Ah, the shaggy man. He’s loveable and a little wild and has that adorable “woke up like this” vibe that makes some of us want to get him back into bed as soon as possible.
Yet that just doesn’t work all the time for all the men. Enter the concept of “manscaping”—basically, grooming of the facial hair, neck, chest, and back, as well as the “southern hedges” of the groin and buttocks—an activity that more than 66% of men do regularly. Manscaping gone badly, though, can result in not just ridiculous eyebrows, but also injury: more than 23% of men reported cuts, burns, and rashes of the scrotum and surrounding areas, according to JAMA Dermatology.
Cybil Solyn in Los Angeles is an expert in hair removal for men and women. She says that men should be monitoring their facial grooming daily, checking for overgrown nostril and ear hairs and making sure their eyebrows aren’t rivaling Albert Einstein’s. As for men’s nether regions, if there’s a musky odor, they might be trapping too much sweat and getting overheated, and a pubic hair trim may be in order. She says that men come to see her for the same reasons women do—because they want to feel a little fresher and cleaner and more streamlined.
Some minor trimming is easy and fine to do on your own. But also, know when to call in the professional—generally, when you can’t see or reach an area very well or when it requires some artistic skill. “So if you can’t shape an eyebrow, don’t do it. If you don’t think that you can look at your own groin and be like, ‘Yeah, I can totally take hair off of this in a way that will look good and attractive, and it’s going to be comfortable,’ you should see a professional at that point,” Solyn says.
“The mistakes I mostly see are when people have tried it on their own and they’ve nicked something,” Solyn says. She also sees a lot of hair-clipper mishaps. “It’s all a hot mess. And they’re missing half of it. They’ve done something horrible. And it’s not a good situation.”
There are two hair removal systems Solyn uses—hard wax and sugaring. Both pull the hair follicles from the roots, but the sugar solution doesn’t stick to the skin like wax sometimes does. Waxing is more effective on longer hairs, up to a half-inch. And yes, the first time will hurt, a little or a lot, depending on your pain threshold. The good news is that, if you stay on a regular hair-removal cycle every three or four weeks, it will become less painful over time, and the hair will grow in thinner and finer. You can also pop ibuprofen in advance or try to use some numbing cream like Lidocaine to help dull the pull.
Another reason to stay on a regular hair-removal cycle is because hair grows in three phases, Solyn says—some have just fallen out, some are deeply rooted, and some are growing in. When you remove them regularly, you’ll get a more consistent result and grow-back.
Solyn suggests gentle, basic cleansers for the pubic region and anywhere else hair was removed, such as the Kiss My Face olive oil soap bar and the Refresh Citrus Body Wash with Vitamin C from Trader Joe’s. “Both of those are pH balanced for the skin so they don’t strip it. Men are really prone to like the heavy-fragrance items, but those tend to strip the skin and make them extra dry,” Solyn says. She adds that you should avoid harsh cleansers such as peppermint castile soap, which can strip skin of oils and dry it out.
Once you’ve removed the hair in the lower acreage, you may start to feel sweaty and some chafing. Use a roll-on antiperspirant on your inner thighs, between your butt cheeks, under the scrotum and also in the crease of the groin if needed, Solyn says. She recommends the Ban unscented roll-on. You can also use a talc or cornstarch powder to dry it out—just stay away from medicated powders in the delicate areas.
You also want to become religious about gentle exfoliation so that newer hairs growing out don’t become trapped under the skin. Solyn is fond of a cactus cloth natural scrubber or similar exfoliating tool. Also, use an ingrown hair treatment before and after your wax/sugaring, such as one from Anthony or Ingrown Zone by Mancine.
Solyn realizes that the first time getting waxed or sugared can be a tender time for anyone. “I’m going to be alone in a room with you; you’re going to be alone in a room with me. And I’m about to do something that could be slightly awkward. And pain.” But don’t worry: A pro has seen everything before—and then some.