The image of a clean shaven man embodies the essence of refinement and evolution; a manifestation of the modern man’s battle to distance himself from the brutish archetype of his Neolithic antecedents. And yet, the attitude of many men when it comes to shaving and skin care is almost as barbarous as any club wielding troglodyte.
The product offering for men’s skincare has come a long way since the days of heavily-scented aerosol creams and BiC razors, with an explosion in product differentiation (with myriad gels, creams, soaps, and oils) and a greater focus on individual needs such as stubble softening gels, and sensitive skin ranges. Nevertheless, there remain plenty of late-adopters (or rather, non-adopters) stuck in the bad old days when men’s skincare was confined to the occasional bit of Slip, Slop, Slap at the beach. So if that is you , then it’s time to throw out the Brut 33 and Old Spice, and completely overhaul your approach to facial skin care.
“In the morning, if my face is a little puffy, I’ll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now. After I remove the ice pack, I use a deep pore cleansing lotion. In the shower I use a water-activated gel cleanser, then a honey almond body scrub, and on the face an exfoliating gel scrub.
Then I apply an herb mint facial mask which I leave on for ten minutes while I prepare the rest of my routine. I always use an aftershave lotion with little or no alcohol, because alcohol dries your face out, and make you look older.
Then moisturiser, then an anti-ageing eye balm, followed by a moisturising protective lotion.”
– Patrick Bateman
While a decent skincare routine need not be as complicated as that of Ellis’ ultra narcissistic antihero Patrick Bateman (I mean, who does crunches now anyway… it’s all about the plank right?), there are nevertheless a few basic elements which should be incorporated into any regimen, and which will greatly soften the impact of daily shaving on one’s ageing countenance.
Each day, one’s face is confronted with a number of harmful elements, both environmental (pollution, harmful UV rays, wind etc) and physiological (such as overactive sebaceous glands, also known as an oily ‘T-Zone’). These various factors can often lead to signs of premature ageing, dryness, and skin irritation. As such it is important to use a facial cleanser every day to remove dirt and oil from deep within the pores, and also to promote skin cell regeneration.
The use of a facial scrub should be incorporated into one’s skin care routine 2-3 times per week. Used in conjunction with a cleanser, exfoliating will help to remove blackheads as well as dead skin which can lead to blocked pores and ingrown hairs. A facial scrub will also help to give your skin added lustre, and prevent the appearance of ageing.
Optimally, one should shave immediately after showering, wherein the face has been cleansed and excess oil and dirt has been removed from the skin and facial hair. This will not only allow for a smoother shave, but will also help to reduce skin hyper-sensitivity which is common among men who shave on a daily basis. If this cannot be achieved, I would recommend using an hot damp face towel to soften the stubble before shaving.
The choice of shaving lubricant will also have a great impact both on the closeness of the shave and while this will boil down to individual taste, creams or gels that are alcohol-based or heavily scented should generally be avoided. Alcohol will dry the skin and lead to irritation and signs of ageing, and fragrances will tend to cause skin irritation and burning after shaving. Instead look for ingredients such as Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to help soothe the skin, and Shea Butter to help with stubble softening.
Despite one’s best efforts, shaving will leave the skin dry and potentially damaged. Indeed our skin is almost 70% water, and thus it is fundamentally important to integrate regular moisturising into any skin care routine. Dry skin can lead to a loss of collagen which provides elasticity and firmness to the skin, resulting in a droopy, lacklustre, and aged appearance. Applying a quality moisturiser rich in vitamin E daily will help to reduce skin damage and sensitivity as well as giving a youthful brilliance.
Stress, alcohol consumption, and sleeplessness are virtually all facts of life for the modern man. Unfortunately they are also some of the greatest causes of eye fatigue and puffiness. The skin around the eye is the most sensitive on the face, and consequently the most vulnerable to the signs of ageing. Add to this the scrutiny that social conventions demand, and it is also the most noticeable area to be affected by skin care apathy. Accordingly, regular eye treatment should be afforded an integral place in any man’s skin care habits.
Emollient creams containing vitamin E can help to reduce lines and dark circles, while topical application of natural diuretics such as caffeine and cucumber extract help to reduce puffiness and swelling caused by fluid retention.
As I extol these salient points to add to your shaving regime, I am testing a variety of products available on the market. Watch out for the second part of the Shaving Man.