As a grooming writer I’m used to providing answers to men’s questions about haircare, skincare and fragrance but the subject they’re most curious about is manscaping. Since it became ‘a thing’ roughly ten years ago I’ve written countless pieces on the subject but nothing quite as comprehensive as the guide that is my first major piece for leading men’s fashion and lifestyle blog Ape To Gentleman. A top-to-toe guide to removing hair, wherever it may sprout, it’s an ideal resource for any man wanting to pluck, prune or depilate. So grab your wax strips/razor/hair removal cream and have a read of it here.
The great thing about Amazon selling beauty and grooming products is that, unlike the world of magazines – where everything is fabulous and works a treat – people pretty much tell it as it is. And here is a beautiful, if eye-watering, example of that honesty in action, brought to my attention through a tweet by Beauty Magazine for whom I provide male grooming features. So without further ado…
Britain’s top male waxing specialist Andy Rouillard knows just about everything there is to know about hair removal for men. Not only does he spend his days ensuring men’s backs, shoulders and other bits are free of unwanted hair he also teaches others how to deliver perfect treatments too. So who better to provide a glimpse into the world of the super-smooth male?
GG: More and more men seem to be waxing these days. Why do you think that is? And what are the benefits of waxing?
AR: Guys have been shaving, creaming, plucking and trimming unwanted hair for years, we just haven’t talked about it quite as openly until now. We do it because it feels cleaner, cooler and more comfortable to be hair free; because we prefer the way it looks; or because our partners have told us to get it done (I stopped counting a long time ago the number of chaps that are booked in for their first ever salon wax by a wife or girlfriend).
GG: Why the sudden boom though?
AR: As much as I hate to use the ‘media influence’ argument, there’s no denying the impact that our media’s fascination with fuzz-free celebrities has had on bringing waxing out of the closet.
Need I even mention the Golden Balls Armani ad from a few years back that whipped the media up into such a frenzy of speculation over Mr Beckham’s personal hair removal habits?
The reality is, many guys saw the fuss generated by this one story and thought to themselves: “well if it’s good enough for Becks, it’s good enough for me.”
GG: What’s the most common part of the body that men want waxing?
AR: Backs and shoulders are still the most popular areas chosen for deforestation, but an increasing number of guys are now opting for more extreme manscaping in the form of Brazilian waxing. Perhaps better known as the infamous ‘back, sac and crack’ or ‘Boyzilian’, this involves the removal of unwanted hair from the crown jewels and bum.
GG: Ouch! I always wince when I think of Boyzilains!
AR: Surprisingly, it hurts a lot less than the image it conjures would suggest, and is quickly becoming one of the most requested male waxing services at salons up and down the country (although whoever came up with the name ‘Boyzilian’ needs to be shot at dawn).
Nostril and ear waxing is also very popular, which I consider less of a job and more of a public service. Seriously, there’s no excuse for nose tendrils. There are times when I have to be physically restrained from yanking hair out of the snouts of strangers in the street. I could probably get arrested for that, right?
AR: Generally speaking, wax needs to be applied in the direction of hair growth and removed in the opposite direction. Failing to follow the patterns that Mother Nature blessed you with means that the hair simply won’t come out; wax gets stuck, the skin tugs, and you end up with all manner of heartache from bruising, broken hairs and toffee-like clumps of cold wax that won’t shift for love nor money.
GG: Are there any new developments in waxing techniques or any new treatments for men?
AR: Fortunately, waxing has come a long way since the old ‘strip’em and rip’em’ style of hair removal made (in)famous by The 40 Year Old Virgin. A new generation of low temperature peelable waxes has made hair removal a much more pleasant experience in the salon. It works by ‘shrinkwrapping’ around the hair as it dries on the skin, and is then whipped off by hand instead of being removed with a cloth strip. Also, many salons are now using oil under their wax instead of powder, which stops the product from sticking to the skin and makes things a lot more comfortable.
Check what your salon uses before making a booking. For intimate waxing in particular, if a therapist comes at your boys with anything other than a bottle of oil and peelable wax, run screaming for the hills.
GG: What advice would you give to a man that is trying waxing at home?
AR: I’m undoubtedly a little biased but I am firmly of the opinion that some things are best left to the professionals – if nothing else, it’s quicker and it hurts less. However, if you really must try this at home, the secret to success lies in your prep and aftercare.
For a few days beforehand, gently exfoliate the area you plan on pruning with a body brush or scrub. This helps to slough off any excess dead skin cells and lifts the hair for better results.
