‘Exfoliating isn’t necessary’ and other male skincare myths

Some are ancient and some are downright silly, but many popular grooming misconceptions — often handed down generation after generation and perpetuated by pop culture — are so ingrained that we take them as skincare gospel.

In the quest to figure out what can actually help us look better, learning to distinguish fact from fallacy is key. Ahead, experts dispel some common grooming myths.

For any man who wants to up their skincare game, they’ll need to seek out products containing active ingredients.Credit:iStock

Myth: Oilier skin types don’t need moisturiser

On paper this might seem to make perfect sense, but in reality all skin types — oily included — need hydration. In fact, one of the best ways to fight oil is with moisture.

“Your skin has sebaceous glands that produce sebum, aka, oil – the shiny, waxy substance on the surface of your skin. The function of this oil is to moisturise and protect your skin,” says Mischa Casey, education and product specialist at Dr Roebucks. “When you stop using hydrating products, such as a moisturiser, you begin to deprive your skin of water and when you deplete your skin’s water supply, your sebaceous glands will try to overcompensate, producing even more oil.”

In short: the oil produced by the skin is essential for its overall protection; it’s over-production that can wreak havoc.

Myth: The more shaving gel, the better

Ponder this: the average man shaves an estimated 20,000 times in his life — 20,000 times! And yet, for something so integral to our day-to-day routine, most men aren’t actually told how to do it properly. Little wonder that, when it comes to shaving gel, we’ve been doing it all wrong says former men’s hairdresser of the year and Bulldog Skincare for Men ambassador, Jules Tognini: “It can be tempting to put a tonne of shaving foam on your face, but a lot of products are drying to the skin – with shaving gel, less really is more.

“You only need a coin-sized amount to get a clean, comfortable shave. Also, look for natural soothing ingredients, like aloe vera, which will help sensitive skin and provide a cooling effect to reduce razor burn and bumps.”

Regularly moisturising (see above) will mean that both your skin, and your facial hair, will be softer, thus also reducing the amount of shaving gel you need. Opt for a clean, multi-bladed razor and shave with the grain of hair growth (usually downward) using short strokes and rinsing often.

Myth: You don’t need to change your skincare during winter

Winter often equates to dry and flaky skin. And as temperatures become chillier, something else starts to happen to our skin: it gets horny.

“The outermost layer of the epidermis is also known as the ‘horny’ layer of skin because its cells are tough, like animal horns,” explains dermatologist, Dr Deshan Sebaratnam. “This layer is susceptible to the cold, which means that the cooler months can lead to dry and dull skin.

“To combat this, my top tip is to pick a thicker moisturiser, use it regularly, and be consistent with application.”

And while we’re talking about protecting the skin, remember that the harsh Australian sun isn’t just a concern in the summer months. Even on cloudy days, UV radiation can have an impact, leading to both premature ageing, and a higher risk of skin cancer, so make sure to apply a sunscreen or moisturiser with built-in SPF.

Myth: Exfoliating isn’t necessary because men shave

Though shaving does provide some surface exfoliation, it’s limited to only part of the face.

“It is important to incorporate and extend exfoliation to the rest of the face,” says Casey. “Especially where there is more oil production, like the forehead, cheeks and nose.”

A build-up of sebum and dead skin in these areas is a recipe for blackheads and breakouts. “Not only does it remove these trapped impurities, but it also encourages circulation and can actually boost the absorption of your skincare products,” she says.

While exfoliating too little may let your skin’s oils run wild, on the flip side, exfoliating too often can damage the skin.

“Over-cleansing and over-exfoliating actually breaks down your skin’s self-regulating barrier,” says skincare scientist, Dr Michele Squire. “It can lead to dehydrated, irritated skin, and actually increase breakouts.”

Myth: Men don’t need to use products with active ingredients

While men tend to favour simple, quick regimens with minimal steps, the generic grooming products of yore ignore one key fact: just like their female counterparts, men have different skin types and specific skin concerns. And for any man who wants to up their skincare game, they’ll need to seek out products containing active ingredients.

“Most skincare lines dedicated to men are very general,” says Aesthetics Rx skincare general manager, Nicola Kropach. “But what about the guy that has acne, oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, ageing skin, or the myriad of other skincare issues that don’t discriminate based on gender? Grooming products aren’t necessarily going to deliver the type of results or efficacy the skin needs to bring about significant and visible change.”

Enter cosmeceuticals.

Containing active ingredients such as vitamin C, retinoids, hyaluronic acid, and alpha hydroxy acids, these products specifically target issues such as pigmentation and acne.

Myth: Men need a male-specific deodorant

Despite men having more sweat-producing glands than women, the potential for BO is just as high for everyone — male or female.

“The gender of a person doesn’t define how much they sweat,” says skincare expert, Fiona Tuck. “Instead, studies suggest that size plays a role, with larger people tending to sweat more meaning that an active, larger person may need a stronger antiperspirant.”

The main difference with male versus female deodorants is actually the fragrance. Generally, both contain the same active ingredients and deodorising potential. However, men do tend to have more bacteria-harbouring body hair, in which case it’s worth investing in an antibacterial wash.

Not only will it help subdue smells, it’ll also give your skin a deep cleanse, which will lessen your chances of developing the dreaded ‘backne’.

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