Leg waxing, boys? The first male beauty parlour opens

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The Independent Online

"This is a man's world," James Brown sang as I walked into Boots yesterday for a manicure and facial. I wasn't so sure as I boldly asked for the full monty - shave and hairstyling too - at Britain's first beauty salon dedicated solely to male grooming, which opened this week in Edinburgh.

"This is a man's world," James Brown sang as I walked into Boots yesterday for a manicure and facial. I wasn't so sure as I boldly asked for the full monty - shave and hairstyling too - at Britain's first beauty salon dedicated solely to male grooming, which opened this week in Edinburgh.

Its black leather chairs, slate-grey walls, shiny metal cabinets and minimalist decor are all very masculine. The only female images are on the magazine stand. But is the Scottish male really ready for deep moisturising foot-cream with mint, lavender and marshmallow? "We'll do the facial first," explained Clare, leading me into a spartan room with a couch that felt like the dentist's without a drill. "It takes off three layers of skin and that can be a little sore straight after a shave.

"This is a great place," she reassured me. "In other stores you get men coming in looking for the condoms and they leave with a toothbrush because they are too embarrassed to ask. Here it's easy to find what you want because everything is for men. We've got 41 different kinds. Of condoms that is," she laughed.

And so she administered the facial scrub, a "self-heating" mask that turned my face white, a special "age-defying" formula, and something for puffy eyes. Pink-faced, relaxed and utterly exfoliated, I headed for the shave. "I'll just pop the damp towel in the microwave," Shelley said before administering a series of sumptuous latherings with the fingers (no brushes used here) and short delicate shaving strokes, more like a forensic examination than my bulldozer technique. No bloodshed.

"We've already had quite a few mothers in here with their teenage sons," explained Clare. "They want us to show the boys how to shave when perhaps the father is not around.

"I can tell you 40 or 50 nail diseases," she continued while filing and buffing fingernails whose untutored cuticles had enjoyed more than three decades unchallenged by a prodding cotton stick.

The hairstyling was the most enjoyable - two shampoos and a head massage with a conditioner that tingled so much it could have been toothpaste. "Men are so much easier than women," said Clare. "They are so trusting, they just let us get on with it."

Those visiting the store yesterday were enthusiastic - especially the younger ones. "I was just sticking my head around the door for a look and decided to take the plunge," said Kenneth Boal, 37, hands out for a final polishing.

But John McCaffrey, a retired computer engineer, was unconvinced. "I would grudge the money. I've spent 63 years looking after my own face and I don't need someone else to do it for me."

As for myself, an hour and a half on, and £32 poorer, I felt great and understood better why it takes women so long to get ready. It's just a shame the service is so limited. What I really needed was a haircut.

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