Say it out loud: “Wanting to look great is nothing to be ashamed of.” Gone are the days when a man needed only a shave, shower, and haircut to look presentable. Today’s well-groomed guy needs to take care of his skin, his hands and feet, and his face. It’s even sometimes necessary to keep burly hair from growing out of bounds and out of control. So shed your fears of emasculation and embrace the pampering that men’s spa services offer. From head to toe, we’ll tell you what treatments are worthwhile, which procedures hurt so good, and which ones will have you covered in mud. But take heart: As women know, making oneself beautiful isn’t really work at all; it’s an excuse to be pampered. Once you know the rules of proper spa behavior (don’t worry, we tell you when to get naked), you’ll never look back. And if some guy calls you a sissy for getting a sport manicure, take solace in the knowledge that most women couldn’t disagree more.
Getting a haircut is not like running an errand. Thaddeus Valentine understands this, and his airy, refined gentlemen’s club radiates masculinity and polish. Enjoy a soothing scalp massage and then settle into one of the supple, chocolate leather easy chairs on this maestro’s perch at the front of his shop. He’ll give a classic clipper cut or texturize your longer locks with a jeweler’s precision, and make you wonder why you ever settled for less.
Gray? What Gray?
One of the easiest ways to look and feel younger is to reduce the appearance of gray hair. The tricky part is achieving a balance between the emerging gray and your natural color. During a Camouflage treatment at Gene Juarez, the stylist will rinse your hair with a gentle color that will mitigate the effects of age—without looking obvious.
Traditional Hot Shave
Would a stranger gliding a razor millimeters from your jugular make you uncomfortable? Then head to Oslo’s, and recline in Chad Oringer’s vintage barber’s chair. He’ll soften your beard with steaming towels, massage your face with shaving oil, and use hot lather and a gleaming straight razor to give you the closest shave possible. This old-world treatment is rarer than a raw rib eye—enjoy it. Even your old man will be impressed.
At Ummelina, you’ll have water or herbal tea—but your face will get a three-course meal. First comes a creamy cucumber cleanse, then a seaweed-and-kale mask, followed by a papaya enzyme chaser. This is relaxing. Then the papaya is removed with a hot towel, and the aesthetician performs manual extractions (that is, squeezes your blackheads). While this can feel like someone dancing on your face, just sit back and remember that afterward, your skin will shine like a new dime.
A flannel shirt dates you. A unibrow says, “I never look in the mirror. Ever.” So take a baby step into the world of waxing at Spa Blix. The eggshell walls and rich luster of hardwoods lend the South Lake Union spa a crisp elegance, and in under half an hour, the staff will rein in your bushy brows. There’s no pain—just a pulling-off-the-Band-Aid sensation, some subtle tweezing, and you’re done. Easy.
Maniucre Your Mitts
Basically, a sport manicure is everything women get—without the nail polish. At any Gene Juarez spa, after soaking your hands, the manicurist will knead your palms, squeeze your pinkies, and rub your forearms. Then a penetrating salt scrub will be used to shed any flaky, dead skin from your hands, and your nails and cuticles will be shaped to perfection. The final step is a dip in warm paraffin wax, which is peeled off to leave your mitts silky smooth. Embrace this. Every time you shake hands or check your watch, you’ll be glad.
Watch Your Back
Full Back Wax
Have no fear. Change into a robe, enjoy some herbal tea, and chat while the aesthetician escorts you to a private room. On the table, breathe deeply. Concentrate on the rich copper walls and a sensation not unlike warm, creamy peanut butter being brushed on your back. You’re inside the historic Washington Athletic Club, and you’re not the first person to trade pain for greater glory here. Sure, this hurts—but not as much as you’d imagine.
Flex Your Pecs
Worker Bee Chest Wax
You already know the torturous scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin is a fiction and that you won’t end up looking mange-stricken. So head to one of Wax On three local spas for some rock ’n’ roll attitude and perfectly smooth pecs—and see back wax, above, for tips on managing your pain threshold. Watch the wax application. Watch as the cloth strip is pressed onto it. Study the swift movements that clear your chest, and appreciate that repeated waxing will cause any hair that dares return to become progressively easier to remove.
Body Wrap/Vichy Shower
These begin with a nourishing algae, hydrating shea butter, or essential oil scrub. You’re then wrapped lightly in cheesecloth, and after the treatments have penetrated your skin—about 40 minutes—you’re given a shower in Vichy mineral water. For this experience, you lie facedown on a table in a tiled room, and are sprayed by 14 nozzles hanging from the ceiling. Think that sounds crazy enough? As the product is rinsed away, water pressure is adjusted to ensure you don’t get too hot or cold, and it stays consistent throughout the shower.
Soak It Up
Need to drown your sorrows? Spa Agio wine baths use the fragrant antioxidants found in grapes to nourish your skin and promote relaxation. Choose from either red or white (sorry, no rosé), and soak for half an hour in a custom jetted tub while the fragrant bouquets circulate and stimulate all your senses. Crawling to the bottom of a wine bottle never felt so good.
Sample the Condiments
Been hitting it a little hard? Maybe it’s time for a mustard detox bath. Mustard is known for its restorative qualities, and the Nordstrom Spa offers a savory soak infused with the stuff in a large European tub equipped with 70 jets. The private rooms are spacious enough not to feel cramped, and just small enough to heat up when the tub gets cooking. At 30 minutes, this is quick enough to slip in at lunchtime. Grab a hot dog afterward.
Rough It Up
Of course, ambient Japanese zither music fits perfectly within Spaahh Asian-infused environs. But if you’re in the mood for something else—anything else—all the scrub rooms have hookups for your iPod. So while you’re being exfoliated with a cocktail of warm sea salt, rubbed with frankincense, and finished with a lemongrass toner, you could be rocking out to the Ramones. Afterward, your clothes will feel like they’re lined with silk.
Rubbed the Right Way
AromaLomi Hot Stone Massage
Located in the majestic Fairmont Olympic Hotel, the intimate Jeremy Todd salon absorbed the men-only Chairman Spa last year, so the therapists here are experienced at catering to men’s specific needs. Go for the AromaLomi massage, which combines the rich lavender and citrus scents of French aromatherapy with the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage technique, where harmonious, uninterrupted strokes promote maximum relaxation and release hidden tension.
Roll in the Mud
Rejuvenating Body Mud Wrap
Without one mud treatment under your belt, you can’t be a truly metropolitan man. The Body Mud Wrap at Banya 5 starts with a light massage, then you’re painted with a toxin-leeching mud paste and swaddled in muslin cloth. For the better part of an hour, you’re happily mummified while your feet are pumiced smooth and you receive a cleansing facial. What a great way to get dirty.
Pompeii Lava Rock Pedicure
“Sport pedicures” are for guys who feel funny about having their toes done. Sink into one of the reclining pedicure stations at Pro Sports Club, and ask for the Pompeii Lava Rock version. It’s the same as a sport—with the soak, nail shaping, and paraffin dip—but adds a penetrating hot stone massage for your feet and calves. It might actually make you want to show off your formerly ugly feet.