Yes, Virginia, Men Can Go to the Spa

Take a Load Off
Is it more acceptable if that deep shoulder rub is called a "golfers' massage"?
Is it more acceptable if that deep shoulder rub is called a "golfers' massage"?
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Outside of L.A., and maybe inside it, too, "manscaping" can be something of a punch line. But the fact is, lots of women love their men waxed clean, and where there is an admiring woman there is usually at least one willing man.

In this case, there are lots of them. Men are, if not flocking, then at least heavily trickling in to spas to have their backs (among other areas) waxed, shaved or lasered into a smooth, neat manscape. But the man's hair removal menu, which typically includes the traditional barbershop hot-towel shave, with spa-type additions like botanical oils to soften bristly facial hair, is just one of the categories of male spa treatments.

Traditionally female favorites like facials, manicures and other skin-and-beauty services have been tweaked, to varying degrees, to accommodate the male patron, treatments like:

  • Manicure -- It's "hand-detailing" or a "nail treatment," and it ends with buffing instead of polishing.
  • Cellulite treatment/body wraps -- It typically targets male "problem areas" like the abdomen, rather than the female bane, the thighs. (The "ab wrap" at SIR spa in Chicago, for instance, will "enhance your workout results.")
  • Male facial -- It often comes in a "backne" version and might have hotter towels than they use on the gals, to open up a man's rough-'n'-tough pores.
  • Hair color -- It's to "camouflage" gray, not "color" or "dye" hair.

And then there is the wide variety of massages -- Swedish, Ayurvedic, hot-stone -- to ease the tensions of the work day, the golf course, the gym, the carrying out the trash and recycling. The scent of lilies is replaced with sandalwood, and they're called "golfers' massages," or "shoulder and back rubs." Some spas claim to offer greater pressure in the man's version of the treatment, and all offer masseuses (female masseurs) to alleviate the possible discomfort of being rubbed by another guy.

Massage, especially one intended to loosen sports-sore muscles, is one of those "spa things" that reminds us that guys have actually been going to the spa for stress-relief forever, and in groups to boot. Only they've been calling it "a steam," "a sweat," or maybe "a shvitz." The real difference we see now is the environment in which that male relaxation is happening. It's the typical "spa" ambiance that has encouraged an all-female vibe. That's where spas have made the most serious adjustments for male clientele.