This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

A Bloke's Guide: How To Easily Look After Your Skin

We make it simple. The stuff you need, and the stuff you don't.
It only takes five minutes per day.
It only takes five minutes per day.

When it comes to a guy's daily routine, 'skincare' doesn't have to be a dirty word. After all, if you're more than willing to go to the gym to look after your body, what's an extra five minutes per day to look after your skin?

Because according to Cathriona Flanagan, skin specialist for men at Sydney's Face of Man Grooming Lounge, five minutes is all it takes -- and there are no cucumber slices or avocado and yoghurt masks involved. Promise.

The issues

When it comes to men's skin, Flanagan says there are two major problems she sees all the time: oil production and sun damage.

"With men, the most common issue I see is definitely [excessive] oil production," Flanagan told The Huffington Post Australia.

"This happens mostly for two reasons. Firstly, their body temperature tends to be higher. Secondly, because of testosterone.

"This causes the body to produce oily, waxy residue on the skin which leads them to then have larger open pores and blackheads."

Testosterone causes blackheads. Who knew?
Testosterone causes blackheads. Who knew?

"Sun damage is also huge," Flanagan continued. "I find with women, over the years, makeup and moisturiser has included some SPF protection -- or perhaps [women] tend to be more conscious of their skin health and so use sunscreen more -- but their sun damage levels aren't as bad.

"Men, however, haven't been conditioned to it until recently. And at this stage, years of sun damage is coming through the skin."

To combat this, Flanagan recommends men get into the habit of wearing sunscreen every day, but she also advises men to invest in a cream specially designed for facial use.

"There is taboo about sunscreens being thick and greasy on the skin," she said. "Yes, the ones you buy for your body over the counter are like that, but if you purchase one for your face, it's going to be light and it will disappear on your skin. It's much better."

Relax. You don't need to take your skincare regime as seriously as this guy.
Relax. You don't need to take your skincare regime as seriously as this guy.

The regime

"There is a very simple three step program I would recommend for guys," Flanagan said. "This is a very basic skin care routine. This would be the bare minimum in terms of what guys should do."

1. Cleanse

"Get a good cleanser," Flanagan advises. "You want to have a break in the oil on the surface.

"I would recommend washing the skin twice a day -- morning and night - or better yet, after a workout. That's actually the best time to do it."

Look for brands such as Aesop, L'Oreal Paris, and NIVEA.

2. Exfoliate

While Flanagan is a fan of exfoliation, she says men often get overzealous when it comes to choosing their exfoliating products.

"Liquid exfoliates are better, particularly one that has the ingredient salicylic [acid]. This is because it's attracted to the oil and can penetrate inside the pore where the blackhead is and break down the oil," Flanagan said.

"Or, a liquid exfoliant (such as a AHA wipe) you can put on and leave on. It's not like where you have to wash your face, scrub your face, wash it off again, and so on.

So to be clear, these exfoliants don't have grains in them. They are liquids in which the ingredients do the exfoliating. Clever!

"Just wash your face, put this product on and put sun cream over the top. I'd recommend doing this daily."

Look for brands like Alpha H and Paula's Choice.

3. Hydrate

"The other thing is to hydrate the skin," Flanagan continued. "Dehydrated skin thinks it's dry so it actually produces more oil.

"If you aren't hydrating and you have oily skin, it's actually going to keep on producing oil at a higher level."

To address this, Flanagan recommends investing in a hydrating product such as a moisturiser or a serum -- "anything hydrating that has hyaluronic acid".

It's also advisable to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out by ensuring you drink lots of water.


Common mistakes

One of the most common mistakes men make in terms of their skincare actually comes from trying to do the right thing.

"Exfoliation. Men love a harsh exfoliation," Flanagan said. "They will scrub their face so much. It's ridiculous. It causes the skin, without having to get too technical, to the barrier on your skin and allows all the hydration to go out. It turns the skin pink and causes it to get red tinges.

"Often men will actively look for the harshest exfoliant they can find. One of my clients found this brush you clean your face with, which he was then putting this really harsh exfoliant on and using it to scrub his face. The first thing I said to him was 'please don't use that on your face ever again'.

"I think it comes from feeling like your skin is oily, and so assuming a harsh exfoliant is the only thing that will get rid of it. But in actual fact, you have literally taken off a layer of skin."

If you want to invest in something, invest in yourself by investing in your skin.

Flanagan also advises men be aware of stimulants found in pre-workout supplements.

"I see a lot of guys who have had their personal trainers recommend pre-workouts for them, and some of them contain a lot of stimulants which can cause a rise in testosterone," she said.

"This in turn can mean they get constantly that waxy residue. I often see guys who start working out, go on all these pre-workouts and then get these break outs on their face they would never have had before."

Best tip

When it comes to Flanagan's number one tip for men looking to commit to a skincare regime, it once again comes down to using a quality sunscreen.

"Please, 100 percent invest in a proper facial sun cream," Flanagan said. "Something over the counter, it's cheap for a reason. They use cheaper ingredients and have parabens which aren't good for the skin.

"If you want to invest in something, invest in yourself by investing in your skin. And the thing with [higher quality products] is you can use them for so much longer, because you use less of them."

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