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Style and Beauty

Beyond the Beard

By Michele Marko, 20 Sep, 2019
  • Beyond the Beard

Men are recognizing that caring for their skin is not just about good grooming, it is part of a healthy regimen.

It used to be that men who paid too much attention to their appearance were a target for a gentle ribbing or even outright ridicule. Yes, men should look presentable, but it really shouldn’t involve too much obvious effort. Let’s face it, compared to women, they really do have it easy. Haircut, shower, shave — surely that’s all that’s needed for a guy to be well-turned out. Maybe.

The emergence of the metrosexual in the 1990s began a slow subtle shift in the approach to men’s grooming. Big brands caught on and the stigma eased a bit. Fast forward past the naughts to today, and it’s apparent the ongoing fascination with beards and moustaches has sparked a whole new approach to men’s grooming.

It also created a demand for different types of products — something beyond the drugstore mass market offerings. Montreal-based Groom, a men’s care brand, was born of that demand five years ago, and it was quite personal. “The project started out because me and one of my friends were looking for products to maintain our moustaches and beards,” recalls Groom co-founder Julien Blanchard. “We were in our late 20s and understanding that we needed to take care of ourselves a bit better … We had tried a lot of products and because none of them were up to our satisfaction, we decided to try our hand at making them.”

Taking pride in the appearance of one’s beard or moustache created an awareness about skincare beyond just a quick morning shave. “I think for people who got into beards and moustaches and wanted it to be clean, this was their stepping in [to skincare.] It was at work before that, but I think it was the door through which a lot of new guys got into it,” says Blanchard.

Kassie Whitteker, treatment supervisor for the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie, says that the spa industry has noted more men availing themselves of spa skincare services. “Approximately 35 per cent of spa guests are men … and that number is rising.” More than specific skin concerns, Whitteker says that men come into the spa looking for the general knowledge on how to take care of their skin. “They seem to lack education and really don’t know where to start.”

And it’s not just the smaller niche brands that have responded to the increasing interest in men’s-specific products. Sara Whittaker, director of education for Clinique Canada, confirms the brand has seen an uptick in men looking for skincare solutions. “Yes, this is something we’ve been seeing for a while now,” Whittaker says. “Men’s interest in skincare continues to grow as many see their grooming regimen as an important component of wellness and healthy living; right alongside eating right and exercising.”

Travis Gerow, The Body Shop Canada’s men’s skincare expert, agrees that men — though generally the 20s to 30s demographic — are taking more of an interest in skincare. “Men are often concerned with the appearance of their skin and are looking for easy, effective solutions to visibly make a difference to the way their skin looks,” he says. But, he cautions, they need to stick with it to see any benefits. “Get in the habit of treating your skin with respect by introducing a routine regimen.”

Specifically, what should that regimen entail? Since men either shave every day, or have facial hair, their skin needs are different from women’s. “The most common skin complaints from men are usually tied to shaving,” Clinique’s Whittaker says. “Dryness and irritation, ingrown hairs and razor bumps are the key ones that come to mind.” Exfoliation is key to reducing skin issues from shaving, says Caudalie’s Whitteker and she advises men to integrate it into their routine two to three times a week. “This will leave the skin smooth and soft and will help prevent ingrown hairs caused by shaving. Another plus with exfoliation for men is a closer shave can be achieved.”

Surprisingly, Blanchard says having a beard actually can be more stressful on the skin than having short stubble or being clean shaven. “Dry hair is as stiff as copper wire. So, when you grow a beard, all the tips of the hair as it curls back is pretty much like having copper wire on your face and it’s creating these micro irritations on the skin.”

He further adds, “There are couple of ways to deal with it. You condition the hair, and the way we encourage that is [by] using a beard oil which is a blend of natural oils — light oils that are going to be nourishing to the skin underneath without leaving any shine or oiliness.” Groom’s beard oil is a mix of jojoba, hemp seed and argan oil which absorbs easily into the skin. Blanchard joking refers to it as a face serum for men. “But if I call it a face serum, no man is going to buy it,” he laughs.

Like women, hydrating and moisturizing men’s skin is necessary for a healthy, balanced complexion. “Keeping skin hydrated is something that all men should be concerned about,” says Clinique’s Whittaker. “When skin is dehydrated, the skin cells have shrunk due to a lack of water. The salt remaining becomes concentrated, causing molecules to break apart and triggering free radicals to form. Prolonged dehydration can lead to irreversible damage to skin and tissues and even cause damage to DNA in the cells that can lead to subsequent problems such as sensitivity.” 

Using an effective daily moisturizer is key to averting skin dehydration. Whittaker offers the Clinique For Men Maximum Hydrator 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator as an example. She says it’s formulated to combat “dry and dehydrated skin by providing an instant moisture boost after shaving while actually helping skin continually rehydrate itself for 72 hours – even after he washes his face.”

And like women, men should use an SPF too. But are there some “don’ts” that they should avoid? “Cleansing the face with “multi-purpose” body cleaners or soaps. Often these products have harsh soaps that may dry the skin or heavily fragrant and may cause irritation,” says Gerow Blanchard agrees and advises to avoid any products with sulphates. Cleansers should be gentle and not strip the skin.

“Vigorous shaving without proper lubrication on the face is a common skincare mistake that men make,” says Clinique’s Whittaker. “This can cause uncomfortable facial irritation, and lead to things such as razor burn and ingrown hairs.” She recommends shaving in or immediately after a shower and following up with a hydrating, lightweight, facial moisturizer to help keep skin calm.

Blanchard says as much as a good skincare routine is important, it’s all about each man determining what’s comfortable for him and knowing that it’s not about adopting a woman’s regimen. “Right now, it’s manly to do nothing; it’s manly to do a bit of things and it’s manly to do more. It just depends how you consider yourself and what version of manliness you want to embody.”

Four Quick grooming tips for men:

- By Starks Barber Company

Don’t forget the conditioner.

Shampoo gets your hair clean, but conditioner helps keep it looking full and healthy. Conditioner does for your hair what moisturizer does for skin, keeping it soft and manageable.

Speaking of moisturizer...

Most men don’t care for their skin enough or properly, particularly after going through the rigors of shaving. What your skin needs after a shave is hydration, but some of the most popular aftershaves on the market are loaded with alcohol — and alcohol dries out the skin. (Good tip here: If your aftershave stings when you put it on, chances are it has alcohol in it.) A good quality moisturizer is a great anti-aging agent, and you can use it between shaves to keep your face (or any part of your body) looking healthy and vibrant.

Prepare before you shave

It may be an extra step, but your face will thank you for applying a pre-shave lotion before applying your shaving cream. A hydrating pre-shave lotion shocks the skin and gets your stubble standing on end to prepare it for the shave. (Another tip: when you shave, do so right after a hot shower, which softens your skin and opens your pores.)

Take care of your hands

When meeting new people or greeting old friends, your hands are among the first contact you will have with them — whether via handshake or a friendly hug. First impressions matter, so keep your nails neatly trimmed and use moisturizer to help keep your hands free of callous and rough edges.

Photos: iStock, Courtesy of products featured, Miraj Hammam Spa by Claudalie

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