For most men, the daily routine of shaving their beard stubbles is a task many would rather not have to put up with. But there are some benefits men are generally unaware of.
The regular act of shaving exfoliates the skin, that is, it removes dead skin cells, thereby promoting new cell growth. The result is smooth, vibrant, youthful looking facial skin. However, shaving is also very abrasive and potentially damaging, and can leave the skin rough and sometimes dry around the jaw and cheek area, not to mention the nicks and cuts.
So, on the one hand shaving has its benefits and on the other, shaving stresses the skin. Despite the advantages of men’s thicker and oilier skin, a daily, natural skin care regime can and will maintain a better, smoother looking skin.
A Man's skin care regime should be identical to that of a woman, in that it should follow the same principles of cleansing, toning and moisturising. However, while men exfoliate the area of the lower jaw on a daily basis, women do not exfoliate their facial skin as often. Usually no more than 2 or 3 times a week. This is because, exfoliating the skin in itself can be abrasive if the wrong exfoliant lotion/cream is used.
Now, because men use a razor, old, dead skin cells as well as new living cells are removed and this is a harsh process. Therefore using a moisturising cream after shaving is of primary importance to men's skin, not just because shaving removes any natural skin oils, but removes the protective Acid Mantel of the skin almost entirely. A quality natural toner will help to close opened pores, aid in restoring the pH balance of the skin and the moisturiser will help to prevent further loss of moisture and give protection to the skin.
If you use an after shave lotion, remember that most if not all are alcohol based. This is drying to the skin and that is not what your skin needs. It is therefore very important that men's skin care includes the use of a nourishing, hydrating moisturiser BEFORE using an after shave lotion.
In addition, there are a number of other factors that anyone should take into consideration if they wish to have healthy, vibrant and youthful looking skin, and hope to avoid the risk of developing skin problems.
Good nutrition: keep the foods you eat as simple, fresh and unprocessed as possible. That is the best nutritional advice I can give. The simpler the food, the less processing and the fresher your food is, the better it is for you. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain so many of the nutrients we need to maintain our health, such as vitamins, minerals and trace-elements. Sure, have the odd processed, high in fat meal when you’re enjoying a meal out or have to attend a Luncheon or what ever, but make sure you have more natural foods than not. Keep the diet varied – don’t eat the same old, same old… risk a new veggie – one you haven’t tried before – you might like it …
Adequate rest and relaxation: don’t work yourself to an early grave – it’s not worth it. Make sure you get the sleep you need. Did you know that a study in England showed that your IQ (intelligence) drops if you do not have 8 hours sleep per night? Yet how often do we just get by on 5 or 6 hours? Sleep is the time when your body can 'fix' itself and considering the amount of stress and other factors that adversely affect us on a daily basis, we need all the sleep we can get, don't you think?
Think about it, do you get more work done if you feel well rested? Can you concentrate better if you’re not tired? – I bet you can.
Well, why not invest some additional time into rest and relaxation so that you gain an increase in energy and concentration? I’m sure you will find you will get more work done in less time if you’ve had sufficient rest.
Sufficient water intake: that’s a biggie. Most people (irrespective of were they live) will utilise around 3 litres of water per day – hey, don’t believe me, all the medical texts say so. Our body simply needs water to function.
If you do not drink at least this amount, your body will either not function well (on some level) or it will take it from where ever it can. That is called dehydration. You know, dry lips, dry flaky skin, parched mouth, cracks on you tongue, premature wrinkles… the list goes on. So, drink up (water, mind you) or shrivel up – it’s up to you.
Fresh air and sunshine: well, what can I say? Taking a deep breath of air and tell me it doesn’t feel great… Well? Oxygen is the stuff of life. Fill your lungs with it. Your overall health and your skin will thank you.
There is more to breathing than you might think, diaphragmatic breathing is essential to fill your Lungs with oxygen. What's diaphragmatic breathing? Well, look at how singers, especially the classical singers breath. They fill their lungs by pushing out their abdomen and thus filling the Lungs from the 'bottom up'. Most of us breath shallowly, that is we take little breaths that only go into the Lungs a small distance and do not exchange the stale air in the finer branches of our Lungs.
