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Real men do beauty too

So, as a man, you think you don't need to worry about your wrinkles, oily t-zone or razor rash? Think again. A man's skin is at serious risk of becoming old before its time Indu Saksena Bedi tells you how to stop the clock

Image Credit: Supplied picture
Men's skin also undergoes changes due to constant shaving throughout adult life.
Friday

I'm forever moaning at my husband about his skincare regime, or lack of one. Every time I buy myself a beauty treat, I buy something for him in the hope that this time he might actually use it. Of course he doesn't, and the product gets cast aside with all the other eye creams, moisturisers and shaving balms I've wasted my money on. What it is about men and skincare?

According to a 2009 report by UK market research firm Mintel, the average British man has been spending just £2.38 (Dh14) a year looking after his skin! Well, doesn't that say it all about men's current skincare attitude? I don't even have my morning coffee until my cleanse-tone-moisturise routine is complete, and I look forward to bedtime just because I know I'm going to get to use deliciously scented serum all over my tired face. But, no matter how much I try, my other half is never convinced about the importance of keeping his skin clean and moisturised. But if he's not going to listen to me, then it's time to bring in the experts, because long-term neglect can lead to premature ageing, and I know for a fact that he also doesn't want to look old before his time.

Spot the difference

"So why not stop wasting your money on products for your husband, when he'd be happy to slather your body lotion all over his face?", I hear you ask. Well, according to the experts, both men and women are born with the same skin structure so you would think the skins' natures would be identical. But they're not, because the male hormone testosterone doesn't just give men denser facial hair but thicker skin as well. "Men's facial skin is thicker and oilier than a woman's skin," says Dr Hassan Galadari, professor of dermatology at UAE University.

Men's skin also undergoes changes due to constant shaving throughout adult life. "Shaving and a lot of unprotected outdoor exposure also thickens the skin over the years," says Megan Larsen, founder of Sodashi natural skincare brand. "When making our Mankind range formulations, we take into account the fact that men's skin is much thicker and different from a woman's."

Dr Hassan agrees that lighter formulations work better on men's thick, oily skin.

Eve Taylor, founder of ET skincare range for men, adds, "Plus men have much larger pores than women which can make them a target for bacterial growth as well." She adds, "It's important for men to only use the specialised products that are made keeping in mind their skin's needs." Remember, certain formulations won't be easily absorbed anyway because of the dense facial stubble.

So it's over, to you, guys. If you were thinking of stealing some of your wife's moisturiser in the name of skincare, drop the idea and get your own!

Common concerns

The biggest mistake men make with their skin concerns is to ignore them. You need to remember that even if you don't want to care about your skin for cosmetic reasons, you need to look after it from a health point of view. We've rounded up the most common concerns - all you have to do now is start treating them!

Razor burns and bumps

Razor bumps are caused by strands of hair that curl back on themselves and grow into the skin or when you shave too often and can't catch the hairs. However, these bumps can be prevented to a large extent with good shaving habits.

Take a hot shower before shaving to soften the hairs and open the pores. Use a rich-consistency shaving gel and try not to stretch the skin when shaving; always shave with the grain (in the direction the hair grows).

Don't shave over the same area more than a few times - you want to shave using as few strokes of the razor as possible. Rinse with cold water immediately after you have finished shaving, and follow with a soothing aftershave balm to help hydrate and soothe the skin.

Sensitive skin can sometimes develop a razor burn or rash too which is actually an allergic reaction to any of the shaving products. If this happens, switch to unscented products or products designed specifically for sensitive skin.

You should also avoid using alcohol-based fragrances aftershaving as this will cause uncomfortable stinging.

Oily T-zone and acne

Most men don't have the patience for an elaborate routine so a simplified skincare regime works best. "All you need is to be consistent with using a mild cleanser, hydrating toner, a good moisturiser for your skin type and a sunscreen," says Theressa Ralo, facialist at 1847 men's salon. "You can skip a toner if you are using an aftershave splash as that also helps close the pores as well as acting as an antiseptic," she says.

Regularly using a mild scrub to tone and exfoliate helps control oiliness on the T-Zone and prevent breakouts. Razor bumps can lead to acne and there is no way to prevent trauma to existing pimples other than to avoid touching them altogether during shaving.

Sunburn and pigmentation

Don't even think of heading out in the sun unprotected. "When it comes to suncare, men require exactly the same kind of broad spectrum protection as women, at least SPF 30," says Dr Hassan.

"Go for a lighter formulation because thick greasy formulas can congest men's already oily skin," he adds. "Apply a screen with UVA and UVB protection over your aftershave balm everyday or wear moisturiser with an SPF in it," says Theressa.

Dryness and dehydration

Harsh face washes or soaps are usually the top culprit behind excessive facial dryness. When shopping for a face wash, pick a mild one so it doesn't strip skin of its natural moisture. If dryness persists, stay away from an alcohol-based aftershave and switch to a moisturising aftershave balm instead. Follow the balm with a regular moisturiser to keep skin hydrated through the day. Facial moisturisers are heavy-duty performers and come with properties that help fight acne, reduce wrinkles and balance sebum production. "If your skin is combination to oily, look for oil-free moisturiser, but if your skin is normal to dry, you should opt fora richer formula," says Theressa.

Wrinkles

If you don't have an anti-ageing routine, then you should seriously consider starting one. Ideally you should start using at least an anti-ageing eye cream and night moisturiser in your late 20s. Choose creams that are appropriate for your skin type, and don't just stop at your chin, work a little down your neck as well.

Blackheads

Oily skin naturally has bigger pores and is therefore more prone to frequent blackheads, which are mainly clogged pores. Using at-home exfoliators is an effective solution for them, but greasy scrubs can be difficult to dislodge when they get stuck in the stubble. Opt for a gel-based scrub, or mix your scrub with a little bit of warm water before applying it to your face - both ways make it easier to rinse your scrub off. "Deep exfoliation is the solution to a lot of men's skin problems. Going for a monthly facial at the spa also helps ensure blackheads are kept under control on a regular basis," says Theressa.

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