Damage control

Image-conscious males have plenty of products to help fight ageing, writes Euan McKirdy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 12:44am


Fighting the inexorable march of time is a battle that women have faced since the advent of cosmetics - and now skin-conscious men are joining the ranks.

Cosmetics companies, meanwhile, are looking at the unique factors that affect how the skin ages and developing special serums, gels and creams to protect against this.

Men's skin, says Mandy Leung, senior training manager for Shiseido, is affected by five main factors: age, lifestyle, environment, food and overall health.

"Due to hormonal differences, women's skin ageing is more obvious and there are a greater number of skin concerns, while men's skin ageing issues appear later in life," she says.

"As with women, men's skin moisture decreases with age. Moisture and oil will become unbalanced, and pores will become rough by their later years."

While it's true that men's skin ages at a slower rate compared with women's, when ageing does begin it occurs at a far greater rate and often the damage is more visible.

In addition to lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, oversized pores, loss of firmness and dehydrated skin all contribute to the recognisable signs of ageing. Grooming routines also affect how men's skin changes over time.

"Most men shave daily, so if they do not have a daily skincare regimen, this will accelerate the ageing progress," Leung says.

"Also, the awareness of sun care is comparatively lower for men, so their skin will be dehydrated and rough when they get older, especially during the winter months."

Priscilla Pun, Clinique's education manager, agrees that sun protection is of utmost importance for fighting against ageing and is one of the main areas in which men fail to take adequate care of their skin.

Men, she says, tend not to apply sunscreen on a daily basis, and most only apply it when they take part in outdoor activities during weekends or on holidays.

"The bad news is sun damage occurs even when they go to work every day, and that helps accelerate premature ageing of the skin," Pun says.

There are also fundamental, biological differences between the skin of the two sexes.

The differences between men's and women's skin are not only structural and physiological, but are a main reason that they age differently, according to Suivi Lau, senior education manager for Kiehl's.

There are three main differences. Men have oilier skin - though men's sebaceous glands are smaller than women's, they have more active oilproducing capabilities that continue to produce sebum later into life (oil production in women's skin decreases about 20 years earlier than it does in men's).

These natural oils help protect skin and keep it soft, smooth and supple, which helps it stay younger-looking for longer.

Men also have thicker skin. With higher levels of testosterone in their blood, men's dermis and epidermis skin layers are thicker, with more elastin and collagen - which gives skin firmness and elasticity - than women, and a tighter network of fatty tissue directly under the skin.

As a result, men's skin is on average 20 to 30 per cent thicker than women's skin and is, therefore, better suited naturally to resisting the appearance of wrinkles.

Lau says men have more delicate skin, primarily due to the daily aggressions of shaving, together with the likelihood that the face is more frequently exposed to (and unprotected from) the elements.

"However, despite its potential for causing skin irritation, shaving is actually quite beneficial to a man's skin," Lau says. "Shaving is a dramatic exfoliation of outer skin layers, which leads to a more youthful skin appearance."

Men, the experts say, should use a combination of eye cream, sun care and serum to combat ageing and skin deterioration.

Specialist products should be used for more effective protection and, depending on the specifics of a man's skin, there are a number of ways to target the problems faced by ageing.

For tired, dull or lacklustre skin, Lau says men need products that properly cleanse and hydrate, keeping it energised, free from impurities and protected from environmental aggressors.

The Facial Fuel range at Kiehl's includes protein- and nutrient-rich blue algae and the antioxidant vitamin E to fend off free radicals.

"Energy" is a common theme in men's products such as Shiseido's Active Energizing Concentrate - a serum designed to correct the appearance of damaged and fatigued skin - and Skeyndor's Energizing Anti-Age Serum with SPF 10 and Siberian ginseng said to improve the skin's natural defences.

Products that reduce the impact of shaving, such as minimising irritation and protecting against nicks in the skin, while maintaining a healthy skin barrier are also helpful.

Clinique's new Dark Spot Corrector was designed specifically to combat ingrown hairs and marks left by blemishes and shaving cuts.

Those suffering from excessive oiliness should look for a solution that effectively cleanses the skin of excess sebum, skin cells and debris.

"The use of a moisturiser targeted to oily skin is also important to maintain balanced skin," Lau says.

Conversely, excessively dry skin can also be a concern and can exacerbate the effects of natural ageing.

Men with dry skin can benefit from a regimen that focuses on restoring and maintaining moisture, while men with active lifestyles should look for suitable products.

They can often seek single solutions that address multiple concerns.

For many men, however, it is not only about finding targeted solutions but also developing a daily regimen.

"Simply [follow] basic skincare every day," Leung says. "For those who are always outdoors, they should use sun care; those who are stressed at work should use energising products with eye cream to activate their cells."







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Kiehl's Facial Fuel Age Combat and Transformer












Sulwhasoo Energizing Cream











Biotherm Homme Force Supreme












The Organic Pharmacy Moisture Cream For Men












Clinique Age Defense Hydrator













Clinique Dark Spot Corrector