The idea of a skin care routine carries distinctly feminine undertones. And yes, women have for generations indulged in occasionally mysterious rituals designed to preserve their youthfulness.
But men have skin, too. Thicker, sweatier and hairier, but no less deserving of the proper care.
Luckily, it’s not complicated. For most men, building a healthy skin care routine will mean nothing more than adding a step or being more attentive to what you already do — which, face it, is basically washing and shaving.
First, know your skin type:
- Normal: Generally free of acne and not sensitive to most products
- Sensitive: Your skin may sting or redden with product use
- Oily: Shiny and greasy
- Dry: Rough, flaky or itchy
- Combination: Typically oily near the nose, forehead and chin (the T-zone); dry on the cheeks
Then, know the products you need (this is to say not bar soap and not liquid hand soap — both of which can dry the skin). You’re going to need a mild facial cleanser and a moisturizer:
- Sensitive skin? Look for fragrance-free products, as fragrances can irritate and dry the skin. Note that “unscented” can be a misnomer, and such products may contain masking fragrances.
- Oily skin? There are oil-free cleansers and moisturizers. If you’re prone to acne, “noncomedogenic” products won’t clog your pores.
Now you’re ready to wash.
Exercise or exposure to dirt, dust and the like can add to your face-washing frequency, but a good starting point is once in the morning, once at night.
- Wet your face with warm (not hot) water
- Take a nickel-sized dab of cleanser
- Rub gently into your skin
- Pat dry — but not too dry
Yes, moisturize. Even if you have oily skin. Occasionally, men with oily skin will over-wash and never moisturize, which stimulates the skin to produce more oil. Apply to clean skin that is not yet totally dry.
Let’s get one thing clear: Super-close shaves aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially if you have sensitive skin. If you’re prone to ingrown hairs or razor burn and bumps, opt for no more than a double-blade razor.
Shaving in the shower isn’t a bad idea — the steam will open your pores. Though if you’re a traditionalist, remember to let your shaving cream sit on your wet skin for a few minutes to work its magic on your stubble. Shave in the direction of hair growth and use sharp blades (stored in a dry place to prevent corrosion and changed every five to seven shaves).
Should You Exfoliate?
Yes. Basically, you’re refinishing the furniture here — eliminating the flawed top layer to reveal (not damage) the handsome material beneath.
Twice a week should suffice. More than three times is risking damage. Sunscreen, which should be used daily, is especially important on exfoliation days.
There are many more ways to better care for your skin than changing your washing and shaving habits. Better skin can involve lifestyle choices such as:
- Hydrate sufficiently: Drink water, not caffeinated beverages, for skin that is more elastic, less flaky and generally freer of fine lines. Three liters per day is recommended.
- Avoid processed foods: Basically, the body treats preservatives like toxins, and when they push through your skin, your skin reacts badly. Consuming fresh foods increases hydration and firmness, reduces inflammation, and evens out skin tone.
- Exercise and avoid alcohol: The former encourages better blood flow, producing healthier-looking skin. The latter dehydrates, interferes with healthy sleep patterns and alters your natural hormone levels — all of which is bad for skin.
- Check your skin: See a new spot? Has a mole changed shape or color, or is it itchy? Check front and back in the mirror, especially your legs; forearms, back of the upper arms, palms; feet, including between your toes; and, with a hand mirror, the back of your neck and scalp.
Remember, this isn’t one size fits all. Men have different skin. Age and ethnicity are factors that will affect product choice. Don’t skimp on skin care. Be sure to consult the accompanying infographic for seven steps to younger-looking skin.