Listen Up Lads: Giving Your Skin Some Love Isn’t Just for Ladies

Listen Up Lads: Giving Your Skin Some Love Isn’t Just for Ladies

<p>Ask any millennial what a “metrosexual” is, and they can rattle off the definition with ease. While now a dated term given the negative implications, this was a famous trend during the skinny jeans boom in the 2000s. “Metrosexual” refers to straight men who engage in hobbies and interests that are stereotypically feminine in nature, i.e., fashion, self-care, and hanging out at wine bars.</p> <p>We’re a little more evolved in 2024 and accept that such interests are no marker of a person’s sexuality one way or another, but vestiges of these ideas remain. Getting men on board with a skin care regimen has proven tough to sell given insecurity over it being a challenge to one’s masculinity. </p> <p>Just look at the different marketing strategies employed for each sex: products targeting women are incredibly detailed and varied to the point of excess, ingraining the idea that you need 50 million creams, ointments, and serums specialized for each and every body part. Retaining youth and beauty demands diligence and investment in a sea of products, or so the ads imply.</p> <p>Skin care products targeting men are the opposite. They’re usually marketed as giftpacks containing only the basics: a cleanser, a moisturizer, and a scrub. The black coloring, stripped-down language, and convenience are there to make the concept more palatable to male buyers, since the assumption is that men know or care little about the “feminine” act of self-care.</p> <p>Slowly but surely, inroads have been made with men’s skin care, and the importance of it is starting to catch on. The traditional perception of it being something exclusive to women is changing thanks to more nuanced ideas of masculinity, social media, and new poster boys.</p> <p>“Male grooming has seen substantial expansion because men are better educated in understanding skin concerns and are consequently using products better suited to their needs,” commented dermatologist Maryam Zamani to CNN. “The skin care industry has also helped educate men on what products they should be using in their regimen.”</p> <h2>Why is skin care important?</h2> <p>As the largest organ in the body and your first line of defense, your skin is your armor. A healthy skin barrier allows your body to keep out microorganisms, allergens, irritants, reactive oxygen species, and radiation. To keep it effective, however, you need to protect it, especially from the sun’s UV rays. Healthy skin also helps to regulate body temperature and maintain comfort. </p> <figure><img alt="3D medical illustration showing major layers of skin | Source: Scientific Animations, Inc." class="img-responsive" src="https://cdn.storymd.com/optimized/MANp4DiNdl/thumbnail.jpg" /> <figcaption>3D medical illustration showing major layers of skin. <em>Source: Scientific Animations, Inc.</em></figcaption> </figure> <p>Then there’s the mental health component. Despite what you might think at first glance, skin care isn’t about vanity; it improves your appearance and self-esteem. You likely know someone who suffered with confidence because of a skin care issue like acne when growing up. Dull, dry, or blemished skin as an adult can make you feel no less self-conscious. Proper skin care can tackle stubborn issues like eczema or psoriasis, imbuing a sense of confidence and radiance.</p> <p>Without proper hydration, your skin loses its elasticity and becomes dry and flakey. Moisturizing it helps to retain water, keeping it soft and supple. Skin care also minimizes the appearance of scars following wound healing.</p> <p>Your skin sheds itself every day, and that’s why it needs maintenance. Without that care, future skin will become dull and full of imperfections, so it’s a long-term investment in your appearance and skin health to start a routine now. </p> <h2>The critical step: sunblock</h2> <p>Aging is inevitable, and we don’t have the technology to stop all its effects. But as much as 80% of skin changes associated with aging are caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. </p> <p>UV light comes in two forms: A and B. The shorter UVB wavelengths mostly affect the top layer of skin, while UVA’s longer rays penetrate deeper. Over years of exposure, the rays damage cells on the top of the skin called keratinocytes, producing red, rough, and scaly patches of skin (actinic keratosis). This happens because of DNA mutations in the keratinocytes that proliferate.</p> <p>Another is melanocytes, cells that produce melanin and cause skin to darken. UVA activation of these cells results in suntan (as opposed to sunburn, which is UVB damaging the top layer of skin). Long-term UV exposure can damage melanocytes, producing sunspots.</p> <p>The tools that keep your skin elastic and supple, collagen and elastin, live below that layer where UVA can reach. UVA rays break down these proteins and cause wrinkles as your skin loses its elasticity, and they also cause skin to thin out, making blood vessels more visible. </p> <p>Since we can’t spend our lives indoors hiding from UV rays, we must protect ourselves every day with sunblock. You may only think of this stuff when summer comes around and you’re on a trip, but you should be using sunblock every day, even in winter. </p> <p>Sunblock stops damage by preventing UV rays from reaching and penetrating the skin, and it’s the best product for slowing the signs of aging. Collagen production starts to decrease in your thirties, but sunblock can counter this process, so get on the SPF train sooner rather than later.