skin care for men
the bottom line
While men and women may have similar goals in relation to their skincare, they do vary in their general skin conditions, habits, and primary concerns. Here we dive into the main skin complaints of men, why they occur, and how to treat them. Read on to discover what men really want.
first layer: men are different
We’ve already written at length about the many differences between men and women when it comes to our skin, and that most of these variations are the result of hormones. In addition to differences in skin pH, thickness, hydration, and oiliness, we exhibit specific tendencies for skin diseases as well. Men have a larger number of skin infections, while women show higher levels of pigmentation issues, autoimmune disorders, and allergic diseases. But when it comes to daily skincare complaints, men have specific concerns that are directly related to not just their hormones, but also their lifestyles and typical skincare routines.
second layer: the problems
When we asked a select group of skin-aware men what irks them most about their skin, the most frequently cited concerns included breakouts, ingrown hairs, dryness, discoloration, and dark circles under the eyes. Prior to suggesting some remedies, let’s examine the causes behind each of these issues:
- breakouts: higher testosterone levels after puberty contribute to increased sebum production and more noticeable pores. As a result, men tend to have oilier skin with a tendency for acne even into adulthood.
- ingrown hairs: it’s been estimated that the average man shaves his face an astonishing 16,000 times over the course of his life. While some might consider shaving to be an extreme version of dermaplaning, the repeated trauma of shaving stresses the skin and is associated with increased sensitivity. When hair is cut, it can be forced back into its follicle. In some cases, dead skin can obstruct the follicle, resulting in the hair growing under the skin, or re-entering its follicle or one nearby. The hair then grows inward, rather than outwards through the skin to create an ingrown hair.
- dryness: as paradoxical as it may seem given the tendency for oily skin, many men also complain of skin dryness. In most cases, this is related to their skincare routines. Many men admit to not having a skincare routine at all, or one that involves the periodic use of soap and water. Recall that men generally have a lower pH of the skin. Bar soap is very alkaline and will raise the skin’s pH, resulting in irritation and dryness. Further, men often use an aftershave following shaving which can in turn dry out the skin even more if it contains alcohol.
- discoloration: One of the notable exclusions in the skincare routines of many men is the use of sunscreen. Discoloration of the skin, or hyperpigmentation, can occur secondary to sun exposure. Other sources of pigmentation in male skin include hormonal changes with age, as well as trauma secondary to acne or injury.
- dark circles under the eyes: there are many potential causes for dark circles under the eyes, including a lack of sleep, allergies, thinning skin and reduced periorbital fat with age, and nutritional deficiencies including iron and vitamins A, B12, D, E, and K. In some cases, your natural periorbital anatomy will create the appearance of dark shadows when you have the misfortune to be under an overhead light.
third layer: the solutions
As with most things in life, prevention is the best cure. In case that’s not possible, we have some solutions for your skincare woes.
- breakouts: wash your skin. It sounds simple, but what we really mean is washing it with a gentle cleanser that won’t strip your skin of it necessary oils but which will clear out that excess sebum. And you don’t need to wash your face 4-5 times per day to decrease oil (we know a few guys who do this) which will result in a rebound with increased oil production. Twice daily is ideal.
- ingrown hairs: if you have ingrown hairs, stopping shaving the area (temporarily), disinfect with rubbing alcohol, then apply a warm (not hot, beauty) compress to the site to open the pore and relax the hair. Gently tweeze the hair (if you can see it) up to the surface without squeezing or pulling the hair out completely. Allow the area to heal for a few days or longer before shaving the site again. A close trim is ok. If you are prone to ingrown hairs, we recommend using a disinfecting cleanser and shaving slowly on damp skin. Use a fresh razor or consider changing to safety razors. Shave with the grain on loose skin to prevent from shaving too close, and if all else fails, convert to an electric razor.
- dryness: avoid using alkaline soap bars on the face and moisturize your skin twice daily. The key is to keep everything in balance so that your natural sebum is kept under control while maintaining normal hydration of the skin.
- discoloration: SPF. We’ll say it one more time: SPF. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 daily, rain or shine. Snowstorm? SPF. Tornado approaching? SPF. You live in London and haven’t seen the sun in three years? SPF. While not all discoloration stems directly from sun exposure, almost all pigmentation seems to be worsened by it. Brightening lotions can also assist, but prevention is absolutely the best and cheapest cure with this one.
- dark circles under the eyes: You need to discover the specific cause of your dark circles and treat accordingly. If the issue is a deficiency of sleep or certain vitamins, the solution is obvious. But if they’ve simply crept up with advancing age, an eye cream can be very helpful. We recommend looking for caffeine as one of the key ingredients in the formula, as caffeine helps to reduce puffiness and dark circles by temporarily constricting the blood vessels.
fourth layer: how we do it
anokha man was launched in June 2023 with the goal of addressing the primary skin concerns of men. Our rice & hinoki facial cleanser contains rice water, coconut milk, and bamboo water to help address breakouts and limit dryness of the skin while gently brightening the complexion. The white tea & lychee toner uses willow bark extract, white tea, lychee, rice milk, and gotu kola to help decrease the incidence of breakouts and ingrown hairs while evening out skin tone. Finally, our sake & sandalwood facial lotion contains sake filtrate, rice bran, gotu kola, and allantoin to hydrate skin while reducing irritation from shaving, as well as help to brighten skin. Dropping in fall 2024, our camellia rejuvenating eye crème with Camellia japonica, caffeine, and bakuchiol to target fine wrinkles and dark circles around the eyes.
All this and more at anokhaskincare.com .
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