It used to be that hair removal was strictly a female thing. Unless you were a bodybuilder, cyclist, swimmer, or male exotic dancer, chances are your body hair remained untouched.
Not so anymore. Experts report that more and more men are opting for the same grooming rights as women - including smooth body skin.
"Most men don't necessarily want it all removed, but increasingly they do want it thinned out, on their back and chest, for example," says dermatologist David Goldberg, MD, who regularly performs laser hair removal on men.
Hair waxing specialist Michelle Serniuk says men seeking hair removal now make up a good portion of her clientele.
"We get a lot of men who want waxing on their eyebrows - they want to take away that unibrow look and they want a shaping -- plus they want the area around their ears or the back of the neck cleaned up as well," says Serniuk, a waxing specialist at Beyond Day Spa at the Hackensack University Medical Center.
At the same time, various media reports suggest that many men are now opting for that longtime staple of female grooming - the bikini wax.
"We have definitely had men requesting this," says Serniuk.
But unlike women, for whom hair removal is second nature by junior high school, men often find themselves at a loss for how to deal with excess body hair.
For those men, here's the lowdown on the most common hair removal options available today.
Hair Removal Option No. 1: Laser Hair Removal Treatments
What It Does : Using laser light energy to penetrate the hair shaft, it actually kills the hair root. This doesn't kill the follicle (the place where hair growth starts). So technically, another hair can grow in its place, but it's difficult. That means results of laser hair removal last a fairly long time.
How Long It Takes : Roughly 30 minutes per treatment, up to eight treatments needed.
Best For : Removing or reducing hair on back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and genital area. Works best on light skin with dark hair; not suitable for blond or white hair. Black skin responds well to only one type of laser, the Nd: YAG.
Lasting Result : After all laser hair removal treatments are completed, results could be almost permanent, with touch-up treatments annually or biannually to maintain results.
Expert Comments : "Most men utilize laser hair removal for the back, upper arms, and chest and most want it thinned out, not removed -- something which lasers can easily accomplish," says Goldberg. In fact, other than electrolysis, laser hair removal is the only hair removal treatment that allows for thinning, rather than complete removal. While the average man needs five to seven sessions, as men age, more hair grows, especially on their backs, says Goldberg. As such, touch-up laser hair removal treatments are usually needed on average once a year.