Skin Care for Men: Everything You Need to Know
It is no secret that the skin care and beauty industries have long recognized women as their primary customer. However, men also care about the health of their skin, and the trends are shifting to show us that more and more men are committed to a regular skin care routine. There are many different types of skin care products on the market, however, and it can be a little overwhelming for those who aren’t familiar with the variety of ingredients and products offered. So, what’s a guy to do? The best place to start is with an understanding of what a good skincare routine consists of, which products and techniques to use and which to not waste your time on.
To begin, men’s skincare needs tend to be slightly different from a woman’s. There are actual structural differences that make a man’s skin unique. The extra testosterone contributes to a man’s skin being not only 25% thicker than a woman’s, but also naturally tougher and more resilient to everyday environmental toxins and the early signs of aging. This, however, is not an excuse to forgo a solid skin care routine. The extra testosterone in the body also means extra oil production, so keeping your skin clean becomes even more important. With this in mind, let’s talk about some key points regarding skin care that pertain especially to men.
One of the biggest misconceptions that men have about skin care is that any type of soap or cleanser is appropriate for the face. The truth is that the cleanser that you are using on your body is almost certainly not appropriate for your skin from the neck up. Body cleansers, especially bar soaps and washes that are heavily scented, are too harsh for facial and neck skin. The harshness of these cleansers can cause irritation, which can complicate existing skin conditions such as acne or ingrown hairs, and cause new inflammation and skin issues to arise.
In addition to the choosing the correct cleanser, you also need to be aware of water temperature. I love a nice hot shower, but I also know that it is terrible for my skin. The heat from the water can strip the skin of its natural oils, causing it to become dry, irritated, itchy and generally tired looking. You should avoid extra hot showers in general because the hot water can also irritate the skin on the rest of your body, but if you do indulge on occasion, make sure that the hot water does not come in contact with your face and always moisturize immediately after.
When choosing a cleanser, look for one that contains natural ingredients and is gentle on the skin. Even products geared toward acne and oil control should not contain ingredients that are harsh or irritating, such as sulfates. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C are great ingredients to look for in cleanser since they help to promote cell renewal and brighten the skin. OZNaturals Ocean Mineral Facial Cleanser has enjoyed a loyal following of male customers for years. This cleanser contains antioxidants along with a proprietary blend of ocean minerals and unclogs pores without stripping skin. For the guy who may have spent a little too much time in the sun or who is starting to notice the first signs of aging, I often recommend our Vitamin C Cleanser. This antioxidant-rich cleanser helps fade the appearance of sun spots and discoloration, refining skin texture and helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines
Exfoliation is the process of removing, or sloughing off, dead skin cells away from the skin’s surface. As an adult, your skin has a complete cell turnover about once every six weeks. This results in a layer of dead skin cells that accumulate on the surface. These dead skin cells are held on to the skin’s surface by a type of “glue.” Granted, many of them do fall off on their own, to the tune of about 30,000 dead skin cells a minute. Yes, you really do lose that amount every minute, and yet there are still so many more than hang around, making your skin dull looking, clogging your pores and settling into those first fine lines, causing them to look even more pronounced.
To remove all this dead skin and promote faster cell renewal, we turn to exfoliation. Most people are familiar with the type of exfoliation that uses granular ingredients, mixed in a lotion, cleanser or a scrub.
Scrubs that contain rough granular ingredients can cause irritation and damage when used on the face. For men, using these types of scrubs can cause an overproduction of oil, and if you have any inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, these types of scrubs will make the situation worse rather than better. Also, gritty scrubs have been known to irritate the hair follicle of freshly shaven skin, leading to a higher incidence of razor burn and ingrown hairs.
The best option is to choose an exfoliation product that contains gentle physical exfoliants such as bamboo or rice powder. Products that contain smooth exfoliating beads are also generally gentler on the skin that exfoliants such as crushed shells or seeds.
There is another category of products called chemical exfoliants which use ingredients such glycolic acid or natural fruit enzymes to naturally loosen the bond between dead skin cells and the skin surface. You can find these types of chemical exfoliants in serums such as our Vitamin C + AHA Facial Serum and peels like our 30% Glycolic Acid Peel.
How often should you exfoliate? The standard advice for physical exfoliation is twice a week, unless your skin is sensitive, in which case, once a week is plenty. If you choose a product that contains a chemical exfoliant, use according to directions and then adjust accordingly based on how your skin reacts. We recommend a monthly use of our glycolic acid peel, while our Vitamin C + AHA serum is designed for daily use.
