Almost all of us, whether you’re a man or a woman, shave. Just like our parents, grandparents and our great grandparents… In fact, shaving tools have been discovered that were used 4000 years before our centuries began! For this they used sharks teeth. It all seems so straight forward; a bit of shaving foam, a razor blade over the top and the skin is smooth again. Shaving, though, can have a big impact on your skin. In particular, men’s skin with thick beard growth is affected after a full shave. Fortunately Zoe Draelos published a scientific article last March, which was full of good advice about the ritual of shaving. Here are some tips from Zoe (and from me). For ease, I’m just going to focus on the men in this blog.
Tip 1: Make the hair wet before shaving
A beard hair is as tough as copper wire. Fortunately the strength required to cut through the beard hair is significantly reduced if the Keratin in the hair is in contact with water. In simple terms, there is less force needed to trim wet hair. In order to achieve this the hair needs to be in contact with water for at least 2 minutes. So from now on, briefly place a wet towel on your facebefore shaving. It will help if you have been under the shower or in the bath beforehand. If you don’t want to go to all that trouble then you can also make your face wet by applying a Toner (if you have sensitive skin you can use a Toner with soothing ingredients; in this way you can kill two birds with one stone). Don’t overdo it with the “wet making ritual” as too long a contact with water disrupts the barrier functioning of the skin and this will actually just increase the chances of irritation.
In the above graph you can see the decrease in strength required to cut the hair off after making the skin wet. After two minutes there is no more change…
From: Male skin and ingredients relevant to make skin care Z.D. Draelos
Tip 2: Make your skin clean before a shave (or even better exfoliate)
Sebum, dirt and dead skin cells which build up around the hair follicles cause the hairs to lie diagonally and the blade to glide less easily over the skin here. This can be avoided by washing the face with a Cleanser before shaving. Even better is regular use of an Exfoliant. Furthermore, using an Exfoliant will avoid the chance of in-growing beard hairs. People suffering with in-growing hairs can see a significant improvement when treated with the 1064 Yag laser (pseudofolliculitis barbaebarbaritis).
In the pictures above, you can see the hairs before (left) and after (right) exfoliation
From: Insights into shaving and its impact on skin K. Cowley and K. Vanoosthuyze
Tip 3: Use a good quality un-perfumed shaving cream/gel
A good shaving product is made up of surfactants, water and polymers. This makes the hair more soft and the blade with glide easily over the skin. It’s best to use an un-perfumed product so as to avoid irritation. If your skin is sensitive then it may be wise not to use a shaving foam, but instead use a mild wash off Cleanser which contains oil. A conditioner (yes, the product you apply onto your hair so that you can comb it more easily…) is also good. A product with a lot of foam can actually irritate the skin. Don’t forget to rinse off the shaving cream, foam or gel with water (and therefore not wiping off with a towel). Residues of surfactants on the skin will certainly cause problems.
Tip 4: Apply a good cream (but not a perfumed aftershave) on the skin after a shave
I’ve already said; shaving is an onslaught on your skin. In general, use of an aftershave does not make it better. The presence of ingredients such as mint, perfume and lots of alcohol are more the norm than the exception. The result; a skin that feels fresh and tingly but sadly also tight, red or dry and can even over time cause pigment spots. The latter is often seen in men who use a strongly perfumed aftershave daily and who don’t protect themselves properly against the sun. Just look at the jaw line! So it’s best to leave that aftershave alone, but a must is applying a good Moisturizer after shaving so as to repair the barrier again. Zoe Draelos tested a group of 90 men to see what the effect was on the condition of skin when not applying Moisturizer after a shave, applying a Moisturizer and applying a Moisturizer containing Niacinamide (5%) . The tests revealed that through applying a Moisturizer after shaving, the barrier function of the skin (and with that the skin’s condition) was significantly better. The positive effect was the greatest with the cream containing Niacinamide and the effect was measurable after an hour. The improvement took only a couple of days.
And if your skin, even with these tips, is still on fire after a shave, then I advise by way of experiment to leave that beard alone. Brad Pitt also gets away with it!
( Dr. Jetske Ultee- Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)
p.s. Good news, next week the new spf 15 and 30 will be produced
You can also read the blogs:
‘Women’s and Men’s Cosmetics. Spot the Difference’,
‘Special Skincare for Men?’,
‘A Healthy Barrier Function, a Healthy Skin’,