The male guide to grooming - hair and skin care.

Posted on the 16 August 2011 at 11:51

Skin care for men has come of age and men are now trying to understand the need for rituals beyond bathing and follow the rules of skin care in order to maintain a youthful look.

Anatomy of male and female skin is by and large similar. However, it is the subtle differences which make skin care different.

Male skin and female skin differ in hormone metabolism, hair growth, sweat rate, sebum production, surface pH and fat accumulation.

Men secrete more sebum (oil) making them more prone to acne.

Men sweat more than women and the sweat stays on the body longer. Men also have more body hair and therefore more surface area for bacteria to colonise.

Male skin is more sensitive. This is because their skin has a slightly more acidic pH. Secondly, shaving strips off the hydrolytic film on the skin’s surface, making it more prone to irritation and infection.

"Barber's rash", medically known as folliculitis, is caused when the hair follicles become infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. This bacterium lives in the nasal passages and can be introduced to the follicles during shaving. The infection leads to redness, itching, and small, pus-filled blisters.

"Razor bumps", medically called pseudofolliculitis barbae, occur when the hair curls and grows back into the skin leading to redness, inflammation and increased susceptibility to infection. 

The skin is a “hormone sensitive organ.” Male skin tone and texture is ruled by testosterone and that of female’s, by oestrogen. Male skin is thicker than female skin and has more elastin and collagen. The thick skin gives the rugged look in males while in females; thin skin gives a soft, supple look. However, photo damage in the form of freckles, fine lines, dilated pores, skin sagging is slower in males due to the increase in elastin and collagen fibres.

Finally, hair on ears is exclusively seen in a lot of men and it generally runs in families.

Skin care for men

Since men have close to 20% oilier skin than women, it is necessary to cleanse the face at least twice a day to get rid of dirt; grime and environmental pollutants that can clog the pores and increase blackheads and whiteheads. A salicylic acid based face wash is recommended for those with oily skin. Those with dry skin should use a soap free cleansing lotion.

If the pores are dilated, a good exfoliating facial scrub is essential for healthy clean skin. It is best to avoid scrubs that contain rough elements including ground bits of nut or seed extracts because of their harsh effect on the skin. A mild scrub with aloe vera or Jojoba will slough off dead skin cells gently and help in deep cleansing.

A toner may be used for those with excessive oily skin.

Moisturise after toning and then use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30. If you are likely to be exposed to sun for long hours, reapply the sunscreen every 2- 3 hours. Sun protection through full sleeved breathable clothing, wide sunglasses and use of a sunscreen is a very vital part of skincare for men and helps them look young and fresh & prevents signs of ageing such as pigment spots, fine lines and wrinkles.

To prevent the harsh effects of shaving on the skin, one should have a standard razor kit with good quality razor, moisturising shaving cream and a gentle after-shave preferably with moisturising properties. Shaving should be done in the direction of hair to avoid having razor bumps. After shaving, it is essential to moisturise the skin with a product that has no alcohol in it. Alcohol is harsh on the skin and can cause dryness. It is also important to avoid fragrance based after-shave products as they can irritate the skin and lead to allergies.

A deodorant or anti-perspirant is a must for men who sweat too much. This will prevent bacterial as well as fungal infection. Antifungal dusting powders may also be used to prevent fungal infections and smelly underarms and feet. Do not rub your face to wipe sweat, instead use a tissue or cotton napkin and dab the sweat. Frequent rubbing causes pigmentation, commonly seen as a dark band on the forehead in males.
For those between 15 -30 years of age, a moisturiser is enough at bedtime.

For those above 30 years, a fragrance free anti-ageing cream containing any of the contents such as peptides, retinol, Ferulic acid, kinetin, AHAs, polyhydroxy acids may be used at night.

Exercise promotes improved capillary function that can decrease premature ageing. Exercise also increases oxygen saturation in the tissues that help keep skin looking healthy and youthful.

A good balanced diet is a must. Ensure that your daily diet consists of green vegetables, brightly coloured fruits and vitamins such as C and E. It is important to stay away from excess alcohol, smoking, fatigue and stress. All of these factors can lead to premature ageing by exposing your skin to harsh chemicals and increasing free radicals.

Hair on ears can be embarrassing; however permanent laser-assisted hair removal gives cosmetically acceptable results.                 

Hair care

Shampoo your hair at least thrice a week. It is a myth that shampooing increases hair loss and causes hair thinning.

Whether dry or greasy, hair should be washed as often as required to keep them clean and free from dandruff & hair follicle infection.  Conditioner is an essential hair product if your hair is dry. An herbal rinse is better for those with oily hair.

Use a comb with wide bristles.

Don't be cheap about the styling products. Cheap ones will either dry out your hair or grease it up. Find good quality gel, pomade, mousse, and whichever other products that are best for your hair type. They may be a bit expensive, but you only need to use them sparingly. Too much of these products may make the hair frizzy or brittle.

If you keep your hair cut very short, you probably won't need any styling treatments, as the oils from your scalp will be sufficient for your hair, and the short hair basically styles itself.

Get regular haircuts and trims from your trusted hair dresser.

Massage your scalp with your fingertips or the pads of your fingers--not with your fingernails in order to prevent those boils in the scalp.

Finally, stay stress free and have a high protein diet to have healthy hair.


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