A guy friend of mine recently confessed to having a somewhat unusual grooming habit: he waxes his chest. Evidently, he’s been using an at home kit for a while, but has just discovered a local salon that will do it for him. He describes the salon experience as comfortable and relaxing – soothing music, hot wax, and the confidence that comes with feeling good in your own skin are well worth the money.

Not knowing many men who wax or even shave their chest hair, I had to know, why does he do it? I assumed his wife preferred a smooth chest. Not so. She actually makes fun of him for enduring the procedure, although she agrees that he looks good when all is said and done. No, my chest-waxing friend does it because it makes him feel good.

I can’t argue with that logic. I don’t curl my lashes, paint my nails, or straighten my hair because anyone else likes it. I do it for me.

The whole chest-waxing conversation got me thinking about male grooming in general, or manscaping, if you will. Our society is increasingly more open to manscaping. More and more men visit salons for basic procedures like manicures and pedicures. Some even get their eyebrows waxed. I like that men are getting to enjoy some of the pampering that we ladies have long enjoyed, but I have to admit, a guy that spends more time in the salon than I do and uses more products to get ready is a turn off. Here, some guidelines on manscaping:

Face: Whether or not you rock facial hair pretty much depends on you and your face. Some guys look good with it, some guys look good without it, but either way, you should never let your beard run wild. An electric razor works great for touching up and grooming a bearded face, but when it comes to getting super smooth, a good old-fashioned razor and shaving cream can’t be beat. My boyfriend has been using Gillette Fusion HydraGel with his disposable razors and his skin is amazingly soft. An added bonus? It smells amazing. Also, I may or may not have stolen some of the shave gel to use while shaving my legs yesterday. (Let’s just say my legs feel like satin!)

Body Hair: As my waxing friend’s decision indicates, this is really a personal choice. Honestly, if you like a smooth chest, feel free to wax. If you’re proud of your chest hair, let it grow. But a basic rule of thumb for body hair is this: if you can’t cover your chest hair with a tee-shirt, it might be time to do a little trimming. Also, if there is enough fuzz on your back to be called back hair, take care of it. We ladies shave our legs and armpits daily so nobody has to look at our unsightly hair. We don’t want to see yours either.

And as far as grooming, ahem, below the belt is concerned, I will just say this; if you expect your significant other to do it, you’d best be prepared to do it too.

Lazy Beauty

Maybe it’s the sweltering mid-August heat, or maybe it’s just that I’m way too busy these days, but lately I’ve been practicing what can only be called lazy beauty. My once meticulous nighttime skincare routine of cleansing, moisturizing, and doing regular at-home chemical peels (I like Anew Clinical Advanced Retexturizing Peel, available from Avon) has fallen by the wayside. I’m lucky if I can be bothered to wash my face before falling into bed. Fortunately for my face, I recently tried the new EZ4U 2 GO 4-in-1 facial towelettes from mdskincare. They come in convenient individual packages and are about as easy to use as it gets: remove from package, swipe over face, pass out. The package claims that they cleanse, balance, treat and moisturize in one step, and I have to say, my skin has glowed every time I used one. And, unlike most of the other facial towelettes I’ve tried, these don’t dry out my skin.

Other time saving, multi-tasking products I’ve been using? Venus Spa Breeze disposable razors, which have bars of shave gel built in. In my experience, they don’t give you as close a shave as traditional razors, but they make shaving so much less of a pain that I don’t mind shaving a little more often.

Since it’s summer, I’ve also been skipping out on body lotion (come fall I will have to go back to slathering on a layer of the stuff every time I step out of the shower) and instead have just been spritzing on Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush Body Double Mist. The perfumed body spray has skin conditioners in it to make you soft while you smell good, and it comes in a variety of scents. My favorite is Coconut Craze.

As far as makeup is concerned I’ve been taking the very easy road: tinted moisturizer, lip gloss, and a little powder on my nose. To give myself a little color, I’ll dust blush on my cheeks and eyelids for a natural, all over pick-me-up. My favorite blush? The classic, can’t-go-wrong shade, Nars orgasm.

I’m not the only one paring down my routine. My boyfriend recently starting using Nivea for Men Active 3 Shower Shampoo and Shave, and 3-in-1 product that, you guessed it, can be used as a shampoo, body wash, and shaving cream. He loves it, and I’ve gotta rave about it too. His hair is soft, his skin is smooth, and boy does it smell fantastic.

Lazy never looked (or smelled) so good.

Let’s Talk About Armpits

Armpits. What an irritatingly unfeminine body part. Left to their own devices they grow hair, are sweaty, and produce an aroma that begs to differ with the saying that “women only glow.” Right.

A few summers ago a friend of mine arrived at a party and, clad in a tank top, proudly displayed what had to have been the most attractive armpits I had ever seen in the real world. We’re talking deodorant commercial, model-on-a-billboard type armpits. She was not plagued by stubble, and her underarms did not have that dark appearance that most do, thanks to close-to-the-surface hairs showing through our delicate underarm skin. Instead, she freely raised her arms and showed off her smooth, pretty armpits. How?

She had discovered the Epilator, a seemingly torturous device that essentially yanks hairs out by their roots and is most definitely effective. Shortly thereafter my sister became a loyal user of the Epilator, and although she is generally in agony for a short period after de-fuzzing, she swears by the thing.

Another friend of mine recently confessed to waxing her armpits anytime she wants to wear a sleeveless shirt, and has apparently been doing so since her teen years. I once read somewhere that the key to beautiful underarms was tweezing, but I’ve never made it past one hair. I apparently just don’t share my friends’ patience and tolerance for pain. As much as I’d love to have the kind of armpits they write songs about (if, in fact, they do), I’ve stuck with the razor my entire armpit-loathing life.

Shaving gets the job done, but it definitely leaves something to be desired. Which is why I was intrigued when I heard about Dove’s latest creation, Dove Ultimate Visibly Smooth anti-perspirant deodorant. This product claims to condition your underarm skin and, over time, it’s supposed to make hair softer, less noticeable, and easier to remove.

It comes in a couple of nice fresh scents (pretty standard for Dove products). I chose the wild rose scent, which thankfully smells nothing like the old-lady-ish rose petal creams I was imagining before I sniffed it. My review? First of all it smells fantastic and (and this is the number one deodorant priority in my book) keeps my armpits dry. I’ve found more and more lately that  most anti-perspirant deodorants, even the top brands, are great at covering up body odor but fail when it comes to stopping sweat. So far, two weeks of use later, Dove Ultimate Visibly Smooth has been great on both counts. (I’ve also found that Lady Speed Stick is another very reliable anti-perspirant and deodorant, and it comes in a lot of different scents.)

As far as the reduction of armpit hair, it may be too soon to tell. Honestly, I haven’t noticed a real change in that regard, but I do think my underarm skin looks noticeably nicer. And I’m so pleased with how good I smell and how little I sweat, I will definitely buy it again.

So the quest for pretty armpits continues. I guess two outta three ain’t bad.