For many men, "skin care" is something their wives or girlfriends
do. Reaching for the shaving cream, they knock over bottles of moisturizers and
creams and wonder if all those expensive potions and their exotic ingredients
are even worth the plastic they're packaged in.
So it's not surprising that many men react to new male-oriented lines of
skin care products by assuming they're mere marketing ploys aimed at separating
self-absorbed men from their money.
It may seem a peculiar American vanity that men have in-boxes full of hair
loss treatment offers and spend billions of dollars on hair loss treatments
each year. Not so. As Gersh Kuntzman illustrates in his book Hair! Mankind's
Historic Quest to End Baldness, chrome-dome anxiety has tormented us for
ages. Caesar's laurel wreaths? Classic red herring, Kuntzman says.
Baldness is biblical, too -- from the Maccabees to Samson and Delilah (a
story Kuntzman calls "practically a commercial for Propecia")...
Yet skin care isn't just for the growing ranks of urban
"metrosexuals." Dermatologists from across the country tell WebMD that
growing numbers of older men are seeking advice on how to stay looking younger
"No matter how well you dress, how nice your haircut is, and how healthy
you are, if you have skin that is dull and freckly and blotchy you're not going
to look your best," says Jeffrey Dover, MD, an associate clinical professor
of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.
And proper skin care isn't just about looking young; it can also prevent
deadly skin cancers. More than 1 million new cases of skin
cancer are reported each year, according to the American Academy of
Dermatology. Nearly 8,000 of those cases are fatal.
Fortunately, there are simple skin care options available for men that
require a minimal investment of time or money. In fact, men have an edge over
women in the skin care game. Still, there are a few products that can help
guys' skin look its best at any age.
Men's Edge in Skin Care
If you've ever cursed the need to shave your face each day, consider the
upside: all those hair follicles will help to keep your face wrinkle-free.
Men's facial hair acts as sort of support structure for the face, Rebecca
Tung, MD, a dermatologic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, tells WebMD. Men also
have more collagen and elastin fibers -- the connective tissue that gives skin
its strength and elasticity -- and a tighter network of fatty tissue directly
under the skin.
As a result, men's skin is on average 20% to 30% thicker than women's skin,
Tung says. And thicker skin does a better job of resisting wrinkles.
Hair glands also produce oil, which means men's faces are naturally oilier
than women's, notes Seth Yellin, MD, chief of facial plastic surgery at Emory
Healthcare in Atlanta. The oil traps moisture, which keeps skin hydrated and
gives it a plumper and more youthful appearance.
Finally, shaving gives men an edge in skin care. "Shaving is a dramatic
exfoliation of outer skin layers, which leads to a more youthful skin
appearance," Yellin says.
Still, men's faces do age. Men are just as vulnerable to skin cancer. And more oily
skin makes men more prone to skin problems such as acne and blackheads. But
there are steps men can take to protect themselves.