Our skin is not only our largest organ, but it also has one of the longest to-do lists of our body's assets. We have it to thank for our sense of touch, temperature regulation, protection of our "insides" and storage of important ingredients to daily life -- things like water and vitamin D [sources: University of Maryland Medical Center, KidsHealth].
With all that work, it's no wonder our skin doesn't always withstand what we put it through. Harsh weather conditions, improper care and other habits can lead to problems, such as dryness. However, long before the symptoms of dry skin set it -- pain, itchiness and tightness -- you can take steps to be a friend to your skin.
And those steps aren't just for women. In fact, the inherent protections in male skin -- which is typically thicker than female skin, not as sensitive and often more naturally oily -- can lead to poor home care and the onset of dry skin. So for those men looking to give their skin a helping hand in the moisture department, read on for five moisturizing tips that won't bog down your routine, but will keep flaky skin at bay.
5: Lock in Moisture
Whether a moisturizer is effective or not is frequently a case of user error. Often, a moisturizer doesn't work because it isn't being used correctly. Here's how to get it right.
Your first step is to choose the right moisturizer, which can be quite daunting when faced with all the options. To narrow your choices, follow this process of elimination:
- Shove aside those with added perfumes or alcohol.
- Keep those with SPF (sun protection factor) as possibilities.
- Look for helpful ingredients, such as urea, dimethicone, ceramides, lanolin, petroleum, glycerin and hyaluronic acid.
- Go with thicker options that hang onto an overturned hand.
[source: Northwestern Memorial Hospital]
Your second step is making your moisturizer work for you. If possible, apply a moisturizer three to four times daily. Apply it to your hands every time you wash them and to your body each time you step out of the shower.
When applying post-shower, towel dry lightly to the point where your skin is still damp. Then, apply your moisturizer, which will lock in your natural moisture and the water hanging out on your skin's surface. Let the moisturizer set. Pat off any excess with a towel [source: Griffin].
4: Give Your Hot Water Heater a Break
Hanging out in the shower doesn't just waste water and annoy your housemates, but it also contributes to dry skin. To keep your skin's protective layer intact, clock your showers at 15 minutes max. And, as tempting as hot water may be, stick to warm water.
In addition, avoid harsh abrasives, such as rough sponges. However, using a gentle exfoliating product once a week can help reveal the softer skin hiding under the dry exterior [source: Northwestern Memorial Hospital].
Along the same lines, unless you are in a particularly messy line of work, you don't have to scrub down with soap every day. Clean under your arms and in your genital areas daily, but soap up the other parts of your body two to three times weekly [source: FamilyDoctor.org].
When choosing your soap, opt for gentle creams or gels over bar soap. Avoid products with added antibacterial ingredients or detergents. Instead, look for added oils that will help moisturize [source: Mayo Clinic]. However, if you are a bar soap kind of guy and there is no changing you, select a moisturizing soap with those added oils, such as jojoba or olive oil [source: Jaret].
3: Cover up Right
You can dress for success without falling into a dry-skin spiral, as long as you make some sound choices when scanning your closet. Select clothing that isn't too tight. This is especially the case if you already have dry skin because close contact with fabric will just make it worse. In addition, avoid fabrics that make you itch just by looking at them, such as scratchy wool. Instead, try cashmere or affordable cotton options [source: Griffin].
Know when to cover up, as well. In harsh winter weather, cold air can attack your skin. Wear gloves to protect the skin on your hands. Choose longer socks that offer protection even if cold air finds its way up your pant legs. And just because the weather is cold doesn't mean the sun isn't hard at work; remember, the absolute worst dryness comes from burned, peeling skin. A hat is a good option if you're out in the sun for long periods of time.
Once you've gotten into the habit of choosing skin-friendly attire, be sure to see it all the way through to laundry day. Select detergents without dyes or perfumes, which can turn your wise selections into skin irritants [source: Mayo Clinic].
2: Give Your Face a Shave That Saves
When it is time to get rid of your whiskers, be strategic about your shaving technique. To help ward off dry skin on your face, shave while in the shower or right after. At this time, your pores are more open and the hair is looser, which means that shaving will be less abrasive.
As you get started, follow these steps:
- Apply a preshave oil. This will help the blade move gently across your skin. It will also help cut down on razor burn and ingrown hairs.
