Kevin L. Smith, MD, FACS; Plastic Surgeon, Charlotte Plastic Surgery, Charlotte, NC
Men often don’t mind confessing to their age—or looking it, for that matter. But at any age, men want to appear vigorous and healthy, not run down and tired. That’s where a good skincare routine comes in.
Long gone is the stigma of women’s-only skin care—in fact, a recent NPD Men’s Grooming Consumer Report shows that nine out of ten men over the age of 18 use a grooming product (including facial and body skin care). And while a man’s skin tends to be thicker than a woman’s, it is just as responsive to proper care.
The tendency for higher levels of environmental exposure throughout a man’s lifetime—a likely correlation to golfing, sports or working outdoors—can lead to extensive sun damage, also known as photoaging. This damage occurs when UV rays increase the production of free radicals and collagen-destroying enzymes, thereby weakening the skin’s collagen matrix and its natural repair mechanisms.
Collagen plays a key role in the “scaffolding” that surrounds and supports our skin cells; as it diminishes with age, so does volume and firmness. Skin aging occurs on multiple levels, due to sun exposure, pollution and other environmental factors. Intrinsically, collagen synthesis slows and the rate that our skin degrades collagen increases over time, which leads to decreased elasticity.
Fortunately, protecting the skin and correcting damage doesn’t have to be complicated. The best skin practices are simple, straightforward and easy for any man to incorporate into his routine.
Effective cleansing helps to reduce excess sebum, blackheads and blemishes. This is especially important for men, who tend to have overactive oil glands.
The best cleansers thoroughly remove oil and impurities without leaving residue on the skin’s surface. Acne-prone complexions should use a gentle cleanser in conjunction with the Clarisonic Sonic Skin Cleansing Brush, as it effectively dislodges debris from the pores and helps treatment products better penetrate the skin.
Daily shaving provides natural exfoliation; however, the shaving process can also destroy the skin’s natural hydrolipidic film, leading to dryness and irritation. It’s important to moisturize after shaving to help restore this protective barrier.
Men prone to shaving irritation or ingrown hairs—the painful, swollen bumps that result when hair gets trapped under the skin’s surface—should switch to an electric razor, which is less likely to abrade the skin. Avoiding aftershave can also help lessen irritation, since the typical men’s aftershave product is alcohol-based and strips the skin of moisture.
Making an effort to protect the skin when you’re younger will pay off in the form of healthier skin down the road. A comprehensive routine of SPF and topical antioxidants aids in the prevention of cosmetic concerns—wrinkles, laxity—and more importantly, medical issues like skin cancer.
A truly effective sunscreen offers both UVA and UVB protection. I recommend a physical block with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Not only do these ingredients effectively block harmful UV rays, but they are also ideal for sensitive skin types. Look for antioxidants like green tea, resveratrol and vitamins C and E. SkinMedica® Daily Physical Defense™ SPF 30+ is a sheer mineral sunscreen with antioxidant, green tea extract, to help protect against free radical damage.
Men want simple, effective treatment programs that they can easily maintain for years to come. A little corrective care goes a long way in improving the health—and appearance—of the skin.
In their 20s and 30s, men often focus on controlling oily skin and acne. A treatment product containing alpha hydroxy acids can be used to exfoliate dead skin cells and keep pores clear. In the 40s and beyond, maintaining skin metabolism and boosting collagen production is key. I consider SkinMedica® TNS Essential Serum® to be a must-have for any rejuvenative regimen. Formulated for twice-daily use, it contains anti-aging ingredients that help improve the appearance of aging skin.
Men that have already sustained free radical damage in the form of fine lines, wrinkles and brown spots will benefit from a retinol-based product. Retinol is one of the most effective ingredients on the market: It enhances natural exfoliation and helps to reduce the signs of aging.
Medical professionals are seeing an increase in men looking to maintain a youthful, healthy appearance through subtle cosmetic procedures. Photo damage can be corrected with in-office resurfacing treatments like chemical peels or laser procedures.
Today’s male population is increasingly dedicated to fitness, healthy living and looking their best. Your skin is the first thing people see; it shouldn’t be the last thing you think about.