Historically, beauty and anti-aging often gets branded as a female issue, and until very recently, then majority of skincare products have always been targeted to women. Men usually took a simpler approach -- mostlyfocusing on cleansers and deodorants -- but times are changing as awareness of health and skincare grows.
Anti-aging skincare for men might not be as widely discussed as it is for women, but if you want to age like Clooney (or you want the man in your life to), here are seven things you should know!
Men may be more vulnerable to the harmful aging process of oxidation due to their lack of estrogen, a major female hormone in the endocrine system which helps increase natural antioxidant production.
Antioxidants seek out and destroy free radicals, which are rogue cells that cause oxidative stress and lead to premature aging and disease. These come from pollution, UV stress, and many other sources in our daily environments.
Since men don't have significant estrogen, oxidative stress may be even more damaging to them, says the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.
Testosterone is produced 10 times more in men than in women. Testosterone is responsible for men's coarse hair, and it boosts skin elasticity and collagen production. As a result, men have thicker skin and more collagen than women do. Testosterone production decreases gradually, while women lose estrogen rapidly when they experience menopause.
Testosterone also stimulates the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum. Excessive sebum is a cause of acne, making acne a little more difficult to treat in men.
Sebaceous glands are found all over our skin, under our pores and hair follicles. They secrete a substance called sebum which is a combination of fat and dead skin cells -- it’s what protects and lubricates our skin. It keeps bacteria out and water in, and it helps keep skin from feeling dry and itchy.
We only hear about it, however, when there’s an excess because that is when the trouble begins, creating clogged pores, oily skin, and actually nourishing the bacteria which leads to blackheads and skin breakouts. It’s those clogged pores that also block hair follicles and contribute to baldness!
Testosterone also causes slower wound-healing and skin sensitivity, so it’s important to understand that more aggressive treatment plans are not necessarily the answer, says The International Dermal Institute. What is the answer? Gentler products that work with, not against, your sebum.
For men, shaving is one of the most important parts of the skin care routine. According to The International Dermal Institute, approximately 80 percent of men have at least one skin problem that stems from shaving, such as post-shave irritation or ingrown hairs.
Shaving correctly can make all the difference in your skin. Here's how to do it:
When hair is swollen with water, it becomes weaker and easier to cut. Shaving right after a shower is great, but if that isn’t possible, rinse your face and apply a warm, wet towel for at least two minutes. If you shave when your face is cold and dry, you can experience razor burn or shaving rash.
Less “foamy,” and more “creamy” is the way to go, because you want a shaving product to lubricate the skin and lock-in moisture. Try to leave this product on for at least a minute before shaving.
These old barbershop relics were a longtime staple for a reason. Shaving brushes raise the hairs so you get a close cut. They also remove dead skin cells, so they exfoliate, and all that brushing helps to spread the product well. Brush in circular, upward strokes.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but a dull blade can traumatize the skin more than a sharp one, because you have to keep going over the same area. Disposable razor blades can also be difficult to clean, accumulating shaving cream and hair, which create bacteria build-up.
While no one knows why, exactly, it’s presumed that men over 50 are more at risk than their female counterparts when it comes to skin cancer risk. Some speculate that this is because women are already used to applying sunscreen as part of their anti-aging skincare routine, and tend to have greater awareness of SPF usage.
While sun protection does significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer, it doesn’t totally eliminate it, so it’s important to check skin regularly for abnormalities like changing moles, new growths, or any bleeding. Self-checks and regular screenings are crucial for men, say the American Academy of Dermatology.
For women, many skin, body, and cosmetic terms immediately come to mind for what to look for on a product label, but men may not be as familiar with the terminology.
You might notice that men get deep forehead wrinkles, but they don’t tend to get the same lines around the mouth that women do, and men can be more prone to developing bags under their eyes.
That’s all because of bone structure. The opening in the skull around the eyes is actually larger for men so there’s less bony support there, and they can develop deeper under eye circles. A nourishing, moisturizing eye cream with ingredients designed to target root causes of dark circles is often a key product for men.
They also have more sebaceous glands around their lips, which accounts for their reduced susceptibility of wrinkles around the mouth.
Far from being too “girly,” botanical extracts and essential oils have tremendous antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. They're safe and effective!
Some of the most beneficial ingredients for men include: geranium (especially for soothing razor burn), lavender (especially for balancing acne-prone skin), rose, chamomile, cucumber, lemon, ylang ylang, ginseng, watermelon, and apple.
Men who notice dryness and irritation with alcohol based toners and aftershaves might also look for milder alternatives like witch hazel. Products don't need to burn or feel aggressive on the skin to work.
The first thing men need to determine is their skin type, so they can choose appropriate products and routine.
The five types are:
Use lukewarm (not hot) water and a gentle soap. Men with sensitive skin should use a liquid cleanser, because bar soaps often contain sulfates and harsh binding ingredients that can leave residues.
A good face cleanser will remove oils and buildup without leaving skin tight or dry immediately after. For those that prefer scrubs, use a light hand and avoid over-exfoliation, as micro cuts in the skin make it more susceptible to breakouts and irritation.
Also, if you exercise, you should wash your face and body afterwards. If a sink is available but a shower isn't, wash your hands thoroughly and then rinse your face well.
Apply to face and body after showering or shaving while skin is still damp and can easily absorb the product. Oilier skin types might opt for aloe or water based formulas with lightweight hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Drier skin types can benefit from nourishing but not-too-greasy actives like squalane.
Sun damage creates photodamage that leads to wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer. You sunscreen should be a broad spectrum sunscreen (meaning that it offers both UVA and UVB protection) and should have a rating of 30 SPF or higher.
Apply at least every two hours, but more often if you are swimming! Don’t forget neck, ears, lips, and scalp. Especially if there are bald spots, a wide-brimmed hat should be used for any significant amount of time (over 30 minutes) spent in the sun.