essential skincare tips for men

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From shaving and acne, to moisturizing and sunscreen, we got the scoop on men’s skincare

Make a good impression

Guys, lets face it: you care about how you look. If you want to make a good impression, your skin is the first place to start. And while some men’s skincare regimens consist of a cheap disposable razor, a bar of soap and some Old Spice, the average man’s skin needs a bit more attention. From shaving and acne, to moisturizing and sunscreen, we talked to Dr. Ian Landells, a dermatologist with the Canadian Dermatology Association, to get the inside scoop on healthy skin.

Don’t shave against the grain

The number one mistake guys make when shaving is going against the grain, says Landells. “Most men shave against the direction of hair growth, because they get a closer shave,” he says. “But at the same time, the blade often nicks the buried surface of the hair follicle and creates inflammation.” The solution? “Shave in the direction that feels smooth,” says Landells. “Just do one shaving stroke on each section of the face, so you’re not shaving over and over in one area.”

Lather up with water

Fact: Shaving dry will hurt your skin. This can cause friction for the blade, and lead to multiple passes with the razor that will increase the chances of cuts, acne and ingrown hair. Even slapping some shaving cream on alone won’t do. Get wet instead, and your skin will thank you. “The advice I would give people with sensitive skin and difficulty shaving is to shave in the shower or immediately after,” says Landells. “That’s because the hair and the skin is softer and more supple, and will be easier to shave,” he says. “Once the skin is wet and warm you can use a mild shave gel, or there are some very good shave creams that will lubricate the skin, and they soften the hair. Let them sit on the skin for a minute or more before beginning to shave.”

Pick the right razor for you

Four blades. Five blades. Battery powered blades! Every year companies seem to release new multi-blade razors, but for those with sensitive skin, acne-prone skin or ingrown hairs, sometimes less is more. “Ingrown hairs happen most often in people with curly hair, coarse hair, or hair that grows in different directions. If you cut it short, as it grows out, it tends to plunge into the adjacent skin, almost like a little splinter, and it creates little red bumps,” says Landells. “The multi-blade razors allow you to shave nicely in one pass, so for people who are irritated by multiple shaves, that would help. But for people who have ingrown hairs, it’s best to use a two blade razor, since it doesn’t cut as close.”

Landells also advises to keep an eye out for nickel allergies. You may notice your skin gets irritated from the back of your watch, or the snap on jeans underneath the bellybutton. If you have an allergy, you may need to use titanium blade razors, he says.

Avoid aftershave and scented products

While more and more luxury men’s lines are appearing on cosmetic shelves, many contain dyes and scents that can aggravate men’s skin. “Fragrances are the big thing,” says Landells. “The term unscented alone, or fragrance-free, doesn’t mean it’s free of fragrance, ironically, because they can use what are called masking fragrances,” he says. “What you should look for is the term sensitive skin.” One of the biggest skincare offenders is aftershave, says Landells. “Aftershaves are more for the fragrance, they tend to sting, and they’re not good for people with sensitive skin at all. You’re better to apply a light, oil-free moisturizer while the skin is still damp.”

Watch for acne triggering products

Any guy will tell you, zits happen, regardless of your age. “Acne is not just a teen problem, it’s something that many men carry well into their adult life,” says Landells. “Men have, on average, slightly more oily skin [than women] because testosterone stimulates sebum production in the hair follicles.” One way you can prevent an unpleasant breakout is to only buy shaving and skincare products that contain the term “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic”, he says. “Non-comedogenic means it does not cause blackheads or whiteheads,” says Landells. “Oil-free generally means the same thing, but if it says non-comedogenic that’s actually better. That mean’s it has probably been tested.” For mild to moderate acne, Landells suggests a non-comedogenic cleanser that contains salicylic acid or benzyl peroxide.

Avoid too much moisturizer

“Many people ask, ‘What moisturizer should I use?’” says Landells. If your skin is dry, he suggests you chose your moisturizer carefully and apply it only while your skin is still wet. “A moisturizer should be applied when the skin is damp, usually after washing your face or after you’ve had a shower (a couple of times a day should be fine),” he says. “It should be an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizing lotion, preferably. Creams tend to be heavier, and may clog pores.”

Be smart about sun exposure

One thing men often overlook is sunscreen. “If you’re outdoors a lot (even in the winter) you’re exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and it adds up, it’s a cumulative dose effect,” Landells says. “It also penetrates through windshield glass if you’re driving a lot.” During the dry winter months he recommends men use a moisturizer with sunscreen in it. “There are many good non-comedogenic lotions that contain sunscreen, and we recommend no less than SPF 30.”

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