Think Warm, Not Hot, in the Shower
On a cool morning, nothing feels better than steaming hot water. But turning the temp down just a bit can help keep your skin from getting flaky, dry, scaly, and itchy. The hotter the water (and the longer you stay in the shower), the more natural oils get stripped away. If you can’t stand anything less than a scalding scrub, stay in the shower less than five minutes.
Men’s faces tend to be oilier than women’s, but to help avoid wrinkles, it’s still smart to use a daily moisturizer. Men with normal to oily skin can get enough moisture from a light lotion or hydrating gel. If you have drier skin, try a heavier cream.
Face Facts: Cleanser, Not Soap
If your face is sensitive or flaky, use a cleanser that doesn’t have sodium lauryl sulfate, which makes things foamy but can dry your skin. Also look for ingredients like ceramides, glycerin, sunflower or soybean oils, or petrolatum, which moisturize. If your skin is oily, try a cleanser with natural bacteria-fighters like citrus, tea tree oil, or eucalyptus. Typical deodorant soaps are just too drying for the thinner skin on your face.
Soften Up Before You Shave
For an easier shave, keep things moist. That’s why it’s smart to do it when you’re fresh out of the shower and coarse beard hairs are wet and more flexible. And if you’re prone to razor burn, try a shaving gel rather than a foam. The newest gels soften hairs even more, so you're less likely to have redness, razor bumps, or ingrown hairs afterward. Other ways to avoid ingrowns: Always shave in the direction of hair growth, and use as few strokes as possible.
Skip Aftershaves With Alcohol
Shaving scrapes away the top layers of skin cells. That’s good for clearing up breakouts and dryness, but it can irritate your face. A moisturizer will soothe the sting. Avoid alcohol-based aftershaves, which can make it worse. Traditional aftershaves were meant to kill germs and prevent infection from nicks. But with today’s razors, cutting yourself is less common, and less a risk than razor burn.
Pat, Don’t Rub
After washing up, pat dry -- especially the thinner, more delicate skin on your face. Rubbing too hard with a towel can irritate and dry it out.
Read Labels Before You Buy
Skin care product labels can seem confusing at first, so to simplify things, just look for a few helpful key words: “Noncomedogenic” means a cream or lotion won’t cause zits; “alcohol-free” means it’s likely to be gentle and won’t dry you out; a cleanser or lotion with “antioxidants” or vitamins A, C, or E may help skin repair itself from everyday damage.
Skip the Scents
Fragrances in skin care products are usually man-made chemicals, which can irritate and dry. So if you have sensitive skin, it’s best to go for unscented lotions and cleansers. Some men do better with a scent that comes from natural ingredients like citrus or lavender.
Tame Crow’s Feet
If you have little lines around your eyes or mouth that bother you, try a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid, which smoothes skin. For deeper wrinkles like crow’s feet, look for an anti-aging eye cream with retinol or glycolic acid. These natural ingredients can strip off the outer layers of dead, dry skin, helping to soften lines.
Dab on a Little Sunscreen
One of the main causes of age spots and wrinkles is sun damage. Even if you get only five minutes of sun each day, it adds up and can age your skin. Add sunscreen -- or a moisturizer that contains at least SPF 30 -- to your morning routine. Make sure the product says its sunscreen is “broad-spectrum,” meaning it protects from both burning rays and the skin-aging rays.
Fix Up Your Feet
As you get older, the skin on your feet thickens and can crack. To fix it, start by getting a cheap drugstore pumice stone, and scrub your soles in the shower daily. Then rub on a thick cream or ointment -- many are made especially for the feet, but any intense moisturizer will help. If the cracks are really bad, swipe on a thick layer of cream before bed, then put on socks to lock in the moisture overnight.
Be Careful Down Below
For trims and general clean up, use an electric razor or clippers, since blades can cause ingrown hairs -- or worse -- down below or on your back or chest. (A study found that 83% of genital injuries treated in the ER are from shaving, and 40% of them are in men.) But if you do decide to go with a regular razor, clear away dead skin cells in the shower first with a loofah or fruit-acid scrub, and use plenty of shaving gel to ward off ingrowns and irritation. For the hairless look, consider getting waxed -- it lasts longer than shaving and makes for softer stubble.