In a little more than six months, the world would have completed its orbit, bringing to an end another year. Just let that sink in. Now ask, what do you want staring back at you in the mirror the end of 2017? Someone with a slightly bigger bank account? Or nicer car? Or just a better face? All noble quests, one perhaps slightly easier to achieve than the others.
Since January, part one of the FashionBeans Male Grooming Manifesto – a month-by-month guide to looking fresh throughout the year – has been on hand (and face and foot) to help you weather whatever life throws.
But as we enter the final furlong, our regime requires a change in tack. So here are the six steps to adopt between now and December (or all at once if feeling especially motivated in the bathroom) to keep you on course for ending the year better looking than when you started it.
Don’t Skimp On The Sunscreen
Most men are now aware of the importance of using sunscreen in the summer. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a lot simply aren’t using them correctly. “Most people don’t apply enough product and do not re-apply frequently enough,” warns Sally Penford of The International Dermal Institute.
The SPF rating on a sunscreen is calculated based on the application of a generous layer – apply too thinly, and the level of protection lowers significantly. “As a rule, you should use a teaspoon of product for the face, continuing to re-apply every two hours when outdoors, and a one-ounce, shot glass-sized squirt for the body,” says Penford.
It’s worth getting the application right because UV rays don’t just cause DNA damage, increasing the risk of skin cancer, they also affect the skin’s collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkling and an increased likelihood of developing dilated capillaries too. Never a good look.
Look After Your Gums
In the last few years, issues around our gums have been linked to everything from heart disease and diabetes to strokes and even erectile dysfunction.
What’s more, a study published in the journal Immunity showed that the bacteria linked to gum disease (fusobacterium nucleatum) could interfere with the body’s ability to fight off cancer. It goes without saying that it’s also a major cause of tooth loss in adults, so ice-cream season is as good a time as any to make gum health a priority.
A healthy set look firm and pink and shouldn’t bleed when brushed. If yours don’t fit this description, it’s time to take action. “You need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day to prevent gum disease,” says Dr Nigel Carter of the Dental Health Foundation.
“This is done by brushing for two minutes twice a day, as well as using interdental brushes or floss to clean in between teeth where gum disease starts.” Sounds simple, right? Then how come gum disease is estimated to affect over half of us? Just a thought.
Prep For Winter
To quote a somewhat popular medieval TV series: winter is coming. Granted, the whole experience probably won’t be quite as traumatic for you as Jon Snow, but the colder months can still take their toll on the skin.
That’s why it pays to take stock of your grooming arsenal and ensure you’re armed with the right kit (pun very much intended) to avoid looking weathered.
“Winter’s lower temperatures and humidity levels, as well as central heating, compromise the skin, resulting in disrupted barrier function – a change in the delicate balance of water, fat and protein that makes up the skin’s barrier,” says award-winning dermatologist Dr Rachael Eckel.
To combat this, there are several things worth investing in. A decent lip balm, hand cream and heavy-duty moisturiser all help minimise the drying effects of cold weather conditions, while a vitamin D supplement helps keep the body’s natural levels up when sunlight is a rarity.
Ease Off On the Facial Scrub
Twenty or so years ago, exfoliation was a relatively exotic adjunct to the average man’s daily grooming routine. But these days, plenty of blokes count scrubs among their grooming armoury. And with good reason: by removing dead skin cells and speeding up cell turnover, exfoliation is the perfect way to improve the look of the skin, minimise blocked pores and prevent ingrown hairs after shaving.
Unfortunately, men often go wrong when it comes to the application of these face savers, using them too frequently (twice a week is usually enough) and applying way too much pressure when working them into the skin.
“Rubbing harder won’t increase the product’s benefits,” points out Noella Gabriel, the brains behind Elemis’ Time For Men Energising Skin Scrub. “In fact, if you’re too aggressive, you can irritate and sensitise the skin.”
Instead, Gabriel suggests applying scrubs with the fingertips, using gentle circular motions and avoiding the delicate eye area. The takeaway? You might be thick-skinned, but you’re not that thick-skinned.
Look After Your Skin From Within
So much is written about how to look after your skin by slapping on masks, creams and serums that it’s sometimes easy to forget that it benefits from being cared for from the inside, too. This is especially important in the winter when skin comes under attack from harsh weather and central heating and is forced to draw on its moisture reserves (from deep inside the dermis).
What’s more, it’s during these months that starchy comfort foods often take the place of antioxidant-rich fruit and veg. So make a conscious effort to tackle moisture loss and feed your skin with nutrients.
Blueberries, kiwis and broccoli are particularly good for skin. Or consider adding a supplement created especially for skin and hair health to your diet. “However good your diet, research has shown that virtually everyone is deficient in one or more nutrients,” says skincare expert Liz Earle. “It makes sense to take a good multi-nutrient supplement.”
Spend Less Time In The Shower
It might be all that makes the run from bed to bathroom bearable on frosty December mornings, but languishing under a hot shower isn’t just bad news for your energy bill, it wreaks havoc on your skin, too.
Hot water strips away the natural protective oils that coat the skin, causing it to become dry, tight and prone to tiny micro-fissures. “Dry skin is certainly made worse by frequent bathing, along with using shower gels and bubble baths,” says consultant dermatologist Andrew Ilchyshyn.
As well as recommending you turn down the temperature, Ilchyshyn also suggests using a shower oil or an emollient shower gel – like E45 Emollient Shower Cream – to help combat the drying effects of hot water. “These products stop water from evaporating from the skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth.”
While you’re at it, why not fit a water-saving shower head, which can cut the amount needed for a decent shower by up to 60 per cent? Not only will you be saving your skin by turning down the heat, but you’ll also be doing your bit to save the planet – and there’s no better resolution to end the year on than that.