No matter how much hair you have, manscaping is probably something you’ve done already, or at least thought about. And these days, no part of the body is off limits. Our own Men’s Health survey shows that 62% of men trim or shave below the belt. That number climbs higher when you start talking about other areas like your chest (72%) and back (78%), according to a 2018 study by Chicago’s Advanced Dermatology.
The way we manscape, too, is changing. According to Doug Janczyn, owner of Manscape Spa in Victoria, Canada, “ten years ago chest waxing was a huge thing. Guys wanted it all gone. Now trimming is more popular.” The natural look is in and most men are just looking for ways to look trimmer and neater, not Ken doll-smooth.
Grooming your body hair is personal, to a point. Whether you want to completely get rid of hair or just keep it trimmed depends on your preference and it’s entirely possible to do it yourself at home. But for some areas you may need to get some extra help, like your back. Sure, you could get someone to help you, says Janczyn, “but shaving your own back is a challenge. Even with a partner, it never ends up looking right.” He says it’s common for his customers to come in for waxing appointments to fix areas they’ve tried to shave themselves. “The benefit of waxing is that you only need to do it a few times a year,” he says.
There are also actual health concerns to manscaping yourself, says dermatologist Evan Rieder, MD. “The biggest risks of manscaping are infection, ingrown hairs (pseudofolliculitis), and skin irritation,” he says, not to mention the risk of cuts and more serious injuries, which nearly half of men have experienced from manscaping, according to a recent survey. Most of these issues come from improper technique and using the wrong tools. Here are the 7 must-follow tips to manscape your body safely and effectively, as well as the proper tools to get the job done right.
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Go Slow And Use The Right Razor for Manscaping
Gillette Sensor2 Plus Pivoting Head Disposable Razors
It should go without saying, but shaving slowly is especially important when you go down below. “I have seen disasters from guys getting careless with razors and scissors down there,” says Rieder. “The skin is particularly delicate and there is not much separating the blade from your nuts!”
If you are going to use a razor, Janczyn recommends a two-blade razor. Fewer blades mean less irritation and fewer cuts. “They also clog up too quickly,” he says, “which increases frustration and makes people go a little too hard with the blade.” A simple razor like Gillette Sensor 2 is perfect. It still gives you the close shave you need, but is more gentle on your junk (or anywhere else) than versions with more blades. Remember: “more is not better,” says Janczyn.
Avoid Cross Contamination When Manscaping
Schick ST2 for Men Sensitive Skin Disposable Razor
The most important part of manscaping, according to Rieder, is cleanliness. Always shower before attempting to manscape. It will not only help soften the hairs and make them easier to cut, but it also helps get rid of bacteria that may be lurking on the skin (especially in areas like your groin or your pits). Then, before you set in to mow the lawn, wash your hands again.
The same cleanliness rules apply to the tools you’re using. “Never use the same razor for your body that you do for your face,” says Janczyn. We have different bacteria on our body than we do on our face, so keeping blades separate can help prevent spreading things like jock itch and even staph. “Ideally, you want two sets of razors,” he says, and make sure both sets are always sharp.
Using a disposable razor for your body is a good way to minimize the risk of contamination. Inexpensive packs of Schick ST2 Sensitive Skin Razors are perfect to make sure you’re always using a new blade (dull razors increase your risk of nicks and irritation). Plus, you won’t ever be tempted to use it on your face if you throw the razor out after every use. If you’re a minimalist, Janczyn says you can take a razor from your face to your body, but never vice versa.
Shaving your Balls Takes Flexibility
Manscaped The Lawn Mower 2.0
If you’re going to attempt to shave your own balls, do some stretches first. “It takes flexibility and patience,” says Janczyn. He recommends laying a towel down on the floor and standing in front of your bathroom mirror. Make sure you have good lighting. “There are all these different crevices that you need to be able to see,” he says. Before you start, relax—rushing through it will not help. When you’re shaving a delicate area like your junk, “you can only do small strokes with the razor,” says Janczyn. “Make sure you allow yourself enough time that you don’t get frustrated.” As you go, pull the skin tight (especially on your sack) to make sure you’re getting an effective shave.
If bathroom yoga isn’t your thing, or taking a blade to your toolbox is a little too extreme, Rieder recommends using a manscaping trimmer instead of a razor. “Clippers are way safer and decrease the risk of cuts, irritation, and ingrown hairs,” he says. Look for a clipper specifically designed for delicate areas, like the Manscaped Lawn Mower 2.0 which is gentle enough for your family jewels and has multiple length settings so you don’t have to go fully hairless if you don’t want to.
