Some attitudes deserve to fade away – perhaps none more than the belief that men don’t need to look after their skin. After all, the sun doesn’t discriminate. Both men and women are always equally at risk of developing skin conditions like sunburns or even acne.
Protecting your skin isn’t just about the sun though, or even just about hormones. It’s about taking simple, routine steps to give your skin its best chance to do its job: act as your body’s first line of defence.
This means using sunscreen everyday to protect your skin from burning, moisturiser to keep your skin from cracking, and beard oil to keep your skin from itching under your facial hair.
Here’s a more in-depth exploration of how modern men can protect their skin and keep themselves looking fresh-faced from day to passing day.
Trust the skin doctor
Before you stuff your vanity cabinets with skin care products, we first recommend booking a skin check with your local dermatologist. That way, you’ll know where matters stand with your skin right now, and can start taking measures accordingly.
If there’s anything that needs immediate attention, your skin doctor will know. They’ll also know from this brief preliminary appointment what skin type you have and which products are best to use to protect it.
The key takeaway from this appointment is that you must pay close attention to your skin. A simple step is to do a self skin check. Glance over your body after a shower. If that mole on your elbow has changed size or colour, then book another appointment and have it looked at. You can never be too vigilant when it comes to your dermatological health.
Know your sunscreen
Not all sunscreens are created equal. A sunscreen that keeps your partner burn-free for an entire hike might fail you before you’ve broken a sweat – and all because you didn’t know you had sensitive skin or heaven forbid, an allergy to any of the ingredients found in sunscreens. That’s why you need to use sunscreen that’s suited to your skin type.
Also, be aware of the activities you do when you need sunscreen, as this will affect how often you need to apply it. A morning stroll to the markets will likely need only a single application. But a whole day at the beach will demand much more SPF if you want to avoid the rock lobster look.
Embrace the shade
Few pleasures in life are as simple and pure as enjoying a sunny day. Like any vice, though, you gotta enjoy it in moderation. If getting drunk on sunshine is something you can’t resist, sadly all you stand to gain is long-term skin damage.
The trick is to include a healthy amount of shade in your vitamin D routine. If you’re hanging with friends and family at the park, spread your picnic blanket beneath a leafy tree. Wear a hat that protects your face and neck. Or, simply get your Vitamin D fix early in the morning or late in the afternoon, rather than when the sun is in a face-melting mood at high noon.
Wash, wash, wash!
Until now, we’ve focused on what you need to do when you’re not at home. Protecting your skin is a 24/7 gig, though, so you need to take steps when you’re not in the sun and are even in the comfort of your own bathroom.
The simplest step is to wash your face daily. No doubt you already do this, but if you only do it once, then start to do it twice: once in the morning when you rise and once at night before bed.
In the morning, you’re washing away any toxins your body has flushed out through your skin, whereas in the evening you’re washing away the dirt and buildup from the day. Don’t limit yourself to two washes a day either. Always wash after you visit the gym or perform dirty sweaty work.
Don’t forget to moisturise
To be fair, washing your face is only a half step. The other half is to apply moisturiser. This works best (or absorbs the deepest) when your skin is clean and damp. During the day, using sunscreen that contains moisturiser is best. That way, you’re feeding two birds with one scone. But don’t actually feed birds scones.
Anyway, moisturiser actually does its best work when you sleep as there are minimal disruptions to all that moisture being absorbed into your skin. So make sure you apply it before bed. All those hours in the dark, away from the elements is when the magic happens. Embrace it.
Again, this step may seem obvious, but obvious can still be critical. If your shaving technique is poor or you treat the activity with a particular level of nonchalance, you risk turning the skin on your face into a pasture unfit for healthy beard growth.
Thankfully, there are some shaving tips and tricks that’ll set you right here. For instance, shaving in the direction that your hair grows, using a moisturising shaving cream, and regularly changing your razors are just a few ways to ensure that the act of shaving doesn’t irritate your skin.
Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
This is arguably as important as every other step in this list. When you put the right things into your body it’s—eventually—reflected in your skin. A glowing complexion is never just the result of a solid skin care regime. It’s also indicative that your body is getting all the nutrients and minerals that it needs from your diet.
Drinking plenty of water and eating foods that are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Omega-3 fatty acids is a great place to start here. And try your best to eat wholefoods wherever possible, or cutting down on the amount of processed food you add to your daily diet. The wonderful thing about maintaining a healthy diet is that it aids everything about you, not just your skin.
Given your skin is as unique as you, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for protecting your skin. Trial and error will come into play, which is fine. The important thing is to be vigilant and persistent. If you keep at it, you’ll eventually find a routine that works a treat.