GROOMING TIPS FOR MEN
Want lifelong great skin? Read our guide for the challenges facing men, and top 10 grooming tips and solutions every man should know
When it comes to grooming, there are some overlaps between men and women, but also several distinct differences. In honour of Father’s Day, we’ve joined forces with Humānery – stockists of our Nêô Sephiri Pure Kalahari Melon Facial Oil. We bring you the top 10 essential grooming tips and solutions every man needs to keep you looking good and feeling confident.
TOP 10 ESSENTIAL GROOMING TIPS EVERYMAN NEEDS
1. Nature and nurture
It’s impossible to predict exactly how each of us will age. Much depends on our skin colour and our genes as well as our lifestyle habits. But it's generally accepted that men age better than women because of a physiological advantage. Testosterone gives you thicker skin, propped up by denser muscles and supportive tissues.
The chief factors that swing the balance are lifestyle and environmental damage.
Hard living will age you well before your time. The main threats to your appearance are sun exposure, stress, not enough sleep, smoking and drinking to excess, not to mention lack of exercise and a poor diet.
These cause inflammation in the body and skin, which leads to premature ageing (so-called inflammaging). The result is skin that looks ashen, lined, dehydrated and old before its time.
- You need to stock up on moisture, antioxidant- and anti-inflammatory protection in your skin care and diet.
- Getting a minimum of seven hours sleep a night and adopting stress-coping mechanisms will also help keep you rocking on for years to come.
- Environmental damage isn’t a veld fire, it’s the exposure of your skin to air pollution, fluorescent and UV light, screens and climate-controlled offices.
- Sporting challenges Time on the footy pitch, offroad cycling or in the gym may be good for your general health, but it’s hard on the skin. Your biggest challenges are damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays - no matter how dark your skin tone - and skin dehydration and roughness from sweating, and showering with harsh soaps. More on that below.
Still, men - like good red wine - are said to improve with age. Acquiring some life badges (a few lines and grizzled temples) makes you distinguished and earns you the title of ‘silver fox’.
2. A good shave
Shaving correctly is something every man should know. But did you know that something many of you do every day goes some way to countering skin ageing? As you shave, you exfoliate old, dead skin cells to reveal younger, healthier, plumper skin underneath. Just compare the texture and 'age' of the skin on the areas where you shave with that where you don't. The difference is remarkable.
BUT you should try to avoid the downsides that come with a bad shave:
- Soften and relax your skin by wetting it first with warm water.
- Don’t use blunt blades as this causes drag, irritation and ingrown hairs. Heat the blade with hot water before shaving.
- Shave with the grain - in the direction of hair growth. When you shave against the grain, you pull on the hair follicle and can cause inflammation and razorburn.
Post-shaving sensitivity or razorburn
Shaving becomes harder as skin becomes drier and more sensitive as we age. This is aggravated by the fact that each time we shave, we remove the protective moisture barrier film that sits on our skin like a protective force field. It shields our skin against external irritants such as pollution. It also prevents moisture escaping so our skin doesn’t become dehydrate
d and sensitive.
The solution: Choose shaving and post-shaving preparations that have a soothing, moisturising effect on the skin. Don’t use alcohol-based after shaves.
Shaving technique (see above) and sharp blades are essential here to prevent blunt hair ends which double back on themselves before they leave the hair follicle. This is a big problem especially for men of colour because of curly nature of their beard hair.
Make sure you use fresh blades regularly, and use additional exfoliation to keep pores free of debris that can block the exit.
If the problem is very bad, see a dermatologist. You may have to resort to laser hair removal, which is becoming increasingly available for darker complexions. But only have this done by a qualified doctor.
3. Clean your skin gently
The worst thing you can do is scrub your face with hot water and strong soap as this strips the protective moisture barrier, leaving skin dry, tight and prone to sensitivity. Use a soap-free cleanser or bar, lather gently and rinse with lukewarm water. Pat skin dry and apply skin product to still-damp skin.
If you shower at the gym, skip the soap in the dispenser as the quality is usually not great. Rather bring your own pH-balanced, soap-free face wash, shower gel and shampoo and conditioner. Afterwards, use a moisturiser on your face (and body if it tends to dryness) to restore the protective barrier and leave it feeling comfortable.
4. Tackle oily and/or acne-prone skin
Men’s skin tends to be oilier generally, especially in men of colour. The good news is that the oil protects your skin from dehydration, so you will age better. However, many men don’t like to look shiny, and excess oil can cause blocked pores and pimples. You still need moisture, and you can keep shine under control with an oil-control treatment.
5. Eye care
Time was when Clint Eastwood’s craggy squint was the epitome of masculinity. These days, men prefer their eye area to look smooth, and no dark circles needed. This means you need to take preventive measures. The eye area has the thinnest skin, so it’s the first to show signs of ageing. Choose an eye cream with a good dose of antioxidants, skin plumping hyaluronic acid and anti-ageing actives such as vitamin C and retinol.
