Men are more concerned than ever with caring for their skin. Knowing the do’s and don’ts helps to keep skin looking great and feeling healthy.
Skin Care Basics for Men
Proper washing and cleansing is a critical step in any man’s skin care strategy. Men’s facial skin is quite different from women’s. Featuring larger pores, whiskers, more collagen, elastin, a denser supply of blood vessels and producing more sweat, men’s skin can house a surprising stable of dirt, excess oil and irritants. Cleansers are designed to rid the skin of these pollutants, thus reducing the likelihood of outbreaks, and providing a fresher overall lookand feel.
Before choosing a face cleanser think about your skin type. There are five basic skin types: Normal, Dry, Oily, Combination and Sensitive skin (for more on these skin types see Skin Care 101). Choose a cleanser that is most suitable for your skin type based on the packaging description and any additional research you might choose to do. A good starting point is a gentle foaming cleanser formulated to suit all skin types and that does not contain any soap or irritants. Men who have sensitive skin might wish to consider a face wash that does not contain fragrances, dyes, soaps or alcohol.
It is important for men to exfoliate regularly. Exfoliating removes dirt and the surface layer of dead skin cells to reveal younger-looking, fresher skin. It also exposes the face's hair follicles, which promotes a better shave. Men who exfoliate are in a better position to reduce unwanted wrinkles, flaky skin and acne. Exfoliating also helps your moisturizer penetrate deeper.
Many exfoliators contain some combination of pumice (which includes granulated volcanic ash that assists in scrubbing), sea salts, fruit seeds, alpha-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid and beta hydroxy acid, all of which effectively loosen and remove your dead skin cells. Additional products you might wish to consider to help you exfoliate include an exfoliating mask, exfoliating gloves, and a gentle abrasive sponge or loofah.
While it is important to exfoliate regularly, what constitutes ‘regular’ depends on the individual. Exfoliating too often can damage the skin and exfoliating too little could foster oilier skin. Choose a frequency that you notice works for you.
There are a few techniques when using a traditional razor to help give a close, smooth shave and to help minimize irritations, rashes and ingrown hairs. To remove oil and dirt for a closer, smoother shave, wash your face beforehand and use an exfoliating scrub or treatment. Moisten but do not completely wet your skin and try shaving with hot water. These steps help to soften your beard. Change razor blades frequently – a sharp blade helps to further reduce irritation. Those with more sensitive skin might wish to shave in a warm shower. The moisture and lubrication your face receives from the shower helps to soften your beard and reduce irritation.
Dry electric shavers require the opposite of what is desired when preparing for a traditional wet shave. With this method, it is better for your facial hairs to be dry and stiff so they are easier to shear once inside the heads of the shaver. Therefore you should not wash your face or moisten your beard before using an electric shaver.
Choosing the right shaving cream is an important decision. Without the proper cream, shaving can cause irritation and strip natural oils from your skin. Similar to choosing a cleanser a good starting point is a shaving cream that is formulated to suit all skin types.
Improper care, harsh weather conditions and job-related factors can sometimes lead to skin problems. Moisturizers are helpful for maintaining healthy, smooth, youthful-looking skin and preventing some skin issues. They work by softening and diminishing fine lines and wrinkles. All skin types can benefit from moisturizers. It is recommended to avoid moisturizer products with added perfumes, alcohol, antibacterial ingredients or detergents. Instead, look for added oils that will help moisturize. If you have oily skin, you might opt for a moisturizer with a non-greasy formula. Apply your moisturizer after cleansing, exfoliating and shaving.
This crucial element is the final step in your skin care routine. To avoid sun damage always use sunscreen – even in winter and on cloudy days. Sun damage not only contributes to an aged look it can cause various types of cancer. Men who are fair-skinned, have blond or red hair, and blue or green eyes may have an increased susceptibility to sun damage and should be extra-vigilant in protecting their skin. The best sunscreens provide broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB-sunburn) protection. You might wish to consider sunscreens that contain either zinc or titanium minerals and with at least 30 SPF to protect the face from the sun. Experts recommend using a moisturizer that also includes UV protection. It is important to apply sunscreen to not only your face but your hands, neck and other exposed areas of skin.