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Manly Grooming: What Women Want (and What Depends on Your Personality)

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Oh, like I need an excuse to put an image of Clive-O up. He doesn't appear to have any grooming issues. *swoon* But if you know of a fella who is having grooming issues, this might help him understand what he ought to be doing and why:

Some women fall into the zero-maintenance category and some can be called Princess High-Maintenance. But most are neither. Most are simply women for whom looking polished is part of the success package, not an all-consuming endeavor. We’re looking for similar grooming qualities in men. And although specific preferences differ from woman to woman, when it comes to manscaping in North America, we have some requirements in common.

1) The Obvious You should already know we’re not fans of the “hairy-bear” approach to grooming, nor the “can’t-pass-your-reflection-without-stopping-to-preen” obsession. We say an emphatic no! to furry backs and shoulders, sprouting ears, bushy noses, and unruly chest shags. We’d like you to be committed to looking presentable — clean healthy hair in a decent cut, healthy skin, clean ears and a tidy nose, healthy physique, clean and generally tidy clothing — yet be able to pick up and go on 10-minutes’ notice (hey, we need a little prep time, too).

2) Brows Know this: overgroomed brows with sharply defined arches will make you look effeminate. While that look works for some men, it doesn’t for the ones we want. We prefer subtle brow control. Trim wily hairs that snarl and wave to strangers across the street, and tweeze stubbornly independent strays, but don’t mess much with the thickness, nor the natural shape. If you must, seek pro assistance. We can help with the research (we know people).

3) Face A clean-shaven face with smooth skin is a no-brainer. We like. Stubble can be insanely sexy to look at, but keep it under control. Rough stubble makes us think twice about longer than two minutes at the kissing booth. And you don’t really want us to think at the kissing booth, do you? A moustache has to be tidy — doesn’t hurt to refer to the kissing-booth advice. As for beards, they’d better be well groomed and give away nothing about what you ate or drank at your most recent meal. (We don’t have to remind you to keep ear and nose hair out of sight, do we?)

4) Chest Some of us dig a smooth chest, especially when it’s defined with strong pecs and an eight-pack (six-packs are for slackers). Others prefer a groomed yet natural-looking chest. Most of us can go either way. Frankly, it depends on how much we like you for your personality. Note: we absolutely can appreciate clever, for-a-slimmer-effect manscaping. If you’ve figured out how to shape the hair on your chest and stomach so it subtly flatters your physique, you get bonus points.

5) Underarms Consider regular trims. Most of us don’t think hairless underarms are a manly requirement, unless you’re a competitive swimmer (this point will come up again). But if stuff sticks out when your arms are hanging at your side or from under a short-sleeved tee, eww.

6) Down There Don’t expect anything of us that we can’t expect of you. ’Nuff said.

7) Legs Yes, legs. If you’re a successful competitive cyclist or swimmer, we’re more than happy to appreciate your waxed or smooth-shaven bulging quads and strong calves. Otherwise, let things be. We’re not that fussy.

8) Using our stuff With so much great stuff out there for you now, there’s no reason to be swiping from our girly stash. That said, if you just love the skincare line we use and it makes your complexion look great too, we don’t mind as long as you replenish promptly. And change the toilet-paper roll as necessary.

Overall, your grooming regimen really comes down to what makes you feel most comfortable being yourself. Like you, women don’t want anyone who eschews all manner of grooming (ick), nor do we want neurotic ninnies who can’t function because a hair might be out of place. Like you, we appreciate confidence.

Check out this month's Sharp Magazine for Leo Petaccia's irreverant yet comprehensive guide to men's grooming (including, as the Staff puts it, a more "succinct variation on the above theme"), and for fun visit for a profile of The Most Interesting Man in the World by Peter Saltzman. Image of Clive-O courtesy of