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Oh, The Joy Of Fathers Day

September 6, 2009

Happy Fathers Day to all of our Australian readers! I hope that the father (or father figure) in your life awoke to a nice cup of tea after a long lie in bed. Our house was a hive of activity as our two daughters noisily prepared a breakfast of cereal and gingerbread men (made by Miss 8 last night) things soon turned sour when Miss 5 got sick and tired of waiting for dad to get out of bed and started picking at the spread. Needless to say, the quiet lie in ended there and then!

Mud. The busy man's face pack!

Mud. The busy man's face pack!

Anyway, in keeping with all things “daddy” I thought I would do a quick review of daddy skin care to find out if men really are from mars.

Men’s skin is thicker than women’s.
It is true that a man’s facial skin is generally up to 25% thicker than the average woman’s due to the effect of Androgens on the body. While this may sound like a great advantage when it comes to protection from the elements and from the effects of gravity, it really isn’t. Men’s skin starts to thin much sooner than women’s and wrinkles are often more pronounced in males than females. Sunscreen is still required!

Men have more collagen.
Collagen is the key part of the extracellular matrix – the skins scaffolding so the more that is present, the better (well, up to a point of course). Men have an advantage over women here by being born with more so even though both sexes lose about 1% of their total collagen per year over their adult life, the men started from a higher base. In addition, collagen in males is more closely packed than females. It is for these reasons that women often seem to age quicker than men.

Men are just as prone to irritation!
According to some reports around 70% of females claim to have sensitive skin and while men are still less likely to describe their skin as “sensitive” many suffer in silence from things such as razor burn, ingrown hair problems and rashes. The old style skin regimen of a soapy shave followed by a skin tingling dose of after-shave has been replaced by balms, moisturizers with added SPF and soap free cleansers. In fact using a strong perfume after giving yourself a close shave may be fuelling the fire so to speak, as shaving the skin leaves it very susceptible to irritation and more likely to absorb the chemicals present in your favorite fragrance! The best bet is to give yourself a bit of time between shaving and applying after-shave or fragrance. Also, apply some non-scented moisturizer to help put back some of the natural moisturizing factor that you have just removed!

The Acid Factor
On average people’s skin is more acidic than women’s are. This is due to them producing more lactic acid in their sweat (and they also sweat more even though they have less eccrine and appocrine sweat glands than women). These factors mean that a man’s skin can actually become dehydrated more quickly than a woman is making it more important for men to use moisturizer.

Mr Slick.
Men’s skin produces more oil than women’s, which has its fore’s, and against. The skin produces oils to moisturize and protect it and as men’s skin is thicker, it makes sense that it needs a little more lubrication. However, too much oil can be a cause of irritation and can contribute to skin flair-ups, black heads and open pores. This combined with the link between testosterone levels and acne put men at a disadvantage in the spot stakes.

The Hairy Facts.
The fashion for being clean-shaven poses many problems for men. Facial hair growth starts at puberty brought on by a change in hormones. However, almost as soon as the hairs start to poke through, problems may start to appear. Many men suffer from the occasional ingrown hair (Pseudofollicullitis barbae) which is often caused when the coarse beard hair is broken off to a sharp tip, which then continues to grow under the skin. This can result in the skin becoming bumpy and infected which can be as painful as it is unsightly. The best way to avoid this is to keep the skin in good condition in the first place (use a mild cleanser, moisturize and always use a clean and sharp blade). The shaving technique and tools used can also limit the likelihood of getting a shaving rash.

So, are men from mars when it comes to skincare? I don’t really think so. While men may have a few slight differences in their skin biology, the basics remain the same. The fact that more men than ever are seeing the benefit of taking care of their largest organ (ehem, not talking about THAT one) has to be a good thing. My advice? If it burns don’t use it, if you’re going outside, protect it and if you want it to be kissed, moisturize it!

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