Your skin in winter

24 Nov

Winter. The absolute worst time for our skin; a time when we’re dried out, rough, and scaly. Mmm, sounds nasty, don’t it? Dry winter air affects people with sensitive skin more than people who have normal skin, so if you suffer from sensitive skin like I do, this post is dedicated to you.

Gents, let’s keep it simple. I understand that some of you don’t pay attention to your skin in the winter (and sometimes the summer) because it may be something of a hassle, you don’t have time, or perhaps you may not be conscious of the importance of skin care. Fair enough. But knowing that skin is our largest organ that protects our internal organs and otherwise holds us together, it seems wise to take care of it. When it comes to our image, skin properly taken care of will make a better impression on people and it will also feel better to you, plus it is easier to shave over. This week, I propose three easy ways for a fella to avoid dry and possibly uncomfortable skin during the winter.

1. Avoid hot water

Though a hot shower will feel good if you’ve got a chill in your bones, it may wreak havoc on your skin. Hot water dries the skin and seems to tighten it as I well know, having what seems the most sensitive in the land. My skin is so sensitive that if I take too hot a shower in the winter, my entire body, including my face, goes red and splotchy and there isn’t anything I can do about it. This isn’t a welcome sight if I have to go out in public, so I take showers at night or early in the day to allow my skin to return to its natural colour.

The hot water concept applies to other tasks besides bathing, like doing dishes. Sensitive types especially should wear rubber gloves when washing the dishes because sensitive hands wet with hot water can make your life miserable. At the moment, I’ve got 4 scaly red patches on my knuckles that will split if I don’t take care of them. If the skin does split, I’m then open to viruses and germs, but besides the invasion of unwelcome foreign bodies, raw, red skin hurts!  If you have to wash the dishes with bare hands, dry them thoroughly and apply a hand cream afterward to combat the reaction.

2. Exfoliate

I don’t want to sound like a nag, fellas, but I want you to start exfoliating if you haven’t started yet. It will make your skin feel better and look better. For those of you who aren’t hip to the concept, to exfoliate is to slough off dead skin cells that sit on the surface of our skin, making skin feel dry (to the point of feeling papery), and depending on what colour you are, these dead skin cells, depleted of melanin, the cell protein that gives us colour, turns to a pale dust on the skin’s surface. Exfoliation may also help you to look younger as you clear away the layers of spent, grey cells that make facial lines appear deeper.

There are many types of facial exfoliators (several men’s lines carry facial washes or pre-shave scrubs with exfoliating spheres), but it’s nice to exfoliate the whole body. An easy way to lose the spent cells en masse is to wash with exfoliating gloves from a drug store or an exfoliating towel available at the Body Shop. Soap or shower gel them up and use all over your body, though you might want to avoid even a light scraping of the jewels – use with caution in this area. No need to press the material against the skin, just use with the same pressure that you would with a wash cloth and presto! your skin is fresh and smooth again! Keep your fresh skin supple with the next step in our simple program.

3. Moisturize

Some guys are not into moisturizing, I know, but it makes a huge difference in the winter. A nice (and hopefully natural) moisturizer will soothe your skin and make it less dry, less itchy, and more comfortable.

If you know me personally or perhaps you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m not into commercial chemical personal products. This isn’t just because I’m sensitive, but because I don’t like the idea of having petrochemicals seep into my system via commercial moisturizers AND I don’t buy brands that test on animals. I don’t think anyone willingly wants a dog or a bunny injected or swabbed with potentially painful or maiming chemicals, so it’s a good idea to check behind the scenes and educate yourself – for a health, environment, and social rating of personal care products, check out the Good Guide for product ratings and decide for yourself.

I asked Kristen Ma, co-owner of Pure + Simple Beauty in Toronto, and author of  Beauty, Pure and Simple, if she had anything to say about moisturizing for men.

I advocate men use natural skin care and moisturizers because they are more hydrating (no petroleum that doesn’t properly penetrate) and less pore-clogging.

Also, natural moisturizer and shaving products help prevent shaving irritation and post shave break outs because they are gentler on the skin and free of chemical irritants. I noticed a dramatic difference when my fiance began using our Pure + Simple soothing shaving cream. He never gets shaving irritation bumps anymore.

(Have a look at Kristen’s excellent and informative blog, Holistic Vanity, and check out the wonderful natural products that her spa carries especially for men here.)

Another natural line that I like, produced in Ontario, is Green Beaver. Green Beaver is organic and biodegradable and best of all, they have a great moisturizing line especially for winter!

It doesn’t actually take long to fix up and maintain your skin in winter and it doesn’t make you any less of a man.  I think that men who groom well and take care of themselves are much more appealing and nicer to be around than men who turn away from self-care. To me, taking care of one’s self and one’s skin is a reflection of our self-esteem, and gents, I know you’re worth the bother.

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