Try this, lie down on your back and put your hands over your belly button. Then start taking deep breaths. Push out your abdomen as far as you can but do NOT move your ribs. Once you can not push the abdomen out any further, start filling your chest with air. Next, breath out in the reverse order, that is empty your chests first and keep pushing out your abdomen until your emptied your chest, then and only then start to contract the muscles of your abdomen until all the air is out of your lungs. And repeat this process.
Doing this exchanges all the air in your Lungs with fresh oxygen rich air. This will give you greater amounts of oxygen for your body to use. Your brain uses about 25% of the available oxygen - so do you get tiered after sitting at your office desk for a few hours.... Try breathing with your diaphragm and see what happens.
So what does all this have to do with skin care?
Well, that is the point of putting expensive, skin care products on your skin, when you do not give it the stuff of life from the inside? The cells that make up your skin need the right nutrients for proper development, growth and maintenance of health … You can help your skin by using good quality natural skin care products, but you have to support this from the inside as well. Only in that way can you expect to get good results from proper skin care.
So what’s proper skin care?
Well, for starters there are 3 basic steps.
Cleansing the skin seems obvious and I know, you do know how to use soap – wrong, this is one sure way to make your skin dry-out quicker. Most soaps remove the natural oils of the skin, change the natural pH levels and do nothing to remove the dead layers of skin, which can block your pores and lead to blackheads. And, oh no, not pimples! The skin produces oils and acids to help it function, to protect it from loss of excessive moisture, to form a barrier, known as the 'Acid Mantel'. So please do not use soaps or detergents unless it is absolutely necessary.
Using a loofah or a gentle ‘scrub’ will remove the dead skin cells and this in turn will promote better blood circulation and help your skin to breath. In addition, what's the point of putting creams on dead skin cells? Hence, using a gentle scrub, which removes the dead layer of skin at the surface of the skin is a very important first step in a good natural skin care regime.
The next step is to hydrate and tone the skin. Say what?
Well, you’ve just removed the dead skin layers, rubbing the skin with a loofah and or a specially formulated exfoliant, now it’s time to remove the residue, sooth the skin and prepare the skin for getting a good feed of nutrients from the moisturiser.
First, use a cleanser to remove any residues from the exfoliant, next apply your Toner. This will close the opened pores and in doing so, prevent loss of moisture - hydrate your skin.
Preparation of the skin prior to putting on the moisturiser is not dissimilar to preparing a surface about to receive a new, fresh coat of paint. You wouldn’t just paint over a wall that hasn’t been cleaned and prepared for the new paint, would you? Of course not, it would be a waist of time and money… well, good skin care is the same.
First get rid of the old layer of paint, or skin cells in this case, than you remove the dust (using a cleanser), than you give it a primer (Toning the skin) and finally the top-coat (Moisturising it).
It's a simple step-by-step process which shouldn't take you more than a couple of minutes.
Moisturise and revive your skin. Ah, but I already use a moisturiser…
Great, at least that’s a step in the right direction. But, have you looked at the ingredients? Are they natural, or are there numbers and words you don’t recognise on the label? Research has shown alarming numbers of synthetic substances contained in skin care products (some of which claim to be 'natural' skin care products), which may be linked to causing serious health problems including cancer!!! So why run the risk? Using natural, herbal-based skin care products is definitely the preferred option. Pure essential oils, or herbal extracts are usually good ingredients to have in your skin care products.
Another thing to consider with moisturisers is are they just sitting on your skin, or do they actually penetrate into the skin where they can do the most good. Some would have you believe, that moisturisers should sit on your skin, because that way they prevent moisture from being lost. Fact is, you will loose moisture anyway and the nutrients sitting on your skin will do nothing to promote healthy regrowth of new skin cells. You want the ingredients of your moisturiser where they can do the most good. IN your skin, not ON your skin.
So there you have it, natural skin care. These steps, if you follow them, will help you to achieve the results you want and your body will show its appreciation with healthy, vibrant looking skin.
Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you.
They practice Herbal and Chinese medicine at their Wildcrafted Cottage Clinic.
© Wildcrafted Herbal Products 2008