A Hairy Proposition
Much about men’s waxing has changed since Steve Carell was sent into curdling howls of pain by a wax-yielding esthetician in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” From David Beckham to the cast members of “Jersey Shore”—well-built, health-conscious, perfectly groomed male celebrities are everywhere. This isn’t metrosexuality 2.0 we’re talking about—it’s the new Zeitgeist in masculinity.
With so many men concerned about their overall look, it’s no surprise that many spas offering men’s waxing have reported a significant increase in clientele. Chest, back, and shoulder basics have grown overall, but men’s newfound willingness to experiment is most exemplified by an uptick in less common procedures like ear, nose, eyebrow, and below-the-belt waxing treatments. The former two services are popular among men 40 and older while the latter is almost exclusively popular among the young and single. Brow waxing has grown for all age groups. But even if male waxing is trending, convincing guys to spend their money on it still requires more than slapping a “for men” sign on your menu and inviting them in.
How to Hook Them
Spas across the country have been experimenting with some unique ways to coax men through their doors. The European Wax Center (multiple locations) concocted a successful recipe for reaching men through its already loyal women and then hooking them with free services. During the company’s recent “Spring Cleaning” campaign, women who brought in a male friend from March 5 to April 15 were awarded a $20 bottle of body wash. Once there, all first timers were given a choice of a free brow, nose, or ear wax.
The lure of a free treatment has seen success in other locales as well. ABC Day Spa (Freehold Township, NJ) offers first-time guys a free brow wax with a back wax, and KaLu Salon and Day Spa (Amherst, NY) gives men a choice of a free brow, ear, or nose wax for their first service. It’s the word-of-mouth of women who are bringing the men into these spas for their first waxing experiences, but there are other ways to speak to men who are curious about waxing.
Bliss Spas (multiple locations) have done an excellent job tapping into the male psyche about waxing. Their Ultimate He Wax service ($125, 45 to 60 minutes), really a male Brazilian, has a much less emasculating name, and they’ve reported double-digit growth each quarter with this service since its inception in February 2011. “We have seen everyone from lawyers, bankers, and advertising execs to models,” says Susan Grey, vice president of spa operations at Bliss. “Just like women, men also want to look and feel their best. They want to feel clean, because this gives them confidence.”
Humor also works on men. Strip: Ministry of Wax (New York City) has lured men in with a cheeky ad. A line placed on a woman’s hand pulling a carrot out of the ground reads, “Stop hiding your potential. Upsize in 40 minutes—20% off Boyzilian Wax.” Most guys will tell you that less hair down there does at least increase the perception in size of their male potential. Chicago Male Spa has had success with decidedly more demure wording—“The Speedo Wax” includes “Just enough to clean it up and make you look swimsuit ready.” It is one of the spa’s most successful treatments.
Language may be what grabs men’s attention, but they’re also paying mind to the atmosphere once inside. The Rock and Roll Back Wax ($80, 45 minutes) at The Grooming Lounge (Washington, D.C.) has literally helped to take the edge off nervous guys. “We figured a shot of Jack and some Metallica would calm them down and pump them up to ‘take it like a man,’” says founder Mike Gilman. “It’s kind of the conversation starter for many men looking to get some back hair removed.” Strip: Ministry of Wax ditches the serenity of waterfalls, slippers, and relaxation for a space that resembles a hip New York City loft filled with house music.
What They Want
Even if they won’t admit it, men love products, and waxing presents the perfect opportunity for spas to supply guys with the stuff they want. Products that help manage long-term maintenance of their newly waxed skin are more popular than anything related to immediate post-treatment irritation. Accordingly, products that combat ingrown hairs, reduce irritation from shaving, and body washes are growing in popularity.
Men have forever been a proverbial “El Dorado” for spas—a potentially loyal yet elusive customer—but as the new Zeitgeist suggests, we have finally reached the said mystical city’s gates.—Matthew Bell