Avoiding moisturizers, sunscreens, and “girly” products doesn’t make you macho; these grooming mistakes put you at greater risk
Chew on this for a sec: in the U.S. alone, more men die of skin cancer each year than women.
According to the Skin Cancer Institute, if you’re younger than 40 and just past your mid-teens, you’re 55 percent more susceptible than women of the same age group. Studies also show men start to develop wrinkles a decade before women. So why is it? Simple answer: Non-action.
“In general, men do not take good care of their skin. Partly, I think it’s because men haven’t been trained to apply anything to their skin at an early age,” says Dr. Terrence Keaney, a board-certified dermatologist based in Washington, D.C., who is looking to change that taboo with his first-ever male cosmetic and aesthetics center, W for Men. There he sees male patients from age 8 to baby boomers. “If you look at women with just the use of makeup, women are used to using [products] on their skin and it’s a habit. Whereas men really don’t have that habit, except for shaving.”
Other than obvious male-female dissimilarities, some go skin-deep. Skin is a “hormone-responsive organ,” says Keaney. “Meaning, testosterone influences men’s skin to be thicker.” This testosterone drive is what causes men’s baby fine hair to turn thick on skin, a.k.a. why we have chest hair, beards, back hair, and sometimes, as we age, why hair thins on the top of the scalp. Additionally, men produce more sweat, which means more oil. Blotting papers, anyone?
“Anything that you put on your skin will feel different on male skin than female skin, “ says Keaney. “A very luxurious, heavy moisturizer might feel great on female skin, but will fill heavy and oily on male skin.”
Keaney’s office offers a no-judgment, safe-haven in a mancave-like environment for guys to talk hair loss, corrective procedures, anti-aging, lasers, and get schooled in proper upkeep. It’s why we tapped Keaney (who also serves as a Dove Men+Care skin and hair expert) to debunk some of those age-old, bad-habit grooming myths and help you, or any men in your life, ease into solid regimens that deliver results.
You’re not using, or are hesitant to use, skin care products
“Some of my male patients don’t do anything,” says Keaney. “I get them started on basic skincare by emphasizing that, yes, they may feel a little oily, but using a moisturizer, sunscreen, and taking good care of their skin is important.”
Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t overwhelm them. Don’t get them a list of products to go to the store and get. The simpler, the better. You can add [more products] over time,” says Keaney. “For most men, it’s shaving in the morning and brushing their teeth at night.”
Placing products near the razor and the toothbrush, like Dove’s Hydrating Lotion, triggers a call to action and forms a new daily habit. To begin, cleanse in the shower, apply a moisturizer, and finish with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30.
Dollar Shave Club subscription-service razors ($2+month). Splurge on the add-on items, like Dr. Carver’s Magnanimous Post-Shave All-In-One Moisturizer ($9). And although on the pricy side, Drunk Elephant’s Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30 ($38) is one of the best on the market.
Cleanse away your past product sins
You’re buying what you think you need
“Most men pick up what’s available,” says Keaney. “For cleansing, men look for something aggressive that makes skin feel tight and taut.”
Usually that means an antibacterial wash that, in actuality, strips away needed oils. Or, a scrubbing cleanser that’s too vigorous. “Part of the problem is that men go overboard and tend to scrub too hard,” says Keaney.
Finding a moisturizing cleanser is the foundation of any routine,” says Keaney.
For dry skin, look for a cream-based cleanser. For oily skin, look for a gel cleanser or Keaney suggests an oscillating cleansing brush. “It’s less aggressive and harder to cause problems.”
Ditch the alcohol
You’re going for the wrong aftershave
“Shaving is an irritating procedure to the face and a form of exfoliation,” says Keaney. “If you think about it, what we’re doing is taking a blade and carrying it across the skin to cut hair. Part of that collateral damage is removing the top layers of the skin’s surface and removing a lot of the natural oils that maintain skin’s hydration.”
Get rid of your alcohol-based aftershave and I want you to use a Dove Men+Care Hydrate Face lotion, this is your new aftershave,” says Keaney.
Using an alcohol-based aftershave loaded with fragrance, such as tea tree oil, can also cause major irritation. In some, even allergy.
Every Man Jack’s Sensitive Skin Shave Gel Fragrance Free ($5.95)
‘Tis the season
You’re using the at the wrong time
“Skincare changes seasonally,” says Keaney. “Balance is a little more of a challenge in the winter when you need more of that oil to protect against decrease in humidify and temperatures, that alone can irritate and dry out skin.”
“Shift to a water-based moisturizer in the summer and a heavier, oil-based in the winter when you need more moisture,” says Keaney. “In winter, make [your routine] more bland or switch to sensitive-skin products.”
The beard does not stand alone
You’re not caring for skin under the
“I have a beard, so I can speak to personal use,” says Keaney. “You can’t ignore the skin under your beard. Skin underneath the beard can get irritated. Hair itself is a strong protein and can pierce the skin causing ingrown hairs, or irritation. The body hates ingrown hair, so it acts like it’s an invader.”
By not cleansing your beard, you do a further disservice to it looking fuller. Studies show that oil and dead skin cells trap hair against the skin, rather than letting it stand away and up from skin.
“Don’t avoid the beard when showering or cleansing. After the shower, you still need to moisturize the skin under the beard hair. It needs the same protection as the rest of your skin,” says Keaney. “Try a hyaluronic acid serum, which can penetrate hair and won’t get stuck in hair.”
Dr. Carver’s Miracle Repair Serum ($12). Hint: this serum is a bargain for the price and can double as a lightweight moisturizer under sunscreen in summer and during daytime in winter.
Caucasian men can age more rapidly due to the effects of the sun. Everyone should be using sunscreen in their teens — Dr. Terrence Keaney
What’s my age again?
You think you can wait to take care of your skin or turn back the clock when it’s too late
“Anti-aging [routines] should be started before you start to age,” says Keaney. “Studies show men start developing wrinkles a decade before women. Fine lines can begin to develop on men’s foreheads in their 20s and between the eyes in their 30s. It’s easier to prevent than to correct.”
“In their 20s, men should be thinking of anti-aging,” says Keaney. “Caucasian men can age more rapidly due to the effects of the sun. Everyone should be using sunscreen in their teens.”
Opt for an antioxidant-loaded sunscreen and moisturizer, and when ready, add a retinoid to your routine under PM moisturizer to booster the anti-aging process.
“Skincare is foundation of any anti-aging,” says Keaney. “For anyone who comes into my office. I’m talking about it.”
Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($37+).