Whether you’re an avid lifter wanting to show off your hard-won pecs, a cyclist who wants to maintain a pair of aerodynamic pins, or you simply hate having hairy shoulders, chances are you’ll have dabbled in body hair removal at some point.
If you have, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a survey by Braun, 62 per cent of men now manscape regularly, with those that do saying it makes them feel cleaner, sexier and also enhances the appearance of their muscles.
What’s more, a third of blokes also reckon it makes them more popular with the opposite sex. The question is: do you wax, shave or laser? Undecided? Here are the pros and cons of some of the most popular body hair removal methods, along with a few tips to ensure you’re successful in getting the smoothest results possible.
The main advantage of waxing is its long-lasting results. Take to ripping the hairs out and you’ll be fuzz-free for up to six weeks. And since the hair is removed at the root, it’ll grow back with fine, rather than blunt, ends so it’s less likely to itch.
Though best performed by a professional, if feeling brave there are now plenty of options on the market that will allow you to wax from the (dis)comfort of your own home, too.
Familiar with the expression ‘no pain, no gain’? It may as well have been invented for waxing. There are worse pains (getting kicked in the balls or your football team being relegated, for example) but make no mistake: this is still equally eye-watering stuff.
The pain is fleeting, mind, and it is possible to get used to it after a while. Sort of.
Tips & Tricks
- The day before you wax, gently exfoliate with a scrub or body brush to remove any dead skin cells.
- Wax is best applied to skin that’s clean, dry and free of any body products. If waxing in warm weather, and are a little sweaty, apply a light dusting of talc beforehand.
- To make things less painful, trim the hair back a little, but remember to ensure it’s still at least 1cm in length so that the wax has something to adhere to.
- Wax should be removed with one clean and swift movement. Be brave and just whip it off. Never peel away slowly. You maniac.
- Always whip wax strips off in the opposite direction of the hair growth and remember to work in small sections.
- If you’re a home wax virgin, try pre-made strips like Nad’s For Men Body Wax Strips, which are easy to use and mess-free. Just warm them between your palms to activate the wax, apply to the offending fur, and rub firmly. Ask a friend, flatmate or significant other for help if necessary.
- To take the initial sting away, try tapping or pressing the skin lightly with your fingertips.
- If skin feels red and sore afterwards, gently press a cold, wet flannel on the affected area for a few minutes to cool the skin.
- Avoid using alcohol-based fragrances and anything that causes profuse sweating for 24 hours afterwards. That includes things like hot showers, exercise and – as much as we hate to say it – vigorous sex.
- As with shaving, looking after the skin post-wax is crucial if you want to avoid nasty rashes. Waxing, along with most forms of hair removal, can sometimes result in small spots forming one to three days afterwards; these are often the result of blocked hair follicles. To minimise the risk, try using a product like Elemis Tea Tree S.O.S Spray, which is formulated to soothe and repair skin.
The simplest of all the hair removal methods, all that’s needed is a razor, some shaving cream and a steady hand.
The reason shaving is one of the most popular choices is that it doesn’t require a great deal of skill. Essentially, if you can shave your chin, you can shave your chest, too.
The odd nick and cut aside (bear in mind you’ll have to navigate nipples), the biggest drawback of shaving is itchy regrowth and the risk of developing unsightly and painful ingrown hairs.
Because you’ll be slicing the hairs off at the surface of the skin, within days you’ll also be left with chest, stomach or shoulder stubble.
Tips & Tricks
- Don’t attempt to shave any hard-to-reach places yourself. No good can ever come of this.
- Shave in the shower – the steam and hot water will plump up the hair shafts making them softer and easier to cut.
- As is advised when shaving your face, use plenty of shaving gel or cream and always shave with the direction of hair growth.
- To make shaving easier, trim the hairs back first using a beard trimmer, hair clippers or a body hair groomer.
- Minimise the risk of ingrown hairs by exfoliating the skin with a body scrub twice a week afterwards. Or invest in a pair of exfoliating gloves.
- To soothe skin, use a post-shave balm afterwards. Something like Anthony Logistics Ingrown Hair Treatment can also be used to prevent annoying ingrown hairs.
- For a slightly more natural look, trim body hair using a body hair trimmer instead of shaving it. Philips’ Bodygroom, Braun’s Body Trimmer and the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler all come highly recommended.
The beauty of depilatory or ‘hair removal’ creams like Veet For Men Hair Removal Cream, Nad’s For Men and Nair Men is that they’re so easy to use. Simply apply, leave for a few minutes and then wash off – along with the unwanted hair, which is weakened at root level by the chemicals in the cream and falls away.
They’re particularly useful for areas like the shoulders that can be hard to reach with a razor. They’re also good for chests, armpits and legs, too.
The results aren’t as long-lasting as with waxing (hair will be poking through before a week is out) and some men are sensitive to the chemicals in the cream, especially if they’re left on for too long.
As with many forms of hair removal, creams can also leave skin spotty sometimes, so correct aftercare is crucial.
Tips & Tricks
- Do a patch test on the inside of your arm first to see if you’re sensitive to any of the cream’s ingredients.
- Always follow the instructions to the letter. And never use ‘down there’. Google “Veet for Men don’t put on your…” for some hilarious accounts of why not.
- Make sure you rinse skin thoroughly with plenty of cool water afterwards.
- Follow the same post-application procedure as with waxing: wear cool, loose clothing for 24 hours afterwards, avoid getting overly hot and sweaty and use an antibacterial spray to fend off breakouts.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal offers one of the longest-lasting solutions to unwanted hair. Though unfortunately, it cannot always be guaranteed the hairs will be gone for good.
This method works by zapping the cells that make the hair, and can be used to thin body hair as well as remove it. It’s especially good for the back, shoulders, neck or buttocks.
Thanks to advances in the technology, there are now several gadgets from the likes of Braun and Philips that offer the treatment at home. Which saves on regularly schlepping to a spa (as nice as that sounds).
This treatment is often expensive if you opt to have it done by a professional. It also stings slightly and can be time-consuming, because in order for the process to work, hair has to be in its growth cycle. This means it takes several separate treatments, over a period of months.
What’s more, for the laser to work properly, it requires pale skin and dark hair with plenty of melanin for the laser to hone in on. This means most laser-based apparatus won’t work on grey, red or blonde hair. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, so it’s worth checking whether the specific clinic has the technology to deal with lighter hair first.
Tips & Tricks
- Always opt for a patch test first to see if you have any sensitivity to the procedure.
- Don’t have laser treatment if you have a recent tan as the lasers can sometimes target the pigment cells in the skin.
- For the best results, don’t skip appointments during the course of treatment.
- Avoid hot showers, baths, chlorine and scented body products or tight clothing for 24 hours after the treatment to reduce the chance of irritation.