Tag Archives: moisturize

Winter skin care

5 Feb
rhino hide

If your skin feels like rhino hide, it’s time to exfoliate!

Winter. The absolute worst time for our skin when moisture is sucked out by dry air and dry heat. By February, you might feel dried out, rough, and scaly–not exactly a nice feeling.

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 you think 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 know that skin is our largest organ that protects our internal organs and otherwise holds us together, so it’s 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. Here are three easy ways for a fella to avoid dry and possibly uncomfortable skin during the winter.

1. Avoid hot waterhot 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. If you have sensitive skin, too-hot a shower can make your whole body turn red and splotchy, and skin can take hours to get back to its normal colour. If you insist on hot showers but don’t like the resulting redness, take your shower at night to allow your skin to return to its natural colour.

The hot water concept applies to other tasks besides bathing. Sensitive types should wear rubber gloves when washing the dishes because wet, sensitive hands can make your life miserable. Once the red, raw, and sometimes scaly patches appear on your knuckles, you could be in for split skin which hurts and opens you to a possible invasion of unwelcome foreign bodies. If you have to wash the dishes with bare hands, dry them thoroughly and apply a hand cream afterward to combat the hot water reaction.

loofah

A loofah is a natural way to exfoliate.

2. Exfoliate

For those of you who don’t know, to exfoliate is to slough off dead skin cells that sit on the surface of our skin, which makes the skin feel dry and look dull. Depending on what colour your skin is, these dead skin cells, depleted of melanin (the cell protein that gives us colour), turns to a pale dust on the skin’s surface. Dead skin cells are more obvious if you have darker skin.

Face: Exfoliation may 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 that can come in the form of pre-shave scrubs or facial scrubs. When you find one you like, try gently rolling a bit around your eyes to reduce the appearance of deep wrinkles and crow’s feet. Use an eye cream to follow if you have one.

Use exfoliants with natural spheres like rice flour granules, otherwise the small plastic spheres found in commercial cosmetic and grooming exfoliant products pollute lakes and are consumed by marine life which eventually kills them. Know that there is a social and environmental responsibility to everything you purchase.

Body: An easy way to lose the spent cells en masse is to wash with a natural loofah, exfoliating gloves from a drug store, or an exfoliating towel available at the Body Shop. Use soap or a shower gel on your chosen scrubbing tool and use all over your body, but take care to avoid scraping your sensitive man parts (you’ll know when to stop!). 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: moisturizing.

3. Moisturizecoconut

Bodies feel wonderful and smooth after an exfoliation. Once you’ve done away with the dull cells, follow-up with a natural moisturizer, as the fresh skin is now ready to absorb moisture. 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. A good one is coconut oil, available at most alternative health stores, or a coco butter option (smells good too!).

I admit to having a natural product bias. It isn’t just because my skin is sensitive; I don’t like the idea of having petrochemicals seep into my system via commercial moisturizers, and I can’t stand the idea of grooming companies testing products 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.) Make a point of reading product labels and avoid any with parabens, alcohol, or artificial fragrance and colour (almost all products at drug stores contain all or of some of these ingredients). Instead, have a look in a neighbourhood health food store and ask about natural products–the staff is usually knowledgeable about these things.

It doesn’t actually take long to fix up and maintain your skin in winter and taking care of your skin 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 and leave a trail of dead skin cell dust behind them.

Taking care of one’s self and one’s skin is a reflection of our self-esteem, gents, and it is definitely worth the time. You and your skin are worth the bother.

Why you should avoid hot showers

13 Dec

showerGreetings from a very chilly living space in Toronto! This week has been quite cold – today is minus 10 with a minus 19 degree wind chill, and because we’re right next to a Great Lake, the cold blowing off the water is bone-chilling (though nothing compared to what’s happening in SK, where it’s -31 in Regina today).

My first thought when I walk in is to get the chill out of my bones, and how do I do that? Like a lot of you, I think about having a hot shower. Then I stop and grab another sweater because I know that though hot water may feel good at the time, ultimately, it’s not a good idea.

Hot water does some nasty things to our skin – dries it out, makes it tight, and strips the natural oils from skin, leaving a dry and itchy feeling. If you use commercial soaps that are heavy with synthetic fragrances and colours, this will further rob your skin of its natural oils and keep the skin dry and tight.

Discovery’s Fit and Health offers an excellent information on avoiding hot water in winter, explaining that the heat from a hot shower makes the skin’s oils soften, and when soap is added, the skin’s oil barrier is easily stripped away (at first, this isn’t a bad thing, they say, because that same oil barrier traps dirt and sweat, which leads to body odour). But without those oils, “the moisture in your skin easily escapes, leading to dry and itchy skin. The longer and hotter the shower, the faster this process takes place and the more moisture you’re likely to lose.”

That’s when the discomfort begins – not only is there a lot less moisture in the air in winter, keeping your skin significantly dried out, hot showers make the skin hot, tight, itchy, and if you’re cursed with sensitive skin like me, you’ll step out of the bath covered in red splotches that take hours to calm down.

Cool off!

The Art of Manliness recommends to take a “James Bond shower” – the book version of James Bond explains that every time JB took a shower, he would start with hot water, and then turn it down to cold for the last few minutes. Apparently invigorating with many health benefits, bathing in cold water has been the norm for centuries. The site lists ways in which cold water improves circulation, relieves depression, makes for healthy skin and hair (I notice that when I turn the warm water down and rinse my hair in cool water, it is much shinier), strengthens immunity, and boosts testosterone!

Moisturize!

Dr. Mathew Avram, director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dermatology, Laser, and Cosmetic Center, talked winter skin care with Boston Magazine, saying that lukewarm showers or baths are best for winter bathing. He recommends that after bathing, “wipe off the excess water on your skin, and then immediately moisturize. Your skin will absorb the moisture better that way.”

For those of you who think, pfft! real men don’t moisturize!, I would like to remind you that your skin is an organ, in fact, the largest organ of your body, so why wouldn’t you take care of it? Moisturized skin feels better, looks better, does not crack, and will not bleed from cracks!

Exfoliate!

On top of moisturizing, exfoliating is a fantastic idea at least once a week to slough off the top layer of dead skin cells that keeps moisture out. Dry skin is one of the worst feelings in the world for me, so I like to use exfoliating gloves (available at the Body Shop, drug stores, or alternative health stores) in the shower. Pull them on, soap them up, then wash your entire body with these scrubbing mitts that leave a soft layer of fresh skin. Apply a natural moisturizer like shea or cocoa butter afterwards to feel smooth and comfortable. Yum!

More winter skin care tips here.

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.