No matter what time of the year it is, many men experience dry skin for a variety of reasons, whether on the face or body. Dry skin is uncomfortable, itchy, can visually bother the sufferer and is for the most part avoidable and unnecessary. Sometimes changing a simple habit will result in a marked improvement of skin tone and moisture. With winter approaching for some, this condition is exacerbated by external elements, and if left untreated can result in other uncomfortable skin conditions.
Like many men I know nowadays, I have always put the effort into looking after the skin on my face, but sometimes we are too busy to take care of the rest of our skin, or maybe we just haven’t educated ourselves to care enough about what we cover with clothes. Either way, as a sufferer of eczema and dry skin, the last few years I have paid attention to my daily routine and noticed a dramatic improvement in the health of my skin overall. I’d love to share some things I have learnt along the way that helped me turn my skin problems around, in the hopes that you can apply them to your routine.
First of all, what causes dry skin?
Genetics play a big part in your make up, so some of it is out of your control. However, in saying this, just because you may be genetically predisposed to having dry skin doesn’t mean you cant get the best skin possible for your particular skin type. My skin is typically dry, however over the years and many educational dermatologist visits, I have now been able to get the best out of my skin and learn what works best for me. Nowadays my skin looks and feels great, and I try my best to stay on top of things that benefit the health of my skin.
Depending on where you live, weather plays a big role in how dry your skin will be. Climates with higher humidity generally leave the skin highly moisturised, while dry climates leave the skin parched. In winter, skin is more prone to drying out, so make sure to protect your skin. Many people think acne is only caused by oily skin, however overly dry skin can lead to breakouts as well (more to come on this). Adding humidity to the air during winter through the use of a humidifier can really help the skin retain its moisture.
One area that can really make or break the quality of your skin is your daily grooming routine. Sometimes we think we are doing great things for the skin when in actual fact it’s having the exact opposite effect. Showers are a big example of where people really dry out their skin. In winter, we tend to take longer and hotter showers, because who really wants to hop out into the cold? The issue is, hot water strips the skin of its natural oils extremely quickly and even once moisturised, you’re already back at square one.
The products you use could be making your skin worse. I have spent thousands of dollars over the years only to realise that many of the products I was using were terrible for my skin, and when I stripped it back to a simple approach, I got some great results. Tips on how to get the most out of your grooming routine to come.
What can you do to improve the quality of your skin today?
We all know that we should be drinking water and eating a clean and balanced diet, so I won’t bang on about the same things we have heard for a long time because life is busy, and we don’t all have time or remember to follow these guidelines. However, we can control certain habits which are counterproductive to obtaining the best skin possible so I have split them up into two sections – in and out of the shower.
IN THE SHOWER – ‘tips for preventing dry skin in the shower’
Longer and hotter showers have been a major issue for me, so I have developed a way of showering for myself which has resulted in better skin and less wasted water. When you turn the shower on, make sure it’s warm and not steaming hot. Get in and rinse your body, then turn the shower off. Apply your body wash or body scrub, and ensure they’re gentle cleansers.
‘Natural ingredients and low irritant formulas aren’t all marketing, a lot of intense ingredients such as AHA and BHA, sulphates and soaping agents aren’t necessary for daily use so try stick to a gentle cleanser. This isn’t to say these ingredients aren’t doing what they say for the skin, however typically dry skin only needs gentle cleansing so don’t overthink it or overdo it. I have experienced a difference in my skin by using a more natural and gentle cleanser, which is why our products remain natural and avoid typical chemical fillers. Using natural and potent ingredients such as charcoal, silica rich bamboo, essential oils and vegetable oils, leaves your skin cleansed just as good (if not better) than a more intense cleanser full of a variety of harsh ingredients.’
Once you’ve lathered up, turn the shower on and finish your routine by rinsing off. If you get too cold by not having the water going, try point the shower head away from you while you cleanse so the shower still steams, which is great for opening your pores up without losing the natural oils in the skin.
Try not to take too long in the shower, as tempting as it is. The longer you stay in, the more damage you do for your skin.
When drying your skin, try pat it dry. I know that sounds like more effort, but you can really irritate dry skin by drying it roughly.
OUT OF THE SHOWER – ‘tips for preventing dry skin out of the shower’
Once you’re dry, it’s important to apply a high quality thick moisturiser immediately to the face and body to lock in moisture. Leaving water to dry on the skin can lead to further drying out as water evaporates and draws moisture out of the skin during the process. Look for moisturisers that are as natural as possible and include butters, oils, essential oils, instead of synthetic moisturising ingredients such as mineral oils (known as paraffin oil/vaseline which is a by-product of gasoline from crude oil), propylene glycol (used in anti-freeze), PEG’s, parabens and the list could go on. These ingredients actually coat the skin like plastic and clog the pores, which leads to the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve.
This is why natural ingredients such as Argan oil, Jojoba oil, butters and essential oils are a better choice, especially natural oils which replicate the skins natural sebum production and keep the pores clear.
When moisturising the face you want to moisturise in an upwards motion, while when moisturising the body it is imperative you moisturise in a downwards motion. The reason for this is you can clog the pores on the body by irritating the hair follicles. I use to moisturise any way I saw fit but would get red bumps on my legs due to irritating the follicles. Ever since taking my dermatologists advice, there has been a complete change. Your skin also may be dry but you don’t need to flood it with moisturiser.
In winter I also like to use a body oil once or twice a week (I generally use our beard oil for typically dry areas on the body or face which does the trick), or you can buy a body specific oil with added benefits. This just gives the skin added moisture and restores any loss of natural oils.
Making a couple simple changes to your in and out of the shower routine can make a great difference in the quality of your skin.