Rinse and repeat
Choosing the right cleanser can make a world of difference to your skin, writes Enrico Dee
On the whole, men aren't in the dark ages any longer when it comes to skincare - especially here in Asia, where men have a more balanced and open-minded approach towards grooming.
Men are far more willing to try new products and more likely to have a multistep skincare system that includes cleansing as the crucial first step.
For those still scrubbing away at their delicate faces with hand soap, however, it's important to know that choosing the right product can make a world of difference, to your skin's health and to how it feels on a daily basis.
But it's not just about grabbing your wife's or girlfriend's bottle off the bathroom shelf - men tend to have thicker, oilier skin and react differently to skincare products developed for women.
"Men's skin tends to have larger pores, which can easily get clogged and encourage skin blemishes," explains Suivi Lau, senior education manager at Kiehl's.
"Second, their skin produces excess sebum [oil] that can cause their pores to further expand. Men also tend to sweat more, which can have an acidic effect on the skin. To ensure the optimal health of their skin, they should incorporate a gentle yet highly effective daily cleanser into their routine."
Kiehl's Facial Fuel range for men includes an Energizing Face Wash with caffeine and citrus extracts, and an Energizing Face Scrub with menthol and particles designed to break down tough facial hair.
These and other cleansers specifically tailored for men ensure that skin is cleansed efficiently and thoroughly but without leaving it feeling dry, taut or uncomfortable.
However, there is still a confusing world of options out there to trip males up when it comes to choosing the right cleanser. Even among products specifically developed for men, there is a range of choices based on one's skin type.
"Clinique divides men's skin into four types," says Priscilla Pun, education manager at Clinique Hong Kong.
The brand has extended its iconic 3-Step Skin Care System to men, incorporating a cleanser, scruffing lotion and moisturiser, which can be tailored to the skin's moisture levels - very dry/dry, dry combination, combination oily and oily.
Those with dry or normal skin are advised to use the Regular Strength bar soap or liquid face wash, while those with oily to very oily skin can try the Extra-Strength version.
"A cleanser should be chosen based on an individual's skin type, taking into account unique concerns such as oiliness, dryness and ageing," agrees Richard Sawyer, international education director for Lab Series Skincare for Men.
"Cleaning the face is the essential first part of any skincare regimen. It removes the daily build-up of dirt, grime, dead skin and oil that can leave the skin looking dull with blocked pores and an uneven complexion."
Sawyer says men should cleanse twice a day to prepare the skin for shaving and any treatment products that may be applied afterwards.
Lab Series offers four cleansers, including its newest Max LS Daily Renewing Cleanser with oxygenating action to promote younger-looking skin.
"It's also a multipurpose product," Sawyer says. "It's a cleanser, and it can be used as a shaving cream and as a five-minute face mask to make the skin look invigorated and refreshed."
Besides a basic cleanser, men should also consider using an exfoliating product to remove dirt and dead skin that can clog up razors, causing them to drag across the face and trigger irritation and redness. Exfoliators designed for men tend to have stronger formulas to tackle the abundance of oil and facial hair.
Many products, including ClarinsMen's Exfoliating Cleanser, combine chemical exfoliators such as salicylic acid with mechanical ones such as natural lava powder.
According to Clinique, "most men will find that their shaving routine greatly improves when they start cleansing and exfoliating on a regular basis, since exfoliation helps reduce ingrown facial hairs".
When it comes to the change of seasons, most experts agree there is generally no need to change cleansers. Men may find it helpful to change their skincare regimen according to the weather, such as using a moisturising mask in winter to protect against dryness or a stronger scrub in summer to counter the extra dirt and grime that sweat and humidity can impose upon the skin.
"I use the same cleanser all year round and in all weather environments and have never had any problem at all," Sawyer says. "If your daily skincare routine takes more than five minutes, it's two minutes too long. Cleansing your face, even very thoroughly, should take no more than a minute. Skincare should fit into your lifestyle and timeframe, not the other way around."