Men’s skin care has come a long way from the days when your father would wash his face with a withered bar of soap and cover up shaving nicks with bits of toilet paper. Today, there are an overwhelming amount of products specially formulated to meet the needs of the stubborn (and stubbly) male epidermis.
But navigating your way through the glut of grooming goods out there doesn’t have to be intimidating, and it shouldn’t be fussy either; a winning skin care regimen should be swift and simple to ensure that you'll actually follow it. You can check your 12-step program at the bathroom door, because achieving better skin takes just five tips.
If you do nothing else, cleansing is the single most important thing you can do for your face. It should be the basis of your skin care regimen, but that doesn’t mean reaching for a simple bar of soap; which can overcompensate and leave your skin dryer than a desert. Men’s’ skin typically has large pores and very active sebaceous glands. While these glands are critical for keeping the skin naturally moist, they can often produce too much sebum, leaving your skin feeling greasier than an oil slick. Neglecting to wash away the excess oil and dirt can clog pores, which leaves the skin prone to breakouts. A basic gel works just fine, but not all facial cleansers are created equal. Look for one that is strong enough to cut through the grease and yet gentle and affordable enough to be used at least once a day.
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Sometimes cleaning the skin with a simple face wash just isn’t enough. A cleanser washes away oil and dirt on the surface, but what about all that nasty stuff deep down in your pores? Even religious use of a face wash will still leave the most men's skin feeling like a bumpy mess. That’s where exfoliation should make an appearance in your skin routine (just two to three times a week). It helps dislodge debris that normal washing can’t touch. A good scrub should have granules to help smooth the skin and eliminate the dullness that results from normal pore clogging and dirt build-up. Exfoliation also softens hair follicles for a closer, less-irritating shave and allows the skin to better absorb moisturizers.
Skin care for most men starts and stops with a basic bar of soap or cleanser. But washing is the absolute least you can do to prevent your face from turning into a big blackhead. Even if you happen to live in a sauna, skin can get dry after showering and, over time, that godforsaken process known as aging makes it lose elasticity. Add all that to the horror of placing a sharp blade next to your face every day to appease rigid HR standards for clean-cut wholesomeness, and you have a recipe for irritated skin that’s parched and taut. Showering and shaving open up pores and allow precious water to escape, but a light moisturizer can fix everything. It replenishes the skin’s moisture content and prevents razor burn. A moisturizer with SPF will also provide a critical shield against the sun. Harsh UVB rays cause the skin to burn, but it’s the UVA rays that lead to long-term damage like deep lines and skin cancer. A moisturizer with multispectrum defense takes care of it all.
Protect Your Eyes
There is one place on the face that men almost never touch—the eyes. But the skin around the eyes is the only area that actually deserves special attention, because men don’t age the same way that women do. Instead of a slow progression of fine lines and wrinkles, men's aging occurs in quantum leaps, and one of the first visible signs of aging comes from the skin around the eyes. The soft, thin layer of skin that surrounds the eye is especially prone to developing creases and crinkles long before other parts of the body begin to show their age. All of this can be prevented with regular use of an eye cream. It smooths and protects the skin, but requires serious commitment and proper usage. Applying eye cream once in a blue moon does nothing, and against all common sense, it shouldn’t be put on the soft skin underneath the eye. Instead, eye cream needs to be dabbed gently on the edge of the bone around the eye to maximize effectiveness and prevent irritation. It will slowly absorb and spread to the fragile areas that need it most.
Protect Your Lips
A close second in fickleness to the skin around the eyes are the lips. The skin here is incredibly thin and prone to severe dryness, cracking, bleeding, and burning from exposure to the elements. That’s because the lips lack both oil glands to keep them naturally moist and melanin to provide protection against harmful UV rays. A little dryness and flaking every now and then sounds like no big deal, but over time the combination of sun exposure, stress and a small cut can lead to nasty cold sores. Herpes simplex, anyone? Forget first base. You can’t even leave the dugout with contagious crap like that on your face. Regular application of lip balm with a hint of SPF once a day can help you avoid a life of being benched.
Men's Skin Care 101
Great skin care for men doesn’t have to be wrought with expensive lotions and potions. And thankfully, taking care of your skin no longer carries the embarrassing stigma of metrosexuality. It’s just normal — even if your skin isn’t.