Even though the majority of skin care advertisements are directed toward women, there’s no excuse for guys to not take care of their skin. The cosmetics industry may make more money by reinforcing gender expectations and focusing on women, but that doesn’t mean guys are off the hook when it comes to acne, wrinkles, discoloration, or even melanoma.
If your daily grooming doesn’t include caring for your skin, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The better your skin care routine, the better you’ll look and the healthier you’ll be.
Why Skin Care Matters
Your skin is your body’s first layer of defense against infection. When it’s dry, cracked, or irritated, you’re going to notice. Itching and irritation will be your first sign that something isn’t right; if you’re looking ashy or your skin feels tight and dry, it’s a sign that it could use a little love.
While your entire body deserves proper skin care, you’re most likely to notice the effects of poor skin care on your face. Acne, bags under your eyes, wrinkles, drooping skin, and razor bumps can paint a very clear picture of the attention your skin gets.
Here, it’s important to note that everybody’s body is a bit different– some of us are simply more prone to acne or wrinkles or discoloration, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In some cases, working with a dermatologist to assess the best course of action is all that you can do for your skin, and for many of us genetics will ensure that we never have modelesque, airbrushed-looking skin. Bodies are meant to be diverse, so that’s just a part of life.
But for each of us, there are steps we can take to improve our skin’s condition, texture, and appearance.
Step 1- Remember that You Are What You Eat
The food you put into your body affects more than just your digestive system. We often notice the effects of a crappy diet in our gut– bloating, gas, or weight gain– but the effects aren’t localized to our stomachs. Many of us think about the various parts and regions of our bodies as individual units, but the truth is that they’re all connected.
If you eat a shit diet, you’re going to feel like shit. And your skin will show it.
So, if you want to start nourishing your skin from the inside out, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Eat plenty of vegetables. Avocados, bell peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes are rich with vitamins and nutrients that are great for your skin.
- Add omega-3 fatty acids to your daily diet by taking in nuts like walnuts and sunflower seeds, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or herring. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to keep skin thick, supple and moisturized.
- Drink a ton of water. Look… unless you have congestive heart failure or are getting crazy with the pace of your intake, you’re not going to drink too much water. Some sources indicate that the average adult male should be drinking at least 3.7 litres of water each day. That’s about 15 cups. By drinking at least that much water, you’ll keep your skin hydrated, and you’ll also be flushing waste from your body. Keep a refillable water bottle (I use a quart-sized jar) on your desk at work or at your side otherwise, and set yourself a reminder to drink it regularly. If you’re drinking plenty of water, you’ll likely be going to the restroom more frequently; my personal rule is that if my urine is yellow at all, I finish off my jar of water and immediately refill it.
- Binge on junk food. Just don’t.
- Think that coffee, soda, and alcohol count toward your daily water consumption. They don’t.
- Eat cheesy vegetables, saucy vegetables, or heart-stoppingly-rich casserole versions of vegetables instead of fresh, in-season veggies. Broccoli is great for you, but broccoli covered in cheese kinda misses the point.
Step 2- Exfoliate
Exfoliating regularly removes dead skin and dirt from the surface of your skin. It clears off layers of built up gunk that could otherwise clog your pores, leaving your skin feeling smooth and softer.
Pro tip: exfoliating your face before shaving can help you get a closer shave and reduce razor rash.
Exfoliating your body is pretty simple. Using a loofah or other body scrubber with your favorite body wash will get the job done. Just be sure to replace your loofah regularly since they can hold onto some serious bacteria.
For your face, a loofah isn’t going to be your best bet since the skin on there is thinner and more sensitive than other parts of your body. Instead, using an exfoliating scrub is going to be your best bet. There are plenty of options for exfoliating scrubs, but we recommend going with a natural exfoliant like charcoal or ground walnut shell. Other options use plastic microbeads to exfoliate, which get rinsed down your drain and can cause major pollution issues in our waterways.
Natural options are going to leave your skin feeling better, and they’re not going to put such a strain on the environment.
