With Father’s Day around the corner I thought it prudent to discuss the skin care needs of the men in our lives.
Do men really need a different approach to their skin?This is something I get asked a lot, and in essence I think that protecting the skin barrier remains of primary importance, but there are obvious differences to take into consideration.
Men have more of collagen and elastin fibers which are the building blocks of connective tissue giving the skin strength and elasticity. Their beards (grown or not) also helps to support skin structure.
On average men’s skin is 20-30% thicker than women’s skin, and that is of course a benefit in the ageing process.
Men tend to have a rougher texture to their skin, and due to higher testosterone also have more sebaceous secretions (oilier skin) on the skin surface and they also have stronger keratin fibrils. The sebaceous secretions contribute to problem skin such as acne for men, especially in adolescence.
The downside for men (with the exclusion of the trend to grow beards) is that the frequent shaving of their beards means that they are also prone to skin barrier disorders, as the act of shaving does disturb the skin’s acid mantle every time they shave. This means that the first line of skin barrier defense, as well as the second (the corneocyte) are often removed by the shaving regime. Sodium Lauryl Sulfateis an inexpensive chemical widely used in many mainstream personal hygiene products such as shampoos, toothpastes, mouthwashes, body wash, soaps, detergents, body wash and SHAVING FOAM. Surfactants such as this, and emulsifiers are fast becoming the number one irritant to skin, surpassing fragrances. It is no wonder that skin barrier disorders such as eczema, dermatitis, and itchyosis is increasing.
The rise of the ‘metrosexual’ man is contributing to a movement where men are now more likely to follow a good skin care regime, a task I feel is necessary in today’s day and age. If nothing else, I at least encourage men to protect their skin from the elements to minimize the dangers we all now know so well.
So, what should the recommendations be?
The first thing I ask my male client is to tell me about their regime. As the opposite gender, I find it enlightening and the biggest change I ask of their regime (for most) is to change the order of their shower and shave.
I ask men to shower first, yes, they may use their face cleanser in the shower as I find men tend to be more compliant to then actually cleanse their skin. The logic is that the warm shower and facials cleansing helps to soften the beard bristles and the skin resulting in a much more comfortable shave. Men commonly tell me they prefer it the other way around as they can then shower the hair off, but once they try it for a week or two and feel the difference they can see the reasoning.
After showering the shaving takes place, and those that shave with a blade (not electric shavers) are invited to try shaving with an oil. This lessens abrasion to the skin and some skin care lines have an array of choices which allows for customizing the experience. Generally, the choice is towards oils with anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, and restoring skin lipids.
The right oil can also act as a gentle after shave followed by a moisturizer that is focused on skin barrier repair, and of course sun protection if during the day.
When shaving is not needed, a simple cleanse, tone, moisturize and protect daily regime is followed. Men that appose to a moisturizer and use a gel instead. And I am an advocate of dry sunscreen for men who do not like sun protection in a cream base. While most won’t be seen ‘puffing’ the powder on, I see a strong preference to dry sunscreen especially for those who work outside and have more active skin.
Of course, the man that is willing, can go beyond the basics and also enjoy benefits of modern skin care that can include treatment for pigmentation, vascular damage, acne, and ageing.
While we know that ageing is ultimately inevitable, we can help ensure that it is not accelerated, and above all, simple steps will help maintain a healthy skin reduce diseases that stems from skin that left in a compromised state.