By the end of last year (2011) the male grooming market in the UK was worth an astonishing £711 million – and we’re not just talking about deodorants, un-perfumed soap and disposable razors, either. Men are discovering that they have as much right to take care of their skin as their female counterparts, and the cosmetic industry has reacted in kind with a plethora of products aimed squarely at the male consumer. From moisturisers to exfoliators, men are buffing, scrubbing and moisturising their way to younger looking skin.
So why this shift in bathroom habits? Why have men suddenly developed an interest in skincare?
Most men are initially introduced to the idea of using a wider range of cosmetics by their partners. A study in 2010 by Kantar Worldpanel looked at 25,000 households across the UK, and discovered that that women buy half of all male grooming products. Many said they’d done it to stop their partners stealing their own moisturising creams and cosmetics, but certainly the high profile campaigns featuring iconic male role models such as David Beckham has promoted the idea that it’s okay for men to use cosmetics. In short – real men do moisturise.
Whether you’re male or female, a good skincare routine can take years off your appearance and do wonders for the health of your skin. And a good routine starts with preparing the skin for what can be quite a traumatic event – shaving.
What skin type are you?
To really look after your skin, you need to know what type you have and what products suit you. Men’s skin is essentially the same as women’s and will fall into one of four distinct categories: normal, dry, combination (oily T-zone) or oily. However, dry skin is a common problem for men, especially those who shave every day. Continued use of harsh soap will dry out the skin even more, causing irritation, dry patches and antagonising the dreaded ‘razor rash’ that can flare up after shaving.
To avoid this, male grooming ranges are developing facial washes that clean the skin thoroughly without drying it out. This also softens facial hair, making it easier to cut when you shave. This in turn causes less drag and pull on the skin, reducing the chances of irritating the surface and causing a rash to appear. Many of the new facial washes contain essential oils such as Tea Tree, which helps to stop bacteria building up on the surface of the skin and prevents breakouts – particularly important for men who suffer from acne or skin conditions.
Exfoliation – to scrub or not to scrub…
Once or twice a week it’s also a good idea to use an exfoliant. Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells from the surface, revealing younger, healthier looking skin underneath. If you live in a city this can be particularly useful, as exfoliating cleans deep down into the pores and gets rid of pollutants and particluates that can accumulate and cause breakouts.
Exfoliation not only helps to maintain the health of your skin, but can also improve the shaving experience too. Removing any congestion from the skin makes it easier for the edge of the razor’s blade to move without hindrance over the surface, again reducing the amount of drag and pull and producing a more comfortable shave with less irritation.
Moisturiser is one of the most popular male grooming products on the market, and men’s moisturisers or balms are specially developed to calm the skin after shaving and prevent irritation. They stop that ‘tight’ sensation and the angry red rash that men can suffer from immediately after shaving, making the whole experience a more pleasant one.
Taking care of your skin and getting a great shave every time doesn’t need to be a complicated process. It’s a matter of following a few straightforward steps:
- Know your skin type – men often have slightly drier skin than women, so look for products that won’t dehydrate your skin even more.
- Avoid harsh soaps that strip the essential oils from the surface of the skin, and look for a facial wash that is suited to your skin type. If you suffer from breakouts, look for anti-bacterial washes with natural ingredients.
- Wash your face thoroughly before shaving – this removes particulates and dead cells from the surface of the skin, allowing the razor’s edge to glide smoothly and preventing drag and pull. It also softens up the hair, making it easier to cut.
- Use a good quality razor such as King of Shaves’ Azor 4 or 5-blade system razors.
- Moisturise, hydrate and protect your skin using a balm or moisturiser that calms the skin after shaving to prevent razor rash or irritation.
- Once or twice a week exfoliate to help remove the ‘dead’ layer of skin and reveal younger looking skin underneath.