We met up with men’s skin care expert and Lqd for Men founder Anthony McDonough to find out why not all men’s skin care products are created equal, and what to look for when buying products for the man in your life.
How has skin care for men changed over the years?
When I was a teenager, I’d never heard of a guy using skin care products.
In fact, I would have been lucky to know of any guys even using sunscreen. Growing up in the country, with my sisters lying in the sun covered in baby oil, no one ever thought about how you could slow down the skin’s ageing process.
Like most men of my generation, our entry into the world of skin care was through a persistent girlfriend making you start to use her products. It all starts with that first time you use her moisturiser and then there is no going back from there.
Back then, the biggest issue and barrier to use was that the products were all so feminine and it was really quite an emasculating experience, so it remained something you did but didn’t tell anyone about.
How is this generation different?
There is a whole new generation of guys who are growing up already having realised the advantages of looking after their skin.
What the industry still doesn’t realise, is that this trend actually started 10 years ago, when the initial explosion was seen in the men’s skin care supermarket brands, like Nivea and L’Oreal – these products where actually being bought by women for their 14-year-old sons, not for their husbands. And so fast forward to today, and all those young boys are now turning 25 and looking for brands that appeal to them – they no longer want to use the brand mum bought them!
What are some of the biggest obstacles men still face?
Unfortunately, most men’s products these days are still actually women’s formulations.
They’ve been re-coloured, re-fragranced and re-packaged and marketed to unsuspecting men as ‘made for them’, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s one of the reasons guys are generally unhappy with the results they are getting from their products today.
I developed my own range of men’s products, to allow men to not give up their masculinity while still looking after their skin with the best possible products available, developed specifically for men’s skin.
So what is it about men’s skin that makes it so different to women’s?
Apart from having facial hair and needing to shave, there are also structural differences between a man and a woman’s skin. Androgen (testosterone) stimulation causes an increase in skin thickness, which accounts for why a man’s skin is about 25% thicker than a woman’s. In addition to being thicker, men’s skin texture is also tougher.
Sebum, the oil that keeps skin supple and its production also differ. After puberty, sebum production is greater in males than females, which is due to androgen secretions and accounts for why men can have longer lasting acne.
With aging, a decrease in hormone (testosterone) levels at the skins surface modulates epidermal skin moisture, elasticity, and skin thickness. It has been demonstrated that hormone replacement therapy is able to improve these effects of skin ageing in males.
What’s your message to men who are still on the fence about skin care?
Men could actually look younger than women of the same age if they looked after their skin.
As most people know, women’s skin starts to look visibly older than men of the same age. What people don’t realise is that this is directly related to men having a higher collagen density, which, if looked after, can maintain about a 15 year gap on women of the same age.
The problem of course is that men generally don’t look after their skin as well as women, and so once the testosterone levels drop in their 40s to early 50s, men appear to suddenly age quite drastically, and almost gain 15 years over night.
Add into this mix a generally poor diet, too much alcohol, sun exposure and smoking and a man’s skin can quickly look 70 when he is 50.
So what should a guy do to ensure he is still looking like he is 30 in his 40s?
Great skin is as much about what you put into your body as what you put on your skin. The key to a man looking the best he can is eating a healthy diet, drinking lots of water, training hard (high intensity and resistance training will keep your testosterone levels higher) and using good quality skin care.
Make sure his products are high quality, designed for men and not actually damaging his skin, as there are unfortunately a lot of products that contain known skin irritants that just rely on heavy marketing to sell them instead of quality ingredients.
What should we look out for when buying for our man?
Any products that contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS), parabens, paraffin’s, menthol, colours, fragrances, petroleum derivatives or essential oils. All of these are known skin irritants. Lqd products don’t contain any of these ingredients, and even take it one step further and have no known skin irritants inside them.
Once you find a good quality product, the basic approach to looking after a man’s skin is really straightforward.
Here is a 5 step process your man can follow to keep his skin looking young well into his middle and later life.
- Use a pH balanced wash to clean skin every morning, immediately after exercise, and at night before going to bed to remove excess oils, dirt and toxins that have built up during the day.
- Every 2 to 3 days use a glycolic acid based scrub to remove dead skin cells, clean the pores and rejuvenate the naturally occurring collagen in your skin.
- After he’s washed or scrubbed, use an irritant free, non-foaming shaving cream. Steer clear of foaming creams and gels that use irritants to lift the hair as these leave a red shaving rash.
- If he suffers from any form of redness or skin irritation then a calming lotion will take away the redness leaving the skin soft, relaxed and supple. Make sure it isn’t menthol based.
- Every time he washes, scrubs or shaves his face, finish with a moisturiser to replenish the skin with antioxidants and lock in moisture to protect it from free-radical damage.And finally, if he’s going into the sun, he should further protect his skin with an SPF 50+ sunscreen to reduce the damaging effects UVA has on the skin’s tissue.