</p> <p>When picking a sunscreen, make sure to grab one that is broad spectrum (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) and has an SPF of at least 30. The most important thing is that it goes on your skin every morning.</p> <figure><img alt="Don't forget the sunscreen! | Source: Weather.gov" class="img-responsive" src="https://cdn.storymd.com/optimized/JA05DvcOo9/thumbnail.png" /> <figcaption>Don't forget the sunscreen! <em>Source: Weather.gov</em></figcaption> </figure> <h2>Getting started with skin care</h2> <h3>Figure out your skin type</h3> <p>Does your skin tend to get greasy quite easily, or does it get red and dry? Different skin types require different approaches in the products we use to treat them. Figuring out yours will allow you to pick the most suitable products and avoid those that could potentially harm your skin. </p> <p>The different types include:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Normal</strong>. This type can tolerate a variety of different products without harsh side effects.</li> <li><strong>Dry</strong>. Tends to be red and flaky in areas, particularly when exposed to cold. Excessive washing and scrubbing can remove natural oils, triggering this skin type. Folks with dry skin are more prone to getting eczema.</li> <li><strong>Sensitive</strong>. Reacts to different products in a variety of ways. If new products cause you to develop a rash, itchiness, redness, or burning, you may have this skin type.</li> <li><strong>Oily.</strong> Characterized by faces that appear shiny or bright. Acne is more common in this type. </li> <li><strong>Combination.</strong> With this type, parts of the face like the center may be oily while other parts like the cheeks are dry.</li> </ul> <h3>Cleanse twice a day</h3> <p>The first step in a daily routine is to clean up the dead skin cells, sweat, bacteria, and dirt that collects on your face. Cleansers prevent clogged pores and facilitate a smooth and glowing complexion. You can think of them as a blank canvas on which you can apply your toners, serums, moisturizers, and whatever else. </p> <p>Cleanse as part of both your morning and night routine. When choosing a cleanser, make sure yours is appropriate to your skin type. A gentle, pH-balanced cleanser usually works best, and if you have dry or sensitive skin, try cream-based products. For the oily faces out there, opt for a foaming cleanser instead.</p> <h3>Moisturizer and sunblock</h3> <p>While moisturizers sound like they put moisture into your face, they’re actually more about preserving your skin’s natural moisture levels and deflecting threats to the skin’s barrier. Hyaluronic acid is the magic ingredient that pulls water in and holds it in place. Dry skin makes you wrinkle and age faster, so moisturize morning and night to keep things looking plump.</p> <p>On top of your moisturizer, you can add a layer of sunblock (remember to make sure it has a minimum of SPF30 and is broad spectrum). This is only needed in your morning routine.</p> <h3>Exfoliate twice a week</h3> <p>Exfoliating is like a deep clean version of cleansing that removes dead skin cells and delivers a brighter and softer complexion. Dead skin cells can block the way for new, fresh ones to come up, and exfoliation buffers out the junk. This opens the way for moisturizing products to penetrate even deeper, improving their efficacy. </p> <p>Because exfoliating is heavy-handed work, it shouldn’t be done every day. Twice a week is ample, and it’s important to find one that plays nicely with your skin. Do it in the evening after cleansing and before moisturizing.</p> <p>Note that exfoliating isn’t a critical step like cleansing and moisturizing, but it can enhance the performance of your products and your results.</p> <h3>Consistency</h3> <p>As with anything in life, skin care requires consistency for results. Developing and sticking to a routine is half the reason so many people don’t bother with skin care in the first place, but it can become the centerpiece of your nightly wind-down and doesn’t take long. </p> <h2>Bonus tips on caring for your skin</h2> <ul> <li><strong>Hydrate</strong>. A healthy complexion needs hydration in multiple forms. Make sure to drink plenty of water and use a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type.</li> <li><strong>Gentle products</strong>. When cleansing, avoid using harsh products as they can strip your skin of its natural oils. Toners can help to balance skin pH.</li> <li><strong>Sleep.</strong> It’s important for almost every area of health, and skin is repaired as you sleep. Adequate rest is necessary for this process.</li> <li><strong>Diet</strong>. What you eat influences the state of your skin. Avoid processed foods and excessive sugar as these can cause inflammation and breakouts.</li> <li><strong>Smoking and drinking.</strong> Your local bar likely has some faces that prove the point, but smoking and excessive drinking are terrible for the state of your skin. Smoking causes premature aging (fine lines, wrinkles, and a dull complexion), while booze dehydrates the skin and triggers redness and puffiness.</li> </ul> <h2>More on Healthy Skin</h2><ul><li><a href="https://soulivity.storymd.com/journal/wg2lkxzs4m-healthy-skin" target="_blank">Healthy Skin: How to Keep Your Skin Healthy</a></li><li><a href="https://soulivity.storymd.com/journal/yj5dd9ninm-skin-aging" target="_blank">Skin Aging: How Your Skin Changes with Age</a></li><li><a href="https://soulivity.storymd.com/journal/wep6b8v15j-sunscreen" target="_blank">Sunscreen: How to Help Protect Your Skin From the Sun</a></li></ul>

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