There’s a $150 billion global cosmetics industry that caters to skin care for women, offering beauty tips and advice for every type of skin under the sun. But for men? Precious little.
But skin care for men is important. In an age with global warming and a looming wave of skin cancer, it’s important for men to take care of their skin. Combine that with health, and maybe a little vanity, and it’s official: skin care for men counts, whether you’re 18 or 80.
Men’s skin is generally thicker than women’s and not as sensitive to ingredients like parabens. But men face unique challenges that women don’t, which we’ll review in this article.
Soap/Cleansers – Guys tend to prefer bar soap to liquid cleansers. That’s fine if you’ve got oily or normal skin. If your skin feels tight or itchy after washing you’ve got dry skin, and would do well with a liquid cleanser. Or if you insist on bar soap, use a product with emollients like glycerin, vitamin E oil or olive oil.
Oily skin can clog pores and cause acne. A bar soap or liquid cleanser with salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzyl peroxide can remove dead skin and reduce excessive oil.
Moisturizers – Some facial cleansers have built-in moisturizer, but you can’t go wrong with a daily moisturizer, to moisten the skin after cleansing. Use an oil-based product for oily skin, a light lotion for normal or a cream if your skin is dry.
Sunscreen Protection – Sun damage is a leading cause of wrinkles and aging of the skin, and though men’s skin is thicker than women’s, it’s still important to use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15, and higher in hot climates. Avoid the sun between 10AM and 4PM, when possible, and drink plenty of water.
Try a facial moisturizer with retinol. These are generally prescription-strength products and aren’t always available in your standard drug store, but they’re stronger than many products that tout their antioxidant content as protection from the sun. Products with retinol can smoothen fine lines and even reverse aging at the cellular level, but for best results, use them every day.
Remember also that it’s important to protect your scalp from the sun. This applies specifically to men, as they’re prone to hair loss and therefore have less protection. Use a sunscreen on areas with less hair coverage or bald spots. Use a spray-on sunscreen if you don’t like the idea of lotion in your hair. Better yet, wear a hat.
Some mousse and gel products offer sunscreen protection, if you use hair product.
Shaving Products – Most men have a preferred shaving method, but if you’re prone to nicks, cuts, razor burns or bumps, consider switching things up. Moisten your face before you shave, either with water or a shaving cream with aloe. You can also minimize razor bumps, which are caused by ingrown hairs, with a shaving cream with glycolic or salicylic acid.
Electric razors may not offer the close shave of a traditional razor, but they’re less likely to irritate the skin. If you prefer a razor, use a product with a single or double blade. Avoid razors with multiple blades. Shave in the direction that the hair is growing, not against the grain, which causes more irritation.
Apply facial moisturizer after you shave, preferably a product with glycolic or salicylic acid.
Astringents/Toners – These are lotions that tighten skin, narrow pores and create a firm skin barrier against the elements. A good astringent or toner can also reduce under-eye bags and they’re ideal for removing puffiness, which give the appearance of aging. Witch hazel is a common and inexpensive choice that you can dab under the eyes with cotton balls.
Avoid skin care products with alcohol, by the way, as they dry the skin and contribute to aging. You’re trying to look young, not old and haggard.