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Five things men should know about skin care

Can shaving traditions harm skin? What about soap-free cleansers? Dermatologist Paul Jou, MD, provides tips for men’s skin care.
Starting a skin care routine? University of Minnesota Health Dermatologist Paul Jou, MD, shares some skin care tips for men.
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It’s no secret that men do not always pay attention to skin care.

“Women are just better with their skin, and they’re better with having a regimen—having something that they do for their skin every day,” said Paul Jou, MD, a dermatologist with University of Minnesota Health and an assistant professor at University of Minnesota Medical School. “Men do not have any routine, for the most part. So, getting men to do a specific routine can be a little more difficult.”

Fortunately, Jou has plenty of tips for men who are trying to develop a better skin care regimen. We asked him to share some of his expertise. Here’s what he had to say:

Forget those old shaving traditions.

Not all shaving traditions are bad, Jou said. For example, shaving after you shower and using shaving cream will reduce irritation. Still, Jou believes men should break away from some habits that can cause facial irritation and scarring, like shaving against the grain and using aftershave. Shaving against the grain can cause ingrown hairs—which can lead to inflammation and scarring—while using aftershave can also irritate the face.

“In Home Alone, when Macaulay Culkin puts the aftershave on his face and then screams because it burns—that shouldn’t happen,” Jou said. “Aftershave shouldn’t burn. That’s not a good thing.”

Instead, Jou recommends replacing aftershave with an antioxidant serum containing ferulic acid, vitamin C, green tea or others. Antioxidants boost the skin’s natural repair systems and reduce damage that occurs as we age.

Sunscreen every day—even in the winter.

This may come as a surprise, but dermatologists recommend using sunscreen daily, even in the winter. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays doesn’t stop because it’s cold outside. Such exposure causes the skin to degrade; it can trigger rosacea, changes in pigmentation or the development of lines and wrinkles. UV exposure also increases your risk for skin cancer.

“Ultraviolet rays will pass through clouds; they go through windows,” Jou said. “If there’s light in the sky, there are UV rays.”

Jou recommends a combination sunscreen and moisturizer every morning. “If you really want to protect your skin and look your best as you age, I really do recommend using at least an SPF 30 sunscreen every day,” he said.

Learn more about University of Minnesota Health dermatology care and services.

Soap-free is the way to be.

Keeping your skin clean is vital to keeping it healthy—and starting your day with a non-soap cleanser is a great way to do both. Jou said using a non-soap cleanser at least once a day helps keep your face clean without damaging skin or drying it out. “Non-soap cleansers are milder and in the winter they’re typically a better idea because everything is so dry,” he said.

Add a retinoid cream to your nightly checklist.

Retinoids are derived from Vitamin A. Research has shown they decrease acne, decrease skin oil levels and increase collagen production in the skin—which can be helpful for the very fine lines and wrinkles. They also help combat sun damage and other skin issues. Retinoids can cause skin dryness, Jou said. He recommends applying the cream every third night at first, then slowly increasing the frequency to once nightly if you do not experience any irritation or dryness. There are both prescription and non-prescription versions.

Stop looking at the labels.

The sheer number of skin care products available can be overwhelming. If you’re just starting a skin care routine, it’s best to choose the product you know will have the desired effect—not necessarily the one that fits your gender.

“Skin care products are packaged differently for each gender, and may have different fragrances, but the products themselves are not necessarily different,” Jou said.

On a related note, Jou said it is best to avoid fragrances if possible, because they may cause allergic reactions or rashes.

“Ask your dermatologist for recommendations for trusted products—not necessarily the ones with the flashiest packaging or marketing,” Jou said. 

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