With winter around the corner, the air in Hong Kong is getting drier - and so is our skin. To prevent dehydration and its potentially damaging effects, it's important for men to maintain a comprehensive grooming routine with added moisture before the dry season descends.
"Maintaining a regular regime of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising is essential in all seasons. However, in winter, additional attention should be taken to protect the skin from the dry weather and also the sun," says Kem Mehmet, head barber at Gentlemen's Tonic, a barbershop and grooming destination for men. "Using a good moisturiser with SPF in winter is an often forgotten, but essential step to protect the skin against the harmful effects of UV exposure combined with the drier weather."
According to Mehmet, not only does the winter climate dry the skin, especially around the beard area, but it also causes split lips, cracked cuticles and rougher skin on the hands.
There are a number of ways to prevent these problems, starting with a pre-shave exfoliation treatment. The Exfoliating Facial Scrub from Gentlemen's Tonic conditions the skin with bamboo particles plus shea and cocoa butters. The Clinique Face Scrub, meanwhile, features chemical and manual exfoliators, and a refreshing menthol scent.
To keep skin from drying out after shaving, consider using a treatment such as Pre-Shave Oil from Gentlemen's Tonic under a richer cream, such as Lush's Prince Shaving Cream, which has a range of essential oils.
"Men should be finishing with a cold towel after every shave, ensuring that the pores are closed, followed by a thin layer of moisturiser. This should stop any weather damage throughout the day," Mehmet says. "If you find that your skin is further affected by the weather, it may be in your interest to carry a small amount of moisturiser with you and apply as you see fit throughout the day."
After shaving, try Aesop's Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion, with extracts of Neroli blossom and sandalwood to calm and hydrate the skin, SK-II Men's Facial Treatment Essence, with a cooling agent to soothe and soften, or
I Coloniali's Facial and Shaving Balm for skin prone to redness or irritation.
Thicker and more moisturising options include the Rejuvenating Moisturiser from Neal's Yard Remedies, Garnier Men Aqua Fuel Energizer and Daily Moisturiser from Gentlemen's Tonic.
Rather than curing dry skin, Mehmet suggests preventing it in the first place. "If you don't have a regular skincare regime, you should start it now, with at least a high-quality cleanser and moisturiser to balance the skin's pH and moisture levels," he says. "Exfoliation is essential two to three times per week to bring the new layers of skin to the surface, ensuring the products are better absorbed and penetrate deep enough to get to where they can have the most benefit. Skin has a regeneration cycle of 28 days, so you can hope to see lasting results after four weeks."
So, if you start a grooming regimen now, you'll be prepared when the humidity drops.
Sandra Grau, director of Flawless, a newly opened spa with an extensive range of services specifically for men, suggests seeking the advice of a personal skincare technician.
"We often overlook the importance of a regular facial routine. Good skin upkeep improves its vitality. Moving from seasons, your technician will guide your skin's balance and moisture levels," says Grau, who recommends the Power Cleanse series using products from men's range The Refinery.
When comparing summer and winter skincare products, Grau says that in winter it's important to use thicker, richer moisturisers, night creams and facial oils. "Colder weather reduces skin temperature, which means it produces less oil, causing it to dry out," she says. "We suggest using a revitalising moisturiser, such as the award-winning Hydr8 Day Cream Moisturizer by Medik8."
Grau and Mehmet say that there's no golden indicator for the time when men should start changing to a winter grooming regime.
"This depends entirely on the individual's skin type and how it reacts to changes in climate," Mehmet says. "For some gents, the products can be the same range for both summer and winter, just used at different frequencies, but others will need to change according to their skin. Often a different serum is needed, and a more nourishing moisturiser too."
Men are spoiled for choice when it comes to targeted skincare products these days, many of which offer anti-ageing and energising benefits. Lab Series' new Age Rescue series features ginseng to strengthen your qi, while L'Oreal Men Expert Vita Lift 5 includes the anti-ageing favourite pro-retinol, and Kiehl's new Heavy Lifting cream contains caffeine to energise skin and vitamin C to neutralise free radicals.
Both experts suggest relying on more than just skincare products. Grau recommends a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and vitamins A, C, D and E.
"Eating lots of fish, such as salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna, is a great source of omega-3, which is great for your general health and skin," she says.
"Retain a healthy balanced diet and continue to take care of yourself," Mehmet says. "Follow these simple rules, and you should do fine all year round."