Beauty conscious blokes are flocking to salons, with the eye-watering male brazilian - the "brozilian" - one of the favoured treatments.
A RIPPING YARN
By ROB KIDD
It only really hits you when you get told to put your clothes in a box in the corner of the room and change into a blue "paper G-string".
I didn't even know a paper G-string was a thing - and I'd worn my best underwear just in case I had to strip in front of my waxer.
What a waste.
It's not like I'm the hairiest man in the world but what I've got has been there a few years and the thought of losing it was as hard to imagine as the pain incurred by the method of removal.
After a brief consultation, during which I was asked what "design" I wanted, I was on my back, paper underwear crudely pulled to one side as the syrupy green wax was smeared over my groin.
If I could have blocked out the photographer, the bloke with the video camera and the reporter in the room, it might have been almost soothing.
And then you feel a corner of the wax being pulled up so the beautician can get some purchase.
Breathe in. Rip. Breathe out.
It wasn't that bad. Honestly, it wasn't.
Definitely not the male equivalent of childbirth everyone had prepared me for. But the novelty gradually wore off as she moved on to more tender areas, which incidentally aren't the spots you'd think.
With all the heavy breathing and adrenalin pumping through my body, the colours in the room somehow became brighter, senses became sharpened.
Possibly not ideal for the situation.
An hour later - which felt like about five minutes - it was over, everyone left the room and I was grabbing a glance at my new look in the mirror before getting dressed again.
As for the design I opted for; I'll never tell. I'm quite a private person.
And bookings for "brozilians" have doubled at some facilities in the past two years.
"It's the fastest growing service over any," Off Wax and Brow Bar owner Nicky Shore said. "There are connotations that men's waxing is a sexual thing but it's about hygiene and confidence.
"A lot of guys are growing up getting teased about being hairy. They're more insecure than we think."
Off Wax is one of the few facilities that strips male pubic hair, with around 100 bookings a month. Many beauty parlours stop at the buttocks.
But those that offer the service are not limited to Auckland. Christchurch and Wellington beauticians are reporting similar trends. The complete stripping of pubic hair gained popularity through the likes of famous David Beckham and Puff Daddy.
And men now make up to 20 per cent of beauty therapy clientele, therapists say.
Grooms are joining their brides in brow shaping, facials and manicures for their big day. But predominantly married men aged 35-50, with encouragement from their wives, are "manscaping".
"Brozilian" training is not offered in New Zealand, so therapists have to do their homework to get staff skilled up.
"You need a certain level of maturity to handle a male client," Shore said. "You don't want a 15-year-old who's just graduated chatting with you about going clubbing on the weekend."
Richardson said it was a shame there weren't more men's grooming lounges to meet demand.
Manscape in Christchurch does a steady stream of what it calls "manzilians" and other men's treatments, despite being temporarily displaced by earthquakes.
"With the rebuild we've seen a strong increase in clientele. Guys are getting recommended by other workmen."
A recent Auckland University survey on body hair found 78 per cent of male participants had removed some or all of their pubic hair, and 54 per cent still did.
A recent German study found 70 per cent of young respondents removed underarm hair.
One survey respondent said the brozilian helped "to make the tiger stand tall on the plain".
- Sunday Star Times
What's your fave grooming option?