THE BLOG

The Changing Landscape of Male Grooming

15/05/2013 11:16 BST | Updated 14/07/2013 10:12 BST
Shutterstock

There's no escaping the growing demand for information on manscaping- magazine slang for body hair management for men. I've written about the massive increase the cosmetic beauty industry is seeing in Laser Hair Removal on women's bikini lines, but what is perhaps more surprising is the massive growth in similar procedures for men.

Courthouse Clinics have recently received research figures on the breakdown of our in-house cosmetic treatments, and we've noted a 156% increase in the number of men getting permanent hair removal since 2009.

Almost half are looking to de-fuzz their back or shoulders, 20% their chest or abdomen, and 15% get rid of hair on their cheek and beard areas.

Perhaps it's to be expected. After years of controversial rhetoric on the reasons women get their body hair removed, the conversation is now shifting for men, who are increasingly expressing a desire for cleaner and less time-consuming methods for body hair maintenance like their female counterparts.

This has been reflected in the press. Gilette recently launched a campaign, headed up by this month's Vogue covergirl Kate Upton, inferring women want men to start paying more attention not only to their body hair but particularly to their pubic hair.

In their online survey of 500 men and 1,000 women, they found that nearly half of women think men should de-hair their groin- but only half of the men surveyed admitted to currently shaving anything more than their face.

Stephen Perrine, editor-at-large for Men's Fitness, declares that, "Being fit and well groomed is not something you can out-source or buy or get a bargain on. It's the one real marker of success, and of having control of yourself."

Perrine suggests that getting your man garden under control "is kind of a lovely statement" to a lover, and that in a gym changing room is a sign to other men that your woman isn't theirs to take, that you know how to please her.

FHM suggested in an article last year that since women have for years been "trimming, shaping and whipping off their pubic fuzz" for guys, women now "want the favour back." Their stats seem to support this: 83% of their interview respondents said they expect some kind of body hair maintenance from their men.

"Follically well-endowed" Telegraph journalist David Nicholls underwent pain-free Soprano Laser Hair Removal on his back and shoulders, writing that his decision to get a permanent hair removal solution came from that fact that his "manscaping" became an ever more time-consuming job. He reports that in his ageing years he was "becoming something of a constant gardener."

Nicholls embraces the change in male attitudes to body hair. "I'd like the neckline of my tee-shirts not to be accessorized by a revolting hair trim. I would prefer that the hair on my face didn't continue virtually seamlessly down to the hair on my chest. I'd like it if the hair on my head didn't extend seamlessly down to the hair on my back."

Askmen.com suggests that "men are quick to chime in about their likes and dislikes when it comes to their girls' personal grooming habits" but that women often too have "very strong preferences on the subject of body hair."

All signs point to no abate on the number of men who want to know more about keeping to the right side of "rugged masculine" fashion so that they don't turn into "rugged bear"- both for themselves, and as a seduction technique. Body hair maintenance is another interesting component to the post-feminist discussion of what makes a man a "man", and how we classify traditional masculine values. Like Robert Manni says: men are learning to redefine themselves.

There's a male grooming paradox, though: I recently wrote about how the demand for men's botox is increasing, and yet men are still far behind their female counterparts in coming forward for varicose vein treatment. Let's hope that as the development in men feeling more comfortable about their aesthetic objectives the dialogue is opened for medical concerns, too.