journal man mobile

A Man’s Guide to Skincare: 5 of the Most Common Skin Problems & How to Solve Them

29 December 2021

Men have thicker skin with more collagen, not to mention more hydration, and so, theoretically speaking, this means that men’s skin should look 10-15 years younger than women of the same age. However, this is not always the case. Many men don’t take the time, or their skincare routine as seriously as they should. The consequence of this is all sorts of skin conditions, including acne, irritation and redness, or even dull, tired skin by the time they’re in their late 30’s. 

If you’re one of those people who think that shaving and then throwing on some aftershave is enough when taking care of your skin, think again. A solid skincare routine is an essential part of a good grooming regimen that will lead to less frequent breakouts, fewer irritations and will help ward off visible signs of ageing. With a few simple steps that take only a few minutes, you will begin to notice the difference sooner than you think. 

No matter what age you are or what colour your skin is, the bottom line is: skincare matters!

Problem 1: Dry Skin

Some people are more prone to dry skin than others, but many men experience dry skin on their face. This can be a result of changes in weather and humidity, using products that have too many irritating ingredients, not drinking enough water throughout the day, or stress or lack of sleep. Whatever the culprit, the good news is that dry skin can be treated- it just takes a few adjustments in your daily routine.  

What to do: Wash your face twice a day, but use a cleanser only once in the evening during your bedtime routine. Look for a product that is formulated specifically for sensitive skin and that will keep your skin hydrated. A cream cleanser is ideal; they are often hydrating and help maintain the protective skin barrier.  Stay away from face products that have ingredients such as benzyl peroxide, AHA, and/or salicylic acid. These ingredients are for acne-prone skin types and often can dry out the skin if used too frequently or for prolonged periods.

Serums, moisturisers and ointments can help improve the skin’s natural barrier function, which helps retain hydration and moisture in the skin. Using a serum during the daytime is best while during your bedtime routine, a cream moisturiser provides extra benefits. When searching for the right serum, look for products that are not only formulated for men, but also contain extra hydrating ingredients such as aloe vera, vitamin E, peptides, and/or hyaluronic acid. For cream moisturisers, make sure the product is non-comedogenic (oil free), fragrance free, and contains as few ingredients as possible.   

Problem 2: Oily Skin

Located in the middle layer of the skin, are sebaceous glands that have the primary function of protecting the skin with natural lubrication. This lubrication is called sebum and men’s skin tends to produce more than women’s skin, resulting in an oiler appearance. According to Dermatologists, this can be simply explained by hormonal differences. Men have a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone) and higher levels of this hormone seems to contribute to higher levels of sebum production. The plus side, oilier skin is more hydrated or lubricated and thus tends to age better – less wrinkles, is firmer, and tends to have a brighter complexion. However, it is important to understand how to help manage and treat your skin so that you can help the overall appearance of your skin, without removing the natural oils that are beneficial to your ageing process. In the end, it’s all a fine balance and understanding the limitations of your skin (and how it reacts).

What to do: You’ll want to cleanse your face with a cleanser that is specific for oily skin twice a day; once in the morning and then again before you go to bed. But, be careful to not over wash your face, as this can excessively dry out the skin – causing breakouts and even worse, excess oil production. Your skin has a certain set point of oil required to maintain homeostasis and pH balance. If you excessively dry out your face, it goes into oil production overdrive to get the skin back to its natural state.

Using a face scrub once or twice a week can make a huge difference in your skin’s overall texture, brightness, and help with oil control. When used right, a face scrub will help to remove any excess dead skin cells, other buildup, and excess oils that have accumulated over the day (or week!). Try adding this to your nighttime routine, but be careful not to over scrub or use too much product. Try finding something that is natural or has a fine grain/exfoliant. You can also try using a face towel when you wash your face every night. This will help give you that extra clean feeling.

Face wipes and blotting papers are a great product to have stashed in your bag for any time use. Available as a specially formulated men’s grooming product, these pre-moistened wipes effectively remove sweat, oil and excess dirt which can clog pores. Some brands will also have an antibacterial agent in them which will help ward off potential acne breakouts due to bacterial buildup. Luckily in Japan, you can find these just about anywhere – every combini and drugstore will have them! Blotting papers or aburatorigami are small, but highly absorbent sheets that quickly soak up excess oil from your skin (but without drying it out).  Simply dab the sheet over your problem areas until the paper becomes translucent.

