"The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness and kindness, can be trained to do most things." -- Jilly Cooper, Journalist and Author.
Men and women are different; so is their skin. While technology and clinically proven claims are ousting yesteryear's ambiguous, "soft" references to radiance, dewiness and luminosity in women's products, replaced by references to DNA and cellular replication, men's products treat guys as though we just left our caves. It's time to stand up and protect our biggest organ, our skin, and question manufacturers' claims of "knowing" it.
Not all men are created equal and neither are our skins. Hence, let's take a look at our differences and a put together a basic regimen for maintaining, healthy, younger, sexier looking complexions.
What about male skin?
The average guy's skin is 20% thicker than a woman's but thins over time due to hormonal changes. With thicker skin that's richer in collagen and elastin levels, men age more gracefully than the fairer sex. When it comes to wrinkles, men have the upper hand. However, as we age, a man's skin begins to thin. That, coupled with a lifetime of environmental stress tends to even up the score, eliminating the advantages over women we once enjoyed - an argument for taking care of our skin from an early age.
Men also have larger pores (for oil and hair), which make us more susceptible to acne, blackheads and ingrown hairs. Men have smaller, more active sebaceous glands (oil glands) that produce oil and sebum for much longer in our lives than women. In addition, we have about 50% fewer nerve endings in our skin than women, which may diminish our sensation of damage when it occurs.
Overall, we sweat more, feel damage less and generally have dirtier skin than women. And, it's often so oily it could reflect the headlights from on-coming cars. Daily shaving partially offsets this but can, in itself, cause a range of other problems including rashes, chafing and mechanical stress and spot dryness.
With all this, a daily maintenance regiment and a few preventative measures including deep cleansing, using shaving products for our skin types and using a moisturizer containing sufficient SPF for protection against sun can go a long way towards preserving our good looks and avoiding a range of potential health issues.
But, to fight against enemies to our skin, we must first understand the arsenal of technology and products at our disposal - in true scientific, clinically proven terms.
"When women go wrong, men go right after them." -- Mae West
But, when they go right, we're sure to follow. Women no longer accept undocumented claims. Neither should we. The first thing we need to do is create a basic skin care routine that we consistently follow. This includes cleaning, exfoliating and moisturizing. I've expanded on this three basic steps and talked in depth about my feelings on men's moisturizers with SPF. Read these thoughts - Skin Care Basics.
What The Experts Are Saying:
With the skin basics covered, I approached some leading brand spokespersons and renowned experts in the area of male skin care for an advanced degree on the care and preservation of masculine skin.
- I began with Anthony Sosnick, founder of men's grooming brand, Anthony For Men. He was a great help in breaking down the product selection for men in each age bracket. Read our interview to see what products Mr. Sosnick recommends for men in each decade.
- I then spoke with Dr. Andrew Alexis, Director of the Skin of Color Center to talk about what lines are available today and how they do at providing men of color what their skin needs. Is there a gap in what's available and what could be available? Come see what he has to say.
Guidance: Keeping It Simple
Keeping it simple is key to maintaining any good habit. My product pick for simple is StriVectin Men's Wrinkle-Fighting Tool Kit, which was specifically developed for men and combines their 3 best sellers together in one kit. The kit includes:
- 2 fl. oz. StriVectin-SD Instant Retexturizing Scrub
- .5 fl. oz. StriVectin-SD Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles
- 2 fl. oz. StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles
Other Affordable OptionsWhile Gillette did not respond to my inquiries, I purchased and tested a few of their products and drew information from their packaging and web site. While I found the many product choices within their vast range to be daunting, I found the following specific products to be excellent - but wish the moisturizer contained more SPF protection.
- Gillette Fusion ProSeries Moisturizer SPF 15
- Gillette Fusion ProSeries Face Scrub
- Gillette Fusion ProSeries Shaving Gel
- Gillette Fusion ProSeries Aftershave
- Gillette Fusion ProSeries Thermal Scrub
- Gillette Fusion ProSeries Sensitive Face Wash
Widely available and reasonably priced, L'Oreal also supplies quality products - again, lacking the level of sun protection I'd like to see - but within the range of many of its competitors. Here are some of my L'Oreal Paris Men's Expert product picks.
- L'Oréal Paris Men's Expert Comfort Max Anti-Irritation After Shave Balm with SPF 15
- L'Oréal Paris Men's Expert Hydra-Energetic Skin Energizing Gel Cleanser
- L'Oréal Paris Men's Expert Hydra-Energetic Ice Cold Eye Roller
What about men's scalps - the skin beneath our hair or lack of hair as the case may be?
While men's hair care products are a subject for another article, Redken 5th Avenue seems to be leading the pack in terms of creating products for men that don't just address things like hair loss and dandruff - typical male complaints - but also considers the skin (the scalp) to which men's hair is attached. I interviewed Redken For Men's, Jenny Balding, and a Redken spokesperson, about the Redken for Men line. She shared with me product picks and a tips to make the best choices from their line. See what she recommends.
There you have it
Even though it may be more than you ever wanted to know, dare I say, I've just scratched the surface of the fastest growing category of skin care: Products developed for and targeting men. It's not that complicated. Still, be aware that many companies, with the notable exceptions of those quoted in this article, are at least a decade behind comparable women's products in terms of transparency regarding their specific relevance to the needs of our (men's) skin.
If in doubt, my recommendation is to ask questions to a female friend, sister, girlfriend, wife, co-worker, or other female relative - even your mother. Chances are she'll understand the difference between the hype and the reality when it comes to claims.
And remember, it's your skin; it's what the world sees first. You owe it to yourself to be comfortable in it. And, remember, it's the only one you've got or are ever going to get. Neglect it at your peril.
Raymond Nadeau is an internationally celebrated, award winning marketing professional, trend authority, creative director, product developer, journalist and author of Living Brands, Collaboration + Innovation = Customer Fascination. As the former Vice President of New Ideas and Global Creative Director of cosmetics giant, Coty Inc., he was responsible for over 40 brands – including many of the most successful new launches in recent history – even forging an official Space Act Agreement alliance with NASA to develop skin care products for use in outer space. He has worked in both advertising and product development for, among others, many of the world's leading cosmetic and fashion brands and currently works independently doing business as Living Brands Living Media Communications. www.livingbrandslivingmedia.com.