A Closer Look At Men’s Skin

Carmen Chatten | July 11th, 2014
Carmen Chatten - Nurse Practitioner

Carmen Chatten – Of Skin and Wellness

Men, just like women, deal with issues such as aging, pigmentation, sensitivity and acne. However, although there are similarities in skin conditions, male skin can be challenging based upon genetics, his lifestyle choices, his career and hobbies.

For this reason, male grooming and skin care requires tailored in office treatments, carefully chosen products and skillful at home grooming techniques. Treating a man’s skin effectively begins with a brief understanding of male physiology.

The biggest difference in male and female skin is attributed to the sex hormones. The main operating hormone in men is testosterone which is also considered to be a steroid hormone. While this hormone is present in females, it is 10 times higher in men causing the many aspects of the male features. It is produced by the Leydig cells which are found near the testes. Through a system of negative feedback, testosterone is converted to a more tolerable form and released to target tissues.

For young males, the effect of testosterone is initially responsible for triggering and maintaining the male sex reproductive organs. As the male ages past puberty it is responsible for much of the secondary sex characteristics such as deepened voice, muscle development, body strength, sex drive and desire, metabolism and most importantly for the purpose of this discussion, thick skin, hair growth and glandular secretions. A combination of these characteristics gives male skin a great advantage when it comes to aging. For example thick hair protects skin from sun, thick skin decreases laxity of skin and glandular secretions offer moisture to the skin. With these advantageous, characteristics are not in harmony or are not properly aligned; skin complications arise such as ingrown hairs, hyperpigmentation, acne and dry skin. This can either result from improper product usage or simple neglect to use products.

Today’s man is fortunate to take advantage of technological savvy grooming practices. More and more men are paying attention and making efforts to improve their health- this is reflected in their skin. Current fashion trends places importance on tailored, clean cut profiles and is moving away from sloppy, slouchy looks. As a result of fashion trends, men’s grooming habits are following suit.

We now know men are spending more money on grooming or skin care products to stay in a competitive race in career and personal life. Some men are even making appointments with plastic surgeons for that nipped, tucked, more importantly polished look. In a world where youth and health is regarded as proof of power, men can no longer be a soap and aftershave type of guy. Men do not have to take giant leaps from their current grooming practices to keep up, but changes are recommended.

From the male’s perspective, the top four complaints are ingrown hairs, acne, dry skin and aging skin. It would be wise to initially check with a health care provider regarding hormones if one feels at all like their hormones may be leading to problems with secondary male characteristics. It is a simple enough test and can be completed in minutes.

Next on the list, one should adopt a skin care regimen. It is important if you have more than usual skin concerns to consult with a skin professional that can put you on track for the skin products that is tailored for your skin. It may be important to use special products in addition to the basics to address specific conditions on the skin. Below is a basic skin regimen, it is not all inclusive.

In any grooming regimen it is important to prep the skin. A great skin prep begins with a cleansing the skin. Do not use bar soap. Use lukewarm water, not hot water. Choose a wash that has salicylate, lactic and/or glycolic acid. These ingredients help slough away dead skin cells.

The best shave is accomplished in the shower, decreases the risk of razor burn. Use a lubricating shave cream or gel. Shave creams are more moisturizing than gels. It is best to use a manual razor with a single blade, this gives a close shave but not too close. Razor bumps and ingrown hairs are usually the result of too close shaves. When shaving, shave in the direction of hair growth, not against.

Remove all products from your face. This is/was previously done with after shave, but be careful not to use after shave that has alcohol because it can dry the skin. Dehydrated skin can result in dull, flaky skin and lead to premature wrinkling. Instead use warm water or invest in a toner. If an aftershave is your choice, choose one that contains Vitamin E.

Eye Cream-Even though your skin is thicker that does not mean your first wrinkles will not appear in your eye area. Choose an eye cream to use daily, twice daily if you wish.

Serum/Moisturizer- Products that contain aloe or hydro-cortisone cream are calming to the face. It therefore protects the skin and decreases hyper-pigmentation caused by a shaving regimen. Consider selecting a moisturizer that contains sunscreen.

Sunscreen- Choose a sunscreen that has a SPF 30 or above. This is the most important step in your regimen since more men than women are seen for precancerous skin conditions.

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