Truth be told, most men don’t need much help when it comes to skin care—maybe just a bit of guidance when it comes to maintaining their daily beauty routines or, shall we say, grooming rituals. Aside from the obvious no-nos like the unibrow (and that goes for both sexes), men and women have different skin-care requirements. He needs a product specifically made with him in mind.
“Men’s skin tends to be thicker and coarser, more resilient, and not as sensitive as women’s skin,” explains Toronto-based dermatologist Dr. Paul Cohen. “So it is very receptive to products, making it even more important that he uses the right ones.” Oil production is the biggest difference between men’s and women’s skin, so most products for guys address oil production immediately, which isn’t the case with women’s skin-care lines. “Testosterone produces excess oil, so men tend to have oilier, larger sebaceous glands that are easily seen on the surface of the skin,” the doctor says. “This can lead to acne and shiny, greasy-looking skin. And no man wants that.”
But oil production may not be as evil as it sounds. “Oilier skin prolongs the aging process, and men may appear to age slower and more gracefully,” Dr. Cohen says. “As men age, testosterone continues to produce oil, whereas when women age, their estrogen levels decrease and skin tends to become drier and appear more weathered.” The extra oil contributes to older men having that more sophisticated look. Sound completely unfair? Yes, but according to Marie-Claude Côté, national training director and spokesperson for Clarins Canada, “His aging process is delayed—when the wrinkles do surface, they appear deeper and more defined. So we are seeing more and more men taking care of their complexions.” Touché. This partly explains the surge in popularity for guys-only products. “Creams and lotions are no longer just for her. He now sees it as part of keeping up his ‘whole package’. Skin care ranks right up there with his hair, workouts, and wardrobe,” says Côté.
To keep it simple, there are three important steps to great skin for him: Cleanse, shave, and protect.
First, the cleansing. Don’t just pick up any old hand soap and start washing—they do more harm than good, and “can strip natural oils from the skin and may lead to infection or premature aging,” says Côté. So it is important to choose the right cleanser, like ClarinsMen Active Face Wash or Jack Black All-Over Wash for face, hair, and body. “Most men forget to cleanse their faces before they sleep,” she says. “Pollution and dirt penetrate into the skin and these particles are the second cause of premature aging, after sun exposure. They also drain skin, causing the complexion to appear dull and lacking any radiance.”
Next comes shaving, the quintessential men’s grooming necessity, which actually has an additional benefit. “Not only does it remove unwanted facial hair, but it exfoliates, renews, and regenerates the skin,” Dr. Cohen explains—but as Marie-Claude Côté reminds us, “Shaving can also be quite aggressive on the face.” Côté recommends making shaving a ritual by taking extra care before and after the shave. “Start with a clean blade and a clean face,” she says. “Apply an oil to soften tough beard hair and ensure a good razor glide. Use a shave gel or soap that richly lathers for an easier shave.” Make sure to shave in the direction of hair growth. “Shaving with the grain is one of the best ways to avoid razor burn and bumps, which are really inflamed ingrown hairs,” she advises. For most guys, the grain of hair growth doesn’t run just downwards—it also runs sideways and diagonally—and it’s important to follow that tricky growth pattern. Slather on a soothing and super-hydrating aftershave. Stay away from products with alcohol, as it tends to burn raw, sensitive, and freshly shaven skin.
The final step is protection. Men frequently make the mistake of not using moisturizer and sunscreen; both are key to preventing premature aging and possibly even cancer. “Men have the tendency to just shave and go,” Dr. Cohen says. “But when unprotected skin is exposed to the sun and environmental elements, we see lots of damage on men’s faces and sometimes it is more than skin deep.” Multi-purpose products that combine moisturizer and sunscreen are effective choices for men, and no-frills anti-aging products, like the Zirh Correct Vitamin Enriched Serum, are packaged up with him in mind.
Both Dr. Paul Cohen and Marie-Claude Côté agree: Keep it simple, stick to the regime, and always, always use protection. Face protection, that is.
From left: Jack Black All-Over Wash (available at Sephora), VitaMan After Shave Balm, Fresh Black Tea Age-delay Cream, Dior Homme Anti-fatigue Firming Eye Serum, Geo F. Trumper‘s Coconut Oil Shaving Soap in a Bowl, LUSH Shave the Planet Shaving Cream, LancômeMen Rénergy 3D, Clinique Skin Supplies for Men Age Defense for Eyes, ZIRH Correct Vitamin Enriched Serum, ClarinsMen Active Face Wash, Lab Series Triple Benefit Post-shave Remedy (available at Holt Renfrew), Skeen+ Anti-aging Concentrated Mask, Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash, The Art of Shaving Pre-shave Oil, MenScience Advanced Face Lotion.