Moisturizers aren't just for women -- men can and should use them, too. Cold weather, wind, electric heating and UV rays can all leave a man's skin dry, itchy, flaky, leathery or prematurely old. In addition, some studies suggest that men's skin may boast fewer age-fighting antioxidants than women's [source: DeNoon]. Moisturizers heal and maintain skin cells and smooth lines and wrinkles.
Many men don't like to use a moisturizer, and not just because of the "macho factor." Moisturizing creams and facial cleansers are often, or historically have been, thick and heavy. Men may be reluctant to use such products if they leave a greasy feeling on their faces.
There are some gender differences when it comes to skin. Men's skin is 20 to 30 percent thicker, on average, than women's, owing to extra collagen, fatty tissue and connective tissue [source: Sine]. Men don't necessarily need specially formulated moisturizers and skin care products, but men's skin care has certainly evolved, as has the modern man.Today, billions of dollars worth of men's skin care and grooming products are sold worldwide, and that number is expected to grow.
Men now have access to products that are better suited to their skin care preferences, if not needs. For instance, women's cleansers usually contain an exfoliant, which removes dead skin cells and allows new ones to grow. Men's skin care products can be made thinner because they don't need to have an exfoliant -- men exfoliate naturally with regular shaving. Many men's skin, however, would be better served by a lighter moisturizer because they tend to have oiler skin than women (we'll explain why on the next page).
Gender differences aside, finding the appropriate ingredients for your skin type is what matters most when it comes to choosing cleansing and moisturizing products. Products are available for an array of skin types and sensitivity levels, as you'll discover on the next page.
Types of Moisturizers
Here are some general tips to keep in mind when choosing a moisturizing product. If your skin isn't too oily or overly dry, then it's normal. A product with a water-based moisturizer is best, and those tend to include light oils such as cetyl alcohol. This kind of moisturizer is light and has a non-greasy application [source: Mayo Clinic].
Sensitive skin is prone to redness and irritation, so a moisturizer for this type of skin should be light and contain soothing ingredients, like chamomile or aloe. It should also be dye- , fragrance- and acid-free so as not to exacerbate allergies or sensitivities [source: Mayo Clinic]. Dry skin is the only type that cries out for a traditional, heavier cream. To restore oil to the skin, the moisturizer needs to be oil-based, and it should also include antioxidants and plant oils [source: Mayo Clinic] This kind of product will be heavier than some of the others listed here, but plant oils keep it lighter than it would have been in the past, when such products would primarily have been petroleum-based.
Oily skin, despite its abundance of natural moisture, still needs to be treated with a moisturizing product. Men's skin is naturally oilier because men have more oil-producing sebaceous glands on the face. Those glands are activated by testosterone, and if they're too active, they produce excess oil, or sebum, which causes acne and breakouts. When choosing a moisturizer for oily skin, a man also has to be careful not to buy one that dries out his skin too much because that will cause the glands to produce more oils to address the problem [source: Critchell]. The best moisturizer for oily skin is a water-based, noncomedogenic product, which won't clog pores or dry out skin.
Other ingredients are important, even if they do add a little bit of heft to a skin care product. Sunscreen is worth it -- its inclusion may make a skin care product slightly thicker, but it's more convenient than if a sunscreen were applied in addition to a moisturizer. Sunscreen both hydrates the skin and protects it from the sun, which can make skin dry and weathered due to its harmful UVA/UVB rays. Also, men's skin is more sensitive to the sun than women's -- tests show that skin cancer comes on faster and stronger in men's skin cells [source: DeNoon] Look for a moisturizer with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 for daily use.
Some thickening, heavy moisturizer ingredients to avoid: Mineral oils, particularly petroleum-based oils, are heaviest and leave skin feeling greasy and pores clogged [source: Ask Men]. Correcting that problem then requires the purchase and use of more skin care products. So remember: Moisturizing products don't have to be heavy to be effective.
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts & Your Skin." Revised 2004. (March 23, 2011)http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/general_cosmeceutical.html
- Ask Men. "Moisturizers For Men." AskMen.com. 2010. (March 23, 2011)http://www.askmen.com/fashion/fashiontip_150/192_fashion_advice.html
- Cleveland Clinic. "Understanding the Ingredients in Skin Care Products." June 12, 2007. (March 23, 2011)http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/skin_care/hic_understanding_the_ingredients_in_skin_care_products.aspx
- Critchell, Samantha. "More men moisturizing to keep their skin young." Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Feb. 14, 2011. (March 23, 2011) http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20110214/FEAT05/302149940/1011/FEAT
- DeNoon, Daniel J. "Men's Skin More Sun-Sensitive." WebMD.com. 2007. (March 23, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/news/20070402/mens-skin-more-sun-sensitive
- Jaret, Peter. "Lookin' Good: A Man's Guide." WebMD.com. 2010. (March 23, 2011)http://men.webmd.com/guide/lookin-good
- Mayo Clinic. "Dry Skin." Mayo Clinic. Nov. 5, 2010. (March 23, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-skin/DS00560
- Mayo Clinic. "Moisturizers 101: The basics of softer skin." Mayo Clinic. Dec. 16, 2008. (March 23, 2011) http://mayoclinic.com/health/moisturizers/SN00042
- Newman, Andrew Adam. "Seeking to Shine (Not to be Shiny)." The New York Times. July 21, 2010 (March 23, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/fashion/22skin.html?pagewanted=all
- Sine, Richard. "Skin Care: It's Not Just for Women." WebMD. (Accessed March 23, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/skin-care-its-not-just-for-women