The Real Guy’s Guide to Good Grooming

Our intrepid reporter goes undercover (and uncovered)to get the goods on what real dudes really do to look good.

Men’s Grooming

Comes out of the closet

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Real men may still not eat quiche, but when it comes to preserving their looks, modern guys now go to great lengths to keep themselves looking good. Nothing is off limits: manicures, pedicures, massages, and even Botox are now routine parts of the masculine tune-up kit. So how far will guys go for the sake of their vanity? We sent one intrepid male to find out. (Thankfully, Gary Cooper and John Wayne are not around to see this.)

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By David Nayor


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In a letter to a close friend, Pierre-Auguste Renoir wrote, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” I’m earnestly trying to remember the Impressionist master’s sagacious advice as I lie buck naked—except for a strategically draped towel—slathered in some malodorous concoction, preparing for what must be my umpteenth spa treatment in the last two weeks, and wondering aloud: Just how much coddling can a man stand?


In the past few weeks I’ve been poked, pinched, rubbed, pierced, prodded, squeezed, waxed, steamed, and scrubbed. I’ve been stuck with needles (on three separate occasions), elbowed in the spine, smeared with seaweed (and left stinking like a week-old tuna sandwich for hours afterwards), zapped by lasers, blinded by a hot towel, and twice had acid poured on my face. I’ve been sprinkled with paprika and thyme (now I know how a chicken feels before it goes in the oven), had three layers of skin scrubbed off, and had a hot light beamed on my face for so long I dreamt I was reliving an episode of Dragnet. And I have to admit: I loved almost every minute of it.


The facials, laser hair removal, Botox (yes, it’s true), Restylane, manicures, pedicures, waxing, massages, etc., have all felt great—and I actually look better, which is no easy feat. Still, as a sports-lovin’, skirt-chasin’ (now retired), red-blooded, all-American frat boy, it all feels a little weird.


It’s just past noon on a balmy mid-fall Thursday, and I’m filling out a questionnaire at the Noelle Spa for Beauty & Wellness, a sun-drenched, painstakingly clean, and cavernous edifice of wood, metal, and faux-granite, located just off the Merritt Parkway in Stamford, CT. And while the spa boasts an impressive male clientele (20 percent of overall business), on this day, it’s conspicuous for its decided lack of testosterone, which could have a lot to do with the fact that most men are working at this time. I’ve been trying for weeks, somewhat unsuccessfully, to convince friends and family—especially my pregnant wife—that what I’m doing actually constitutes work. Half the population of Africa goes to bed hungry every night, there are wars raging across the globe, and millions of Louisianans still have no place to live. I feel guilty, not to mention a little out of place.  


Like many modern day spas, Noelle seems designed for women—busy hair-styling floor, a space for selling beauty products, burning scented candles, giant crystal in the foyer—but perfect for insecure dudes, comme moi, who might loathe to have their ears, eyebrows, and backs waxed in public (go figure). There’s a men’s-only lounge and locker room (check out the eucalyptus shower), most treatments are done in private rooms—there’s even a private pedicure room—and you can slink out without drawing too much attention. I did, however, spend about 30 minutes deciding how best to weasel out the door while discreetly concealing a conspicuously large bag of skincare products under my arm. “They’re for my wife,” was my half-assed and obvious lie to the smirking gas station attendant after my containers of nighttime eye cream and all-in-one facial cleanser (with toner) tumbled out of the bag as I filled my SUV.


Of course, the irony of my ignominy is that I didn’t have to hide anything. If recent numbers are any indication, millions of American men are following in my hot-stone pedicured footsteps to spas around the country. “Over 30 percent of all spa-goers are men,” reports Betsy Isroelit, a spokesperson for, noting a heightened interest in men’s grooming, especially among baby boomers.


