Various life factors and elements can cause signs of aging in the skin, take out moisture, and generally make it look unhealthy. Finding ways to to combat this and help the skin get better can be tricky and time consuming to figure out, but it’s worth the effort to have skin that looks and feels good over time.
“Every day you must perform essential tasks for your face, without fail: cleanse, moisturize, protect. In that order,” says Kiehl’s President Chris Salgardo in his new essential grooming guide book, ManMade. All three are required to keep the skin on your face balanced, looking healthy, and protected from the elements, Salgardo continues. While these three are essentials for getting better skin, there’s more that can help and tips to keep in mind when caring for your skin.
“The best way that I always like to suggest for a guy to get great skin is finding the right products that works him and using them consistently,” says Anthony Sosnick, Founder/CEO of Anthony Brands. He adds that one of the biggest issues that he’s seen over the years is that someone is prescribed something or suggested some products that work and really doesn’t use them consistently.
To help you get better skin, we heard from experts across the men’s grooming spectrum and have a five step formula:
If you do nothing else, cleansing is the single most important thing you can do for your face says Alisa Vidaurri, Lead Aesthetician at ESPA at Vdara in Las Vegas, adding that it’s important to use a cleanser made for the face. “Men’s skin typically has large pores and very active sebaceous glands so it is very important to keep a moisture balance and not to strip the skin, which can lead to an overproduction of oil, clogged pores and breakouts.”
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Sosnick says to make sure to cleanse your face everyday with an appropriate cleanser. “Cleansing is very, very important for healthy looking skin, to help avoid ingrown hairs, razor bumps, razor burn, that sort of thing.” He adds that if you’re on the dry side, get a cleanser that’s a bit more nourishing and hydrating, something that maybe has algae extract in it or some aloe vera — those type of ingredients. If you’re on the normal or oily side, try something with a little glycolic acid or other ingredients that are not going to be too harsh, but exfoliate enough. “You always want to cleanse away any of the impurities, all the dirt; it’s just like when you take a shower for your body, you just want to wash away any dirt, any impurities, so your skin is clean.”
Choosing the appropriate cleanser depend on your skin type. Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City and a skin expert for Neutrogena, suggests a foaming cleanser for oily skin, a hydrating one if you have dry skin, and, if your skin is acne prone, a salicylic acid cleanser.
How do you determine your skin type? Grooming expert Fadi Mourad, SVP of Product Development, Dollar Shave Club provided the following nifty way to tell:
Oily Skin: shiny, almost greasy looking skin with enlarged pores and visible blackheads.
Dry Skin: prone to cracking and often looks dull and rough.
Normal Skin: not too oily, not too dry, with few, barely visible pores.
Combination Skin: combination of all three skin types; usually oily around T-Zone and dry around cheeks.
Sensitive Skin: easily prone to allergic reactions causing redness, itching, and rashes.
Then when it comes to regular body cleaning, Salgardo (of ManMade), suggests using body washes rather than bar soap to ensure gentle cleansing and proper moisturizing.
While a cleanser washes away oil and dirt on the surface, Vidaurri adds a question to keep in mind — what about all that nasty stuff deep down in your pores or dull, dry skin? “A good scrub is the secret to fixing all of that and it will prevent ingrown hairs as well. One to two times a week is sufficient for most men’s skin.”
Carlos Alvarado, Lead Merchant for Grooming at Birchbox Man, also suggests that the key to better skin is incorporating an exfoliator into your routine once or twice a week. “A good face scrub will remove dead skin cells and reveal a fresh layer for a brighter complexion.”
Mourad adds that you should make sure you use a scrub with exfoliants that are smooth and gentle, not jagged and sharp, which can cause irritation. “Using a scrub right before shaving is best to provide a smooth and comfortable shave.”
“Clay masks are another great way to get a deep clean once or twice a week,” Mourad says. “Clay masks are great for all skin types to remove any buildup under the skin to recharge your face and help brighten and tone.”
Today most men find a comfortable way to shave and stick with it, but if you’re still suffering from nicks, cuts, razor burn, or razor bumps, it’s time for a change, says Anthony Losavio, ClarinsMen Skincare Specialist. “If your face gets irritated from shaving, try a shaving cream with aloe. Try lathering up with a little extra water and leave it on your face for a minute before you shave to soften beard hairs.”
