Guy Files: Gross Grooming (How To Handle Hair That Shouldn't Be There)
There is a near universal elephant-in-the-room among men—we all know it’s there, but we pretend it isn’t. I’m talking about hair, gentlemen—hair that grows in places it shouldn’t.
There is a moment during every haircut in the salon where your stylist has to make a decision: to zip into your ear with the trimmers, or ignore those pesky little tufts of ear hair with ignorant bliss—and your ears are just the starting point. Men grow hair in the strangest places, and as we get older, it just gets worse.
Before you check out because the word “older” doesn’t apply, you should know it starts in your teens, and the scary hair game just escalates from there, amplifying with every year of your life. Luckily, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way, and this week I’m going to share some trade secrets for keeping on top of these annoying grooming chores from head to toe.
This one grosses me out a bit. I have no idea when I started to grow hair from my ears, but it happened. The worst part is the little buggers are blonde and I really can’t even see them, but unfortunately other people can. If you have this problem, and you think no one is noticing, you’re wrong. Even blonde hair will catch the light just right and they’ll glow like a neon sign in the moonlight. Never fear—dealing with them is actually quite easy: Have your ears waxed.
That’s right, you can actually wax them, which will keep the problem away for much longer than trimming (and is far less painful than tweezing). We wax them at the salon for around $10; you just have to ask your stylist about it. Chances are, it’s not a service the stylists are going to recommend—its the male equivalent to women getting a lip wax (“Excuse me miss, can I wax your ‘stache?”). We aren’t about to point it out to you, but we’re relieved if you bring it up first.
This area is almost as bad as your ears. The truth is, your nose is supposed to have some hair in it. You should really only concern yourself with the hair that creeps outside the nostrils and waves hello at you while you’re brushing your teeth. Nose hair trimmers and scissors exist for this very thing (they can also be used on the ears).
The nostrils are also a spot that can be waxed in the salon. I know what you’re thinking—OUCH. Everyone I mention this to has that very response. Trust me when I say, it doesn’t hurt. After doing it one time, most of my clients can’t wait to have it done again. Women wax their entire leg—TWO of them! Buck up, stop acting like a baby, and take care of it.
I know this article is starting to sound like an advertisement for waxing services, but this is where it ends. Brows are a controversial area for men. Some men think their brows should stay natural, while others think they should have an arch to them. There are even men who wax them off completely and draw them back on. I’m not here to judge.
Okay, that’s a lie—I’m totally judging you if you don’t take care of the hair between your brows. The unibrow look has only worked for two people in history: Frida Kahlo, and Bert from Sesame Street. Wax it, shave it, thread it, clipper it—it doesn’t matter—just get rid of it.
Chest hair is very personal. While a number of men shave it off completely, I’ve never really understood this trend. Hair on your chest can be very sexy, and I think that it’s best to trim it down to an acceptable length with an electric trimmer. There’s a big difference between looking manly, and having chest hair that’s long enough to braid.
My general rule of thumb is to make sure it isn’t creeping up your neck and blending in with your beard line. Trim it down enough that you can see the muscle definition that you’ve worked so hard on at the gym, but not so short that it looks patchy or stubbly.
This is another area that stirs up controversy. I’m not bothered by a hirsute man who has hair on his back, but some people are really repulsed by it. If it bothers you, it can be waxed, but trimming it down with an electric trimmer is perfectly acceptable. It really comes down to your personal preference, and the preference of your partner (sometimes, we just have to bite the bullet and do things for the comfort of our better half).
A much worse scenario is the phenomenon of “mutant back hair.” I’m referring to those ridiculously long hairs that randomly sprout up on an otherwise hairless back. You should tackle them with a trimmer or manual razor. This can be a hard area to see, but if you’re in a relationship, you should enlist your partner for help. Trust me, they know exactly where each hair is. Single? Ask a buddy to help. It might be an odd conversation to have, but they probably need your help, as well. What happens in the bathroom should stay in the bathroom.
This is a sensitive topic for a sensitive area. I don’t care what you do with the majority of it, but the family jewels are better bald if you’re a sexually active man. The rest of it is a matter of personal preference, but you shouldn’t look like a prepubescent boy down there. Trim close if you want, but save the razor for the most sensitive area of all—your partner should be able to find your boys without navigating through topiary.
When it comes to these parts, I suggest avoiding power tools. We are talking about very sensitive skin. A motor shouldn’t come near them: too many things can go wrong with that scenario. I recommend doing the deed in the shower with a disposable 2-blade razor. Do not go at those things with a 5-bladed razor because you have 5x the opportunity to cut yourself.
Avoid thick shaving creams and opt for a thinner, sensitive skin shave gel. Water alone, facial soap, or hair conditioner will provide enough lubrication to complete the task, as well. Pull the skin taut, and avoid shaving over the same area more than a couple times. When finished, use an aftershave for sensitive skin (alcohol will probably burn, check your ingredients) and finish with a powder to keep the area dry. Goldbond will work, or any number of powders that are on the market for this very purpose. Last of all, throw that razor away. It’s disposable for a reason, and you shouldn’t use a razor anywhere else after it’s been used down there.
Josh Nichols is a 15-year industry veteran who is a nationally recognized expert in hair styling. A St. Louis native, Josh attended Current Trends Academy and went on to become a top revenue stylist at the award-winning American Image Salon in Chesterfield. Josh opened his first salon—Josh Nichols Studio—in 2010. He has since expanded his services, added employees and relocated to Clayton, renaming his salon KINK Salon in 2012. His latest project, Notch, a men’s barbershop concept, opened August of 2014 in The Grove.