50 years ago, a hairy chest was considered to be a badge of machismo, modeled proudly by any man fortunate enough to have hyperactive follicles. Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, for example, championed the male scoop neck tee, which broadcasted his twisty tangle of chest hair. Virtually everyone who endured the 70s and 80s found themselves eyeing Tom Selleck’s shaggy trunk at some point.
Then, in the early 90s, a series of steamy underwear ads featured a chiseled — and perhaps even more memorably, completely and utterly hairless — Mark Wahlberg, cementing sleekness as the desired look among American men. Years later, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy endorsed what would soon become known as “manscaping,” and now people like me are casually blogging about achieving a thoroughly smooth body from the comfort of our own homes.
Suffice to say, manscaping has secured a place in the average American man’s grooming routine. But can we safely assume that humanity has reached the pinnacle of manscaping, where more men are pruning their shaggy bodies now than ever before, or ever will again? Not quite yet, according to the insiders.
“Manscaping has definitely become the norm, and it hasn’t reached its peak of creativity,” says male grooming trends expert Stephen Handisides. “Men are manscaping everywhere — their chests, eyebrows, nose and ears. Soon, men will probably have names for how they trim downstairs, like women have the Brazilian and the Hollywood.” We already have the Brozilian, aka the Boyzilian, and apparently, you can expect even more cheeky names for male body hair removal procedures in the near future.
To that end, Melanie Mari, owner and trained manscaper at Bare Skin Studio, says that men who come into her business have become more comfortable with making specific requests, which would suggest that men are growing accustomed to a more creatively manscaped future. “When I first started,” she explains, “it was basic back waxes and chest waxes — nothing crazy. But now I have a lot of tickets where I do full bodies, wax that, groom this.”
Mari has more clients now, too. “When I first started in the business, I was dealing with hundreds of clients,” she says. “Now I’m dealing with thousands of clients.” Many of these people are your average Joes, not just dudes who are hyper into their appearance. “My guys are executives and soccer dads,” Mari confirms, adding that younger clients are coming in nowadays, too. “I have guys who are between 18 and 21 who are saving their money to get professional services done.” When the young people are spending what little money they have on manscaping, you know it’s a must-have procedure.
The last couple of years have also seen the advent of companies, backed by billionaires, that are aiming to make lots of money off of helping men manscape, and men are willing to spend: As of 2016, the American manscaping market blossomed into a $4 billion industry, and the male grooming market in general is projected to increase steadily.
Moreover, the global electronic clipper market is forecasted to reach a worth of more than $6 billion by 2025, and surely new, more convenient manscaping technology, including laser hair removal, will bring manscaping to more consumers. “As technology gets better, more guys are going to try to do it at home,” Mari says.
Now, even though manscaping appears to be trending upward, Mari says the ways in which men groom their bodies will forever and always fluctuate. “In the early 2010s, manscaping was a little more pornstar-driven,” she says, meaning guys were going for a fully bald look. “Now, not everyone wants to look like a pornstar.” So, Mari says, for example, that fewer men are waxing their chests, instead opting to just groom it down with trimmers.
This could explain why, back in 2016, people were suggesting that chest hair was making a return to the spotlight. In reality, though, it appears that men were and still are becoming more comfortable in looking how they want to look — Mari points to an increase in male makeup usage as a sign of the times — and for an increasing number of dudes, that means manscaping. So, no, manscaping hasn’t peaked just yet. If anything, it’s just truly getting started.