It seems today’s man is plucking his brows, waxing his back and butt, extracting blackheads, whitening his teeth, coating his body with lotion, and massaging out the kinks from one too many Saturday morning pick-up game at the local gym. “The truth is men love to be pampered,” says Lorraine Guzman, owner of Ossining’s Shine Salon & Spa. One frequent visitor to a popular Westchester day spa reportedly told a group of buddies that his regular facials were “better than sex.” (His girlfriend, who encouraged him to go to the spa in the first place, was out of earshot when he made this comment.)


Male vanity is nothing new. After discovering his image in a pool, poor Narcissus fell so deeply in love with himself that he became inconsolable and died (he’s reportedly still gazing at his reflection in the river Styx). The Bible (Ezekiel 23:40) mentions an association between men and makeup. Eye shadow was used in Egyptian burials as far back as 10,000 B.C. When Alexander the Great entered the tent of defeated King Darius after the Battle of Issos, he unceremoniously threw out the king’s box of priceless grooming ointments and perfumes. Legendary gangster Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd was always well groomed when he robbed people blind.


Part of the pressure to look good, says Ellen Kase, manager of Patient Care Services at Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Mount Kisco and White Plains, is due to the aging of baby boomers. “Many men, especially guys in their 50s, are coming into the workplace with younger guys who dress sharply and look good, and they want to look good, too.” Another factor, says Tim Eckstrom, massage therapist at the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan, can be tied to the American obsession with health and fitness. “We get a lot of guys under 40 coming in here who work out on a regular basis and take good care of themselves.”


Whether prowling for promotions, trawling for business, or hunting for a mate, men are becoming more concerned about their beauty. And not just actors, models, and other assorted pretty-boys. “I have one client, a retired fireman, who comes in regularly for facials, acupuncture, and massages,” says Sandy Lussi, co-owner of the Satori Spa in Katonah. “However, you take one look at him and you’d think he’d never do this.”


According to the NDP Group, a marketing information company in Port Washington, NY, sales of men’s skincare lines sold in department stores jumped 13 percent in 2004. A year earlier, revenues from men’s skincare products shot up 10 percent, whereas the women’s market advanced only six percent. 


And the growth isn’t relegated to the sort of high-end goods found at better department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom, but to the entire market. In the same period, sales of men’s skincare products surged 68.6 percent at mass-market retailers like Gillette, Nivea, Neutrogena, L’Oreal, and Avon, compared to a relatively paltry six percent for women’s products. (Overall, the $59-million men’s market is still miniscule compared with the $6 billion women’s segment.) In the past six months, Shiseido, Clinique, and Estée Lauder have all introduced new men’s-only product lines. Last September, drugstore chain CVS introduced an exclusive line for men and quadrupled its shelf space for men’s grooming products. “It’s a category that’s been expanding rapidly; it’s something that men are seeking out, and we wanted to make it easier for them to find it in our stores,” says CVS spokesperson Erin Cowhig. “A lot of men have been poaching these products from their wives or girlfriends for years but might be reluctant to go into a department store and buy the stuff on their own. We’ve made it so they can pick up the products while they’re shopping for other things.” So, while real men may not eat quiche, it appears they can’t get enough of Neutrogena’s Apricot Facial Scrub.


Local spas are also seeing the wisdom, not to mention box-office benefit, of reeling in a few more Y-chromosomes, says Howie Barshop, owner of Completely Bare in Scarsdale.


“I’d say 40 percent of our business comes from guys,” who, he adds, come in for everything from intense pulsed-light hair removal to microdermabrasion (performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon who performs a host of non-surgical cosmetic procedures).


Pressure from the fair sex, many of whom have grown tired of their significant other looking like he skipped a few links on the evolutionary scale, says Noelle’s John Stefanick, leads many men to his door. “All our male clients can be linked back to a female.” Adds Shine’s Guzman, “Half the guys who come in here are pushed by their wives or girlfriends.” Sandra Rovira, owner of the popular Epidavros Day Spa in Mount Kisco, agrees. “I think men may start out here because they receive a gift certificate from their wife or girlfriend,” she says. “However, once they realize how relaxing the treatments are and how good they look afterwards, they come back for more.”