Trends in facial hair are always changing, and today more men, especially those aged 19-24, are opting to forgo the razor in favor of growing out their facial hair. Still, many men love a clean shaved face, and for some it is a necessity for their work environment. Either way, shaving is a major part of many men’s grooming routines, with most men who shave doing so an average of five times per week. Over the course of a lifetime, it is estimated that the average male will spend about four months in front of the bathroom mirror, whisking away the stubble. That is a lot of time, and you probably think you have the shaving routine down pretty solid. However, there are still a few key points to keep in mind.
- The first and most important is to change your razor regularly. Razors that aren’t switched out every two to three shaves start to become dull, which means they are going to pull and snag on the skin rather than giving you a smooth result. Old razors are also more likely to harbor bacteria which is bad news if you happen to nick yourself in the process.
- Sometimes, more isn’t necessarily better. Razors that have three, four or even five blades promote themselves as giving smoother, longer lasting results. However, multiple blades can pull at the hair follicle far too far beneath the skin’s surface which is more likely to cause irritation and inflammation in the form of razor burn and ingrown hairs. If you choose disposables, stick with one or two blades to avoid this risk.
- Take advantage of your warm morning shower. The moisture and warmth of the shower softens the hair on your face and opens the hair follicles so that the hair can be removed easier. Shaving in the shower, or just after, will result in a shave that is smoother with less irritation.
- Moisturizing and soothing your skin after a shave is good, but using an alcohol based aftershave is bad. Instead choose a toner that contains glycolic acid or natural antioxidants, like our Ocean Mineral Tonic. The active ingredients in this easy-to-use spray are designed to soothe and restore skin, as well as support a synergistic relationship with anything layered on top of it.
Although a man’s skin is typically slower to show its age thanks to testosterone and higher levels of collagen, you can still benefit from a good facial moisturizer regardless of your age. Even young, smooth skin can benefit from a moisturizer with high quality ingredients.
You should use a moisturizer suited to your skin type twice a day, after cleansing. Look for moisturizers that are lightweight and non-greasy, such as our Sea Infused Moisturizer. A good thing to remember is that facial moisturizers are created for the skin on your face, neck and chest area, but they are not specifically designed for the eye area. The skin in this area is thinner, more fragile and more sensitive. In addition to a daily moisturizer, choose a product that is formulated for the eye area. You can find products that target different issues such as the appearance of fine lines and deeper wrinkles, puffiness and discoloration or dark circles. OZNaturals Super Youth Eye Gel tackles every major eye area concern in one simple step.
If you want to take your skincare routine up another notch, you might also be interested in choosing a serum, which can address other issues you might be experiencing with your complexion. Serums are concentrated products that are applied to clean, toned skin prior to a moisturizer and sunscreen. They contain high levels of active ingredients that can make a visible difference in skin health and appearance. Everything from acne, inflammation, dryness, and signs of aging can be addressed with a high-quality serum. Look for ingredients such as retinol, vitamin A, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.
Before the age of 50, women have a higher risk of developing melanoma than men. After the age of 50, the risk for men jumps above that for women. The reason for this is that while women are more likely to overindulge in UV exposure in their younger years, men tend to not wear as much sunscreen during their entire lifetime. The effects start to show up after the age of 50 when years of accumulative damage begin to result in changes of the skin cells which can sometimes lead to cancer.
It is true that men’s skin has all the components to age at a slower rate than a woman’s, but have you ever noticed that is often not the actual case? The reason for this is that women tend to take better care of their skin in general, including protecting themselves from daily sun exposure, which is a leading cause of premature aging. This simple solution, remembering to wear sunscreen on a regular basis, is equally applicable to men. Sunscreen should be applied every two hours while out in the sun, and reapplied after every swim, even if your sunscreen claims to be waterproof.
Also remember that you are exposed to UV rays from the sun even when not out in direct sunlight. For example, you might notice that your left arm is slightly darker than your right because that is the arm closest to the window when you are driving a car. Also, remember to apply sunscreen whenever you go out, especially your arms, neck, ears, forehead and on the top of your head if you are sporting a minimum hair look. Wearing a hat regularly will also help protect the top of your head.
There is one more thing. While men are more likely to develop melanoma after the age of 50, men are also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of the disease, making the treatment for this potentially deadly form of skin cancer more difficult. Know the signs of skin cancer, and your individual risk. Then, make sure to do regular self-examinations of your skin so that you notice any changes that develop during the earliest stages.
Taking care of yourself is about more than a healthy diet and exercise. It also involves taking care of your skin with an effective skincare routine. A well-designed routine with high quality, natural products can take as little as ten minutes a day and the results are well worth it. We all want to put our best face forward, and taking good care of your skin is the first step in doing that.
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals