it’s about gaining a winning edge, feeling more confident or showing off what they’ve worked hard to achieve. Surely that’s worth a bit of discomfort and inconvenience?