“Our clients come from all walks of life,” says Bonnie Hagen, co-owner of Enhance Day Spa in Hartsdale. Hagen’s business partner, Sherrie Eskow, notes, “We have firemen and policemen who come here. One of our clients is a UPS delivery man who gets regular hand treatments because his hands are beaten up from carrying boxes all day.” Charlene Castiello, a registered nurse and head aesthetician at Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Mount Kisco, counts a plumber, a landscaper, and a microdermabrasion-loving priest among her hundreds of regular clients. “The priest has a skin problem and loves the results he gets,” she says matter-of-factly.


For many guys, the idea of receiving a massage from a woman who vaguely resembles Pam Anderson sounds like a good deal. Spa people will tell you that women, in general, prefer a massage from a woman. Men do too; they almost always opt for a rubdown from a member of the opposite sex. “We have one male masseur, and he has a few male clients. But overall, men prefer female masseuses,” says Roberta Kipper, spa director at the Stonewater Spa & Boutique in Greenwich. “I think many men are not comfortable with another man touching them.


Confirms Lorraine Hoy, spa manager at the Park Avenue Medical Spa in Armonk. “Absolutely! Men nearly always request a female massage therapist.” And while no self-respecting massage therapist wants his or her services refused on the basis of gender, many also realize that if a client is wound too tightly or hung up on the idea of a masseuse or a masseur, then he or she won’t relax and enjoy the experience.

For teenage boys, a massage can also have benefits, especially for those involved in a sport or other recreational activity. Of course, giving a massage to a half-naked, hormonally charged teenager can open up a Pandora’s box that some therapists simply don’t want to touch. “Our male therapist won’t give a massage to anyone—boy or girl—under 18,” says Kipper pointedly.


No matter the age or the gender of the masseuse, making the average Joe feel comfortable in the land of Xena-Warrior Princess can be difficult. To make men feel at ease, common areas in many spas have taken on a decidedly manly look, which includes dark woods, mood lighting, big leather chairs, copies of Sports Illustrated  and GQ, and TVs tuned to sporting events. Some locations, such as the Mandarin, Chappaqua’s Nordic Therapy Spa, and the Epidavros Day Spa in Mount Kisco, offer packages and treatments specifically targeted to guys.


“We’re sensitive to the concerns of men,” says Noelle’s Stefanick. “There are a lot of metals, dark woods, and leather in the men’s lounge.” Barshop considers his male clientele such an integral part of Completely Bare’s continued growth that the spa’s newest location, which opened in November in Palm Beach, boasts a guys-only lounge replete with refreshments and a flat-screen TV. “They can hang out, get their nails done, or watch a game on TV, or play Xbox while waiting for their treatment,” he says.


“We live in a very youth-oriented society, and men are coming around to the idea that they can do something to look better,” says Ellen Kase. And the trend, says Rovira, shows little sign of abating. “I have a lot of teenage boys coming here. At first, they’re a little reluctant but, afterwards, they just want to know when their next facial will be. We’re creating a whole generation of facial-loving young men.”


And for those of you who think that it’s okay to have a back and shoulders that make you look like a Planet of the Apes reject, vine-like strands emanating from your nostrils, pores the size of small craters dotting your face, or a small forest growing in your ears, it’s not; set up an appointment. You just may find that getting stuck with a few needles isn’t so torturous after all.


Contribuiting writer David Nayor has officially entered the realm of metrosexuality.


where men get pampered


Whether you’re looking to cut a few years off your appearance, work out the kinks from one too many sets of tennis, prune the small growth forest from your back, butt, and ears, trim your nails so they look like they were cut with something other than a rusty machete, or relieve the stress from one too many dust ups with your mother-in-law, chances are there’s a spa—and treatment—that’s just right for you.


