Pour Homme: Skin care advice for men

Here are some common mistakes men make when it comes to skin care. And one of them is to shave incorrectly

man looking in the mirrorWhen it comes to skin care, the biggest mistake men make is to shave incorrectly. It leads to ingrown hair and razor bumps, which can block oil glands and even lead to breakouts.

Shaving grace

To reduce ingrown hair, shave in the shower when hair is soft and the skin is supple. Use a shaving cream and lather and massage it in for 10 – 15 seconds.

Many men shave up and that is not the best way to shave. You should shave in multiple directions, always with the grains. Also note, it is better to go over the area 10 – 15 times lightly, than 2 – 3 times harder. If you apply too much pressure to the razor when shaving, the grinding irritates the skin and causes the hair to grow crooked. Lastly, as obvious as it sounds, always use a mirror and closely watch what you are doing.

For the lines

Another frequent mistake that men make regarding their skin is getting started too late on preventing and slowing down the ageing process. When we are young, our skin is vibrant in its production of collagen.

Keeping cells revved up and stimulated is better than letting the cell machinery run down and trying to revive it later. I recommend the following ingredients to prevent and help erase fine lines/wrinkles:

  • Genestein—A soy extract that produces collagen and reduces collagen breakdown
  • Vitamin C—An antioxidant that builds and stimulates collagen
  • Retinol—Reduces collagen breakdown
  • Alpha Beta Peels—The two-step system that reduces lines by the acid-base mechanism contained on the pads.

Spot reduction

I often see male patients who are frustrated by adult acne. Treatment for adult acne has to be consistent. Prevention is really the best treatment because it is important to realise that a blemish can begin to form up to 2 – 3 weeks before it appears on the surface of the skin. I recommend looking for products that contain Bisabolol, an active ingredient derived from chamomile extract that helps soothe redness and reduce inflammation. Salicylic acid is also a good ingredient as is sulphur, which controls the oil that feeds the bacteria.

There are two types of acne—flat and bumpy. Flat acne can be categorised as the beginning stages of clogged pores and blackheads when there is no infection or inflammation present. To treat flat acne, use a specialised skin product that goes deep into the skin to disband plugs and blockages while delivering active ingredients.

By effectively treating flat acne, you will minimise the amount that reaches the unsightly bumpy stage, thus preventing future breakouts before they occur. To treat the second type of acne—the bumpy acne—try using a product that contains sulphur, which both flattens the raised blemish and draws out the infection.

Pinch and pop

However tempting it may be to pop a pimple, try hard to resist. When dermatologists drain a pimple, they apply downward pressure perpendicularly to the skin’s surface. But when people try to do it themselves, they usually squeeze from the sides, which ends up backfiring because it causes the infection to go down deeper into the pore.

This may permanently enlarge pores or even worsen the infection. If it is too hard to resist, try washing your face with a clean washcloth. If the pimple is ready to ‘pop’, this is all the pressure it needs to get drained. In short, never pop your pimples.

The right ingredients

Men can sometimes be confused by the overwhelming number of skincare products in the marketplace. The most important aspect of your everyday skincare regimen is selecting the right ingredients. There are certain groups of ingredients—such as antioxidants, chelators, and collagen boosters—that you should look for if you are trying to improve your skin.

Here is what I recommend and why:

  • Antioxidants. Always try to use products with diverse mix—vitamins C and E, lycopenes, green tea, and grape seed extract. They will help to fight the free radicals that breakdown collagen.
  • Chelators. This is a new technology. Chelators allow you to absorb trace minerals that are beneficial to the skin while detoxifying. Copper, calcium, magnesium and zinc can be helpful to the skin but only in a certain organic [bound] form. Chelators allow you to extract, in a healthy way, the minerals that the skin needs while removing the harmful minerals that it does not need.
  • Collagen boosters. Anti-ageing ingredients such as Genestein, vitamin C, peptides and retinol are vital skin essentials.

The masked truth

I discourage my patients from using exfoliating masks or scrubs, as they can often be harsh and irritate the skin. Instead, I recommend cleaning the skin daily with a product that contains a combination of alpha and beta hydroxy acids to revive skin and create a radiant, even-toned complexion.

Alpha hydroxy acids cause detachment of the dead skin increasing radiance and improving skin tone. Beta hydroxy acids [salicylic acid] work on the oil glands to reduce sebum production and minimise the size of the pores. When used daily, this combination of acids can greatly improve your complexion.

For your eyes only

If you are concerned with under-eye circles, make getting more sleep a priority in your life. Sleep can significantly fight the effects of stress, which can cause under-eye circles. Getting enough sleep so that your body can operate at its optimum is one of the best things you can do for your skin.

Also be sure to take sufficient amounts of B Vitamins, which help to calm the nervous system, thereby reducing signs of stress on your body.

As a temporary solution to sleep-deprivation, drink water. Hydration, both internally and externally, is key in maintaining a firm, healthy look and lessening the appearance of wrinkles. When your skin is hydrated and plump, lines and wrinkles are less obvious and enlarged pores look smaller. Re-hydration revives skin creating a refreshed appearance.

Dennis Gross
Dr Dennis Gross, MD, is a practicing dermatologist and board certified dermatological surgeon in New York City.


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