Grooming for Men: Myths & Misconceptions
Even in this modern, inclusive era, grooming for men often seems to occupy a weird space: Too much is seen as fussy whereas not enough makes you seem like a caveman. The sweet spot appears to be somewhere between baby-smooth Olympic swimmer and werewolf. But rather than risk the former, lots of men err on the werewolf side—much to the chagrin of the people who love them.
So for the grooming-impaired men out there, we've assembled a few male grooming and hygiene myths that men must look past to find the truth of what's necessary in the modern era.
Myth: It's OK to use the soap I use for my body on my face.
Reality: Most shower gels and soaps meant for the body are on the harsh side and do your face no favors. Shower gels, and even soaps, marketed as all-in-one products lean heavily toward astringent formulations designed to combat body oils and odors and are far too drying for your face.
It may be counterintuitive, but using soaps that overdry your face can lead to acne and other issues, because the resulting dryness of your skin causes your body to overproduce oil. Spend a couple of bucks on a soap specifically for the face, and you'll have happier skin.
Myth: Men and women can use the same skincare products.
Reality: Men's and women's skin are different and have different requirements. While there's nothing inherently wrong or bad about men using women's facial cleansers and moisturizing products, the relative toughness of a man's skin makes it unnecessary to spend the extra money on gentler women's products.
The biggest difference between the genders in this context is that men have facial hair. Along with it, guys have facial skin that's rougher, thicker and gets better blood flow to grow those hairs. Also, hair follicles secrete oil naturally, keeping men's faces more moisturized. When men shave, they're giving themselves an exfoliation.
All of these factors, along with the hormonal variations that women's facial skin undergoes, mean that men's facial skin doesn't age at the same rate as women's.
However, as men age, their skin loses elasticity the same way a woman's facial skin does. So using a serum with collagen-building vitamin C is a great idea for men, as is moisturizing once or twice a day. Bonus points for using a sunscreen-containing moisturizer, but in any case, use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher if you're going to be outside.
Myth: Beards are itchy. Always.
Reality: The worst itchiness usually fades after a few weeks of growth, and your skin adjusts to your new whisker-forward look.
New beard owners often think they just need to stop shaving and all is good on the beard front. But they neglect a key component of happy beard life: maintenance. Yes, beard hair contains natural oils, but massaging a good beard oil into your facial hair, regardless of length, along with the underlying skin, helps keep the hair soft and less bristly. A host of beard products are out there to help.
Myth: Men don't need to exfoliate.
Reality: Using an exfoliating cleanser is a must for a healthy face.
Exfoliating, especially before shaving, helps you avoid ingrown hairs, razor burn, skin irritation and more. And if you have a beard, using an exfoliating cleanser is even more critical, because the beard hair and oils trap dirt and block air and sunlight, and this can cause irritation.
On the plus side for beards in general, one study shows beards block 90 percent of UV rays, so men with beards may lower their chance of getting skin cancer.
Grooming and hygiene for men may not be as complex as it is for women. However, most men could probably afford to add a couple of steps to their daily routine in order to up their grooming game.