Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

What should men look for in face acne cleansers?


Do men need to treat acne in any special way? See more personal hygiene pictures.
©iStockphoto.com/Squaredpixel Productions

Nothing plagues a teenage life and self-esteem more than acne. At a time when social approval is so important and personal self-worth hangs in the balance, acne comes along to ruin everything. It can be especially hard for guys, as many facial cleansers are marketed and geared toward female consumers. And while girls are encouraged to use facial products and makeup to cover up acne, most guys don't feel comfortable using concealer to hide those blemishes (though some makeup products, like "The Men Pen," are made for guys).

What's worse is that some men struggle with acne even beyond adolescence. And although the acne might not be as severe, nor your self-esteem as easily hurt as it was in high school, it can still be embarrassing. So, many guys look for an acne cleanser to stop the problem before it starts. But how can consumers tell the difference between an effective acne remedy and mere overpriced soap that claims to improve complexion?

It starts with understanding what causes acne. Acne starts beneath the surface of your skin in a hair follicle, which receives sebum (oil) from an attaching sebaceous gland. Oil, which is good for your skin, is transported to the skin surface through the hair follicle. But androgen hormones can produce so much oil that it plugs up the pore (the opening at the surface of the skin), forming a microcomedo.

In time, pressure from the sebum buildup in the microcomedo causes the whole thing to blow up and expand, forming a comedo (plural, comedones). A comedo that breaks open is known as a blackhead, and one that stays below the surface is known as a whitehead. A bacterium known as Propionibacterum acne (P. acne) can then infect the comedo, causing inflammation.

Next, we'll explore how different acne cleansers treat the condition.

 


More to Explore