Much like finding the perfectly fitted suit jacket or the ideal trouser break, there’s no catch-all solution for making the most of our skin.
Although skin is fundamentally the same whatever its colour, there are a few differences that determine how best to look after it. Pale skin, for example, is particularly susceptible to sun damage and dryness, whereas black skin is especially prone to ingrown hairs.
So, here are some essential tips on how to look after your skin, whatever its colour.
Red Hair? Pale Complexion?
Dryness and sensitivity tend to be the biggest skincare issues experienced by men with a fairer complexion, which leaves them vulnerable to premature ageing, redness, freckles and sun damage.
The solution? Make ‘protect and survive’ your skincare mantra.
According to Cancer Research UK, if you’re a redhead, your risk of developing malignant melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – is triple that of people with dark eyes and hair, making sun protection essential.
Opt for sun products with a minimum broad spectrum SPF of 30 and if you find that your skin is sensitive as well, then try a product like Dermalogica’s Super Sensitive Shield, which is formulated for the easily irritated (skin-wise, at least).
It’s also wise to protect your skin on a daily basis, so use a moisturiser like Malin + Goetz’s SPF 30 Face Moisturiser religiously, even in winter.
Make Friends With Your Freckles
A characteristic feature of most redheads’ complexions, freckles are the result of the erratic production of the pigment melanin in the skin.
You can try fading more prominent ones with products like Clinique For Men’s Clinical Dark Spot Corrector and Skin Doctors SD White and Bright, but in reality, getting rid of freckles is a bit like chasing rainbows – exhausting and ultimately a bit pointless. It’s much better to accept and embrace them.
Don’t Be So Sensitive
With skin sensitivity and dryness posing a problem with pale complexions, it’s worth swapping your regular moisturiser for one like Nickel’s Bonne Gueule or Clinique’s Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream, which have been specially developed for fair skin and boast anti-redness formulas to ensure skin doesn’t look – or feel – irritated.
Blond And Blue-Eyed? Pale Skin?
Guys with blond or light brown hair and pale skin face similar issues to those with red hair and freckles, with sun protection and moisturisation key to their routine.
Don’t Skimp On The Sunscreen
The risk of developing malignant melanoma is double for blonds and nearly 50 per cent higher for guys with brown hair, so make a daily SPF moisturiser part of your grooming armoury.
The most significant difference between pale and dark skin is that the former tends to be drier.
As well as keeping skin protected against sun damage during the day with an SPF moisturiser, invest in a hydrating night cream, like Lab Series Night Recovery Lotion, to deliver plenty of moisture while you sleep. Studies have shown that skin absorbs moisturisers better at night.
Lift & Firm
Given pale skin’s susceptibility to premature ageing (wrinkles and fine lines tend to form earlier and are often more noticeable than in darker skins), you might want to incorporate anti-ageing products like Menscience’s Anti-Ageing Formula or Estee Lauder’s widely acclaimed Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum into your routine.
Dark Hair? Mediterranean Or ‘Olive’ Complexion?
This kind of skin rarely burns, tans well and resists the ageing process better than pale skin, having characteristics of both lighter and darker skin types.
However, it’s worth remembering that it still needs to be protected from sun damage (use a daily SPF 15 moisturiser and sun lotion), and an oil-free moisturiser might also come in handy, too.
Darker skin is sometimes – though not always – a little oilier than paler skin, so if you’re noticing shiny patches, especially around the nose, chin and forehead, an oil-busting moisturiser like Men-U Matt Moisturiser or Murad’s Oil-Control Mattifier is worth slathering on.
Afro-Caribbean? Dark Skin? Curly Hair?
It may not show the signs of age in the same way as pale skin, but having a darker complexion isn’t without its skincare challenges.
Not only is it prone to hyperpigmentation, but it’s also susceptible to ingrown hairs and can look grey and ashy if not sufficiently moisturised. Luckily, all these problems can be reduced or rectified with a few simple steps.
Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs occur when hairs grow back on themselves after shaving, forming a painful and unsightly bump on the skin’s surface.
They’re especially common in Afro-Caribbean skin because of the natural curliness of the hairs, so help prevent them by exfoliating skin regularly with a face scrub and opt for an electric shaver or a single blade razor like Taylor of Merkur’s Classic Safety Razor, rather than one with multiple blades. This stops you from shaving the skin too closely, preventing hairs becoming trapped below the skin’s surface and, by extension, ingrown hairs.
Finally, round off your shave by applying a product like Malin + Goetz’s Ingrown Hair Cream, which contains glycolic and salicylic acids to help dislodge dead cells and keep hair follicles fully functional.
When Afro-Caribbean skin becomes dry, it has a tendency to look grey and ashy, so ensure it’s adequately hydrated with a rich body butter like The Body Shop’s Shea Nourishing Body Butter or Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula For Men.
If your face is dry, look for facial moisturisers containing hyaluronic acid, as this particular ingredient helps attract and bind moisture to the skin.
You should also avoid scorching hot showers – hot water draws essential moisture away from the skin.
Guard Against Sun Damage
Darker skin may have a built-in sunscreen of sorts (in the shape of a lot more melanin), but it still needs protecting from the sun, so think about using a moisturiser with SPF and always protect skin with sun protection products if you’re sunbathing.
Dermatologists now recommend that everyone opt for products with a minimum broad spectrum SPF 15 sunscreen, regardless of skin type.
Hyperpigmentation – a condition where skin darkens in certain areas due to an increase in melanin – is often triggered by an anti-inflammatory response to sun damage, acne or cuts caused by shaving.
It’s especially common in Afro-Caribbean skin but can be minimised by utilising proper sun protection, not picking spots, and taking more time and paying more attention to shaving technique.
Since acne scarring can cause pigmentation in darker skin, always treat spots immediately and be sure to see a doctor if acne is an ongoing concern.
As with Afro-Caribbean skin, Asian complexions are better protected against the ageing process and sun damage than paler ones. That said, Asian complexions can be prone to enlarged pores and uneven skin tone.
Pore It Up
Having pores the size of manholes, regardless of complexion type, is genetically determined (thanks, mum and dad). While there’s nothing that can be done to change their natural state, there are steps that can be taken to minimise their appearance.
Exfoliating is crucial, as it removes dead skin cells from sitting inside them, making them appear larger. But it’s just as common to over-exfoliate (particularly when using harsh scrubs), which can actually cause pore-engorging inflammation. Opt for a gentle scrub once or twice a week in addition to using a face wash twice a day.
Even Things Out
If uneven skin tone and pigmentation is a problem for you, then try Lab Series Power Brightening Serum +DR, which was specially developed for the Asian grooming market and acts to even out overall skin tone.
To even out skin tone without brightening, apply a BB cream like Lab Series BB Tinted Moisturiser SPF 35, which not only contains an adaptive pigment that matches any skin tone but also packs an impressive SPF 35 sunscreen to guard against sun-induced pigmentation.