Men’s Grooming & Hygiene: Myths & Misconceptions
Gone are the days when men's grooming consisted of a year-old safety razor, some Aqua Velva and a trip to the barbershop. The wild notion that men might want help to look their best has gained widespread acceptance, and yet decades of blinking away manly tears at the sting of aftershave has left behind a stack of male grooming product myths that deserve to be debunked.
Skin's impact on overall health, and even sexual health, can't be overestimated, so treating it nicely should be automatic.
Myth: Using more shaving cream will result in a better shave.
Reality: Mounding shaving cream on your face like they do in commercials isn't going to give you a closer shave. Shaving cream is for more than simply marking your progress across the terrain of your face, like lawnmower tracks. It hydrates and lifts up the wiry hairs of your beard, making them fatter and easier to cut. It also lubricates your skin and helps prevent ingrown hairs and razor burn. But you only need a layer thick enough so you can't see the skin beneath. Any more is a waste of money.
Myth: Men's and women's skincare products are the same.
Reality: Men's and women's skin differ significantly, and so do their skincare products. Men's skin is some 20 percent thicker than women's and, subsequently, tougher, making it a very different terrain for grooming and care.
What's more, men's facial hair follicles contain oils that help keep the skin naturally moist, which is a big reason why men's and women's faces age differently. Another difference facial hair throws into the mix is that men who shave regularly give themselves an exfoliation, stripping away dead skin and excess oils.
So while there's nothing wrong with a man using women's products, there's no reason to buy items that are generally (and unfairly) more expensive and not formulated for male skin.
Myth: It's OK to use regular soap on my face.
Reality: Despite your tough skin, you should still use a soap designed for the face. Regular bar soaps or body washes will get you clean all over, but they also tend to be unduly harsh and drying, stripping essential oils from your skin.
Also, it's strange but true: Using soaps that are overly drying can cause you to get acne more frequently. That's because your skin will react to being dry by overproducing oil to help moisturize itself. Even opting to buy a middle-of-the-road facial soap—nothing fancy, now—will do your skin wonders, keeping you in your "young and fresh" phase longer before the inevitable shift into "furrowed and grizzled" territory.
Myth: Makeup is only for girls.
Reality: Today's boys like makeup, too.
It's difficult to imagine now, but not long ago, a man using a product as invisible as moisturizer was something out of the ordinary. We've come a long way, baby, and nowadays more than half of men use some kind of makeup product, according to one survey. But you don't have to make it obvious. For instance, there are subtle under-eye moisturizing products containing highlights that will help conceal dark circles.
Indeed, Chanel recently launched an entire line of male makeup products, adding to what is now a $55 billion-a-year industry, so old gender norms surrounding makeup would appear to be on the way out.