Your skin provides an important protective barrier, but when it’s weak or damaged, it can make you vulnerable. For the good of your skin and your health in general, it’s important to be mindful of how you treat your skin. Smoke and air pollution can wreak havoc on it, for example, proving that proper skin care goes way beyond what you actually put on your skin. Everything from stress to sleep to exercise to hormones can have a huge impact. Even the foods you eat have the potential to harm to your skin.
And while some men might balk at the assertion that skin care is more than a woman’s concern, they should be thinking about protecting and caring for their skin just as much as women. Also, men’s skin care products tend to be cheaper, so don’t think you’ll have to spend a fortune on proper hygiene. When it comes to skin health, most tips go for everyone, but there are actually some biological differences between male and female skin.
One of the upsides of facial hair is that all those hair follicles help to keep your face wrinkle-free, according to WebMD. Men also have a tighter network of fatty tissue right under the skin, and more collagen and elastin fibers, which help give skin its strength and elasticity. Rebecca Tung, MD, a dermatologic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, says these differences make men’s skin about 20% to 30% thicker. And thicker skin is better at resisting wrinkles. Hair glands also produce oil, so men’s faces tend to be oilier than women’s, trapping moisture to help keep skin hydrated. On the other hand, oily skin can make men more prone to acne and other skin problems.
In some ways, men have an edge when it comes to skin care, but they still need to take good care of it. Here are five essential tips.
1. Protect your skin from the sun
Compared to women, men are no less vulnerable to skin cancer. “A good skin regimen that includes a total sun protection program goes beyond maintaining a healthy, attractive appearance,” Tung told WebMD. “It could save your life, given that 90% of all deadly skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet light from the sun.” Sunscreen, hats, long sleeves, and other means of sun protection are crucial, especially for men with lighter skin. Don’t forget frequently missed areas like bald spots, ears, and feet.
2. Choose the right shaving supplies
Shaving helps men maintain healthy skin because of the exfoliation benefits. “Shaving is a dramatic exfoliation of outer skin layers, which leads to a more youthful skin appearance,” Seth Yellin, M.D., told WebMD. Just make sure you are using the right products. Multi-blade razors provide a “microdermabrasion,” removing dead layers of skin. But for African-American men and other men with very curly hair, the blades are more likely to cause painful razor bumps from ingrown hairs. A single-blade or electric razor could be a better option for these men. Using alcohol-free aftershave or a gentle moisturizer is also a good idea, since the alcohol-heavy varieties severely dry out the skin.
3. Avoid harsh soaps and cleansers
Soap and water are fine for most skin types, though some men with particularly oily skin will opt for a mild cleanser. Fragrance-free or dye-free products are best if you have sensitive skin. To keep your face free of dirt and oil, try to keep it simple and gentle when it comes to cleansers. Men are often guilty of taking very hot showers and using harsh soaps or face scrubs, according to dermatologist and psychiatrist Dr. Amy Wechsler. “This makes your skin dry and when your skin is dry you appear wrinkly and much older,” she explained in a story for The Huffington Post. Healthy skin, fortunately, can also mean youthful and glowing skin.
4. Use eye cream
No one will question your manliness if you use a good eye cream. As a matter of fact, they will probably be jealous and want to know your secret to keeping your eyes bright and combating those annoying signs of aging. Anthony Sosnick, Founder and CEO of Anthony Brands told AskMen “The thinnest skin on your face is underneath your eyes, so you always want to keep that hydrated, protected and nourished.” Not only do you want to keep this area hydrated, but it’s also wise to buy an eye cream that’s packed with vitamin C for added nourishment. If you still refuse to buy eye cream, we’ll settle on you using a cold towel to combat puffiness.
5. Make sure to exfoliate
Finally, and this should come as no surprise, you must exfoliate. We know, this may sound a bit tedious — you do wash your face every day, after all. But we do have a bit of good news if exfoliating just sounds like another chore: It helps to combat ingrown hairs and we’re sure you have had one at some point in your life. And let’s be honest, it’s no fun. Exfoliating once or twice a week will definitely do the trick.
Additional reporting by Jordan Porter-Woodruff