updated 9 Sep 2010, 11:33
    Powered by
user id password
Thu, Sep 09, 2010
The Sunday Times
EmailPrintDecrease text sizeIncrease text size
Clearing the hair
by John Hui

Mr Benjamin Lim, 28, first noticed the hair-raising phenomenon during his national service.

His buddies were shaving themselves everywhere, including the parts he thought a razor would be the last thing they would want near.

'Half the platoon was doing it,' he says. Despite the risk of cuts and nicks in the most inconvenient spots, it was worth it, he says.

The lack of hair in the hot, humid areas of the body reduced itchiness and chafing during field training, says Mr Lim, who describes himself as having the sparse body hair typical of Chinese men. He is currently unemployed.

Now, seven years later, he has kept up the habit of taming his undergrowth. Not just for his own comfort, but also because he has had girlfriends who prefer the look. They told him it is part of being a well-groomed man. But he does not apply a razor any more.

In Australia, where he lived for some years before recently coming back to Singapore, he sought out waxing salons for 'boyzilians', the male equivalent of the brazilian for women, in which every strand of pubic hair is yanked out.

Shaving might be less painful but it is not just tricky to do, it also leads to scratchy stubble.

For now, Mr Lim is sticking to waxing his boy zone into a fuzz-free state. But he is one of a growing number of men who want to zap away hair down there, and also from backs, chests, underarms, arms and legs.

And it is not just the need to stay clean that is driving the surge. Men now dare to go bare because of the sight of hairless male models and celebrities in the media, say professionals from the six salons polled by LifeStyle.

For that smooth, metrosexual look, these men, who are typically young, white-collar professionals, are willing to not just bear with the pain and pay up to $100 a session for a full-body waxing, but they lay out thousands for longer-term results, such as intense light treatment.

Also spurring the trend are savvy salon and spa owners, who have been active in advertising the idea that salon hair removal is safe, relatively pain-free and, most of all, not just a thing that homosexual men do.

Says Mr Richard Chong, 30, director of hair-removal specialists Wink Wax Wellness: 'Some people do think that it is a gay thing, but that is not true.'

Mr Zephron Chong, 34, branch manager and therapist at Fabulous Group, adds that many men come with their wives and girlfriends. Salons such as Strip and Wink Wax Wellness also offer couples' packages.

Despite the growing acceptance of male hair removal, men still feel self-conscious sitting in a waxing salon aimed mainly at women, especially when they are visible to women and passers-by.

So Strip, one of Singapore's largest chains, has separate entrances for men and women and two male- only rooms at its Mandarin Gallery outlet. Likewise, the Urban Homme salon chain is for men only, as is the single-outlet Thomas D'Esthetique.

Mr Thomas Tong, 43, owner of Thomas D'Esthetique, says he was one of the first to offer male brazilians a decade ago. Now, most of his jobs are boyzilians, with a smaller number of men asking for work done on armpits, backs, chests and the limbs.

'I get a lot of men asking for full-body waxes just before the major marathons,' he says. Runners, cyclists and swimmers feel cooler and cleaner with bare skin, he says.

Ms Sharon Tan, group marketing manager for Urban Homme, says that not only is there a growing number of men coming for both wax and light therapy hair removal for body hair, but some come for facial hair removal as well.

Mr Johnson Fong, 37, a civil servant, is a customer at Thomas D'Esthetique. He waxes his entire body because, as he puts it, he is a 'freak'. He is a Chinese man with thick hair not just on his limbs but his chest, neck and back. For him, waxing is not just a luxury or vanity, it is a necessity. People used to stare at him in swimming pools, he says.

For the last four years, he has waxed once every two months. The hair does grow back, but it becomes finer each time. He does not miss the bad old days.

'I had a friend who thought I had just gone to the barber, because he saw hair on my neck. Both of us were embarrassed when he realised that the hair would not come off,' he says.

[email protected]

This article was first published in The Sunday Times.

more: hair, men
readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.