Body Hair: Trim, Shave or Let It Grow?

Articles Grooming Look Men Style

Damn, how times change. Back in the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s, stars like Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds and Alec Baldwin proudly displayed their hairy chests. Having a full matt of fur was a sign of masculinity and virility. Today, however, more flesh is fashionable. Look at Mario Lopez, Taylor Lautner and Daniel Craig. Not a hair on their pumped-up pecs.

Fact is that less hair makes a man feel cleaner and fresher, and it makes him look younger. But that doesn’t mean everyone should go completely nude; a little hair often goes a long way. The key is balance.

The Reason
Lopez, Lautner and Craig’s bodies are as clean as a newborn baby’s bottom because those men are in excellent shape. Their bodies are sculpted; these guys are in the gym every day, led by professionals, so they want to show off their muscles — not hide them.

“But if your [body isn’t so tight], there isn’t any reason to shave all your hair off,” says Mattie Roberts, style and trend consultant in New York City. “Keep some of the hair God gave you.” It can hide your faults — mainly a soft body. Only keep your coat manicured to present a balance between flesh and fur. And balance is the goal everywhere, fellas: torso, legs, armpits and groin.

Get the Look
Begin with an electric clipper, the same kind your barber uses on your head. A traditional pair of clippers with a short guard can be used to trim anywhere.

Begin with a No. 2 guard and stand in your tub or shower (water off) while working. This lets all the clipped hair fall in one place, making clean-up that much easier. A No. 2 guard will leave you about 1/4 inch of hair. If that’s still too long for you, go down to a No. 1.

Unlike the way you prune your face, run the clippers over your chest, torso and legs in the direction the hair grows (usually down). Trim when your hair is clean but completely dry. Wet hair can get stuck in the blades and catch, which is painful.

Your Special Places
A lot of men think shaving their wedding tackle down to a prepubescent sheen will make their “junk” look bigger. Not true. “Nothing looks more ridiculous to women,” says Roberts, “than a guy who is totally bare down there.” And if you have a bit of a stomach (and who doesn’t), a little extra hair will distract the eye from your paunch. Too much skin between stomach and genitals will only accentuate any flaws.

For the bushes on top, begin with a No. 3 guard. A little more above the twig and berries will make everything look more balanced. For the testicles, trim with a No. 1 guard to make sure your sensitive skin doesn’t get nicked.

No Hair Necessary

Back and shoulder hair is just a no-no. “Take it all off,” says Roberts. If these areas are too hard to reach, you might want to look into laser removal, electrolysis or waxing.

By Aaron Krach for Style + Tech For Men

Aaron Krach, former grooming editor of Cargo magazine, is a writer and editor based in New York City. His work has appeared in InStyle, Out, and TimeOut New York, as well as on Esquire.com. Aaron is a frequent contributor to Style and Tech for Men.