Completely Bare

12 Chase Rd.


(914) 713-0200

Services Offered and Prices: $150 and up for laser hair removal; six-session packages (which is usually the minimum required for permanent hair removal) start at $750; all touch-ups are $130 for 15 minutes. Also popular for men: epi-facial (a treatment that uses intense pulsed light to eliminate various skin imperfections, such as rosacea, acne, blemishes, broken capillaries, and fine lines, $450), epi-polish (a mini-version of the facial, $185), massage ($95-$115), microdermabrasion (a removal of the skin’s outer layer using fine crystals, mild abrasion, and suction) for the face and neck  ($185), waxing ($5 to $125), and a host of other cosmetic procedures performed by New York State licensed aestheticians.


Enhance Face and Body Spa

100 N. Central Park Ave.


(914) 997-8878

Services Offered and Prices: Snow Shoveler’s Special (a 75-minute massage for the price of a 60-minute massage, and prices and services can be tailored to the individual), Father’s Day special (throughout the month of June), gentlemen’s classic package ($180), “backcial” back facial( $125 or package of six for $700), pore refining treatment for men ($80), back wax ($60), reiki energy healing ($75), electrology for any body part ($40 for 15 minutes), and hypnosis ($100). Other packages available.


Epidavros Day Spa

272 North Bedford Rd.

Mount Kisco

(914) 244-4422

Services Offered and Prices: Intense pulsed-light hair removal ($78 to $495 per session), lymphatic drainage massage, a technique said to maintain the “integrity” of the immune system by encouraging lymphatic flow ($150), foot reflexology ($50), detoxifying seaweed wrap ($105), hydroptimale facial, a facial said to increase skin hydration through the use of ceramides and plant oil ($145 to $175), and wax ($12 to $115; the most expensive is full leg with bikini). Packages available, including the “E-Male” (aromatherapy deep-tissue massage, Dead Sea crystal glow, foot reflexology, and aromatherapy European deep cleansing facial, costs $297).


Massage Therapy at Pilates Center of Westchester, Inc.

83 North Greeley Ave. Chappaqua

(914) 238-0184, ext. 2

Contact Person:

Service Offered and Prices: $90 for one full-hour massage, $405 for a pre-paid package of five massages. Specialties include Swedish, deep-tissue, and sports massages, and Thai massage, which is performed over clothing and without lotion and uses compressions, pressure on specific points, that are said to release “energy blockages.”


The Medi-Spa at Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, PC

Northern Westchester Hospital

400 East Main St. (North Building)

Mount Kisco

(914) 242-7662

303 North St., Suite 207

White Plains

(914) 428-8881

Services Offered and Prices: Glycolic-acid micropeel ($75), lactic-acid micropeel ($75), micropeel plus, which uses salicylic acid to reduuce fine lines and control acne ($100), Parisian-peel microdermabrasion (similar to typical microdermabrasion, $125, or a series of six for $625), Obagi blue peel, a light to medium peel with some downtime ($400), laser hair removal (back $600, chest $500, neck $200), and Botox ($400 first site, $350 each additional site). Full range of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures available, including hair transplant, facelift, contour facelift, collagen, etc.


Noelle: Spa for Beauty and Wellness

1100 High Ridge Rd. Stamford, CT

(203) 322-3445

Services Offered and Prices: Noelle manicure and pedicure ($25 to $145), massage ($85 to $170), body treatments, including exfoliation, scrub, peel, and wrap ($70 to $180), gentlemen’s facial ($85), and honey-wax hair removal ($25 and up). Haircuts (styling) and various spa packages are also available.


Nordic Spa

65 South Bedford Rd. Chappaqua

(914) 238-1558

Services Offered and Prices: Massage therapy, including sports massage and postural alignment (a procedure that is said to align the body by eliminating scar tissue adhesions and to lengthen muscles, $85 to $200), sea salt glow ($70), gentlemen’s facial ($80), MD facial peel ($140), reflexology ($70), and waxing ($10 and up). Packages available.