Problem 3: Acne / Breakouts

Adult acne is one of the most common skin conditions that affects men beyond their teenage years. This is often the result of stress and lifestyle changes, poor diet, and skin biology. As we now know, men’s skin produces more sebum (oil) and has larger pores, thus increasing the risk of unwanted breakouts.  

What to do: From OTC (over the counter) treatments to at-home and natural remedies, and even dermatologist-prescribed products, there are many ways to combat acne breakouts. While spot treatments may help, using the right cleanser can often help prevent pimples from popping up in the first place. Look for products that contain salicylic acid, tea tree oil, or calendula. These ingredients will help deep-clean pores and remove dead skin cells from the surface. Laser facial treatments are also effective for treating light-to-moderate acne. The light used in laser therapy works to kill bacteria and lower sebum levels that may cause acne, reduce inflammation, and also help the skin’s overall texture and appearance. Remember, for severe cases or persistent acne, please visit a Dermatologist for further advice and treatment. 

Problem 4: Shaving Dermatitis (razor burn and irritation)

Shaving dermatitis, also known as razor burn, is essentially ingrown hairs or inflammation at the hair follicle as a result of shaving.  It is one of the most common skin problems men have to face, affecting at least 60% of men. It is often caused by hairs that become trapped underneath the skin rather than growing straight out, forming small razor bumps or pimple-like irritations. While men who have coarse or curly hair are more prone to these bumps and ingrown hairs, it is safe to say that anyone who shaves will at some point experience these nasty little red bumps and need to know how to get rid of them, (note,  irritating after-shave products can also be a culprit). 

What to do: Treating shaving dermatitis is often as simple as waiting it out and not making a huge fuss over your skin. Since the skin is already irritated, doing too much will further aggravate the situation. What can help calm down affected areas is applying a cool face towel for a few minutes or trying products that are concentrated in aloe vera. The best way to prevent razor burn in the future is to follow a few adjustments to your skin routine.  

Here’s how: Before you start shaving, it’s important that you warm up your face with warm water to moisten your skin as well as soften the hairs. By ensuring that your skin is moist and hairs soft, you will help the razor glide more smoothly across your face, decreasing the chance of dragging and tugging the skin. This will also improve the razor’s ability to cut the hairs more swiftly and with better precision.  

Use the right products. If you use shaving cream or gel, make sure you buy a product that will properly lubricate the skin, so you don’t run into razor burn. Also, using a face scrub once to twice a week (during your nighttime routine) can significantly reduce your outbreaks, leaving your skin feelings fresh, clean, and bright. You’ll notice the difference!

Finish your shave with something cool and refreshing. Just like you prepared your skin and facial hairs before you put your razor to your face, it is also important to close everything back up after you’re done. All you need to do is finish by rinsing your face with some cold water. This will remove extra debris (and tiny hairs) but most importantly, close your pores. If you prefer using an after-shave lotion, that’s ok too. A gentle pat of some after-shave lotion (tonic) will help to disinfect and cleanse your pores, especially if you are prone to redness and breakouts. 

Problem 5: Rosacea (chronic redness)

Rosacea is a chronic, long-term skin condition that mainly affects the areas around the nose and upper cheeks of the face. While the cause of the skin disorder is not well known, several triggers are associated with typical Rosacea flareups. These can include excessive drinking, spicy foods, caffeine, hot beverages and intense exercising.  

What to do: Rosacea is a difficult skin condition to treat however, there are ways that you can help manage and control the intensity of redness. Firstly, if you can figure out what triggers cause flare ups, do common sense, i.e. try to avoid them. When your Rosacea is causing itchiness or in severe cases, pain, visit a Dermatologist for further care and treatment. To help maintain your Rosacea, try to use sensitive skincare products, make sure you wear a high SPF sunscreen when outdoors, avoid extreme heat and humidity, and make an effort to lower and manage stress. Many men get frustrated with this skin condition as they feel it is hard to camouflage however, with some patience and understanding Rosacea can be treated and improved.