If there’s one thing the beauty and grooming industry tells us again and again, it’s the importance of using a moisturiser - especially on the face. According to most skincare professionals, everyone - both men and women - should moisturise twice a day: once in the morning and once at night.
Once upon a time, taking care of the face wasn’t something a man would deem a priority. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that it was largely considered to be something only women should do. However, times are changing. According to a recent report into the male grooming sector by market research firm Mintel, over half (58%) of men aged 18-24 and almost two thirds (63%) of those aged 25-34 now use a facial moisturising product. Also, a brand new study conducted by global skincare brand Clarins also states that men now spend an average of ten to 30 minutes applying ‘lotions and potions’ to help combat their skincare concerns. Aside from good old soap and water, the most commonly used products among men are moisturisers.
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With the market value of the facial care and moisturising segment worth over £33.1 million in the UK, the benefits of moisturising stressed by the beauty industry are obviously having an effect, but do men really need to buy these products? Or is it just a marketing ploy by grooming brands to pocket more money? To find out, we ask industry experts the reasons why men should moisturise.
Reason 1: To reduce dryness and scaling
The most obvious reason to moisturise is to reduce facial dryness. However, Dr Catherine Borysiewicz, a Consultant Dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, says moisturising can be very helpful when it comes to relieving dryness and reducing scaling of the skin, and can also be soothing.
“If the skin feels dry and cracked, it’s usually because the outer layer of our skin - called the stratum corneum - has abnormalities in its barrier function,” she explains. “It’s this lack in barrier function that causes a reduction in lipids (fats) and thus its water-holding ability is impacted.”
Borysiewicz adds that while our environment or even general health and diet can be the cause of dry or scaly skin, some people are just more prone to dryness, especially those with eczema or in their older years.
This, she says, is thanks to some active ingredients, including occlusives, which provide a layer of oil on the skin surface to reduce water loss from the stratum corneum, and humectants, which increase the water holding capacity of the stratum corneum.
“For dry sensitive skin apply a moisturiser at least twice a day - this will soothe and improve skin texture,” she advises. “There are a variety of different products out there; focus on consistency of the product.”
Reason 2: To protect us from the elements
As we move into winter our skin is exposed to extremes in temperature and our reliance on central heating creates lower humidity environments, which causes the skin barrier to be more vulnerable to moisture loss, therefore, creating dry and irritable skin.
Borysiewicz says this is an important time to moisturise as it’s when underlying inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis can become more problematic.
“Skincare needs to change with the seasons as the weather changes dramatically in the UK,” she says. “As exposed facial skin is vulnerable to further sensitivity and dryness during winter, use a thicker cream or ointment.”
Reason 3: To help neutralise the skin’s PH balance
While male skin tends to be oilier and ages differently, men still suffer from the same skin problems as women such as acne. In some cases, it can be worse. Dr Ross Perry, Medical Director of Cosmedics skin clinics, tells T3 that this is because male skin produces more sebum and so its PH is lower than female skin making it more prone to impurities.
“Despite men having different skin to women, the environment will also still cause the same problems as women alongside UV damage, changes in the weather and the build-up of dirt and grime, therefore this will all have an impact on the skin losing moisture,” he explains.
This is because, as men’s skin releases oils, sweats, and reacts to the environment, its pH also changes.
“When exposed to the elements, men's skin tends to drop lower than the natural pH, and moisturisers can help to bring them back to a healthy pH-balanced baseline,” adds Perry.
“Using a moisturiser for men is, therefore, an absolute must and should be part of the everyday skin routine as it can help to repair irritated skin and help fight against the elements.”
Reason 4: To slow down the aging process
According to Louis Hanlon, cosmetic technologist of GBS Clinic, men should moisturise to help prevent the ageing process, especially since they age faster than women.
“From an evolutionary standpoint, males evolved to be typically stronger and more robust than women,” she explains. “It is believed that a hyper-activated protein (mTOR) drives this robustness. But there is a trade-off, and that is the cost of accelerated ageing.”
This is because the mTOR protein stimulates muscle growth as well as stimulates the ageing process of mammalian cells, including skin cells. Armed with this knowledge, she says it’s vital that men always moisturise:
“Apply a particularly heavy dose to the forehead, in a circular fashion. Most men I know hate the lines on their forehead, and they will inevitably get worse with age, but we can slow the process down considerably with moisturising cream.”
Reason 5: To relieve trauma caused by shaving
It’s no secret that regular shaving causes mild trauma to the skin day after day.
Skincare expert Jane Scrivner warns that this can be due to typical shaving products tending to be over fragranced with high alcohol content, which is drying and sensitising to the skin.
“Shaving can also lead to cuts, razor burn, ingrown hairs and overexposing the skin to external factors as it removes the uppermost layers of the skin and challenges the integrity of its first line of defence – the acid mantle,” she warns.
“Men should therefore apply moisturiser to calm, soothe and condition even the most vulnerable skin as this will help protect against free radical damage.”
Reason 6: To protect even oily skin
There is a myth that you don't need to moisturise when you have oily skin or are prone to spot outbreaks, but aesthetics and Skincare expert at Intrigue Cosmetic Clinic, Amish Patel, believes otherwise.
“Moisturisers draw the water into your skin and the emollients form a protective film on your skin to trap the water in the skin and hydrate and protect,” he explains, adding that you should choose a moisturiser that suits your skin type.
“You have two types of moisturiser; water-based or oil-based. If your skin is oily, opt for the water-based moisturiser as these are likely to be less rich when compared to oil-based moisturisers on the market.”
Reason 7: For creating an even skin tone
Vivian Lau, the founder of organic men’s skincare brand Vitruvian Man, says a moisturiser is essential for looking your best.
“The basis of a moisturiser is to retain the water you have on your skin structure and prevent it from drying out. This helps to keep your facial skin firmer, brighter and healthier-looking,” he explains.
“Not only can the right moisturiser be game-changing in improving the general appearance of the skin, but it works wonders on creating an even tone, too.”