Your skin needs to be clean and dry for the wax to stick. If it’s a hot day or the thought of merrily ripping your own hair out by the root brings on a nervous sweat, dust yourself lightly with talc to absorb any excess moisture.
Trim the hair down with clippers or scissors before you start: you’ll be able to see the patterns of growth a lot easier, which prevents longer tufts from becoming tangled in the wax and will altogether hurt a lot less. About 1cm (grade 3 on electric clippers) is about right; any shorter and the hair won’t be long enough for the wax to grip.
Work in small sections, applying wax thinly in the direction of hair growth and stretching the skin as you go. Lay a fabric strip down and give it a few firm rubs with the whole of your hand to get a good bond between wax and hair. Stretch the skin as taut as you can, then pull the strip off in the opposite direction to your wax application. Keep your hand parallel to the body during removal and pull quickly and in one smooth motion (don’t hesitate or pull the strip up into the air, as this will hurt like a bitch and can cause bruising). Apply pressure with a cold flannel immediately afterwards, which will cool and calm those jangled nerve endings.
Once you’ve finished, rub a generous squirt of baby oil into the area to shift any lingering sticky bits, then take a cool shower (not hot, unless you happen to like the smell of burning flesh). Smother your freshly denuded body in tea tree body lotion or aloe vera gel to soothe and protect the skin.
You’ll look like a freshly plucked chicken and will feel a little sunburnt for a few days afterwards, so you need to treat things with a little extra TLC: avoid heat and friction (no hot showers, tanning, vigorous exercise, tight clothing, etc.), keep applying the tea tree body lotion, and the job’s a good’un.
GG: Why do you prefer waxing over other hair removal methods?
AR: Shaving and hair removal creams are great for short term results or a last minute top-up at home before a big event, but they can be time consuming and only provide smoothness for a few days before the dreaded itch of re-growth sets in. Sure, waxing has an initial ‘ouch factor’ (anyone who tells you otherwise is quite clearly a liar), but it’s relatively quick, affordable, and the results last a lot longer because hair is removed at the root, rather than being simply shorn off at skin level – this also means there’s no prickly stubble as your pelt grows back. And it gets easier with every visit, I promise!
GG: And finally, what’s your best waxing tip?
AR: Ingrown hairs are the bane of waxers worldwide and can be a blot on the smoothest of landscapes. A daily slick of moisturizer and a quick buff in the shower with an exfoliating mitt or body scrub twice a week will help keep the little blighters at bay.
Zap really stubborn spots with a product such as PFB Vanish or Anthony Logistics Ingrown Hair Treatment. The key ingredient in these is salicylic acid, which acts as a chemical exfoliant to free trapped hairs and also reduces any associated inflammation. As an added bonus, these products can be used to treat razor bumps in the beard area too.
Finally, get waxed every 4-6 weeks. It may seem like a chore to start with, but this timescale encourages the hair into similar cycles of re-growth for longer lasting smoothness. Don’t shave or tweeze between appointments, and after a few sessions you’ll soon start to see what all the fuss is about!
One of skin problems I’m asked about most is the dreaded ‘bacne’ – shorthand for a spotty back. The problem with this affliction, as anyone who’s ever suffered from it will know, is that it’s a real bugger to treat such a difficult-to-reach area without help. Which is where this spray comes in.
Tea-tree is a natural antiseptic so is brilliant for spots, the spray itself is a cinch to use (you can easily reach those difficult bits) and it also gives great coverage thanks to it’s fine spray mist.
What’s more, it’s also great keeping feet fresh and healthy, is the perfect product to protect skin after waxing and also makes a great scalp freshener too. The ultimate multi-function skin-saver and a gym bag essential.
To get your hands on some click here.
Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.
It might be one of the lesser known male grooming trends but trust me, ball shaving is big business. Not content with the aesthetic benefits of a little chest hair trimmage or pubic topiary, men are now clamouring for the look and feel of billiard ball balls.
And if you don’t believe me just look at this – a product from Danish Skincare experts Hans F Hansen called BYB (Below Your Belt) that’s specially designed for boys looking for a perfectly smooth set.
Helpfully, instructions include: “Gently pull down your member so that you can go about the area much easier” and “Stretch out the skin as you gently work your razor whilst pulling your entire package up against your lower belly.” Most exciting bit though is “Feel the skin and shave any area that you may have missed.” Face it, with such a golden opportunity to play with yourself in the name of looking good, male grooming has never been so much fun.