I know I spend a lot of time raging against the beauty machine, but it’s not all bad. With the rise of male specific skincare and cosmetics, guys have discovered that taking a little extra care of themselves can be nice. That said, there are things that are worth trying and things to avoid.
Some things worth trying:
Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells from the top-most layer of your skin. It makes your skin look fresh, and can help prevent zits and in grown hairs, especially if you exfoliate before shaving. You can exfoliate by scrubbing, like using an exfoliating cleanser or a washcloth, or a chemical exfoliant like a low-dose alpha-hydroxy acid lotion. Exfoliating too much will piss off your skin, so remember that less is more. (Those plastic microbeads are horrible for the earth, so avoid those too.)
Chemical exfoliants work better to prevent ingrown hairs from shaving if you use them regularly, but not immediately before or after you shave unless you want to feel like your face is on fire. Also, they make your skin more sun sensitive. Yes it sounds annoying, but for some it’s their anti-acne holy grail.
As far as exfoliators go, it’s best to get one with natural seeds to remove the dead skin cells, for plenty of reasons. One, you don’t want to kill our planet. Two, they’re more gentle on your skin, which is a good thing. St. Ives Natural Apricot Scrub and Blemish Control is bomb, and has a great price, too. Plus it can be found at most drugstores.
Another option for exfoliating is getting a facial toner. Facial toners are helpful for people with oily or acne-prone skin, as they remove excess dirt and oil. A lot of toners contain strong chemicals, which again sounds scary, but it can actually be good for acne. You can buy your very basic Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel, which is at most drugstores, or you can spend just a little more and get Pixie’s Glow Tonic, which is like, the Jack Daniels of facial toner.
Moisturizers with sunscreen
Unless you live somewhere with prolonged periods of darkness like a never-ending LAN party, you could benefit from a moisturizer with sunscreen. It’s a one-step way to moisturize your face and protect against sun damage. Considering the prevalence of skin cancer in every race, age group, and gender, a bit of daily sunscreen will do you good.
Moisturizing makes your skin more resilient to damage and feel less tight and itchy. It can also prevent the over production of face grease and make you look more dewy and less hungover.
Moisturizers with sunscreen are relatively inexpensive (no need to pay more than $15) and easy to use, so you might as well do it. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer has SPF 15 and will actually make your skin look, uh, radiant. This isn’t one of those bullshit buys, Aveeno knows what they’re doing. Plus it’s less than $10. Win.
If you have oily skin you may want to avoid super thick moisturizers. Unfortunately, SPF is kind of a thick substance that doesn’t exactly make you look less shiny, but Clinique’s Superdefense Daily Defense Moisturizer with SPF 20 is perfect for oily skin types, and will also protect your skin from that giant ball of fire in the sky. While it’s a little more costly than the drugstore options, you’ll see that you really get what you pay for with this product.
No. Not that kind of facial. The kind you pay an esthetician for.
Sometimes you want to look really good for an event: your wedding, your enemy’s funeral, accepting your Nobel Prize, whatever. Getting a facial makes your skin look awesome by removing dead skin cells and the face gunk in your pores, and adding moisture.
You could do this at home, but it’s a pain, and you’ll probably mess up your face. When a professional handles it, you get to relax in a dimly light room for 30+ minutes listening to whale song or Enya. You can turn off your phone and just bliss out while someone else grooms you.
Keep in mind that face gunk removal (extraction) may leave red marks, so either ask the esthetician not do it or get your facial about week before your big day. The effects of a facial aren’t permanent, but it’s worth it once in a while.
So if you feel up for calling your local spa and penciling in a facial, go for it. But for those of you who want to have what the ladies call a “spa day”, here are some products that you can lather on your face in the privacy of your own home.
Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque is a gift sent by the gods to make us nicer to look at. Kiehls can be a bit more pricey, but this is another case where you really do get what you pay for. This stuff cleans your pores gently, and you get to leave it on and look like a green lake monster for fifteen minutes. What more can you really ask for?
If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, Garnier’s Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Overnight Peel is rad because it’s not too expensive and you can leave it on overnight so it takes little to no effort. You’ll wake up feeling prettier (manlier) in no time.
Lady skin care practices can be rad, but a lot are bullshit, and companies are trying to sell that bullshit to men too. Here are some things to avoid.
You’d think with all the claims manufactures make about wrinkle creams that there would be evidence to back it up. Well, kind of.
Manufacturer studies are like skewed poll questions, choosing very specific contexts to get the answers they want. For example, comparing the use of their product to using nothing, which proves that their cream is literally better than nothing, but that’s not how they market it.
They package a couple tablespoons of moisturizer and buzzwords in a chic looking bottle, give it a luxurious scent, make their “proven” claims, and charge $60 or much more. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll put some on and feel fancy AF, but it’s not substantially different from regular moisturizer. It’s a waste of money, and you and your face will continue to age because that’s how shit works.
But if you still feel like your face really needs some youthfulness, maybe try Estee Lauder’s Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-aging Creme. It’s not too terribly expensive (as far as anti-aging treatments go) and you’ll feel better knowing it’s in a gold bottle.
Do you know who can make a supplement?
Do you know who is responsible for the safety and effectiveness of supplements?
The FDA monitors supplements and prohibits the inclusion of known dangerous substances, but they often rely on consumer reporting. Supplements don’t go through the rigorous process of testing like drugs, and we often find out about dangers after they’re on the market. Remember Hydroxycut? Weight loss with a side of liver damage?
As for effectiveness, manufacturers can say things like “promotes clear skin” or “supports skin health” because when correctly worded they don’t need solid evidence to back up their claims.
That’s not to say supplements don’t do anything. Supplements can negatively interact with medicines you take, or just make you sick. (And some, I hear, are harmless.) When it comes to beauty supplements, your best-case scenario is throwing money away.
I’m not even going to give you some suggestions for supplements even if you’re into that sort of thing. Just don’t.
Unlike anti-wrinkle creams and supplements, cosmetic Botox works as advertised: a neurotoxin paralyzes perfectly healthy parts of your face to diminish wrinkles. It’s becoming more and more popular with men.
Potential side effects include droopy eyelids, headaches, trouble speaking, bruising, drooling, and more. But hey, at least you can’t move your face, right?
A round of Botox requires a professional to administer, but the skill, credentials, and cost of said professionals will vary wildly. Your dentist can be licensed to administer Botox in a weekend.
Yes, some people swear by Botox, and a skilled hand can make it much more natural than the uncanny valley flesh mask you sometimes see. But there are people and things that deserve your frowns, scowls, and derisive laughter to the full extent your face can make them. One of the perks of being a guy is being able to visibly age and have your anger taken seriously. Why would you ever trade that?