Park Avenue Medical Spa

495 Main St. Armonk

(914) 730-3333

Services Offered and Prices: Medical acne facial ($120), medical peels ($185), mesolift ($220), laser wrinkle reduction ($400 to $1,000), foto-facial, a laser treatment that claims to increase skin elasticity, get rid of broken capillaries, and remove hyper-pigmentation, ($500 to $650), laser hair removal ($50 to $900), Botox (averages $450 per site), and mesotherapy, subcutaneous injections that are used to decrease the size of fatty deposits in the body.


Satori Spa

171 Katonah Ave. Katonah

(914) 767-3303

Services Offered and Prices: The Satori Signature massage ($110), deep-tissue massage ($90 to $130), acupuncture ($85), and the Satori deep-tissue massage and facial ($180).


Shine Spa and Salon

161 Main St. Ossining

(914) 762-6675

Services Offered and Prices: Eminence facial, a deep-cleansing facial that uses “organic, fruit-based products” imported from Hungary ($85 to $145), massage ($85 to $130), manicure and hot-stone pedicure ($10 to $80), waxing ($20 to $85), and packages available (prices vary).


SkinCentre Medical Aesthetics

220 South Central Ave. Hartsdale

(914) 949-6200

Services Offered and Prices: Glycolic treatments ($125 and up), microdermabrasion ($125), Restylane, a cosmetic filler ($500 per syringe), Botox (one-muscle set, $350, two-muscle set, $550), laser hair removal ($150 and up), intense-pulsed light (for the face $300), facials ($100), and thermage, a non-invasive anti-wrinkle treatment ($1,400 to $3,950).


The Spa at Mandarin Oriental

80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street

New York, NY

(212) 805-8880

Services Offered and Prices: Gentlemen’s Retreat, which takes four hours and includes a deep-tissue massage, advanced facial, pedicure, acupressure point massage and aromatherapy massage oil ($655). Other services include ultimate body scrubs ($95), holistic hand-and-foot treatment with hot stones ($75 to $125), Ultimate Face and Back Facial ($285), and Ultimate Body Massages ($285).


Stonewater Spa & Boutique

151 Greenwich Ave. Greenwich, CT


Services Offered and Prices: Face (specialty facial for men $82), classic manicure and pedicure ($20 and $40), the men’s collection—manicure, pedicure, facial, and one-hour therapeutic massage ($225), the Men’s Collection II (add lunch to the previous package, $250).


men’s skincare in 5 easy steps


If you’re like most men, you can’t be bothered to haul out the trash, let alone spend an hour vanquishing blackheads, plucking ingrown hairs, or sloughing off dead skin. Yet, by the time men reach their mid-30s, they’ve probably dragged a dull razor across their face several thousand times, acquired bags under their eyes, and accumulated enough dirt on their face to plant a small field of corn. That much wear and tear requires a little attention. The following are five quick and easy skincare tips, courtesy of Anca E. Tchelebi-Moscatello, MD, founder and director of the Park Avenue Medical Spa, and Anita Wolf, clinical administrator at the SkinCentre Medical Aesthetics. So if your skincare regimen consists of a slimy bar of deodorant soap, a cheap disposable razor, a dog-eared can of Barbasol, and a splash of Old Spice, change your ways. Remember Hamlet’s admonition, “’Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed things rank and gross in nature.”


Shave—It’s best to shave right after you jump out of the shower or wash your face, when the skin is soft and beard is moist, says Dr. Tchelebi-Moscatello. Remember that shaving with a razor abrades the skin—not a hell of a lot, but enough to cause burning when an aftershave with irritating ingredients is applied to that skin. Also, try ditching the crappy foams that are often made with harsh ingredients. Instead, go for a glycerin-based shaving cream such as Kiehl’s. Decleor’s Gentle Shaving Foam contains antiseptic properties that can help prevent ingrown hairs and control breakouts.


Cleanse—Wash you face, morning and evening. And ditch the Dial soap, as most common brands contain harsh ingredients that are ill suited for sensitive facial skin. “Depending on the type of ski

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