VANITY FAIR: I grew up with three brothers. We used to share a bathroom, and they were always secretly using my products, so I had a hunch early on that guys were curious about skin care. When I became an aesthetician, I decided to make sure men weren't forgotten. For the past two years I've been at the Grooming Lounge (1745 L St. NW, 202-466-8900), a spa for men, where I do everything from giving facials to tweezing extra ear hair to waxing brows, chests, backs and shoulders.

DON'T EVEN GO THERE: I won't wax below the waist. Some guys try to persuade me to do it, even though they know it's not allowed. It's not awkward -- I just tell them that we can't, and that there's probably someplace they can get it done, but I don't know where. Maybe in New York.

GENDER GAP: Men make great customers: They're happy with the slightest result. Women expect more because they know more. For example, women know what a mask is. One time I told a guest that I was going to give him a mask, and he actually thought I was going to put a costume mask on him. Men are so far behind women. They have a lot to learn.

BEAUTY 101: The biggest mistake most guys make is using regular bar soap on their face. It has a high pH, which is very harsh. I tell them to try a cleanser that's designed for the face specifically, like Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel. Then exfoliate, using a scrub or lotion with salicylic or alpha hydroxy acid in it, to remove dead skin cells. Finish with a moisturizer.

SPOT ON: Orlando Bloom has beautiful skin. You can tell certain celebrities have had acne, because you can see scars. Brad Pitt, for instance: I just saw a close-up shot of him, and it looks like he's had some problems.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: One guest came in with a gift certificate from his wife; it was his birthday, and he thought he was there for a massage. I was the one who had to tell him that she'd gotten him a back wax instead. Another guest was in for back waxing. He has very thick hair, and it's always pretty painful. I told him to come in for a facial, too, just to show him I'm not all about pain. Now he's here every six weeks for the wax, plus once a month for the facial. So while some wives may have to push their husbands to come in -- it's only the first time.

As told to Sara Cardace

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Karen Nystrom at work. Come on, guys -- this doesn't look so bad, does it?