For years women have been the almost sole customers of hair removal services but now men want to be fuzz-free as well. Jaine Blackman reports on the trend

It looks like Oxford men are getting smoother... well, under their clothes anyway.

There’s a growing trend for males to tame their hairy bits and city salons are reporting brisk business.

“Our male client base has increased by 400 per cent over the last five years,” says Emily Johns, marketing manager for Cannelle Beauty, which has salons in Oakthorpe Road, Oxford and Henley. "I would estimate that approximately 15 to 20 per cent of our client base is male. Of our male clients around three quarters come for hair removal at some point. Other popular treatments amongst men are massage, facials, pedicures, tanning, eyebrow shapes.

Since we introduced the Soprano ICE permanent laser hair removal last August in Oxford we have seen a 75% increase in our laser hair removal client base and we are seeing a similar trend in our Henley salon having introduced the same Soprano ICE laser machine in November. Around 30% of our laser hair removal clients are male. Backs are popular. Some chest, some all over. Celebrity men looking well groomed influences this. Eyebrow shapes are now very popular amongst male clients.

“Social media has a big influence on men, celebrities are often tweeting and posting about their personal well-being regimes and preferences.”

Su Bluett, manager at Tao Beauty Salon in Saint Aldate’s, Oxford, has also seen an increase in men wanting waxing or electrolysis hair removal treatments.

“Thirty years ago it was very few, one or two a month, since then there’s been a steady increase until now it’s probably 10-plus per week. Generally it’s image I think, advertising shows hair free bodies for underpants or men’s cosmetics. It’s how they think they should now look.”

Julie Mutton, who does the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and laser hair removal in Tao under her company name Bare UK, says: “I think they see male grooming as much more accepted these days with the likes of Beckham endorsing that whole side of things. So they don’t feel so nervous about going into a salon.”

Then there’s the choice of how to get their fuzz removed and the issue of time and costs.

Su, who specialises in waxing, says men like the instant results. Tao waxing prices are from £22 for chest; chest and stomach £27.30; back and shoulders £31.50 and eyebrows £11.90.

Julie says: “IPL/laser is becoming really popular as the effect is long term and permanent in cases, therefore no future maintenance – which is what men want in general – low maintenance.”

She charges £75 per treatment for the upper chest area and a course of treatments is needed to achieve a dramatic result.

Canelle Beauty, which has more than 15 years experience in laser hair removal, has recently introduced a Soprano ICE process and found it a big hit with men.

“It is virtually pain free and treatment times are hugely reduced plus all hair and skin types can be treated. Rapid treatment times and pain free are key selling points to men,” says Emily. Laser hair removal at Cannelle Beauty, chest is typically £125 a session. Back is £185, shoulders only £83 a session. Typically between five to eight sessions are needed.

But are men (like women!) prepared to put up with a bit of pain in the name of beauty?

“Yes,” says Julie. “Although in my experience slightly less tolerant – but that’s ok, it’s a daunting prospect to be honest but in the hands of a trained professional they feel more comfortable and put up with it as the sensation is very short lived once they see the long term benefit.”

What do women really want?

Oxford Mail:

A survey for Clothes Show Live in association with Alcatel Onetouch found that 59 per cent of women favoured a smooth chest, while only 41 per cent preferred men with hairy chests. 

For some ladies, a hairy man is the pinnacle of masculinity; for others, male grooming – or manscaping as it is often referred – is the way forward, with a hair-free torso being the more desirable option. 

Pin-ups of the past like Tom Selleck, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Jones and Sean Connery embraced the hairy look; while today it is the clean, toned torsos from the likes of hunks Ryan Gosling, David Beckham, Daniel Craig and Harry Styles that are stealing hearts. A quick straw poll discovered smooth seems to be most popular with Oxford women.

Su Bluett, 57, (see story above) says: “In my day it was Tom Jones with a hairy chest and medallion. But I’d still go for Daniel Craig – smooth and toned.”

But hairy men shouldn’t despair.

Wedding planner Georgina Webb, 37, of Didcot, speaks for many women when she says: “I’m smack in the middle – I don’t like totally smooth chests (too polished) but also don’t go for the gorilla look. So long as there is no hair above the neckline or on the shoulders, a little hair in the middle of the chest is enough for me.”