The below the belt grooming guide
The Final Frontier?
Ten years ago ‘downstairs’ grooming was pretty much the final frontier in terms of keeping up appearances. But with the recent growth of interest in manscaping, all eyes have shifted southwards in the pursuit of neat and tidy nether regions.
So much so that, according to a recent survey by Gillette, one in five men now sport a close trim down below (though given that the survey also showed that 92 per cent of women prefer a man with a tidy trunk line, the other four fifths might want to consider some pubic topiary, too).
In fact, a whole industry has developed around keeping men’s tackles clean and fresh, so grooming below the belt isn’t so much an eyebrow-raising oddity, as a practice you should probably consider taking up.
So, here’s everything you wanted to know about ‘down below’ grooming but were too afraid to ask.
Shaving Private Ryan
Next to the popularity of beards, I can’t think of another grooming trend that’s proved as popular as the removal of body hair (also known as ‘manscaping’), especially in the pubic area.
There are lots of reasons for this – trends in porn, pressure from partners and the fabled ‘optical inch’ pubic hair removal supposedly provides have all been cited – but the bottom line is that some men just prefer the way it looks and feels.
“Hair-free skin can certainly feel cooler and fresher, and also helps to reduce body odour, especially during hot and humid weather,” says body waxing expert Andy Rouillard, owner of Axiom Men’s Grooming Salon. “As for anything below the belt; nobody likes to see sideburns poking out the side of a pair of trunks, do they?”
So, if you fancy trimming, shaving or waxing, here are a few simple pointers:
1. Trim Before You Shave
A light trim is often all that’s needed to neaten pubic hair, but if you want an altogether smoother look, and are using a razor to achieve it, trim the hair back first with a specialist device like the Philips Bodygroom, Braun CruZer6 Body, Wahl Body Groomer or the King of Shaves Prostyle Bodystyler.
Any of these will make shaving much easier, not to mention less hazardous.
2. Take A Cold Shower
If smooth balls are what you’re after, splash them with cold water before shaving, or shave during a cold shower so skin is taut and less vulnerable.
Use a transparent shave gel like Gillette Fusion Clear Shave Gel (so you can see where you’re going) and use short, gentle strokes. And, for god’s sake, make sure you’re sober.
Afterwards, apply an unscented aftershave balm like Clinique’s Post Shave Soother, just as you would after shaving your face.
3. Keep Things Even
If you’re just trimming pubic hair rather than shaving it all off, make sure you also trim stomach and chest hair to a similar length to balance things out.
4. Make Trimming Part Of Your Routine
To minimise the risk of itchy re-growth, get into the habit of shaving regularly.
If you’re worried about unsightly spots forming after you shave or wax, try using an antiseptic spray like Outback Organics Post-Wax Spray or Elemis Tea Tree S.O.S Spray.
5. Call In The Professionals
If you’ll settle for nothing less than super smooth, consider a professional wax. They might be a little eye-watering but the results will last much longer than if you just shave.
If you’re having a ‘Boyzilian’ in time for a beach holiday, though, allow at least three days between waxing and jetting off to give the skin plenty of time to settle.
A Sore Point
One of the least discussed skincare issues, ‘intimate chafing’ might be a painful topic for discussion, but experiencing it is even worse.
Caused by skin rubbing against itself, chafing can occur everywhere from the buttocks to the armpits, but the groin is also a prime area. You’re especially susceptible if you play sport and, if you’re prone to perspiring a lot, sweat can make things even worse.
The easiest way to soothe chafing and sweat rash is to apply a little nappy rash cream like Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream.
However, if you’re looking to prevent the problem, try a product like Lanacane Anti-Chafing Gel or Below The Belt Sports Lubricant, both of which allow skin to glide, rather than rub against itself. Simply apply a small amount where you’re likely to rub. Wearing briefs or trunks instead of boxers can help too, as the fabric acts as a barrier to prevent skin rubbing.
Like armpits, the male groin has its own unique and distinctive aroma. That unmistakable musky scent is largely down to the concentration of apocrine sweat glands. These glands are only found in a select few places on the body, including the armpits, around the nipples and – oddly – the ear canal.
They secrete a type of sweat that contains a blend of fats, proteins, steroids and chemicals – often labelled ’emotional’ sweat because it’s triggered when we’re anxious, in pain or sexually aroused, where it acts as a kind of flag. So in a way, that singular smell is sometimes worth having.
That said, there will be times when you want to stay – and feel – clean and fresh. You don’t need me to tell you how best to achieve that (it involves water, unsurprisingly) but you may also want to check out a few specialist products aimed at keeping your undercarriage looking and smelling its finest.
Below The Belt’s Fresh & Dry Balls, which does exactly what it says on the tin, comes highly recommended, as does the brand’s Waterless Shower Groin Cleanser, which is to your ‘boys’ what dry shampoo is to hair.
Alternatively, you could try a talc-free powder like Balla Powder, which is highly absorbent, lightly fragranced and great at preventing that sticky situation known as ‘batwing ball’ (where the skin of your scrotum sticks your thighs). Thrill seekers will be pleased to know that Balla do a ‘Tingle Formula’ version, too.
Whatever you do, do yourself a favour and resist the temptation to use eau de toilette down there. Not only can it react badly with sweat, it smacks of a blatant cover-up. And no one likes unpleasant surprises down under.