6. Brow beating
A curious thing happens as guys get older… as the hair on top recedes, it starts sprouting out of nose and ears. Before you know it, your dad’s winged brows waggle at you in the mirror and you’re sprouting tufts where they don’t belong.
Never fear, that’s what scissors and nasal hair clippers are for. Or get your hairstylist to give you a monthly trim.
For brows: Brush up the hairs and trim long strays carefully with a pair of sharp nail scissors.
If they’re really wild and woolly, you can keep them under control with a clear firm hold hair gel.
Brow plucking or waxing is useful to tidy up a serious monobrow situation. The look you get depends on personal preference. Just know that if you shape your brows by plucking or waxing away all stray hairs into a clean line, they will have a more feminine, arched look.
7. Keep your lips smooth, comfortable
The skin on your lips is the thinnest on your body. It’s only a few layers thick, so the colour you see is actually the flesh beneath.
Your lips are rich in nerve endings, which makes kissing so great and cracked lips so painful. They are short on melanin (so they have no protection against UV damage) and have little protective fat underneath to cushion them. So, exposure to cold, heat, wind and even air conditioning dry out the skin, leaving them vulnerable to chapping, splitting and roughness.Prep your lips
Keep lips soft and smooth by sloughing off dry skin. Brush your lips with your toothbrush when you brush your teeth. Or exfoliate them along with the rest of your face. Then apply lip balm to moisturize them.
Protect your lips
When you’re outdoors or doing sport, wear a nourishing lip balm with a built-in SPF of at least 15, and reapply frequently, especially if your lips are cracked and painful.
If your lips are dry, don't lick them, as licking will moisten them initially, but eventually dry them out further as the saliva evaporates, worsening the situation.
8. Good sun protection habits
You must know that the sun is Public Enemy No. 1 for your skin. And with skin cancer on the rise, there’s an ever greater need to protect ourselves against harmful UV rays.
There’s really no excuse for not covering up, especially if you have sensitive or pale skin. Besides cancer, UV light causes premature ageing – leathery, sagging skin, wrinkles and dark spots. For men of colour, sun exposure causes dark spots and coarse skin.
It’s simple. The amount of time you spend outdoors without protection equals the rate your skin will age badly.
How to protect yourself
- Even mad dogs and English men are wise to stay out of the sun between 11 am and 3 pm in summer, and limit exposure (where you can) to half an hour a day.
- If playing sport or out for longer, cover up with protective clothing and UV-protective sunglasses. Choose a hat or cap that covers your ears and back of neck. These areas are often neglected and can become severely burned.
- For best results, apply sun protection 20 minutes to half an hour before exposure.
- Remember to reapply every two hours at least, more if you’re swimming or sweating heavily.
- Don’t forget to protect ears, nose, lips and bald spots. They regularly get painful sunburn, and sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer, besides ageing your skin. Sticks and sprays are great for easy application.
- UV rays penetrate through glass, so you’re exposed even when sitting near a window. Wear daily sun protection if this is the case.
- For limited exposure on your way to and from the car, a good moisturiser with a built-in SPF will do.
- If you want a tan without the hassle, try a self-tanner.
- Please, please avoid sunbeds at all costs, as they cause skin cancer, including deadly melanoma.
9. All about hands
Many men don’t pay their hands as much attention as they should. You may be polished from the top of your expensive haircut to the tips of your brogues, but gnawed or dirty nails and hands rough enough to strip varnish could cost you points personally and professionally. So, keep nails clean and neatly filed. Or book a standing appointment for a monthly manicure.
Look after your hands
The skin on hands is relatively thin with little cushioning fat. We subject them to extremes of temperature, wash them with harsh substances and use them as makeshift tools. These all conspire to strip away their natural protective film, so it’s no wonder that they become dry and uncomfortable.
Hands and arms also receive hectic sun exposure when driving (check out your right arm and compare the colour and freckles with your left one).
If you don’t look after your hands, they’re among the first things to show signs of age. The skin becomes thinner, wrinkled and more fragile and, from your fifties, you may get age or liver spots.
This can be prevented with regular use of a good hand cream. If it doesn’t contain built-in SPF, apply sunscreen before going out.
Good old-fashioned sweat has a time and place, but a splash of cologne makes us nice to be near. Men have never had a wider choice about how they smell, so they can afford to fool around with different scents.
Eau de Parfum has a slightly lower concentration of fragrance essence than pure parfum, but it is long-lasting. It should be sprayed lightly, just before dressing, on the skin.
Eau de Toilette has a lighter concentration of essence. It can be sprayed on your clothing or skin.
Cologne is the lightest form of fragrance. Perfect for splashing liberally all over the body, it is a great refresher.
Aftershave has a gentler, usually alcohol-free formulation so that it doesn’t sting and dry out your skin.
- Don’t overdo it! Many guys tend to bathe in their fragrance. Remember that if they can smell you at 20 paces, it will be a turn off. Tune it down until they catch your scent only when you get nice and near.
- Choose your poison. For work, keep your fragrance light and unobtrusive. A fresh fragrance is preferable. After hours, let your imagination run wild.
Fragrance choice is intensely personal. Find your perfect match.