The Right (and Wrong) Ways to Care for Your Skin
While you’ve been busy juggling your work life, home life, and gym life, you may have noticed fine lines, wrinkles, and dry patches of skin also becoming a recurring part of your schedule. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and while you can blame genetics for some persistent issues you may be experiencing on the surface, you should also give your lifestyle and current skin care routine a once-over to ensure you’re keeping your skin as healthy as it can be. You may never consider glancing down any beauty aisles or picking up any serums for healthy skin, and luckily, you’ll probably never have to — certain items you may already have in the house can help you with anything from razor burn to acne, and skin treatments do not have to include expensive facial peels or spa sessions. If you’re serious about keeping your face looking as fresh as it did when you were in your 20s, consider using the right products for your skin type for an overall fantastic and young-looking complexion.
The first step to better skin is cleansing, and this does not mean using the bar of white soap that’s sitting in your shower for your face. Men’s skin tends to be oilier than women’s, and you’ll need something that can gently exfoliate and slough away dead skin cells to clear the pores and cleanse the skin of any dirty environmental factors you may encounter on a daily basis. Men’s Fitness recommends finding a face wash that contains glycolic acid and using this twice a day, as this ingredient is an exfoliator found naturally in sugar cane. Glycolic acid washes are not as harsh on the skin as cleansers with microbeads or high levels of benzoyl peroxide that can leave your skin feeling dry, red, and irritated, so they’re more ideal for everyday use.
For most men, one simple cleanser with a bit of exfoliating power will be sufficient, but for men with oily or acne-prone skin, WebMD suggests adding a soap that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to your everyday face-washing routine. Together, these two ingredients are the perfect one-two punch for beating acne — the salicylic acid sloughs away dead skin while the benzoyl peroxide destroys acne-causing bacteria. Just beware of the side effects to using these ingredients — benzoyl peroxide is known for bleaching clothing, and using the two of these together can cause excessive dryness, which can cause your skin to produce more oil and keep the acne cycle continuing.
Once you’re on your way to finding the cleanser best suited for your needs, you need to make sure to moisturize at least once a day. Any cleanser that forms suds and most cleansers you’ll find in the grocery store contain sodium lauryl sulfate, an ingredient that strips the skin of any and all natural oils. Replacing this moisture is key in warding away dry patches or excess oils that can induce future breakouts, and knowing if you have dry, oily, or a normal/combination is also important in finding the moisturizer that’s perfect for you.
To deal with dryness, Men’s Health recommends choosing a heavier moisturizer, and if acne isn’t an issue with you, pick a moisturizer that’s oil-based for an extra protective layer. If you don’t feel like shopping for your moisturizer, no problem — you can use a drop or two of good quality extra-virgin olive oil over dampened skin for a moisturizer that’s oil-based and won’t clog your pores. You can also try coconut oil, jojoba oil, or grapeseed oil for the same benefits.
If you end your day with a light sheen over your face, you’re likely to have normal or combination skin, and you’ll need a moisturizer that retains the oils already present on your face without drying you out or adding more oils than necessary. And, if you find that your face is shiny at the end of the day, that means it’s oily. In this case, you’ll want to use an oil-free moisturizer that feels very light. Don’t skip out on the moisturizer if you have oily skin, however; drying your skin out too much will cause your skin to go into oil production overdrive, leaving you oilier than if you were to moisturize in the first place.
Cleansing and moisturizing are necessary steps to take in the quest for great skin health, but it doesn’t end there — for most men, shaving is a necessary and daily part of the routine, and shaving correctly can leave skin feeling soft and smooth rather than dry and rough. Best Health recalls the No. 1 mistake guys make when shaving, and that is shaving against the grain. For a smooth finish on your face, be sure to shave in the direction of your hair growth to get the closest shave possible. And, don’t overdo it in one area — going over the same spot with your razor multiple times can leave the skin dry, so aim to do one stroke on each area.
You should also be sure to wet your face before you begin your daily shave. While this simple step may sound obvious, it’s also incredibly important. Shaving cream alone does not provide enough moisture to avoid friction from your razor that can cause ingrown hairs and cuts, and if your skin is extra sensitive, you may want to consider shaving in the shower or as soon as you’re out. Only after the skin is wet should you apply a good shaving gel or cream to the area and proceed with your shaving routine.
When you’re finished shaving, be sure to avoid any aftershave products, as they often contain fragrances that can irritate sensitive skin. Instead, go the moisturizer route, and if you’re outside often, find a moisturizer that also contains sunscreen. Lotions that contain an SPF of 30 or higher are ideal if you’re getting a decent amount of sun exposure, and this goes for the winter as well — just because the temperature is low doesn’t mean you’re protected from the sun, as the UV rays are still strong and can cause damage to the skin.
If you’re hesitant to go searching in the beauty aisles of your local supermarket for products that can improve the texture and health of your skin, you may have to look no further than your own kitchen. Ask Men discusses how avocados, tea bags, and warm milk can help remedy some, if not most, of your skin issues.
Mash up an avocado for a moisturizing facemask that can repair dry or cracked skin — avocados are packed with oils that are closely related to the own oils on your face. To make the avocado facemask, simply mash half an avocado with a little bit of honey (which also holds antibacterial and anti-aging properties) and two cups of water. Spread the mixture on your face for 10 minutes and wash it off with warm water when you’re finished — you won’t be disappointed with the benefits.
And, if you’re looking for something along the lines of an acne spot treatment instead of a full-on facemask, try out egg yolks — their high vitamin A content is close to that of many topical acne face creams you’d get from a dermatologist. Separate the egg yolk from the white and whip it until it’s mixed, and then dab it on your spots as needed.
Tea bags are great for around the eyes, as they reduce puffiness and dark circles. It’s best to let the tea bags sit in boiling water first, and then refrigerate them for a few minutes to reduce the heat. Place the tea bags over your closed eyes for 15 to 20 minutes, and then go about the rest of your skincare routine. Aside from the skin on your face, your hands are also likely to take a beating. Heal dry and cracked hands with warm milk — boil two cups, let it cool until it’s warm, and let your hands soak in the milk for about 10 minutes. The lactic acid in the milk removes the outer layer of dead skin, and this method can protect your hands against future dryness.