by Teah Strandjord
manicure (plural manicures)
a cosmetic treatment for the fingernails
Today I will convince you to get a manicure (and/or learn to perform one yourself). Yes, that word also means: “to get your nails done”. A few readers at this moment are undeniably laughing out loud, “Men don’t get manicures!” But I am here to assure you, in fact dear gentlemen, they do.
Some readers are also grumbling (I can hear you through the computer), “Okay, but men like ME don’t get manicures.” While I applaud your attempt to loose me your attention, I hate to say this, but you are wrong.
Men of all shapes, sizes, interests, ages, professions… get buffed, waxed, primped, trimmed, and… (I will leave the rest to your charming imaginations). Moreover, if you’re striving for gentlemanliness, you should too. Enter the MAN-icure.
Before I go too far, please let me applaud those dashing men who already bask in clean-shaven hygienic routines, sporting fresh-breathed-lips that long for a pucker and ready-to-hold smooth hands. Thank you.
But somewhere in the convoluted history of Americanism a few tough chaps (perhaps they were cowboys or yankee-doodles) decided that the beauty parlor is for the ladies and the ladies alone. Say it ain’t so.
While being a cowboy is awesome (my Grandfather was the real-deal as a teen), it is the year 2011 in a Western civilized culture of sophisticated lifestyles, where the beauty parlor is now called the spa (as in “I smell amazing and I’m sooo relaxed”), and our European friends are embarrassed by the hang-nailed laggards among us. So even if you do spend your days saddling Thoroughbreds and wrangling angry bulls (or the more suburban cowboy: filling the dog bowl while chasing the defiant toddler), you too can enjoy what strong men of ages and cultures broad have fully embraced: the manicure (or some variation on clean hands).
I’m fully aware that along with manliness comes dirty hands, so tinker away… on the car, in the yard, at the easel… but a gentleman will clean up the mess when he’s finished, and make himself presentable to the world around him (and touchable, too). It’s the polished man’s way of doing things, and it says, “I care.”
And of course, you loose no gentlemanly points for grooming your own nails. Men are men after all because they can take care of themselves, and those around them. CVS sells all the tools you’ll ever need, namely soap, nail clippers, hand lotion, and a nailbrush. Just keep ‘em clean with soap frequently, brush away the dirt beneath your nails once a day, soften your paws with an after shower soothing application of lotion, and clip the white parts off roughly once a week. The softer-skinned gender will appreciate your effort.
Should you, however, desire more detailed hand detailing and venture the professional route, please know that many very manly men already are. You might consider easing into something new by starting with a salon that services “men only”, such as the few I’ve highlighted in major cities below (but don’t forget the co-gender options are for you, too):
New York City – Dapper dandies in the concrete jungle can get all swank and spiffed at Martial Vivot (located behind MoMa, you too can become a work of art). And at Erica Fleishman, a speakeasy-esque men’s salon, every service includes “getting your nails done”. The early adopting Big Apple was onto this “manly parlor” concept a half-decade ago, as seen in this New York Times article Putting the Manly into Manicure.
Chicago – Moving from the east coast into the midwestern region, Halo in Chicago is a salon just for men, and one of their services titled “the man” includes a paraffin hand wax and a hand massage.
Minneapolis – Further up the Mississippi, the mindful man in Minneapolis (near the home of Paul Bunyan, arrrrr) can get his hands manscaped at Jon English Salon for Men.
San Francisco – And good hygiene leaves no man behind… even the bohemian San Francisco-nian man can pretty-up up at Spargo – A Place For Men.
Businesses nationwide are catering to the grooming needs of man (even in small towns and rural areas). Just because you might suffer an aversion to the women’s “beauty parlor” doesn’t mean your good looks should suffer too. And if you’re brave enough to venture into the co-gender establishments, rest assured you will not be alone. During my last manicure I spotted 18-inch biceps three chairs down (attached to a man you wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark alley, or a bright alley for that matter). So when you’re ready, the little nail shops like Mystic Nails and Pinkies will save some of your disposable income for other indulgences (dare I say pedicure?).
Whether you clean and clip yourself or go to a salon and have yourself pampered is up to you, the important part is to stay well-groomed in effort to put your best foot (or hand) forward, and to say “I care about taking care of myself”. As a gentleman would.
End note: I would like to thank a few fine men who contributed their decorous thoughts, shared grooming routines, and helped shape this post: Michael Kraabel (Creative Director & Classic Car Hobbiest), Daniel Martin (MBA, Consultant & Former Army Soldier), Towle Neu (Attorney & Filmmaker), and Ryan Strandjord (Filmmaker, Montessori School Teacher & Soccer Coach). These handsome gents appreciate the art of grooming themselves in one form or another, salon and do-it-yourself alike. Again, thank you for your inspiration.