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Manscaping: Waxing poetic about the razor's lost edge

Joey Figueiredo braces for the sting as aesthetician Anesa Allaire waxes his chest at Roca Salon and Spa in Kansas City, Mo.

There are no screams or strings of profanity, a la Steve Carell in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

In fact, there is minimal redness, and whatever pain he feels is fleeting – he even laughs with some pulls. But Figueiredo, 23, is a pro. He has been getting his chest, underarms and nostrils waxed for about two and a half years. No, he isn’t a swimmer or a cyclist. He’s just a regular guy partaking in the latest trend in grooming: manscaping.

“I’m half Brazilian, so it’s coarse hair, and it grows fast and there’s a lot of it,” says Figueiredo, a reformed shaver. He likes how much slower and finer his hair grows in, so he gets a wax every six weeks.

Manscaping is the styling, grooming and elimination of male body hair, a trend no longer reserved just for metrosexuals or the West Coast.

“I have younger guys do it, as well as older guys,” Allaire says. “The majority are businessmen.”

Armpits, legs, chest, back, ears, nose and – ahem – “down there” are all fair game for removal via shaving and waxing.

For guys not man enough to endure a wax, a whole host of products have taken over the manscaping market. Nair sells men’s depilatory products that come in spray, lotion or cream form, disguised in sleek bottles.

Gillette has launched an animated video campaign on YouTube to help educate men about removing more than just facial hair. The “How to shave your groin” video has received more than 1.5 million views, a good million more views than its next most popular video on how to shave armpits.

“We spend a lot of time each year talking to guys ... and we definitely found they’re shaving much more than their face,” says Mike Norton, director of communications at the Gillette headquarters in Boston. “It is certainly becoming more mainstream.”

Susan Crane, an aesthetician instructor who has been at the Independence College of Cosmetology since 1976, says male waxing – or “maxing” – really picked up in the mid-’90s.

“Men are becoming more and more comfortable (with waxing),” Crane says. “They want to stay younger and looking better, just like women do.”

For many, the first image of manscaping that comes to mind is the famous scene in 2005’s “Virgin,” where a cackling aesthetician rips off Carell’s chest hair in a demonic manner.

Crane is disappointed with this inaccurate portrayal of waxing in “Virgin” and other media.

“(They) make it look like they put wax on people and start ripping off chunks of hair. ... We don’t usually pull full strips off like that. We work in smaller sections,” Crane says. “To say that waxing is not uncomfortable would not be true.”

There are two main kinds of waxes used. Hard wax is for smaller and more delicate areas such as the armpits and face, and soft wax is applied to cover larger terrain – legs, back and chest. The wax is applied in the direction of the hair and pulled in the opposite direction.

Crane’s students learn how to wax men’s chests, backs, eyebrows and other common requests. They do not offer or teach male Brazilians, the removal of hair from the private region.

That’s where Andrea Bartley comes in.

Bartley owns and operates Back2Body, where she has been offering waxing services for two years, including those hard-to-find male Brazilian waxes.

These days, the majority of her business is from guys seeking “manzilians.” She does about 30 per month, up from five per month when she first began. They come for a variety of reasons, often caving from pressure from their wives or girlfriends.

“Most of them are married, and their wife does the same thing and wants them to be groomed,” Bartley says. “Fair is fair.”

Ron, a 53-year-old construction worker, has been getting Brazilian waxes for six years and has been coming to Bartley for the last two.

“I like the way it looks, and I like the way it feels,” says Ron, who also gets his chest, underarms and nostrils waxed. His wife of 31 years does not object to the waxing, which he started getting after he got back into shape.

Bartley has waxed firefighters, police officers and lawyers.

“It’s not one group ... it’s all these people who just want to be hygienic, clean and hairless,” she says. “I don’t think hair’s ‘in’ anymore, for men or women. The people who aren’t getting waxed are shaving. ... Manscaping’s in.”

GET THE MAX FROM YOUR WAX

Make sure the hair to be waxed is about a quarter of an inch long.

Take a shower before your visit.

Exfoliate three consecutive days before the wax to remove dead skin cells and avoid ingrown hairs.

If your diet is rich in caffeine or citric fruits, take an antacid to get sensitivity-causing acid out of your body.

Have the aesthetician test a small area first to make sure you don’t react poorly.

Let your aesthetician know if you have sensitive skin.

Remember, the first time is the worst.

THE PRICE TO PRIMP

Man-waxing can get expensive but saves all that time you spend shaving each day – not to mention the price of razor refills. Here is what you can expect to pay. If your aesthetician does a good job, a tip doesn’t hurt.

Underarms: $20

Back: $40 and up

Chest: $40 and up

Nose: $15

Ears: $10-$15

Male Brazilian: $75 and up

Source: Andrea Bartley, Back 2 Body Salon, Leawood, Kan.

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