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Manscaping 101

This man probably won't impress very many ladies!
This man probably won't impress very many ladies!
Jonathan Kitchen/Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you think of facial and body hair as the enemy of good male grooming, then manscaping is for you. Loosely defined as the removal of male body hair, manscaping is a grooming revolution that's changing the way men look at body maintenance -- not exercise, but the niceties. The kinder, gentler male of the last decade has lost more than his gruff attitude. He's lost that fuzzy pelt immortalized in movies like "The 40 Year Old Virgin." Men who want to please their partners are grabbing their razors in large numbers, determined to make their man parts smoother and more user-friendly.

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Thickets of hair can inhabit quite a bit of male real estate, from the face all the way down to the toes. Manscaping includes sculpting unibrows, and removing ear and nose hair. Not all hair bounty is necessarily offensive, though. Manscaping doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Men have to judge for themselves what's doable and what's just plain scary -- or silly. The decision will probably have a lot to do with the preferences of a partner or mate, too. From just trimming chest hair to removing it completely, manscaping is a matter of personal preference. There are no hard-and-fast rules.

A no-body-hair look may be just the thing to get a partner's pulse racing. It can give a man's body a more sculpted appearance that you don't have to be an Olympic swimmer to appreciate. On the other hand, many couples are happy with just removing a man's back hair and trimming chest hair to keep it discretely under a tee shirt. Adventurous groomers may want to move farther south and do some thinning and trimming of the groin area.

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Single guys who want to achieve a reasonable balance between what's comfortable and what's socially acceptable should take a peek in a three-way mirror. A very hairy back, hairy shoulders and a chest that looks more like a carpet than an appealing spot for a woman to lay her head are prime candidates for judicious chest trimming and a back and shoulder shave.

When it comes to the practical aspects of manscaping, there are a number of hair removal tools available for budding body barbers who want to take care of business themselves.

  • Hair removal creams - For fast hair removal, creams are an easy solution. A single application can remove existing hair and inhibit regrowth for up to six weeks in some cases. Creams can cause skin irritation in some users, so test a small area before you lather up -- and follow the directions carefully. Creams can also smell less than appealing -- they actually can smell pretty nasty -- and they cost more than your average replacement razor blade.
  • Shaving - The first choice of the manly man, shaving successfully gets rid of body hair, and it's the least expensive option. It's a challenging do-it-yourself proposition for some body parts, like the back and shoulders, though. A personal hygiene trimmer or personal groomer will help with those delicate areas, and asking a friend to lend a hand with the hard to reach spots is a good idea, too. For your first effort, try a two pass approach by removing longer hair with a beard trimmer and then using a groomer for closer work.
  • Waxing - Yikes! Just the thought of this one hurts, but it's an option that will remove hair for weeks at a time. No one ever said sex appeal was easy, and women have been waxing for years.

Other manscaping tools, like ear and nose trimmers, tweezers, clippers and a good pair of scissors can help make the job of hair sculpting and removal touch-ups much easier.

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If none of these options have you stoked about taking care of the hair situation, consider visiting a salon that offers manscaping. You can sit back and enjoy the luxury of letting someone else do all the work. Chances are, they'll do a better job than you could manage on your own anyway.

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When a guy has a major hair removal project going, it can be high-maintenance. Shaving will almost certainly require a weekly refresher to keep the stubble at bay, and relying on creams or a spa treatment every few weeks can run into time and expense.

Shaved skin will also begin to itch big time as the hair grows out, especially in the groin area. A five o'clock shadow where you're not expecting one can be a real turnoff, too. We aren't panning the idea of body hair grooming and trimming, mind you. Sometimes you just have to put nature in its place, especially if your exterior looks more like fur rather than an attractive expanse of man hide. Before you decide that smooth skin and plenty of it is definitely for you, though, recognize the potential inconvenience and discomfort involved.

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Sources

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  • Ask Men. "Manscaping." Undated. 9/12/10.http://www.askmen.com/fashion/keywords/manscaping.html
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  • Muther, Christopher. "A Manscaping Backlash." Boston.com. 8/27/09. 9/12/10.http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/fashion/articles/2009/08/27/a_manscaping_backlash_has_begun/
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