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Sun Care: Man's Best Friend

By: Jennifer Linder, MD
Posted: January 30, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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A healthy and strong matrix gives the skin its shape, resiliency and resistance to wrinkling. Men do not begin to show their age as early as women, making aging easier for them to ignore. This partially explains why men do not seek out skin care products and treatments as early in life as women.

Lifestyle considerations

Daily shaving helps men’s skin retain its youthful appearance as well, as it provides daily exfoliation of excess stratum corneum. This regular removal of build-up keeps the surface smooth and skin cells turning over at a healthy rate.

However, poor shaving habits can lead to dryness and other negative side effects, such as pseudofolliculitis barbae. This condition occurs when coarse hairs are cut off and then lie below the surface of the follicle. As the hair grows, the sharp end of the hair will often grow into the side of the follicle rather than out the opening, causing inflammation, irritation and even infection. This is most common in men with curly and coarse hair. The use of topical anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and hydrating ingredients such as salicylic acid, azelaic acid, bisabolol and squalane are typically effective in alleviating these conditions.

The combination of regular exfoliation, thicker skin and increased collagen, with androgens behind the scenes driving oil production, simply helps men stay looking younger longer. Because of this, the typical anti-aging educational and marketing approaches do not have the impact on men that they do on women. It is necessary to change the dialogue to one of protection from the dangers of UV exposure to capture the attention of male clients and start a conversation about skin health.

The psychology

Women have long dealt with imagery in advertising, fashion and movies that depicts the archetypal “perfect” woman as young, thin and beautiful. As a country, the nation’s population has worked to help young girls overcome these notions of female perfection in favor of a healthy body and facial image.