Sosnick adds that you always should want to shave either in the shower or just after the shower. “That’s because the heat from the steam softens your facial hair and skin, and really allows the blade to do its work.” If you have thick facial hair, he says that you should apply a pre-shave oil to soften the hairs and allow the blade to glide on your skin much easier and avoid ingrown hairs, razor bumps, razor burns, and then apply a non-foaming cream or gel. “Foam tends to be filled with a lot of air and air doesn’t let the blade get quite as close to your face, so you won’t get as close or clean of a shave. The cleaner the face, the closer the shave.”
Dr. Zeichner says to make sure you are always using a fresh, sharp blade and using single strokes in the direction of the hair growth. If you experience any tugging, against your skin, then replace the blade, he adds. “Rinse the blades after every 1-2 strokes, and ensure that you’re starting with your cheeks, then your chin, then your neck, and finally your mustache, as hair on the mustache is thickest and needs time to soften. Then, apply a moisturizing after-shave to soothe skin.”
Fight Pores and Combat Aging
A lot of guys miss this next step, but once done with cleansing, Alvarado says he always makes sure to follow up with a toner. Depending on the toner, they can normalize and reduce enlarged pores or also hydrate and replenish the skin. Before putting on moisturizer, Alvarado also says you can’t forget a good serum. “I’m almost 30 and I’m doing everything I can to combat all signs of aging.”
Eye creams are very important to use, especially as we start to age, says Sosnick. “The thinnest skin on your face is underneath your eyes, so you always want to keep that hydrated, protected and nourished — especially with this kind of dry weather.”
In ManMade, Salgardo shares that you should look for eye creams and products with vitamin C, as using them will help brighten the skin around your eyes over time. He adds that placing an ice-cold washcloth against your eyes will also help reduce puffiness and circles, but products with caffeine as an ingredient can also help reduce puffiness.
Moisturize and Protect
Generally speaking, since there are so many skin types, you’ll want to find the right moisturizer for your skin says Sosnick. “They add nourishment back to the skin, they hydrate and they help the skin look more youthful.”
In ManMade, Salgardo discusses how moisturizers actually help control oil production and keep skin balanced. “Use a light moisturizer for the day and a richer moisturizer for skin recovery while you sleep,” he says, adding that men should seek out products with age-fighting ingredients such as copper PCA, calcium PCA, and hyaluronic acid to improve the skin’s elasticity. He also adds that moisturizers containing squalane will help keep your skin hydrated.
Vidaurri suggests that a light balancing moisturizer will help with skin that feels oily, and that by moisturizing, it will keep your skin looking young, healthy and wrinkle-free. “Try using a separate SPF so you can add it only when needed.”
“Sun protection is a must,” adds Dr. Zeichner. He says to choose a product with SPF 30 or higher and use it daily. A lot of people don’t realize that small amounts of sun exposure add up over a lifetime, he adds. “Choose a sunscreen formulation that you like, and stick with it. With so many sunscreen formulations out there now, there is no excuse. You can use a cream, lotion, gel, stick, spray, etc. — whatever encourages you to use it!”
Then when it comes to post-body cleaning, Salgardo (in ManMade), suggests using an after-shower body moisturizer or oil.
Drink a lot of water
Beyond what you can use to treat your skin from the outside, Sosnick adds that a healthy diet will help, especially if that includes drinking plenty of water. “I know people say that all the time, but water really flushes out toxins in your skin. I drink probably 10 to 12 glasses of water a day,” he shares. “Not only does it flush out the toxins from your face and skin, but it also helps keep the skin hydrated. If you’re not hydrated, then your skin will start to look ashy, pale and unhealthy.”
De-stress and sleep well
Stress can cause acne breakouts and likely premature skin aging, says Dr. Zeichner. “The stress response in your body raises cortisol and other hormones like testosterone, stimulating oil glands and causing pimples,” he says, adding that lack of sleep disrupts our circadian rhythms, and cortisol levels decrease when we sleep. “Sleep deprivation keeps cortisol levels high, and, essentially, nighttime is a time for rest and repair. If your cycle is disrupted, the skin cannot repair itself as well as it should.”
Walk and exercise more
If you are living in an urban area, then the cigarette smoke and pollution both lead to free radical damage and premature aging, Dr. Zeichner points out. However, if you are in a city like New York, you are most likely actively walking everywhere rather than driving, which is good for your skin, he says — adding that exercise has actually been associated with youthful-looking skin and the prevention of wrinkles.