Man, why is my skin so red and dry ?

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Skin care is not that confusing

Skin care is not that confusing

Guys and their skincare regime.

Does it exist?

When I met my husband he only used soap and water on his face, as well as shaving foam when wet shaving and couldn’t understand why his skin was always so dry and flaky.

Well, that soon changed. No way was I going to be married to a man who washed his face with hot (gentle) soapy water. Ouch, I just cringe at the thought of it.

Which brings me to the reason for this post.

We met a lovely 42 year old man (who resembled Cadel Evans, but with a British accent) on our recent weekend away and when he enquired as to my occupation was delighted to find out that I was in fact a skin therapist.

Cadel Evans - Australian Cycling Champion.  Tour de France.

Cadel Evans -
Australian Cycling Champion.
Tour de France.

I often get asked questions when one finds out what I do, but what I loved about this guy was his honesty.

He told me that he uses ‘really good quality’ skincare (as does his wife) but couldn’t figure out why his skin was still so red, aggravated and dry. He had tried everything.

I love how guys just think that whacking on an expensive moisturiser in the morning will solve everything.

A compromised skin barrier.  Dry, red, itchy and sometimes peeling.

A compromised skin barrier.
Dry, red, itchy and sometimes peeling.

It’s never about the exclusive brand or the cost of the products that interests me, it’s the ingredients that the products contain.

On further investigation (over breakfast, mind you) I found out he was British born (pale complexion), lives in Switzerland most of the time and travels the world extensively.

Very fit, great balanced diet – noticed he likes his coffee – takes multi-vitamins and only drinks (wine) at weekends.

So using just a morning hydrator should just be enough? Well, no – but why not?

He’s healthy, fit, very well groomed and takes care of himself, but what he needs to consider is that even though he’s looking after himself, his skin has become compromised because of his lifestyle.

Major contributors that trigger these skin conditions in any person regardless of race or skin colour are:

Physical and emotional stress

Changing time zones, missing family and friends during excessive travel, job stress.

Environment

Temperature change is a major factor in skin health.

Our guy lives in Switzerland, so extreme temperatures e.g freezing winters- going from highly heated homes, cars and offices to extreme cold outside.

Never got to ask him if he had hot showers, spas, saunas or splashed his face with cold water. But these are definite “noes”.

I would imagine though, that our ‘Cadel look-a-like’ would suffer much more in the colder climates with his skin.

Airplane travel, also a killer for skin with a compromised barrier. Recycled air blowing down on your delicate skin for hours. Ouch!

You need to drink loads of water, avoid tea, coffee and alcohol (these thing are known diuretics) in flight, and protect your skin with a barrier or occlusive skin product.

Exercise, yes great! But I bet our friend doesn’t run or cycle with any protection (sun protection, that is).

Even on an overcast day (apparently not much sun in Switzerland) a compromised skin needs a physical sunscreen (e.g. titanium dioxide, zinc oxide).

He told me that he only puts on his sunscreen when skiing or if the sun comes out. If he uses a chemical sunscreen, this would be another contributing factor to his sensitivity.

I am assuming that our guy spends quite some time using a computer, iPad, iPhone and even works under fluorescent lighting: again the need for a physical sunscreen – we still get UV exposure from our gadgets and lighting.
Mineral (Physical) vs Chemical Sunscreen.

Mineral (Physical) vs Chemical Sunscreen.

Excessive exfoliation

Any skin in this condition should not be exfoliated, rubbed or scrubbed.

Even wearing glasses can aggravate the condition so be sure to protect any areas that are exposed to constant rubbing.

Our guy does wear glasses at night for reading and sunglasses during the day, funnily this was the area of his face that was his major concern.

Disrupted skin barrier. Very reactive. Very sore.

Disrupted skin barrier.
Very reactive. Very sore.

Chemical pollutants

Air pollution as well as ingredients in hair and skin products.

I always recommend that you check ingredients of any products before you buy.

I would avoid anything that contains sodium lauryl sulphate,
mineral oil, lanolin, S.D alcohol, artificial colours D&C red dyes, artificial fragrances or isopropyl myristate.

What our guy didn’t realise, just like my husband and probably many guys out there, was that his lovely smelling household soap in the shower and his supermarket anti dandruff shampoo as well as the shaving and male grooming products he was using was a major contributor to his dry, scaly, red, sensitive peeling skin. They are often high alkaline which leave the skin on the face, scalp and body dry, tight and irritated.

Alkaline products are extremely harsh and drying on our skin.

Alkaline products are extremely harsh and drying on our skin.

images

To wash your face, I would recommend cleansers that contain gentle or anti-inflammatory ingredients (ie. a coconut/sugar complex, vegetable glycerine, herbal amaranth, Australian sandalwood)

No point just using any kind of moisturiser.

When you have a compromised skin, it must be an occlusive kind of barrier protection with a repairing serum used twice daily underneath it for healing and protection.

Some examples of gentle ingredients to look for are oat beta glucan, ginger, chamomile, red hogweed, liquorice, Shea butter, horse chestnut, green tea, sea buckthorn, oil-soluble vitamin C, Canadian willowherb, B group vitamins, blue agave, arnica, tamanu oil, azulene, totarol or vitamin E as these ingredients are extremely healing, soothing and will repair your skin.

The bottom line is really that once you have a compromised and sensitised skin barrier you need to find out what is triggering it, avoid those triggers and then protect your skin with the gentlest products that you can find.

I would recommend seeing a professional Skincare therapist who will go through your lifestyle, skincare regime and offer you a thorough skincare analysis and salon treatment to improve your skin as well as offering you a customised home care routine to repair and strengthen your skin.

A naturopath or an integrative chinese medicine practitioner can offer advice on diet and herbal vitamin supplements that can improve skin health, for example, essential fatty oils, omega 3, fish oils etc.

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One response »

  1. Thanks for this exceptionally interesting post. I have at great pain to my wallet decided I will have to ditch my wonderfully feel good face cream made by a company beginning with a C and have asked my wife to check out all the ingredients on the moisturers we do have….I learned a lot in this post ….all I need now is a local skin therapist who has the time and attention you have given!
    Any international available brands you can recommend as having the right ingredients?

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