Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A
Now that the vernal equinox is arriving, is there some kind of grooming equivalent to "spring cleaning"? Maybe some way to give my skin and hair some extra attention?
Think of it like a seasonal wardrobe change: Now that it’s time to shed your heavy winter parka and sweaters in favor of lighter polo shirts and shorts, you need to take the proper precautions to make sure you’ve erased (or at least lessened) the tolls of winter on your skin.
First, think about what your skin has been through these last few months: The cold, dry air and fierce winds most likely caused chapping, flaking and irritation, and the moisture has pretty much been zapped. It’s time to slough off the old and slather on the new.
Let’s start with your hair. Your scalp is particularly vulnerable to the elements, especially if you’re the type to shun the wool ski cap in fear of “hat head.” Even if your noggin isn’t showing signs of flaking or redness, it couldn’t hurt to add a rebalancing and moisturizing treatment this time of year. Look for a shampoo and conditioner containing vitamin E, protein (silk or soy), shea and botanicals (usually labeled “moisturizing,” “scalp purifying” or “reparative”). Now on to your mug …
As the mercury rises and the humidity increases, the sensitive skin on your face suffers the first stages of PTSD, Post Traumatic Seasonal Disorder. (Yes, we made that term up.) This is a critical moment, when it’s time to call in the buffers and the greasers (aka the exfoliators and the hydrators).
First, start with a deep exfoliation treatment to loosen and remove dead skin cells and open up pores. This step is especially important before any kind of hair removal because it helps provide a closer, smoother shave. Look for a product that contains an acid -- glycolic, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or salicylic acid (BHA). Scrubs that contain natural ingredients like apricot pits and walnut shells sound effective, but they’re actually quite rough and can cause microscopic tears in the skin.
If you’ve been using a thick moisturizer during the winter, you might want to switch to a lighter one for warmer weather to avoid clogged pores and breakouts. Look for a product that contains natural oils and botanical extracts (shea butter, green tea and grape seed extract), with an SPF of at least 30. (The American Academy of Dermatology recently upgraded its minimum SPF recommendation from 15 to 30.)
Not to get too girly on you, but all the chicks are doing rebalancing face masks at this time of year in order to attain that “spring chicken” glow. You can buy a premade version at the drugstore (just look for words like “hydrating” and “balancing”) and it only takes 15 minutes to work. Or if you’re really feeling especially MacGyver-ish, hit the fridge. Mash up half a banana with a dollop of plain yogurt, a squirt of honey, a handful of oats and a splash of green tea, and you’re good to go. Think of it like the breakfast of champions … for your face.