Men's Special Skin Care Needs - It's a Guy Thing

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Let's face it. The average guy doesn't pay much attention to his skin unless he's got a glaring problem like ingrown hairs, excessive oiliness, or dry, sensitive skin. The advent of skin care and bath/body products for men is a relatively new phenomenon, and most men aren't equipped to decipher the array of product choices and uses to understand how they can actually benefit from a regular skin care routine. To complicate matters, many of the commercial products for men are made with ingredients that can aggravate their skin issues and even make them worse!

Men's skin is actually 20%-30% thicker than women's due to excess collagen and elastin, and their facial hair glands produce more oil, so a lot of men suffer from oily skin. The key difference is that a man's skincare needs revolve around a daily shaving routine which poses its own set of unique requirements. The act of shaving alone can be abrasive to the skin because it removes the top layers of dead skin cells, leaving the skin very sensitive (razor burn). Add to that oil-clogged pores and coarse hairs that create bumps when instead of growing straight out of the follicle they curl around and re-enter the skin, and you have a challenging situation that can only be prevented or effectively dealt with if you a good daily grooming regimen.

Your routine doesn't need to be complicated, just one that is followed consistently. The four key steps in a healthy skin care routine are cleansing, exfoliating, toning, and moisturizing. Understanding why each of these steps is necessary can also help you identify the right products to use in each step and what to avoid.

1. Cleanse
Cleansing is essential to controlling oily skin by balancing your skin's ability to regulate sebum production and preventing pores from becoming clogged. Ironically, many cleansers are made with harsh detergents that strip the skin of all its oil leaving it feeling dry and dull which in turn, causes your oil glands to work harder to compensate for the loss of natural oils. The result is excess oil production which brings you right back to the problem you were trying to resolve.

Use cleansers made with castile soap -- typically made from coconut and olive oils-- that are very mild and gentle on your skin. If you have dry or combination skin try a creamy cleanser. We recommend combining equal amounts of our castile-based Gentle Cleansing Body Wash and Nourishing Hand & Body Lotion. For sensitive or irritated skin try our Soothe blend which contains chamomile and lavender. For a minty fresh and clean feeling try Refresh. If bar soaps are your preference, use one that is glycerin-based or a super-fatted soap made with a rich moisturizer like shea or cocoa butter.

2. Exfoliate
Regular exfoliation helps unclog pores, which is key to fighting acne. In addition to allowing for a closer shave (and fewer ingrown hairs by lifting the whisker from the skin's surface), regular use of an exfoliating scrub will improve skin's appearance and texture by removing dead skin cells to expose newer, smoother ones underneath. Pick a scrub made with sugar, salt, or mild exfoliants like Jojoba beads to increase its sloughing action without abrading your skin.

This step should be done prior to shaving to ensure a closer, smoother shave. The sharper your razor is and the closer it can get to your skin, the less pressure you have to apply when you shave. This will lessen irritation and redness as well as help prevent ingrown hairs. Be sure to use a lubricating shaving cream or lotion to prevent nicks. Again, the combination of our Gentle Cleansing Body Wash and Nourishing Hand & Body Lotion works great for this especially in the Revitalize blend with its combination of Rosemary, Cedar wood, and Citrus essential oils.

3. Tone
Resist the temptation or habit of using an alcohol-based aftershave treatment! This will only aggravate your already irritated skin. A good toner should soothe and calm irritated or inflamed skin, re-balance the pH of your skin, and tighten your pores without drying your skin --which is what alcohol does.

Your best bet is a toner that includes witch hazel (a natural astringent), vegetable glycerin (a humectant), aloe (to normalize skin), and essential oils of lavender, chamomile, and cedar wood, or a lavender hydrosol. Visit the Dropwise blog for a toner recipe you can make yourself.

4. Moisturize
After cleansing and shaving, apply moisturizer. Use a plant-based lotion or cream made with light hydrating anti-oxidant rich oils like Jojoba, Grape seed, High-oleic Sunflower or Safflower, or Coconut oil. Avoid products with synthetic or petroleum ingredients that are actually more drying and may put you at risk for toxic exposure from prolonged repetitive use. For more on this visit our blog and read our article The Hidden Dangers in Your Moisturizer.

For occasional breakouts or blemishes, dab a high quality Lavender essential oil directly to the pimple or cyst and re-apply as needed until it shrinks. Or you can try our Boo Boo Blend, an essential oil-based blend of Lavender, Tea Tree, Geranium, and Chamomile essential oils that can be used to treat minor cuts, scrapes, bumps and breakouts.

Copyright 2009 Dropwise Essentials

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Occupation: Owner of Dropwise Essentials
Dropwise Essentials is a San Francisco-based manufacturer of pure aromatherapy and organic plant-based personal care products that give people a safe and effective way to relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or manage their emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. Our products are:
* Free of synthetic chemicals and petroleum ingredients
* Made with high quality certified organic oils and pure essential oils sourced from around the world
* Packaged in re-usable or recyclable materials
* Hand-made locally in northern California

Dropwise Essentials was founded by Donya Fahmy, a writer, producer, and consultant whose avid interest in the curative powers of aromatherapy and herbs ultimately led her to design and create the seven products and seventeen unique essential oil blends that make up the current Dropwise product line. She has studied aromatherapy with Carol Schiller --a successful author of several aromatherapy books-- and with Dr. Daniel Penoel --a renowned expert in the field of medical aromatherapy.

Dropwise Essentials is a proud member of the Indie Beauty Network (formerly the Handmade Beauty Network), the Green America Business Network (formerly Co-op America), Green Product Alliance, Natural Ingredient Resource Center, and a Friend of PETA. We were among the first companies to join the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics by signing their Compact for Safe Cosmetics - which simply formalizes our existing commitment to formulate products free of known or potentially toxic ingredients.

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