The very word makes us cringe. Manscaping. It’s up there with mannies, mandals, and all the other “manifications” designed to coerce men into activities we’d otherwise be inclined to avoid.
There’s something effeminate about the whole thing—more metrosexual than maintenance. It sounds more like a spa day than what it really is: nervous, shaky, shaving cream-flinging whacks at trying to keep yourself “neat” (while leaving your bathroom “devastated”). And the very idea of a razor getting that close to our stones? Nauseating.
That said, it is now time for you to, as the phrase goes, suck it up. We’re officially mandating manscaping. First of all, women don’t want a man that looks like he crawled out of a cave. Second, getting your body hair under control not only sharpens your look but is also a proven confidence booster. “It’s healthy for every man to consider,” says Craig Whitely, owner of The Grooming Concierge and themensroom.com. “It’s amazing how much thinner someone can appear in their clothing, and how much more comfortable you could feel as well.”
If you’re one of the few remaining cautious souls who’s yet to take a stab (poor word choice) at body grooming, you’re in the dwindling minority. “Some guys think that when you start paying more attention to how you look, then it doesn’t look manly,” says Whitely. “That’s changing, and more men are incorporating it into their regimen.”
Now that you’re thoroughly convinced, it’s important to remember that you can’t just shave everything off and expect decent results. Welcome to Body Grooming 101. Don’t forget to bring a towel.
The most important thing to consider before you start thwacking away is your skin. Sensitive? Bumpy? A good way to gauge the effects on the rest of your body is to check your face. “Anything below the neck is going to be a little bit more sensitive than your face, which you’re shaving on a daily basis,” says Whitely. “If your face is already sensitive to a certain type of shaving, keep in mind that your body is just as sensitive.” If you’re prone to redness and irritation, stay away from razors and take a look at the Philips Norelco Bodygroom, a top all-purpose groomer, designed with both a trimmer head on one side and a shaver on the other side.
Crotch Rule No. 1: Keep the Stubble
We regret to inform you that you are neither a porn star nor a newborn baby. So when it comes to the area immediately below the belt, save the stubble. “You definitely want to have it groomed very short,” says Whitely, “but I’m not a big fan of taking it all off.” Less than an inch is ideal. This will, as Whitely says, “keep it cool enough where you feel comfortable about yourself and it doesn’t have irritation, and you can easily maintain that with trimmers.” For this more sensitive area, the Braun cruZer 5 Body Trimmer contours to the curvatures of your below-the-belt zone, and the wet-and-dry technology works in the shower.
Crotch Rule No. 2: Pull the Skin Tight
That’s right: We’re telling you to pull the skin tight (because that’s what friends are for), especially when handling your boys. “You want to make sure that you’re holding the skin taut in this particular case,” says Whitely. “Because the skin is so much looser and so much thinner, you want to make sure that you’re very conscious of the control that you’re having in that area.” Loose skin could cause the trimmer or razor to catch on the skin, causing outright catastrophes. “I know how sharp the blade can be,” says Whitely. “You have to be conscious and careful in those areas.” Amen.
Watch Your Back (Everyone Else Is)
Unless you wish to be privy to the pains of waxing (see: Carell, Steve; The 40-Year-Old Virgin), you need help with your back. A girlfriend, wife, or very, very discreet friend could be of service. “Stick with trimmers” back there, says Craig. And pay whoever helps you handsomely.
Do It in the Shower
A lot of guys want a smoother chest, and going at it (gently!) with a razor is the way to go. For best results, save it for the shower; “you’re getting rid of all the dirt and oils that can prevent the trimmers or the shaver from maximizing its performance,” says Craig. The two-front power of the Gillette Body Razor combined with the Gillette 2-in-1 Wash + Shave gives you the power to shave a simple area like your chest even when the water’s blasting down.
If You’re a Land Lover
Not big on taking sharp objects into the shower? No problem. For a smoother, safer shave, opt for a cream or gel with moisturizing components. Axe Chilled Shave Gel is our top pick for gels with extra lubrication, and Dove Men+Care Expert Shave Smoothing Cream is ideal if you’re looking for a cream with even more comfort and cushion. These will help the blade glide.