Manscaping – a healthier, cleaner alternative for men?

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    Manscaping is becoming increasingly popular, but is it safe?

    Contrary to popular belief, manscaping might not be the healthiest or cleanest option! (Shutterstock)

    Over the past decade, manscaping has grown from a metrosexual phenomenon into a full-blown mainstream trend. However, there is still a segment of the male public that has yet to embrace the hairy-back issue.

    For those gents who envision manscaping as a scene from “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” screams of hair and skin being ripped from the chest one waxy strip at a time, fear not! The manscaping of today isn’t nearly as gruesome, or at least it doesn’t have to be.

    To manscape or not to manscape?

    While for women having well-groomed bushy areas have been commonplace for the better half of the 20th century, men were able to avoid this subject until recently. But don’t be fooled, the trend is here and Licensed Skin Therapist Caesar Jimenez tells Saludify it’s here to stay.

    “It’s everywhere,” said Jimenez, who owns San Francisco’s grooming salon GROOM. “You see it in commercials, magazines and a lot of mobile advertising. It’s on YouTube. It’s everywhere. It’s become really popular and everybody is doing it, old and young.”

    Depending on your situation, manscaping involves the trimming or shaving of either certain target areas or a big swath of body hair. Overall, Jimenez said the reasoning behind whether to begin manscaping or not comes down to increased self-confidence.

    “It really takes a lot of time and focus, but it really depends on the person,” Jimenez said. “It may make them feel better to have a little bit less hair, and keep it nice and neat. Also, a lot of women prefer that.”

    Where the sun doesn’t shine

    There are varying degrees of manscaping.

    One guy may want to trim his back hair, while another may want the rug-like hair growing from his body completely removed. So how does one decide just how far south to take the clippers or waxing?

    Manscaping is becoming increasingly popular, but is it safe?

    Manscaping is becoming increasingly popular, but is it safe? (Shutterstock)

    “It’s really a matter of preference,” Jimenez said. “I have clients who want it all off so it depends. You want to make it as natural as possible. You just want to clean it up a bit but don’t go excessive shaping and all of that stuff. That’s a little bit too much. I don’t do a lot of shaping, I make it subtle and as natural looking as possible.”

    Now here’s the $1 million question regarding manscaping: to shave the genitals or not?

    This is the area where most men get queasy. After all, you’re putting a sharp object in the vicinity of a highly sensitive area.

    Jimenez said this topic is where manscaping is often confused. While some guys may completely shave off their pubic hair, manscaping doesn’t have to be a bald affair.

    “You don’t want to go too short or it’ll look like you’re a teenager or a little kid,” Jimenez said. “I do a lot of Brazilian waxes and most guys leave a little bit of hair but not completely waxed off. It really depends. I’d advise for a regular guy who just wants to start maintaining overgrowth in the genital region to do it as subtle as possible. A lot of women have told me they do appreciate that a man is clean down there but not too much. It’s just finding the right balance between natural and bushy.”

    Health complications of manscaping ‘down there’

    Contrary to popular belief, manscaping may not be the healthiest of alternatives, especially when it comes to the genital area.

    According to Rachael Ann Boice of the University of Colorado in Denver, removing pubic hair could increase the risk of staph infections, boils, abscesses and pustules.

    “…Freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to the virus carried by mouth or genitals. It follows that there may be vulnerability to spread other STIs, as well,” she wrote.

    Folliculitis — infection of the hair follicles — is also a concern.

    The Dos and Don’ts of manscaping

    If you’re at all concerned about proper manscaping techniques or social conventions, Jimenez recommends seeking out a grooming professional. Also, home waxing isn’t a good idea with the result often being blood, sweat and tears.

    For those diving headfirst on their own, here are a few tips:

    • Use the right tools. You want an electric trimmer with guards for certain length, not a disposable razor, which requires you to eyeball the results.

    • Less is more, especially at first. Don’t take down the forest until you’ve gained an idea of what that actually may look like.

    • Make sure you have enough hair to remove. If you remove too little, the result can look awkward.

    • Make sure the surface is clean, otherwise you can get ingrown hairs, breakout with a rash or even rip the skin.

    • Don’t expose freshly manscaped skin to the sun or excessive sweating.

    • Use the right type of clipper. You wouldn’t use a lawnmower to trim a hedge.

    • Manscaping isn’t needed everywhere. Specifically, consider trimming instead of shaving off armpit and genital hair.

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