As a dermatologist, my opinion is that the #1 problem in men's skin care can be summed up in one word: NEGLECT. That's right, fellas, it's time to stop thinking that skin care is only for ladies. Your skin is your largest organ. It is designed to protect you and your job is to protect it, not neglect it! I'm not telling you that you need to indulge in a daily regimen that will take hours and hours of time. On the contrary, taking care of your skin requires very little effort on your part. But, you do need to know what to do.
From a man’s perspective, the #1 skin care problem would probably be ingrown hairs as a result of shaving. When guys shave, they scrape their face with a very sharp metal object; an electric or manual razor. The razor cuts each whisker, leaving a sharp, and often angled, end. Facial hair is much coarser than the hair on the rest of your body; as a result it has a tendency to curl just a bit.
When you cut each hair during your daily shave, the razor leaves a very sharp end to each whisker hair. When this hair grows just a little bit, it tends to curl on itself, pierces the skin and embeds itself into your skin. This result is razor bumps, and some of them will end up inflamed and infected.
How do you take care of this? Try the following suggestions:
- First, when you shave, I recommend a manual razor with a single blade. The double and triple blades promise to give you a very close shave; this sounds good, but the closer you shave, the more likely you are to have those hairs curling below the surface of your skin resulting in razor bumps and infected hairs.
- Secondly, shave in the shower. When your face is very wet, you minimize the likelihood of developing razor burn from too much friction.
- Use a good lubricating shave cream or gel. Considering using a treatment regimen that contains either salicylic acid or glycolic acid, as it will help to remove the dead skin cells.
- Remember: No single product works for every person.
- After shaving, make sure you moisturize your face. No, you don't have to use the perfumed products of your sweetheart. There are very good men’s products out there. Find one you like and use it EVERY DAY!
- Lastly, when you shave, shave in the direction your hair grows. When you shave against the direction of your hair growth, you may get a closer shave, but you will increase the likelihood of developing ingrown hairs.
The second major problem my patients complain about is dry skin.
- There are a number of contributors to this problem, but most men find this to be a real problem in the winter. This is due to the decreased humidity in the air, especially inside heated office buildings and homes. Run a humidifier inside your home, and if you're the boss, do so at work too. Everyone will thank you. You'll find that creams are more moisturizing than gels.
- Another contributor to dry skin can be an ongoing disease or condition like increased cholesterol or elevated blood sugars. You need to address these health problems by eating fewer processed and fast foods, increasing your omega-3 intake by eating more fish, and hitting the treadmill.
- Increase your water intake. Don’t allow yourself to be dehydrated.
- Don't overuse soap and avoid really long, hot showers. Moisturize afterward.
Our last concern for the gentlemen is the use of sunscreen. When you're in your 20s and 30s, you are usually very active, participating in a number of outdoor activities. Most men in this age group pay little attention to the need for sunscreen. Men, don't ignore this. UVA and UVB rays are dangerous. It doesn't matter if you're young – you’ll pay the price – some of you sooner than later. As you age, you'll find that even your hair is thinning and your scalp is exposed to those damaging rays of the sun. Wear a hat! More men than women are seen for precancerous conditions of the scalp for this reason. Taking a few minor steps can prevent major skin concerns in your future.