- Use a brush to apply a shaving cream -- one minus added fragrances -- in a circular motion.
- Let that cream hang out for 30 to 45 seconds, which will help cut down on overall shave time.
- When all is said and done, apply an aftershave lotion and a moisturizer with salicylic or glycolic acid to your freshly shaved face.
1: Make Your Lips Kissable
OK, so our lips are red, but that's skin, too -- skin very much in need of protection. In fact, as you likely know from winter months of braving the cold, lips are prone to dryness and painful cracking. Even though they face the world 24-7, lip skin is very thin, doesn't stand up well against the sun's harmful rays and lacks helpful oil glands [source: Fox News].
However, you can ensure that your lips are always ready to pucker up by following a few simple tips. For example, it may be tempting, but don't lick your lips. Instead, keep a lip balm with beeswax or petroleum handy. You can also try creams with an oil base. Whether you go with a balm or cream, protect your lips from ultraviolet rays by choosing a product with SPF. Heading out to hit the slopes or walk to work in wintery weather? Just cover your lips completely by pulling your scarf up over your mouth [source: Northwestern Memorial Hospital].
Now you won't have to just blow kisses to your loved one!
Lots More Information
- 5 Grooming Tools Every Man Must Have
- 10 Moisturizing Tips for Dry Skin
- 5 Tips for Choosing a Daily Body Moisturizer
- CNN Health. "Sleep deprived? Your looks may suffer."Dec. 15, 2010. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/12/15/sleep.deprived.looks/index.html?iref=allsearch
- FamilyDoctor.org. "Skin Problems: Dry, Itchy Skin."Dec. 2009. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/skin/treatment/814.html
- Fox News. "Get Better Skin in 5 Steps." Aug. 27, 2010. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.foxnews.com/health/2010/08/27/better-skin-steps/
- Gibson, Lawrence E., M.D. "What are the best foods for healthy skin?" MayoClinic.com. June 30, 2010. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-skin/AN01863
- Griffin, Morgan R. "What's Causing Your Dry Skin Problem?" WebMD. 2009. (Dec. 21, 2010) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/dry-skin-causes
- Jaret, Peter. "Men's Grooming: Skin Care for Your Body." WebMD. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/men-body
- Jaret, Peter. "Men's Skin Care for Your Face." WebMD. July 21, 2009. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/men-shaving-grooming
- KidsHealth. "Your Skin." June 2010. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/skin.html
- Lerner, Abby. "Feed Your Skin." MensHealth. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.menshealth.com/spotlight/skin/feed_your_skin.php
- Marchione, Renee. "Save Face." Men's Fitness. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.mensfitness.com/lifestyle/mens_grooming/88
- MayoClinic.com. "Dry Skin." Nov. 23, 2010. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-skin/DS00560
- MensHealth. "7 Steps to a Clean, Smooth Face." (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.menshealth.com/style/grooming/7-Steps-to-a-Clean-Fresh-Face.php
- MensHealth. "Sharp Objects Can Be Good for Your Skin." (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.menshealth.com/style/grooming/sharp-objects-can-be-good-for-your-skin.php
- MensHealth. "Show Some Skin." (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.menshealth.com/style/grooming/show-some-skin.php
- MensHealth. "Winter Forecast: Dry and Chapped." (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.menshealth.com/spotlight/skin/winter-skin-savers.php
- Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Ten Tips to Help Relieve Dry Winter Skin." Jan. 15, 2010. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.nmh.org/nm/winter+skin+care
- Orenstein, Beth W. "A Man's Guide to Looking and Feeling Younger." Everyday Health. June 23, 2010. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.everydayhealth.com/mens-health/anti-aging-guide.aspx
- Palmer, Glen. "Save Face: A Gentleman's Guide to Winter Skin Care." UPTOWN. Dec. 6, 2010. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://uptownmagazine.com/2010/12/save-face-a-gentleman%E2%80%99s-guide-to-winter-skin-care/
- Sorgen, Carol. "Grooming Essentials for Men: Skin Care and Hair Products." WebMD. 2007. (Dec. 21, 2010) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/grooming-essentials-men
- University of Maryland Medical Center. "Dermatology: Anatomy of the Skin."Feb. 19, 2008. (Dec. 22, 2010) http://www.umm.edu/dermatology-info/anatomy.htm