Men’s skin care: More than just shaving

Skin care for men is no longer restricted to bathing and shaving

Man holding his shaving cream

The male and female skin is by and large similar, save for subtle differences, which call for the variation in the skin care regimes.

As compared to women, men have a different pattern of hair growth, fat distribution, and rate of sweat and sebum production.

Men secrete more sebum [oil], which makes their skin more prone to acne. Men also sweat more than women, and since their body hair is dense, the sweat takes longer to dry, increasing their chances of bacterial and fungal infections. Lastly, their skin has a slightly more acidic pH, making it sensitive.

Shaving solutions

Shaving strips the skin of its hydrolytic film causing irritation and infection. Shaving can also cause bacterial infection of the hair follicles leading to folliculitis, commonly known as ‘Barber's rash’.

This infection is caused by bacteria [Staphylococcus aureus] that live in the nasal passages. They get passed on to the skin of the cheeks while shaving. Barber's rash is characterised by itching, redness, and small pus-filled blisters on the skin.

Another skin problem associated with shaving is ‘razor bumps’ [pseudofolliculitis barbae]. This happens when the hair curls back into the skin causing inflammation, redness and infections. To avoid having razor bumps, shave in the direction of hair.

To prevent the harsh effects of shaving, use good quality razors. Your shaving cream and after-shave should have moisturising properties.

Your after-shave should also be alcohol-free, as alcohol is harsh on the skin and causes dryness. Also, avoid fragrance-based after-shave products as they irritate the skin and lead to allergies.

Arresting ageing

In both men and women, skin health is largely controlled by hormones. The male skin tone and texture is ruled by testosterone and that of a female's by oestrogen.

Male skin is thicker than that of a female, which gives them the rugged look. It also has more elastin and collagen that delays the appearance of freckles, fine lines, skin sagging and wrinkles.

To delay signs of ageing, for those between 15 – 30 years of age, using a moisturiser at bedtime is enough. For those above 30 years of age, a fragrance-free anti-ageing cream containing peptides, retinol, ferulic acid, kinetin, AHAs [alpha hydroxy acids], or polyhydroxy acids may be used at night.

Exercise is helpful as it promotes blood flow to the skin and prevents premature ageing. It also increases oxygen saturation in the tissues that keeps the skin looking healthy and youthful.

Ensure that your daily diet consists of green vegetables, brightly-coloured fruits and vitamins such as C and E. Avoid drinking excess alcohol, smoking and stress.

All of these factors can lead to premature ageing by exposing your skin to harsh chemicals and increasing free radicals.

While you do all of this, don't ensure that you get enough sleep; it is crucial for a healthy, supple skin.

Cleansing

Since men's skin is about 20 % oilier than that of women, they need to clean the face at least twice a day to get rid of the dirt, grime and environmental pollutants that can clog pores and increase blackheads and whiteheads.

Men with predominantly oily skin should use a salicylic acid-based face wash. Those with dry skin should use a soap-free cleansing lotion.

Avoid using scrubs that contain rough elements such as ground bits of nut or seed extracts because of their harsh effect on the skin. A mild scrub with aloe vera or jojoba will slough off dead skin cells gently and help in deep cleansing. Use a scrub just thrice a week and not every day.

Sun protection

Adequate sun protection keeps you looking young and fresh and prevents signs of ageing such as pigment spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Men with excessive oily skin should use a toner, followed by a moisturiser and sunscreen with an SPF of 30.

Those who spend long hours in the sun, should reapply the sunscreen every 2 – 3 hours. Wearing full sleeve, breathable garments and wide sunglasses is also a vital part of a man's skin care routine.

Sweat control

Using a deodorant or an antiperspirant is a must as it prevents bacterial and fungal infections. Those who sweat excessively can use antifungal dusting powders to prevent fungal infections and smelly underarms and feet.

Do not rub your face to wipe sweat; use a tissue or cotton napkin instead and dab lightly. Frequent rubbing causes pigmentation, commonly seen as a dark band on the forehead in men.

Hair care

  • Wash your hair as often as required or at least thrice a week to keep it clean and free from dandruff and infections of the hair follicle. It is a myth that shampooing increases hair loss. Use a conditioner without fail if your hair is dry. A herbal rinse is better for those with oily hair.
  • A lot of men have hair on their ears and it generally runs in families. Keep it clipped. You can even consider permanent laser-assisted hair removal.
  • Comb your hair with a wide-bristle comb to avoid hair breakage.
  • ?Invest in good quality styling products that are suitable for your hair type. They may be a bit expensive, but you only need to use them sparingly. Too much of these products may make the hair frizzy or brittle.
  • If you keep your hair short, you won't need any styling products as the oil from your scalp will be sufficient to style and hydrate your hair.
  • Keep your hair neatly trimmed to look presentable.
  • To prevent tiny boils from erupting on your scalp, massage your scalp with your fingertips [not with your fingernails].
  • Finally, stay stress free and have a high-protein diet, as it promotes healthy hair.

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