If you really want to be comfortable in the skin you’re in, it’s best you know the ground rules. Skin science can be complicated. But the important stuff doesn’t need to be. Consider this your instant expert’s guide to your body’s best friend: your outer armour. Your skin.
Here’s a sobering thought. We bet you know more about how your TV remote works than how your skin works. Which, if you think about it, is a bit messed up, isn’t it? Your skin is the envelope into which we fit. It keeps our insides in, and the outside out. Which is how we like it. Yet we sort of take it for granted.
But a little knowledge is a wonderful thing. So, if you tell us what that blue button does on the remote, we’ll share some skin science with you. You’re welcome.
First things first. The skin on your face isn’t the same as the skin on your covered up bits. It’s harder, tougher and (mostly) thicker. But, because it takes the full force of the elements - and the razor - it’s way overdue for a little TLC.
It’s only the outer layer of your skin, the epidermis, that shields us from the outside world. It’s a skincell nursery, with baby cells coming up from the depths to reach the outside, in a monthly cycle.
The middle layer - the dermis - is the layer that keeps skin plump, firm and springy with stuff like collagen and elastin, while the innermost layer - the subcutis - is where you’ll find the blood vessels, and the layer of padding that keeps the body warm.
Assuming you’re not a plastic surgeon, the only layer you can directly affect is the epidermis. But by protecting your body’s perimeter wall, you’re going a long way to keeping the troops inside in the best possible health, so that when they’re promoted to the line of duty, they’re fit for everything life throws at them. Makes sense?
First the good news
Men’s skin is different to women’s. And, in some ways, nature is on your side. Your skin’s thicker - and collagen (the springy stuff that keeps your skin pert and plump when you’re young) stays around for longer. So men’s facial skin looks firmer and tighter for up to 15 years longer than women’s. High five, y chromosome. But don’t get the beers out just yet...
....now the bad news
Men’s skin has more active sebaceous glands than women. And they’re bigger too. That means more oil. And bigger pores. All of which means that stubborn stuff like acne, rashes and blackheads hang around way longer on our skin. And a face that looks like a dartboard. Nice.
...and more bad news
Add oiliness and thickness together and you’ve got skin that’s slow to show its age. But here’s the kicker: when the signs of ageing do appear, changes occur much more quickly. So expect sagging skin, puffy eyes, and deep, grooved wrinkles around the eyes and forehead. And expect to get really good at using filters for that Tinder pic.
...and more bad news
Still here? Good. Shaving stresses the skin. It removes the top layer of skin cells, exposing immature skin that’s sensitive to light, pollution and harsh weather. Blunt razors and poor lubrication only exacerbate the problem. And we do it 16,000 times throughout our life.
...and let’s end on some good news.
But skincare is your friend. It can’t stop the inevitable ticking clock. But it can slow it down. All your skin needs is a little helping hand, and it can carry on doing its thing, and making you look like the Photoshop handsome chap you were destined to be.
- Shaving with a sharp blade, and a properly formulated lubricant really does turn this daily ritual into a skin-loving sesh. The idea is to allow the razor to glide smoothly over the skin; to avoid harsh products like soap, alcohol and synthetic fragrances - all known to irritate and dry out the fresh new skin you’ve just exposed, and to leave the skin with a little cocktail of goodies: oils and actives that will keep on working while you’re on.
- It’s a harsh world out there. Think about facial skincare as shin pads for the face. A little layer of specially formulated moisturizers guards it against the elements. Keeps it hydrated. Keeps it protected. But will be useless against a sliding tackle in the box.
- Get into a routine. It’s all very well having good intentions, and showing your skin some love for a week or two. But this is all about the long game. As we said, when your skin starts to go south, things can accelerate pretty fast. You don’t want that. We don’t want that. So let’s get started...