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Manscaping & the pain of it all

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Manscaping & the pain of it all

Jill Burns holds the bottle of Nair, a hair remover lotion, while ‘manscaping’ her husband, editor James Burns. The long, rubber glove – dubbed the ‘Super Mitt’ by their son – set the tone for a p...

JAMES BURNS/The Bulletin

POSTED June 21, 2014 1:24 a.m.

Step No. 1: Squeeze lotion into palm of hand.

Step No. 2: Smooth on thick, even layer to cover hair. DO NOT RUB IN.

Step No. 3: Wash your hands immediately after application.

Step No. 4: Leave the lotion on for three minutes. Then check a small area for hair removal. DO NOT EXCEED 10 MINUTES.

Step No. 5: Gently wipe off the lotion and hair with a damp washcloth. DO NOT RUB.

Step No. 6: Once all hair has been removed, rinse skin thoroughly with lukewarm water in the shower.

Step No. 7: Hide your tears in a towel.

Funnyman Steve Carell made “manscaping” famous in the movie “40-year-old Virgin,” when he famously bellowed the line “Ahhh, Kelly Clarkson!” after having his chest hair waxed and pulled by a beautician.

With each pull, Carell screamed and winced and panted a little more. With each pull, his bare skin oozed blood.

Since then, one could say it has become socially acceptable for men to spend as much time and money grooming as they do building muscle or dressing themselves.

I don’t have that kind of time or money, but I do have one qualifying characteristic: back hair, a genetic gift from my father. (He couldn’t bless me with his height?)

There is a cheap, relatively quick alternative to waxing – hair remover lotion – but you need to know there is more to Nair than six seemingly simple steps.

Heed my advice, men. If your wife reaches for the “Super Mitt,” run in the other direction.

She reached under the cabinet, unfurling a long rubber glove that I had never seen before. WTF!? Had my wife saved it for this very occasion, anticipating the day she’d rid me of my natural coat?

“Uh, what’s that for?”

She pulled the glove down over hand, snapping it on her wrist the way a doctor or dentist might before an uncomfortable procedure. She slipped a sly smile. Though she didn’t ask me to bend over, the glove alerted my sensibilities to impending doom.

I was in trouble.

The goo comes in an odd-shaped plastic container, giving it the appearance of shampoo or skin lotion. It’s even got a gentle, comforting pink hue to it. 

Maybe this won’t be so bad, was my thought.

She squirted a dollop of the substance into the palm of her glove. As if on cue, our son bounced into the bathroom to see what mom and dad were up to.

Kids and their impeccable timing.

“What is that, Mom? Is that your super mitt?” he asked, his 5-year-old curiosity drawing him closer and closer to the crime scene. Yes, a crime scene. In a few minutes, his mother would slaughter millions of innocent hairs and leave their owner ... their closest companion nearly in tears. 

“What’s Dad doing?” he asked his mother. His eyes were fixed on me as I white-knuckled the countertop and squinted in anticipation of the pain.

“He’s –”

Before she could answer with absolute honesty, and in effect knock me down a peg or two in his eyes, I cut her off. The kid had seen enough. Besides, he’s much too young to know about “manscaping” and the fate that awaits him. A man should be allowed to develop his own relationship with his body. 

“Dad’s doing this for work,” I said, knowing any talk of my job might just bore him right out of the bathroom. “How’s that Lego build coming along?”

It worked. With that, my little Minion skipped out of the bathroom and toward the playroom. 

It bought me only a moment of respite. I avoided one snare by stepping into another.

Without warning, my wife began spackling my back with the goo. First she covered my shoulders and then worked her way down the ribs. Once she hit my lower back, the initial chill of cold lotion landing on warm skin gave way to a different sensation.


First it felt like a million needle pricks piercing the epidermis. Then it began to burn. I checked the bottle one more time, looking for the words “toxic” or “The Dip,” for the Roger Rabbit aficionados out there. This stuff couldn’t be street legal. 


I wanted to touch it ... wanted to scratch it ... wanted to take my back up against the corner of the wall and raze it the way a bear would a tree.


Three minutes never felt so long. While she set up the final stage of the hair removal process – the clean-up – I dared to peek at the deforestation taking place on my back.

The burning was real. The goo had literally sent each hair screaming from its comfortable home. They collected like beached fish on my skin, waiting to be wiped clean.

The lotion did its job. Within 15 minutes, my back was born again – smooth, clean and soft to touch. But beauty has its price, and though the bottle of Nair was cheap, the experience was taxing.

Funnyman Steve Carrel made “manscaping” famous and funny with “40-year-old Virgin,” and indeed his performance earned him critical acclaim. But whether by wax or Nair, tweezing or plucking, there is nothing comedic about hair removal. 

Unless you’re watching or wearing the Super Mitt.

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