If you’re not used to exfoliating, you may notice a bit of redness afterwards. You can minimize this by rinsing with cool to cold water, and by following Step 4.
Step 3- Cleanse & Tone Regularly
Washing regularly is crucial. That’s your primary line of defense against dirt and bacteria on the surface of your skin. If your skin is feeling particularly oily, if you notice body odor, or if you’ve gotten particularly dirty/ sweaty, you need to give yourself a good wash.
The type of wash you use on your body and face will depend upon the type of skin that you have. For example, I have to use body wash that isn’t very strongly scented since I have sensitive skin, and I use products with salicylic acid on my face since it’s oily and prone to acne. For others, old spice and benzoyl peroxide may do the trick. It may take some time on Google or some testing with a variety of products to know what will work best for you.
With your face, it also helps to use a toner after washing or as a touch-up throughout the day. A bit of toner on a cotton pad will help remove dirt and oil that gets missed when you wash your face.
Step 4- MOISTURIZE
Too many guys skip out on moisturizing either because they think it’s not necessary or because they’ve only seen overtly feminine advertisements for moisturizer and it makes them uncomfortable.
That’s no excuse– all you’ve got to do is dig a little deeper in the drug store aisles.
Using lotion restores moisture to the surface of your skin that gets stripped away while washing. In general, this is going to keep your skin looking and feeling healthier. Moisturizing is key for keeping your skin soft and reducing irritation, but also for helping it retain its elasticity (i.e. preventing wrinkling and sagging).
Step 5- Use Sunscreen
Guys, I can’t stress this enough. Get in the habit of using sunscreen any time you’re going to be out in the sun, and reapply it regularly if you’re out for very long.
Sun exposure can cause everything from sunburn to sun poisoning to dark spots to cancer. It’s not joke; the sun can cause serious, irreparable damage to your skin. Being a bronze adonis isn’t going to be worth it if you’re having to go in for an annual biopsy for that bump on your shoulder that just doesn’t look quite right.
If if you’re already dark complected and not concerned with getting a tan, you should still be using sunscreen. Cancer doesn’t care if you’re African American, Latino, Caucasian, Asian, Indigenous, or whatever else; it’s an equal opportunity disease.
If you’re already following Step 4, this should be easy. Many facial lotions double as light sunscreens, and their packaging will indicate this. It’s not hard to find a moisturizer that also has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15. Keeping an extra tube of lightweight sunscreen in your bathroom to rub onto your arms, legs, or other areas of exposed skin before heading out in the morning adds a grand total of 30 seconds to your routine, and is completely worth it.
Outdoorsy and athletic guys in particular need to pay attention to applying sunscreen to their backs and shoulders if they’re going to be outside shirtless in the summertime. While it can be a challenge to apply sunscreen there for yourself, it’s also difficult to notice skin cancer that forms in these areas. Many guys have freckles or moles along their shoulders for this very reason, and it’d be easy for one of those “moles” to be skin cancer without even noticing it. So, if you have bumps in these areas, see a dermatologist. If you don’t, prevent them by using sunscreen regularly.
Step 6- Clean Your Sheets Often
Even if you shower right before you go to bed, you need to be washing your sheets regularly. We track dirt and dust into our beds by climbing into them, and sweat and oil built up on them from being in contact with our bodies. No matter how careful we are with our skin care routines, if we’re sleeping in acne soup, it’s going to show on our skin.
Pillow cases, sheets, blankets, and towels are all in the same boat in that regard. Washing them frequently is a great way to limit your exposure to excess dirt and oil. If you can smell yourself on your sheets, you should have washed them yesterday.
Laundry may be a hassle, but in my adult life I’ve found few pleasures as great as getting into a bed of freshly laundered sheets. And if you have the fortune of sharing your bed with someone else, they’ll be grateful for it too.
It’s a Win for your Skin
Save your hide, and show your skin some love.
And, if you have any skin care tips or routines that have helped you, share them below with the BlakeWrites community!