If you’re a man, you probably shave every day. No big deal. Grab a razor, slather, scrape, inspect, and you’re done. But maybe you shouldn’t be.
Skin care is just as important for men as for women, say the experts—and men are listening.
“We’re seeing more men come in for skin care,” says Jennifer Donelson at Vanis salon in Valparaiso, Ind. “More than 50 percent of men have tried a professional skin care product. And more men, especially 18-35, are getting facials.”
Why is skin care getting so much face time? Donelson says the reason is increased competitiveness for jobs. “Guys want to look younger and stay looking good longer.”
Dr. Karen Jordan at Dermatology Associates of Northwest Indiana in Merrillville, Ind., explains the simple act of shaving has implications for men’s skin: “It’s irritating to the skin to shave all the time,” so it’s important to find products that soothe. “There are some very good over-the-counter products. At a drug store you can get a lot of items similar to salon products that work very well.”
If you decide to go with a product from the salon you visit, “The product will last longer because you don’t need to use as much—partly because you’re learning to use it correctly,” says Donelson. “Also, mass-market products can be hard on skin because of their alkaline content. And everyone has different needs. A gentleman who’s 20 needs something totally different from someone who’s 40.”
The key, says Jordan, is to “find the product that works best for you and your pocketbook.”
The right direction
Whichever kind men buy, “Shaving creams and after shaves can cause a reaction,” says Jordan. “No product works for everybody. We see this in our office, someone will come in not sure of what to do when their skin has had a reaction after shaving. We can suggest various products.”
But before you slide that razor across your chin, take note of its direction to avoid those irritating ingrown hairs. “Men want that nice smooth shave, so they shave against the hair growth, or maybe they do that because their father did,” notes Donelson. “But to avoid ingrown hairs, it’s better to shave with the hair growth first. Then, if you think your face needs to be smoother, shave against the hair growth (on the second pass).”
Elina Fedotova, owner of Advanced Skin Care in Chicago, says men should definitely use an after shave lotion. With so many products available, choose one that has anti-inflammatory properties, “in other words, calming and healing,” says Fedotova. “Look for an herbal extract of calendula or chamomile or other healing herbs to soothe the skin. Also, men should choose an after shave with antibacterial properties which would prevent infection- or bacteria-related irritations if they were to cut themselves.”
That doesn’t have to mean a slew of chemicals. For example, “Tea tree oil is a wonderful natural antiseptic. Essential oils will give a therapeutic effect and still smell nice without any artificial fragrance. A good after shave with these key ingredients will help to prevent many problems related to shaving, such as irritation, infection, and in-grown hair.” And put aside that bottle of cologne: Fedotova says never to use it as an after shave.
Reach for sunscreen
Before you put that razor away, consider Donelson’s advice: Keep it clean. The ideal method? “Rinsing the razor with (isopropyl) alcohol is good to clean and disinfect.” And change the razor or blade often enough, since a nick in the blade can hold bacteria.
Ready to head out the door? Not really. Jordan, who does skin cancer surgeries with physician assistant Jennifer Dudak, says the biggest thing to remember for skin care is sunscreen. “Protect yourself from UV rays.” And don’t assume because you have a beard that you don’t need to worry. “A beard does protect somewhat, but it can also hide any blemishes that might be there. I’ll ask a man to clip a beard a little so I can see the skin.”
A quick and easy way to take care of your skin is to keep it hydrated by applying a moisturizer that’s combined with a sunscreen, says Donelson.
And if you’re looking to keep a more youthful appearance? “There are all kinds of anti-aging creams over the counter that are very good,” says Jordan