Use a Pre-Shave Oil Before Manscaping
American Crew Ultra Gliding Shave Oil
No matter where on your body you’re manscaping, you need to make sure to protect your skin first. The same rules apply to shaving your body as shaving your face. “Razors offer a close shave, but can also cause post-shave irritation if there is inadequate lubrication,” says Rider. Prep the skin before you shave with a pre-shave oil to help protect your skin. It will help the razor glide across your skin easier and soften coarse body hair so it’s cut more easily.
You can use the same shaving oil on your body as you do your face, just make sure it has skin-healthy ingredients and won’t clog your pores. American Crew Ultra Gliding Shave Oil uses fatty acid-rich olive oil to hydrate skin and rosemary leaf oil for an antimicrobial bonus.
Fade Your Body Hair With a Trimmer for A Natural Look
Philips Norelco OneBlade Electric Trimmer and Shaver
If you’re trimming your body hair, instead of shaving it off completely, think of it the same way you do the hair on your head. Not everything should be the same length. “You want to achieve a natural fade,” says Janczyn. “The hair on the outside of your chest should be closer to the skin and the hair in the middle of your chest should be a bit longer.” Not only will it look more natural, but it creates an optical illusion of more defined pecs without hours of bench presses. It also lasts longer. “If you trim your chest hair all one length, it looks fake as it grows in,” says Janczyn.
He recommends using a trimmer and scissors to make sure you are getting the exact length you want. At Manscape Spa, the contour chest and body hair by hand to create an artistic look. But at home, a trimmer with multiple settings works wonders. Start with the longest length and then work your way shorter only in the areas you want to crop close. “You can always go closer if you want,” Janczyn says.
Janczyn’s preferred trimmer is the Philips Norelco OneBlade because of its versatility. It comes with multiple length attachments and is small and light enough to use on even hard to reach areas. “It can do the entire body,” he says. If you’re going to use it on your face, which he says works well too, just make sure to have a different blade reserved for your body.
Be Prepared for Stubble
Fur Ingrown Eliminator Mitts
If you’re completely shaving, stubble is going to be a reality. And fast. “It only takes one to three days to get stubble, depending on how quickly your hair grows,” says Janczyn. If you’re shaving for a special event, like a bodybuilding competition or pool party, shave the day before. It will make sure irritation is at a minimum and stubble hasn’t had time to show. If you’re consistently shaving, be prepared to do it every few days.
As hair grows back in, it can be itchy and uncomfortable. Janczyn recommends using a hair conditioner on your body right before getting out of the shower. “Conditioners contain silicones which will put a nice coating on the hair, so when it grows out it won’t be as itchy on the skin,” he says. You can use the same one you use on your head, but if you’re going to use it with consistency, look for one that won’t clog your pores like SEEN Conditioner.
The reality of stubble is that if your hair is curly or coarse (and our body hair is typically coarser than the hair on our heads), ingrown hairs are likely. The best way to treat ingrown hairs, according to Rieder, is to prevent them in the first place. Good shaving practices like the above should be enough to keep them to a minimum. But when they do happen, use a specific ingrown treatment like Fur Ingrown Eliminator Mitts, which will help exfoliate and release hairs caught under your skin.
Know Your First Aid
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
It’s a reality of shaving that cuts happen, even to the most experienced among us. And when you’re manscaping sensitive areas, they’re even more likely. Then add the fact that you might not always be able to see where you’re shaving (like under your balls or on your shoulders) and it’s basically like using a weed whacker blindfolded. “If you see blood for any reason, stop immediately,” says Janczyn. “Wait for a couple of days for the spot to scab over and you can finish shaving, making sure to avoid the area that’s still healing.” Better yet, cool it for a couple of weeks until the area is completely healed.
“If you cut yourself manscaping, clean the area with soap and water,” says Rieder. “Hold firm pressure for ten minutes on any area that is bleeding.” Once the bleeding has stopped, he says to apply a petroleum ointment like Aquaphor to the cut and then cover it with a bandaid. Keep doing that every day till the scab falls off. Tinier cuts don’t need to be covered, but should be kept clean. And of course, “if the bleeding doesn’t stop, seek medical attention,” he says.
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