In each issue of WebMD the Magazine, our experts answer your questions about skin care, beauty, makeup, hair care, and more. In our July-August 2010 issue, Dan Quirk, 40, a marketing research firm manager in Minneapolis, asked for tips on shaving products. For recommendations, we turned to David Colbert, MD, (founder and head physician, New York Dermatology Group, New York City) and Richard G. Fried, MD, PhD, (a dermatologist in Yardley, Pa., and author of Healing Adult Acne: Your Guide to Clear Skin and Self-Confidence).
Q: After shaving, I often break out and my skin seems rougher. What can I use? Do I really need a product designed for men's skin?
Dr. Colbert's top picks
A: The short answer is that, yes, men are from Mars and women are from Venus when it comes to their skin. Men tend to have larger pores, more facial hair, and bigger sebaceous glands that produce more oil.
Men's skin does need special handling when it comes to shaving. Doing so every day sloughs away dead skin but also exposes fresh, vulnerable skin that is prone to irritation. I suggest men wash before shaving with a mild cleanser such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($11.49). This helps prevent irritation while also softening beard stubble, reducing the risk of razor bumps. I also like La Roche-Posay Toleraine Purifying Foaming Cream ($22).
Shaving cream is crucial in how your skin tolerates a razor's blade. I like Kiehl's Close-Shavers Shaving Formula #31-0 ($18). It's very moisturizing with minimal scent.
There is no hard-and-fast rule about moisturizers, but breakout-prone men would be wise to avoid heavier creams. I often suggest Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion ($8.49); it doesn't have a strong scent, and the lightweight lotion absorbs without a greasy feel.
Dr. Fried's top picks
A: Men as a rule tend to have thicker and oilier skin -- but that doesn't mean you should be rough with your face. A gentle nonirritating, hydrating cleanser can prepare and somewhat buffer the skin from the irritation and numerous microscopic cuts and abrasions that occur during shaving. Dove Men+Care Body and Face Wash ($4.99) combines moisturizing and soothing ingredients with menthol, offering
a cooling sensation that men seem to like.
Cleanser is also key for controlling oil and avoiding breakouts. A great option is Neutrogena Deep Clean Sport On-the-Go Cleansing Wipes ($6.99). They're portable, so guys can bring them to the gym to wipe away sweat and excess oil after a workout.
For guys who use a blade razor, I suggest a shaving gel that's gentler, such as Nivea for Men Sensitive Shaving Gel ($3.29). It contains soothing ingredients, including vitamin E, chamomile, and soybean oil, that help the razor glide over skin, reducing the likelihood of irritation.
Men need to take an extra step after shaving to treat their skin. A multitasking product that absorbs quickly, such as L'OréalMen's Expert Comfort Max Anti-Irritation After Shave Balm with SPF 15 ($7.99), helps repair skin with shea butter and dimethicone (a form of silicone that helps smooth and protect skin), while providing a non-greasy sunscreen. Getting men to use sunscreen may be men's biggest skin care obstacle.
One more point: Men are naturally more acne-prone, and the abrasive nature of shaving when acne is present can be problematic. Plus, entrapped facial hair frequently causes new breakouts or worsens old ones. Fried tells his male patients to try an electric razor rather than a straight blade and, after shaving, to apply a 1% or lower hydrocortisone cream to treat razor irritation.
The opinions expressed on this page are the opinions of the experts and are not the opinions of WebMD. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.