Know Your Skin Type

Posted by Francois Chaput at

One of my readers called a few weeks back. He had questions about the products we carry.

No problem. I'm always happy to take these kinds of calls.

Skin care is a new concept for most men. Unlike women, we aren't automatically inducted at a certain age into the Universal Brotherhood of Good Grooming. My new friend on the phone, like so many others who have taken the time to contact me, felt he should turn to a knowledgeable peer for guidance.

Our discussion went like this. "My wife wants me to take better care of my skin. Can you recommend something for my face?" "Sure," I said. "What type of skin do you have?" He said, "I don't know."

That brought our conversation to a grinding halt. After a spirited game of Twenty Questions, I figured out he had oily skin and made the appropriate product suggestions. But it occurred to me later that the topic I should have addressed first on these pages — determining your skin type — is the one topic I unforgivably neglected to mention. So here it is, in its entirety. Sorry for the delay.

Be True to Your Skin

Skin is your body's largest organ and a crucial defense against bacterial infection. It is an incredibly resilient piece of work, and one that adapts very well to its rapidly changing environment. You therefore may exhibit symptoms that can be attributed to skin types other than your own. But these may simply be your skin's reaction to the sun, pollution, medications, stress, or a variety of other natural and artificial influences. Knowing your true skin type — that is, the type of skin you have under ideal environmental conditions — is the first step to selecting the products that meet your unique needs.

Normal Skin

Normal skin is never too oily or too dry. Zits are a rarity. You can tell normal skin, as with any skin type, by its texture and appearance. Pores are small. The skin has even tone and is moderately thick, smooth, and firm with excellent elasticity and moisture.

If you have normal skin — well, lucky bloody you. Stick with a daily cleanse-tone-moisturize routine for your face and a wash-scrub-spray for the rest of your corpus, and you'll live a long and productive life. Or not. But at least you'll have nice skin.

Oily Skin

Oily skin is typically thicker and firmer than normal skin, with less sensitivity to chemicals, detergents, or perfumes. Pores are medium to large in size and sometimes become clogged with a sebaceous material that causes blackheads, whiteheads, or blemishes. Simply put, if you can see your reflection in your reflection in the mirror, then you should choose products that are designed to cut your greasy emissions.

Try a glycolic facial cleanser, followed by astringent and an oil free face lotion, every morning after you shower. Use an oil-free body cleansing gel when you bathe. Avoid cheap mass-market soaps (not soaps, really, but harsh detergents). Scrub every other day. Mask at least once a week.

Tone after exercise or when you're sweaty. Use an astringent aftershave instead of a shave balm. Stay away from the all-over body moisturizers.

Dry Skin

Winter is your enemy, isn't it? Your skin always feels tight and you're probably able to dust away a layer of flakes, any time you please.

Dry skin is usually thin, dull, easily irritated, and rough to the touch. Kind of like my last employer.

It's easy to mistake dry skin symptoms or some mild forms of skin disease for truly dry skin. In fact, you most likely have normal skin that you aren't treating with the proper amount of respect. If that's the case, follow my instructions above for normal skin. If you don't see an immediate improvement, talk to a dermatologist.

Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, then I'm sure you already know it by now. You have moderate to severe reactions to the sun, the wind, temperature extremes, cheaper shave creams, fragrances, perfumed soaps, alcohol-based deodorants — the list goes on. You burn very easily when out in the sun. Your skin always seems to sting or itch. Most of the time, you're just damned uncomfortable.

Be very careful about the products you choose for your skin. Even with their fine botanical ingredients and hypoallergenic testing, some of our items have been known to provoke rare but intense reactions in a few of our more sensitive clients.

For shaving, try a gel instead of a cream. Follow up with an aftershave balm that has a little sun protection for your daily walkabouts. Bathe with a glycerin soap bar and avoid fragrances. If you're feeling adventurous, give our hand and body lotion a shot to protect your skin from the elements. Caution remains the word of the day. If you see redness after an application of any of these products, discontinue their use at once.

Combination Skin

Combination skin actually refers to the skin on your face and not the skin that covers the rest of your carcass. Most combination skin consists of an oily "T" zone (forehead, nose, and chin) with dry cheeks and eye areas. In some instances, guys exhibit an entire smorgasbord of skin conditions or, more unusual still, a dry "T" zone with normal cheeks and eye areas.

Basically, treat each area according to what you have read above for other skin types. And mask your "T" zone two to four times a month, just to even things out.

Problem Skin

The pores on your face are very large. When you squeeze them, they exude a fatty discharge. Your skin is excessively oily and prone to acne or frequent outbreaks of blackheads, whiteheads, and blemishes.

Consult a dermatologist, if you have not already done so. You most likely require prescription medication that you cannot obtain at MenEssentials.

If you are already on prescription medication, do not pop, squeeze or pick at acne blemishes. Wash your face twice daily with a mild cleanser and pat dry. Use cosmetics and toiletries that are specifically marked "noncomedogenic." Avoid things that can aggravate your acne (oils, airborne grease, irritating clothing or sporting equipment, and so on). Use protective clothing and sunscreens/sunblocks, and avoid tanning booths (use self tanner instead).

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