Right, first things first: this was a massive hassle. In order to cram a pedicure, spray tan, eyelash tint and bikini wax into a 48 -period, I was basically forced to lead a double life. So I had to discreetly skive off work, pretending that I was leaving The Times office to go somewhere important, rather than actually heading directly to the beauty salon at Topshop on Oxford Street. I also had to text my girlfriend to say that I wasn’t going to be home in time to help put our baby to bed, because a woman I had only just met had me naked on a table and was asking if I wanted a smooth scrotum. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I did. I ended up with one anyway.
Prior to all of this, it had honestly never occurred to me that, for many women, getting ready to go on holiday took this much effort. Like most things in life, it’s so much more straightforward for men. The night before my flight, I’ll make sure I have swimming trunks, flip-flops and a paperback with a big sword on the cover. But even if I don’t, I know I can just pick them up at the airport anyway. Easy. But this? This was intense. And so fiddly. And, at least to begin with, I wasn’t entirely sure what was in it for me.
I began with the Ultimate Cowshed Pedicure. I’d never had one before and wasn’t crazy about unveiling my feet – and in particular my toenails, because they are quite gross, mainly due to lack of care and playing football. However, the nice woman who looked after me did a good job of hiding her disgust and said that these days, lots of men come in to have their feet done. And on one level, I can see why. It was relaxing and my feet looked marginally less rank than when I arrived. It never occurred to me that other people around the hotel pool would spend much time scrutinising my toenails, but whatever. No harm done, which is more than I can say for the wax.
Now, full disclosure: I am not a total wax virgin. On my last holiday, I decided to use some of my girlfriend’s Veet strips to remove the strange-looking rings of hair that form around both of my nipples. And that’s it. But this? This was nuclear. Pre-appointment, I downed two quick pints of lager, which I think helped dull the pain a little bit (apparently, this is not uncommon). It took almost an hour and a half for the Ministry of Waxing to do my legs and give me a Brazilian, although we ran out of time before we could do my bum. But I guess this isn’t something women have to worry about much. Well, most women, anyway. When I got home, my girlfriend immediately demanded to see the results, then squealed and pulled a rather horrified face. She definitely prefers me with pubes. So do I. My whole lower body felt soft, tender and fleshy. And a week on, it still does. If any woman said she was going to wear men’s swimming trunks, rather than bikini bottoms in order to avoid the whole ordeal, I would respect that 100 per cent.
Now onto the eyelash tinting. I didn’t really understand it at all. Something about making them darker, so you don’t need to wear mascara on the beach? I don’t use mascara, but gave it a crack anyway at Blink Brow Bar, and 15 minutes later I had slightly fuller lashes that I doubt anyone noticed.
I had the full-body spray tan on a Saturday morning, which meant hauling myself into town instead of chillaxing in my pants. The guy who did it, James Harknett at the W Away Spa, was lovely and suggested I go for a light shade given that this was my first time. ‘Right, let’s get you golden!’ he declared, and started spraying. I hadn’t expected it to feel so cool on my skin, but it wasn’t exactly unpleasant. Less than ten minutes later, I was done, and left the spa with an entirely believable tan. I go dark pretty easily, though, so to anyone who knew me, I could have just fallen asleep in the park on a really sunny day.
So, here I am, tanned and smooth, with soft feet and (apparently) luscious lashes. I sympathise with what women go through before they set off on holiday, but then I also understand that it makes them feel comfortable and confident. For the most part, I felt stressed and self-conscious – and if I’d been paying out of my own pocket, skint to boot. It did make me want to go on holiday, though – if only to recuperate from it all.
Boyzilian All Off, £60, Ministry Of Waxing, 56 Neal Street/ Men's eyelash tint, £18, Blink Brow Bar in Topshop, Oxford Circus/ Spray Tan with James Harknett at W Away Spa at the W Hotel London, £40/ Ultimate Cowshed Pedicure, £60 for 75 mins