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Skin Care: It's Not Just for Women

Experts explain how men's skin can stay healthier with help from a range of products and regimens.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

For many men, "skin care" is something their wives or girlfriends do. Reaching for the shaving cream, they knock over bottles of moisturizers and creams and wonder if all those expensive potions and their exotic ingredients are even worth the plastic they're packaged in.

So it's not surprising that many men react to new male-oriented lines of skin care products by assuming they're mere marketing ploys aimed at separating self-absorbed men from their money.

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Yet skin care isn't just for the growing ranks of urban "metrosexuals." Dermatologists from across the country tell WebMD that growing numbers of older men are seeking advice on how to stay looking younger for longer.

"No matter how well you dress, how nice your haircut is, and how healthy you are, if you have skin that is dull and freckly and blotchy you're not going to look your best," says Jeffrey Dover, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.

And proper skin care isn't just about looking young; it can also prevent deadly skin cancers. More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer are reported each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Nearly 8,000 of those cases are fatal.

Fortunately, there are simple skin care options available for men that require a minimal investment of time or money. In fact, men have an edge over women in the skin care game. Still, there are a few products that can help guys' skin look its best at any age.

Men's Edge in Skin Care

If you've ever cursed the need to shave your face each day, consider the upside: all those hair follicles will help to keep your face wrinkle-free.

Men's facial hair acts as sort of support structure for the face, Rebecca Tung, MD, a dermatologic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, tells WebMD. Men also have more collagen and elastin fibers -- the connective tissue that gives skin its strength and elasticity -- and a tighter network of fatty tissue directly under the skin.

As a result, men's skin is on average 20% to 30% thicker than women's skin, Tung says. And thicker skin does a better job of resisting wrinkles.

Hair glands also produce oil, which means men's faces are naturally oilier than women's, notes Seth Yellin, MD, chief of facial plastic surgery at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. The oil traps moisture, which keeps skin hydrated and gives it a plumper and more youthful appearance.

Finally, shaving gives men an edge in skin care. "Shaving is a dramatic exfoliation of outer skin layers, which leads to a more youthful skin appearance," Yellin says.

Still, men's faces do age. Men are just as vulnerable to skin cancer. And more oily skin makes men more prone to skin problems such as acne and blackheads. But there are steps men can take to protect themselves.

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