Do the ladies dig your hair, or is it time to clean up the superfluous fur? A new study reveals that hirsute cavemen are out, ‘cos more modern men are extending their hair grooming efforts to below their necks, which might involve shaving off the wooly jumper, trimming the bushes, and even the pristine ‘Boyzillian’- the male Brazillian wax.
Once the preserve of women, and gay or metrosexual men, surveys report that male body grooming is becoming increasingly mainstream, particularly amongst young men aged 16-24, and quickly catching on with the more mature crowd as well. Some suggest that this manscaping trend might have been sparked off by well-trimmed or fuzz-free elite athletes and style icons such as David Beckham, Christiano Ronaldo, Daniel Craig, David Gandy and hordes of boyish-looking K-Pop stars. Besides triathletes trying to gain an advantage by going totally bare down there, many of the world’s hottest male celebrities have opted to tame their body hair to best display their glowing skin (or intricate tattoo art) and hard-earned, gym-toned pecs.
In a new study, it was found that over the last 12 months, the most requested region for hair removal in men was the pubes, followed by chest, underarms, back, bottoms and legs. In case you’re wondering why, you must have heard about the trick to gain optical inch since “clearing the bushes will make the trees look taller”, haven’t you?
Between waxing, laser hair removal, tweezing and electrolysis, we’ve complied the need-to-know’s about these 4 major manscaping strategies to make losing it a silky smooth process.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL
If you have had enough of stubbles, razor burns or ingrown hair, this is for you. Laser hair removal involves permanently disabling growing hair follicles with laser light energy. This effectively puts an end to routine mowing. It works efficiently to remove or reduce unwanted hair on any major parts of the body – the back, chest, stomach, shoulders, legs, genitals, as well as the face. Depending on the hair density, hair colour and skin type, the average guy might require 4-6 sessions to progressively zap away more and more active follicles as they sprout with each hair cycle.
Plus Points: Laser hair removal is an effective and safe advanced treatment for permanent hair reduction. This not only saves you time and effort from daily shaves, it spares you from the repeated skin trauma from constant shaving, waxing and epilation which can lead to complications such as razor burns, skin darkening and ingrown hairs. In fact, laser hair removal can be used to target pesky ingrowns as well. With each session, you would see less hair that grows much slower, as well as finer, lighter hair.
Drawbacks: The advanced technology and professional expertise of a qualified doctor means laser hair removal is way more pricey compared to other options for hair removal – although many consider this as a worthwhile investment as you would never fuss about the unwanted fuzz again. Laser is also blind to very light-coloured hairs as it seeks out melanin (pigment) in the growing hair, so white, gray and platinum blond hairs don’t have to apply.
Final Note: Everyone is different, so should every treatment. Hence, it is wise to choose a clinic with a range of hair removal lasers to suit your combination of skin and hair types to ensure maximum efficacy along with minimum risks of burns or temporary pigmentation, especially in tanned skin. For example, the GentleLase laser works best for fairer skin types with lighter brown to dark hair. Its unique wavelength enables it to treat fine hair effectively, too. IPL works better on those with fair skin and dark hair. GentleYag (one of the most powerful of the long-pulsed Nd-yag hair removal lasers) on the other hand, is a perfect choice for darker skin types. Consult with your doctor to find out which laser treatment is suitable for you.
Rub, peel and go! He-waxing gets you smooth and clean swiftly, without the nicks and cuts that shaving often leaves behind. Professional waxing is best for tricky areas such as eyebrow shaping (e.g. unibrow), fuzzy ears and neck, and the sensitive ‘nether’-lands; or inaccessible bits like the back and between the other pair of cheeks.
Plus Points: When you cut your lawn bluntly with a shaver or trimmer, hair sprouts back quickly, stubbly and prickly (imagine that on your chest, back or down under). Waxing uproots the entire hair shaft, leading to a slower, softer regrowth.
Drawbacks: DIY de-fuzzers, beware! Besides the obvious ouch factor, wax strips can grip onto the hairs and skin to cause inflamed bumps due to micro-tears where the follicles are yanked out, infected follicles, or even raw ‘burns’ as large areas of surface skin gets lifted off. Ingrown hairs are another known complication of waxing. So some things are better left to the pros. Find a salon with good hygiene practices though, since double-dipping in hot wax has been reported to spread STDs like molluscum contagiosum and viral warts.
Final Note: If you intending to go hands-on, simple-to-use commercial wax strips specially designed for men are available. Most of the wax strips nowadays are made with beeswax, with added essential oils and extracts to soothe the skin. Try Veet for Men, or Nad’s Hair Removal Body Waxing Strips for Men. For a rash-free finish, avoid hot showers, irritating chemicals (e.g. chlorinated pools) or sweat-outs for at least 24 hours since freshly waxed skin is more sensitive.
PLUCKING & PRUNING
For those tiny pockets of redundant hair like stray strands of the brow, you can just tweeze ’em away. But when it comes to grooming in other sensitive tight spots such as nose hairs, your trusty little round-edged scissors or a specialised electrical nose trimmer might do better, without giving you skin infection from bugs entering the tiny skin tears from plucking (although we’ve seen nose hair waxing which is incredibly quick and super clean, but not fun at all).
If you want to annihilate unwanted hair permanently, but is unwilling to shell out that much cash for laser, this final option might be your answer. During electrolysis, the professional technician uses a needle-like metal probe to penetrate each hair shaft. The follicle is then zapped with a pulse of low-level electricity to destroy the growth centre of that individual hair. A series of 10 to 25 treatments is required to get rid of majority of the follicles.
Plus Points: Electrolysis offers permanent removal of the hair, even light-coloured hair. For guys with curly beards and chest tuft that are prone to developing red, bumpy ingrowns with shaving, this would solve your hairy situation for good.
Drawbacks: Since it has to be done hair by hair, this method of hair removal can be painfully time-consuming if you are looking at clearing all the weeds in vast areas like the back or legs. Potential risks include skin inflammation, temporary pigmentation and rare cases of scarring.
Final Note: Look for a trained electrologist. The wrong decision can mean extra sessions and cost, along with unnecessary discomfort and scarring. Ensure that he/she is using needle electrolysis, since some places may advertise electrolysis but use electronic tweezers or photoepilators instead. These are not permanent hair removal procedures. The last point is common sense, but do remember to look around for signs of good sanition (cleanliness, disposable gloves and needles) in the salon before you start.
– By Gene Yeo