Body grooming rules are inconsistent. The manscaping technique that works best on your chest hair is less ideal for your back, or even your junk. You’ll also prepare and treat your skin differently with waxing than you would for, say, shaving or trimming.
Whether you’re hairy and wanting to be less so, or you just need a functional trimming down, then consider these key rules for body-hair removal. These manscaping rules will help you through every scenario, and will save you a helluva lot of agony in the process.
Manscaping Rule #1: Not Everything Needs to Be Trimmed
In some cases, trimming body hair is both aesthetically pleasing and purposeful. (To be clear: We’re talking about your pubes.) Body hair can trap moisture and, when there’s a lack of circulation and light (as in your nether regions most of the day), you increase your risk of fungal infection and other rashes. That’s why it’s helpful to keep everything at a short clip. The exact length is up to you, but it’s best to leave it under an inch or an inch and a half.
You don’t need to trim as much of your other body hair, though. Chest hair is fine, for example. This is especially true if you never notice it getting too unruly: All the hair on your body has a set “terminal length”, at which point the follicle stops producing more hair, the hair falls out, and a new hair replaces it weeks later. For this reason, your chest hair might maintain an ideal length (perhaps an inch or more) without you ever needing to snip it down.
Of course, every guy is different, and “ideal length” means different things to different people. But the point is that you want to prioritize each zone of body hair differently.
Manscaping Rule #2: Know When to Wax, and When to Shave
If you’re going for total smoothness, you need to consider the pros and cons of waxing and shaving. This will help you decide which is best for you personally, and which is more suitable in a given scenario.
While shaving won’t buy you as much time as waxing, shaving is usually less agonizing—assuming you have a good post-shave skincare regimen. (See next tip.) If you want to clean up your shoulders or you’re heading to the beach tomorrow and need a quick back-hair clearance, then a razor is a far better option for instant gratification—even if you’ll feel stubble within a couple days. You probably won’t need to shave again for 10-14 days before it’s noticeable.
Furthermore, it’s not ideal to wax off your hair days before a beach vacation. Your skin needs extra time to recover from waxing. The hair follicles are ripped from the pores, leaving the pores open to bacteria, dirt, sweat, and other maladies. This leads to infections, breakouts, and very unsightly skin.
That said, waxes work better in high-friction areas. For example: Let’s say you are going full Brazilian and are waxing between your legs, and maybe even your butt. (Lots of guys—especially athletes—do this.) If you were to simply shave this skin, you’d experience ungodly pain as the stubble grows out and rubs against your other thigh, or as your butt cheeks rub together with each step. Just be sure to treat the skin and get plenty of ventilation up in there in the days following the hair removal.
Manscaping Rule #3: Treat Your Body as You Would Your Face
You’ve probably got a good pre- and post-shave strategy for your face: a disinfecting aftershave, a hot shower before (to open the pores), and a cold splash of water after (to tighten them).
You should do the same when you’re shaving or waxing body hair. You want to prepare your skin for hair removal by softening the hairs and relaxing the pores. Afterwards, rinse in cold water to close the pores, followed by an application of post-shave balm to soothe the skin while protecting it from bacteria, sweat, and grime.
Manscaping Rule #4: Hygiene Is Essential
Any time you put a razor or wax on your skin, you need to ensure that everything is clean. Check the reviews of any waxing parlor. (And don’t go with a bargain; high prices reflect high quality.) Store your razor upright in a well-ventilated place (but away from the toilet, and ideally out of the bathroom, which is a bacterial cesspool.) Clean the razor between each use, and replace it after four uses, or after two weeks (whichever comes first). If you risk anything more, you’ll have a dull blade, a rusted blade, or a bacterial-infested one. These are all recipes for infection or ingrown hairs.
If you notice a rash or breakout in the days following a shave or wax, apply a disinfecting, antimicrobial soap like Hibiclens after each shower. You’ll see clearance within a couple days.
Manscaping Rule #5: One Device Rules All
Trimming has far fewer rules than waxing or shaving. Trimmers don’t break the hair below the skin’s surface, so you have to worry less about infections, preparations, and hygiene. If you can tolerate trimming more frequently that you would otherwise shave or wax, just get a good body groomer, like the Philips Norelco Bodygroom Series 3100 or the Braun Series 3 ProSkin 3040s. It can trim everything down to a barely-there stubble, so you appear smooth. And you will be, for a couple of days. At that point, another grazing-over with the groomer will keep you hairless and pain-free. (Plus, you can use the same device to trim longer hair, too, with the different guard lengths.) It’s an all-in-one tool. Invest.