Here’s how to keep skin looking great as it ages
By Lola Augustine Brown
Men are lucky in that many seem to get better looking with age, and provided they’re willing to put a little effort in, their skin can retain a relatively youthful appearance.
“There are some fundamental structural differences between the skin of men and women,” says Dr. Sonya Abdulla, a dermatologist and the owner of Dermatology on Bloor in Toronto. “Men literally have thicker skin—approximately 20 to 25 per cent thicker than that of women. The density of collagen in men is also greater, thanks to the hormone testosterone. Testosterone can mean oily skin, larger pores, and acne, but men are also less likely to experience dry skin. The hormone also supports hair growth in the beard area, making men’s skin more resilient and resistant to age-related change.”
The progression of skin aging for men happens differently, says Jennifer Chiang, the Education and Scientific Communications Lead for SkinCeuticals, but ultimately men will experience the same symptoms of skin aging such as wrinkles, a weakened skin barrier, and discoloration from sun damage. Thankfully, there are steps men can take to help skin look its very best through their more mature years.
Finding the right products for your skin
If you’re one of those guys who uses a bar of soap for washing everything from your hair to your feet, you’re not doing yourself any favours—especially if you have sensitive skin. “The standard bar of soap is a great cleansing product for your body, but it can be too harsh and drying for the face,” Chiang warns, stating that what you really need is a cleanser specially formulated to maintain the pH-balance of your skin. “That will help maintain the integrity of the skin barrier, which protects us from external irritants and prevents dryness.” Next, she says, you need “a good moisturizer containing ingredients to help your skin hold onto water to relieve dry skin-related tightness and maintain a healthy skin barrier.”
The act of shaving can be especially hard on for sensitive skin, making it much more easily irritated, so it’s a good idea to look for soothing products to use during and after shaving. “Using calming, hydrating, and anti-inflammatory skin care immediately after shaving can greatly reduce signs and sensations of irritation,” Chiang says. Vichy Homme Sensi Balm ($29.95) does this.
Dealing with rosacea
Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels in the face. “Men are more likely to develop rosacea with age than are women, with often more exaggerated symptoms of redness and uneven texture and bumps,” Chiang says. She recommends using a product designed to soothe and counter redness, such as SkinCeuticals Redness Neutralizer ($84), and washing with a gentler cleanser such as SkinCeuticals Soothing Cleanser ($44). Your dermatologist can recommend over-the-counter and prescription solutions that you can try, too.
By far the best thing that you can for your skin is protect it from the sun, and this is especially true if you have rosacea. Chiang advises that mineral sunscreens are better tolerated by sensitive and compromised skin, such as those of rosacea-sufferers, and sun protection is especially important to reduce rosacea flare-ups.
“Sun protection is always fundamental—look for a formulation with broad spectrum coverage with a minimum SPF 30,” Abdulla says. “One of the most common challenges for men and sunscreen tends to be the texture—lighter is better. Formulations that are specific to the face tend to be lighter, in particular those for acne-prone skin,” she says. “Also, keep in mind that you can skip your moisturizer in the morning and rely on your sunscreen instead, which can also lighten the texture of your products.” For extremely sensitive skin, Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF50 ($75) has you covered; for a more cost-effective option, try CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 ($16.99).
Chiang says that we all need to remember that sun protection doesn’t just come in a bottle. “Take action to wear UV-protective clothing, and seek shelter from direct exposure often and where possible. At the end of the day, it’s not just about aging skin, it’s about reducing skin cancer risk,” she says.
Countering lines, wrinkles, and discoloration
Your first step in trying to minimize those visible signs of aging is using products designed to target those issues. Beyond sun protection, Abdulla advises looking for skincare products that contain antioxidant ingredients such as vitamin C, or corrective ingredients such as retinol. Vichy’s Hydra Mag C+ Moisturizer ($29.95) has lots of ingredients that can help give skin an immediate boost. A dermatologist will help you determine the best products for your particular concerns and can also introduce you to a range of more intensive solutions.
In Adbulla’s office, she uses laser treatments to reduce redness and blood vessels on the face, and to help even out the texture of the skin (if you have old acne scars, laser treatments may also help to lessen the appearance of these). Furrowed brows are often a bothersome problem for men and one they want to have addressed “since they convey such emotions as frustration and anger,” Adbulla says; she suggests the use of neuromodulators (which affect the nerves) such as Botox, Xeomin, or Dysport.
“Hollowing around the eyes and mid-face, and blunting of jawline definition, can be addressed using injectable fillers,” Adbulla says. If you have the money, you can drastically improve the appearance of your skin and look remarkably younger thanks to medical technology.
Going beyond the basics
At the very least, you should be using a good cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen on your skin, but you can add a little extra to your at-home routine. Exfoliating your face will help the skin look immediately brighter and help your moisturizer work more efficiently. Most men’s product lines include exfoliating products intended for men, but those with very sensitive skin should get on well with Lush’s Herbalism ($16.99), a gentle kaolin clay and rice bran exfoliating cleanser infused with soothing herbs.
If you really want to treat your skin, try a mask, such as Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque ($46), and you’ll wake up with super-hydrated skin. Also, spa visits are an great way to give your skin a kickstart towards being in better shape, and a friendly aesthetician is going to be able to advise you on personalized products while making you feel blissfully relaxed and well taken care of.