In this article you'll learn:
1. Why men need specific skincare for their oily skin
2. How shaving can be a barrier-buster
3. Beards are good. And beards are bad.
4. Why men are at 40% more risk for skin cancer
5. Skincare is health care.
Did you know the men’s personal care market is expected to reach $166 billion this year? (according to Allied Market Research). And that men's facial product sales jumped 7% in 2021 (according to NPD’s iGen Beauty Consumer reports).
That’s a lot of male grooming.
So why are men adopting new skincare regimens? And why should they? We asked our founding dermatologist Dr. Steve Xu, a leading voice for consumer advocacy and transparency in the cosmetics industry, to discuss the trends and the science behind the burgeoning men’s skincare scene.
More oil, more problems
“Simply put,” said Dr. Steve, “men have more active sebaceous glands and as a result produce more oil. That’s a result of testosterone. And more oil in more and larger pores increases the chance that those pores can get blocked, which leads to worse acne.”
Guys can go with liquid exfoliant salicylic acid and oil-reducing retinol in the night cream. Check the essential acne set here.
Men and shaving
Another issue unique to men is the fact that many of us shave all or some of our faces. “The way that shaving causes trouble is that you end up creating micro-tears in the skin, which can lead to infection and may cause ingrown hairs,” said Dr. Steve. “It doesn’t help that some men shave aggressively.”
As a result, he says, men disrupt their skin’s natural barrier, which makes their skin more sensitive to irritation. He suggests using a moisturizer after shaving to help restore those barriers and help promote healing.
The active recovery hydro-gel moisturizer has hyaluronic acid, the king of moisturizers.
The problem with beards
“Beard hair is very dense,” said Dr. Steve, “and that reduces access to the skin beneath the beard.” So some men develop flaking and itching in their beards. Often, he adds, there is dandruff. He recommends the salicylic acid cleanser to address those issues. “I also tell guys to put some Head & Shoulders in their beards.”
Often, he adds, flaky skin is just dry skin, so a moisturizer in the morning cream can work wonders, even if it is a bit harder to get the moisturizer to the skin. Other problems, such as ingrown hairs, are related to the hair caliber (the relationship between the thickness of one’s hairs and its density) as well as its curliness and length, which can be helped by using a good moisturizer after a shave or trim.
On the plus side, beards protect the face from ultraviolet (UV) rays and other harmful elements that can damage skin, so Dr. Steve says it’s not as critical to use morning creams in that area.
Men and the c-word
According to the CDC, men are about 40% more likely than women to develop skin cancer. “Men also tend to present later in life than women, and their cancers are more likely to be deadly and more advanced when they finally are caught,” said Dr. Steve.
“A few factors are driving these statistics,” he says. “For one thing, women in general tend to be smarter about sun protection and UV damage. There tends to be more education directed toward them about preserving the skin's elasticity. Add to that the culture that somehow equates putting on sunscreen with being effeminate, which is one of those things that thankfully are changing. But many of us remember getting laughed at for protecting our skin from the sun.”
Also, he points out, depending on the occupation, many male-oriented jobs have us out there in the sun, from landscaping and farming to construction and transportation, and this added exposure puts men at added risk.
“The most common area that men develop melanoma, the deadliest of the three forms of skin cancer, is on the back,” Dr. Steve says. “For women, it's the back of the upper legs. That tells you something because, for example, guys may take their shirts off to mow the lawn. For women, it's more likely the result of laying out in a swimsuit.”
That’s why men need to use sunscreen.
Skincare is healthcare
Dr. Steve says maintaining good skincare routines is a manifestation of how we care for ourselves in general. “Just like healthy nutrition, consistent exercise, and a generous amount of quality sleep, good skincare is an integral part of self-care," he said. "It's much less about cosmetics and trying to stay young than it is caring for yourself and your largest organ — your skin.”
In other words, skincare is wellness. “Think of people like Harry Styles or Pharrel, who have developed product lines. That connects with men. It’s about looking healthy, looking strong, looking as good as you feel on the inside.”
Dr. Steve says that men turning on to skincare is something that is absolutely happening. He sees trends with things like Botox. "Men are still less than 10% of the market, he said, "but they’re approaching these invasive procedures more commonly. As a result, Allergan, the company behind Botox, has a prominent male-focused advertising campaign. “That tells me men are ready.”
For men, there are only upsides to being more skin conscious, from preserving our health by avoiding one of our deadliest diseases to presenting a healthier, more vital face to the world. And that’s a change we can all get behind.
Ready to tackle your skincare issues? Start with a quick diagnostic and let’s start the journey to healthier looking skin together.