As a regular FashionBeans reader, it goes without saying that you’re a highly skilled and well educated ‘groomsman’. You maintain your facial hair with the deftness of Zorro. You moisturise your under-eye with the ethereal touch of a brush from an angel’s wing. You see your barber more frequently than you do some close family members.
However, even the most savvy among you could be inadvertently undoing all your hard work in front of the bathroom mirror every morning and night. Sun exposure, air pollution, poor diet, smoking, stress, lack of sleep – these deleterious things you’re no doubt wise to. But we’ll bet our La Prairie cellular hydrating serum that you’re sleeping on one or more of the below.
Having A Shower
We’re not saying you should go without, or join the no-poo movement (as in ‘shampoo’ – nothing to do with constipation). You need a degree of heat just to get the grime off. Just be mindful of temperature and duration.
“Don’t exceed 40°C (105°F) maximum,” says Dr Anton Alexandroff, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson. “The ideal temperature for skin is lukewarm. And showering for 10-20 minutes is fine, an hour is not.”
The other problem area is your products. “Generally, shower gels and soaps are okay to wash with, but if your skin gets dry and itchy, consider washing with moisturiser,” continues Dr Alexandroff. “Creams and moisturising gels can be used as you would a shower gel. Alternatively, lather ointment with water to make it soapy.” Check the label first though: “Some moisturisers contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which can irritate sensitive skin.”
All that remains is to clear up the poo-or-not-to-poo issue. “Not using shampoo runs the risk of increasing the microbial content of the hair and scalp, which in turn causes itchy and flaky conditions such as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis,” says Iain Sallis (hairmedic.co.uk) and a member of the Institute of Trichologists. “And no, your hair does not clean itself after a while – you just get used to the feel of the grease.”
Having A Bubble Bath
Who among us isn’t partial to a long soak in a foamy tub after a hard game of five-a-side with a book or magazine, a cup of tea or maybe a glass of wine, perhaps a scented candle? Bad news: as smoking is to your lungs, so suds are to your dermis.
“Surfactants, the chemicals that make bubbles, really degrease your skin,” says Dr Alexandroff. The solution – aside from skipping the bubbles – is to moisturise straight after, and extra over the following few days. Which frankly is a small price to pay.
Hot tubs meanwhile can harbour nasty pests beyond sleazy guys. “If you have spots on your body after a Jacuzzi, visit your GP or a dermatologist,” adds Dr Alexandroff. “You may be given antibiotics for gram-negative bacteria.” Which will also be negative for your ‘gram.
Having A Man Bun
Unpicking the moral and philosophical conundrum that is the samurai top-knot is for another article. What is inarguable is the effect that the male equivalent of a Croydon facelift has on your scraped-back hair.
“Wrapping long hair into a tight bun for days, weeks or months on end can cause traction alopecia,” warns Sallis. “That constant tension on your hair results in a micro-inflammation in the hair follicle, which could eventually lead to those areas thinning.”
Is man bun pattern baldness poetic justice, karmic retribution or proof of a higher power? We couldn’t possibly comment.
Moisturising Against The Grain
You already know not to shave against the grain. (You’d be red-faced if you didn’t.) But moisturising? Are we not men? How much havoc can a cream really wreak?
“Men’s skin gets dry as well as women’s, so you should moisturise all your skin daily, but don’t rub it in against the grain,” insists Dr Alexandroff. “Smooth along, especially if you’re using a greasy moisturiser, to reduce the risk of blocking hair follicles – a cause of folliculitis.”
As with shaving, the key is to follow the direction of hair growth. On your face and neck, this can vary between areas. But away from there, things get simpler. “When moisturising limbs, generally go from the centre of your body towards your extremities, so from upper legs to feet and from upper arms to hands,” says Dr Alexandroff.
Yes, you can enjoy clearer skin as well as a clear conscience by forsaking all animal products: dairy can aggravate acne, particularly if it’s not heat-treated. But there’s one hairy critter who could lose out. “Your hair desperately needs sulphur-rich amino acids and iron to grow well, both of which are in abundance in a slab of steak,” says Sallis.
That doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to have bad hair, or fellow mammals have to die to preserve your luscious locks: just ensure that you’re taking in the right types of proteins and iron from elsewhere. The former can be found in soy, sunflower seeds, oats and legumes, while the latter can be located in most nuts, seeds, grains and legumes.
“Failing that, take a vegetarian-friendly hair supplement,” suggests Sallis. The stakes are high when your steaks are in short supply.
Eating Dinner Too Late
You understand the link between what you put in your body and what it’s wrapped in: mainlining antioxidants is good; whereas chocolate – even just 25mg a day – is a recipe for pizza face. But your skin isn’t just what you eat, it’s when you eat it, at least according to a study in the journal Cell Reports (which sounds more like a prison newspaper, but hey).
Chowing down outside of a 12-hour window salts the game of your enzymes, one of which, XPA, is responsible for repairing UV damage. A late dinner shifts the cycle of XPA back, which in turn reduces the degree of repair and protection the next day. Table for two at 7pm, then.
As a FashionBeans reader, we’d also hope that your idea of hardcore juicing would be chugging liquefied kale without so much as a dash of lemon juice. But with public health experts recently announcing that as many as 1m UK men are taking steroids and other Image- and Performance-Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs), it’d be remiss not to mention another reason why that’s aesthetically counterproductive, beyond bacne and man-boobs.
“The same meds also increase the interaction between testosterone and your hair,” explains Sallis. “This will equate to the male-pattern hair-loss gene being enacted quicker than it naturally would otherwise.” Less beast mode, more shaved gorilla.
Reading This Article
Sun exposure is one of the principle causes of premature ageing. (Dr Alexandroff recommends applying SPF50 minimum, at least on your face.) But you’re unwittingly basking in another source of wrinkle-inducing radiation right now: your screen.
The University of Mexico claims that High-Energy Visible (AKA HEV or ‘blue’) light from your phone, computer and TV is as dangerous as UV, if not more so. Research is in the early stages but scientists believe that HEV penetrates skin more deeply than UV, prevents it from healing and accelerates ageing. Insert old man emoji here.
Electronic devices also fry your skin in a more low-fi way: by reflecting the sun’s rays onto you. The researchers found that using an iPhone 5 outdoors can increase UV exposure by 36 per cent, an 11-inch MacBook by 75 per cent and an iPad 2 by 85 per cent.
Your sizzling sausage-leg holiday selfie just got less smug.