The old saying “beauty is only skin-deep” has a ring of truth to it: firm, healthy skin is indeed beautiful. Nurturing your skin has direct benefits, not only to your appearance but also to overall health in both men and women. Healthy skin ages more gracefully, wrinkles less, and breaks out less often. Even more importantly, caring for your skin reduces your risk of developing certain skin cancers. But what can you do to care properly for your skin?
How to Care for Your Skin
Use a gentle cleanser in your daily ablutions over your whole body as well as a special wash for your face. Your face should be washed twice daily unless otherwise specified by a dermatologist. Do not just use your regular soap on your face, as skin in this area is generally much more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body. Look for gentle cleansers with ingredients like oatmeal to soothe angry skin, or tea tree oil to temper oily skin. An acne-fighting cleanser with salicylic acid can help with skin that is prone to pimples. In any case, wash gently with cool to warm water, and do not scrub as this can lead to irritation.
After washing, always use a moisturizer, even if your skin is generally oily. Fragrance-free and oil-free lotions are preferable to perfumed lotions. Moisturizers containing oils may clog your pores. Your facial lotion should contain at least 10 SPF, even in winter. Many cosmetic companies offer facial lotions tailored to specific skin types, though drugstore brands like Aveeno often can accommodate even very sensitive skin.
Skin and Shaving
Shaving is very hard on the skin for both men and women. Be sure to always use a shaving cream or gel. Once again, avoid fragrances and look for products formulated for sensitive skin. If you tend to get razor bumps, try using a razor with fewer blades or even switch to an electric razor. You won’t get as close of a shave, but your skin will thank you.
If you shave your legs or body hair, be sure to slather on a lotion afterwards to help replace the natural oils scraped off by your razor. However, if you shave your bikini line or pubic area, take extra caution with your post-shaving routine as some lotions, particularly those with added fragrance, can cause infections in these areas. Use a dermatologist-approved unscented moisturizer instead.
Extra Tips for Men
Caring for your face is especially important if you grow facial hair. Unhealthy skin is more likely to develop dandruff, leading to unsightly flakes in your beard and on your clothes. Frequent shaving can also lead to problems, such as razor burn or ingrown hairs. Though aftershave is designed to prevent such issues, many aftershaves contain alcohol, which may actually exacerbate the problem. Look for alcohol-free products with ingredients like peppermint or eucalyptus, which provide a fresh fragrance without using harsh chemicals.
Further, if your skin is sensitive, don’t be afraid to look at “women’s” products. Though many shaving gels, facial lotions, and face cleansers are marketed only to women, men can find these products just as useful. Look for labels that say “fragrance-free” and “for sensitive skin.”
This article is a contribution from Mountain View Dermatology a Boulder, CO dermatologist providing acne treatments and skin care services.