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Groomed: The Art of ‘Manscaping’

The term ‘Manscaping’ has become an amusing buzzword of late with regards to men’s grooming and all round male upkeep. The term predominantly refers to body hair and recently I paid a visit to The Sugar Shop in Shoreditch, London to try out an alternative form of Waxing known as sugaring.

Sugaring is deemed a less painful form of waxing…

*REALITY KLAXON* It isn’t. Do not be fooled, the first time you go for any wax, or if you return to get one after letting hair grow back for longer than 5 weeks, it will be uncomfortable. There is no way to really eliminate the feeling of hair being ripped out from the follicles and speed, there simply isn’t. So you either need to man up or have someone knock you out by your preferred method.

Now I’ve go that off my chest, back to The Sugar Shop. Sugaring differs form waxing by method – instead of using hot wax to remove the skin, a simple (also edible) sugar-based wax is used. This mixture doesn’t hold to the skin like regular wax and grips the hair only – thus the idea of it being less painful is born. To an extent it is mildly more comfortable – maybe this is because I have been waxed before and new what to expect, or maybe I have a high pain threshold.

The Sugar Shop was founded by Martyn Griffiths and is a male-only facility. Martyn started out in gym spaces in central London and progressed to opening his first stand alone store in Paddington in 1998 and a second one in east London – a salon which would become the new flagship. The Sugar Shop offers a range of treatments, covering all parts of the body, using the traditional sugaring techniques. There are two types of sugaring – Strip sugaring and the traditional Egyptian technique which involves a stronger, putty like substance which is used to remove stray hairs in harder to reach places.

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The lobby of The Sugar Shop is fresh, welcoming and warm. It in no way feels feminine and doesn’t make you feel out of place. Magazines offer some pre-treatment distraction from nerves with ample info on treatments and care. Martyn took me into the treatment room, a clean and crisp suite with a bed in the middle. We started with the strip technique, removing the hair in direction of growth by applying the mixture with a spatula then removing with a cloth strip. For the most part the feeling is bearable, but there are certain areas, below he belly button and across the nipples, where a sharp and sudden exhale of breathe was met with a subtle yelp, maybe a finger bite too.

Once the treatment was over, I was dowsed in a tea tree solution for it’s anti-sceptic properties. As I looked at my silky smooth torso in the mirror, the one thing I had noticed was my skin was a lot less red than when I had been waxed, so another point for Sugaring there. Martyn ran me through the standard aftercare – no excessive sweating for 24 hours (that was the evening’s gym and clubbing sessions out the window) and I was to avoid spraying fragrances or putting products on my skin. I was given some dead seas salt to bathe in too to help calm the skin. I did suffer a few red lumps post treatment – it’s from skin trauma and ingrown hairs, but bathing in the salts and a little hydrocortisone cream or Sudocream cleared it up in a few days.

I am still not sure if I prefer my body hair free or not, on one hand my body is more defined without hair but on the other it’s like wet shaving – I am not a massive fan of the feeling of my skin hair free, which I why I haven’t wet shaved in years. But the aesthetic is definitely winning and opinions of friends – and some strangers in the gym – has been positive.
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I was interested to find out from Martyn that his clients come from all walks of life, from the busy city centre of bankers and lawyers to people in the arts and people from abroad. There seems to be no stereotype in the type of man who uses these treatments.
I highly recommend chatting to Martyn or visiting The Sugar Shop if you want to find out more. They are only too happy to help.

The Sugar Shop Website

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-Neil Thornton
@IamNeilThornton



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