Comedian Michael McIntyre has a lovely gag about cosmetics departments and men’s skincare: he quipped “she asked me what my skin regime was—well, I said, I have skin, every morning!”
There is a difference between male and female skin: male skin is about 20% thicker, with larger pores and a richer blood supply. Testosterone encourages sebum production which makes it more oily; and shaving can cause ingrown hairs which are easily inflamed or infected, or folliculitis—angry red bumps caused by minute shaving cuts becoming infected. Male skin also has more pigmentation, so is vulnerable to uneven marks in later life, caused sun damage thickening the skin which then takes on a leathery texture.
A skincare routine and good quality, tailored products are important: But it can all be kept very simple: a soap-free cleanser to prevent blocked pores—a water based one is more appealing than a cream; a shaving emulsion used in conjunction with a good aftershave balm if razor burn is an issue; a weekly (or less) exfoliation/scrub which will help combat folliculitis (and make shaving easier and smoother). Luckily, the typical stretching and face pulling when shaving is exactly the right sort of isometric exercise for all 22 muscles in the face—another reason why older men often have fewer wrinkles! There is also a light moisturiser if your skin is a little dry, and sun protection when you’re out and about.
It’s also important to have an eye for the ethical aspects of your skincare products. Most high street brands use chemical foaming agents, harsh chemical preservatives, chemically synthesised fragrances and petro-chem ingredients such as liquid paraffin, propylene glycol and silicones. Whilst these may not necessarily be harmful to our bodies, there are other issues such as sustainability and pollution – both in the production and the disposal processes.
Perhaps the most shocking example is the fact that many exfoliating scrubs, even though they may list lots of lovely natural ingredients like sea salt and ground apricot kernels, also contain plastic microbeads. These may do an excellent job of gently removing your dead skin, but they then go down the plughole, through the water purification plants and out into the sea, where they are having serious effects upon marine life, along with the general mountain of plastics now floating about in our oceans. The microbeads are so fine that they just go straight into the marine food chain. Thankfully the cosmetics industry has banned them from future products, but how much stuff is left in bathrooms around the country?
So, it is a good idea to choose ethical, natural brands, and if you can, go organic. Neal’s Yard Remedies is an organic brand that has been around since the early 1980s, and is going from strength to strength. I chose them for my therapy room not just because they are organic, their products are really, and I mean really good, and everything is produced ethically: fair-traded, with an additional social responsibility fund contribution.
Neal’s Yard’s range for men is pretty comprehensive, with a subtle, masculine scent that’s fine on its own, but not so strong that it interferes with a cologne if you use one. Whether you like a simple water-based wash, or prefer to shave with oil, gel or an old-fashioned soap and brush – there is a choice. The showering/bathing option is also simple: a multi-purpose hair and body wash – one application does the lot, and the Citrus Shower Gel is lovely and zingy. Or you can use the Create range, unscented, or there to add a particular essential oil to if you like a bit of ‘flavour’. The aluminium-free deodorants are also unisex – Lemon & Coriander or Lime & Peppermint. The formulation has been clinically proven to act for 24 hours against the bacteria that cause underarm odour.
For those that like traditional wet-shaving, I have a selection of beautiful hand-turned (a friend makes them down in Hampshire) wooden boxes that are sized to hold our shaving soaps perfectly. He’s even put little rubber feet on them so their bottoms don’t get wet!
For more details, please contact me, and all products are available from my shop, apart from the boxes which can be ordered by phone – contact details are on my website and are £28 including the soap and a shaving brush, with free P&P within UK.