Now that I’m nearing my fifth decade I’m acutely aware that my face is looking more like a well-used ice rink than the polished pebble of yore. But, hey, I earned these wrinkles and laughter lines. My face is what I like to call “characterful.”
Having said that, I’ll do anything to slow the ageing process – even if just a bit. Feel the same? Here are a few simple strategies all men can adopt to protect their face value.
1. Ditch the beard
As much as it pains me to say it (I have a beard myself) nothing quite ages a man like a beard. Sure, studies have shown they can make you look more masculine and more authoritative but one study, published in The Daily Mail, revealed that facial hair can also make you look up to eight years older. Yes, a whole eight years.
There’s another good reason to be clean shaven: according to aesthetic clinician Dr Michael Prager, a daily shave can keep your skin looking younger and healthier because it acts as a form of microdermabrasion, not only removing dead skin cells but stimulating collagen production too. And collagen is to skin what scaffolding is to a crumbling building.
If that’s convinced you to faze out the facial hair, Gillette’s new Fusion ProGlide Razor, $12, is a good investment. It features a ‘FlexBall’ in the handle that allows the blades to make better contact with the skin over the contours of your face.
2. Cut out sugar (or at least cut down)
I’m fond of saying that the only man I know who can eat doughnuts and never age is Homer Simpson. That’s because in the last few years it has become increasingly clear that sugar is up there with sun damage and smoking as a major skin enemy.
Why? Well,according to dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone, the problem with sugar is that is attaches itself to the collagen in the skin through a process known as glycation. “This causes the collagen to mesh and it becomes stiff and inflexible, leading to wrinkling,” he says.
Unfortunately, sugar is hidden everywhere – especially in processed foods. But cutting out cakes, biscuits, ready meals and fizzy drinks is a good start. And just think: it’ll help your waistline as well as your face lines.
3. Get your beauty sleep
According to the US Department of Medicine in Chicago, not getting enough shut-eye not only hastens the onset of age-related diseases including heart disease, diabetes and memory loss, it can also affect the condition of the skin. The theory is that the metabolic and hormonal changes triggered by sleep deprivation mimic the ageing process.
There’s another reason why even we men need our beauty sleep, though. “It’s while we’re asleep that skin switches from defense mode to repair mode,” says Sally Penford of The International Dermal Institute. She explains that oxygen consumption, blood flow and water loss through the skin all increase while we sleep.
The last bit is significant because water lost during the night can result in dry, dehydrated skin come morning and dehydrated skin tends to age faster. Which is why applying moisturizer at night is so important. Try Lab Series Night Recovery Lotion, $42 for 1.7oz, an antioxidant-rich cream that helps to support skin’s natural repair processes and is designed for night-time use.
4. Have more sex
Sex, they say, is a great way to keep you feeling young at heart. But according to neuropsychologists at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, people who have plenty of sex can look up to seven years younger than those who don’t.
For the purposes of the study, ‘plenty’ translates as three times a week, but don’t worry if that seems like a bit of an ask: the study also revealed that regular exercise had a similar effect.
5. Invest in acid
Exfoliation – removing dead skin cells – is a great way to make skin look a little more youthful but to take things to the next level, invest in products containing alpha hydroxyl acids. “Cleansers and moisturizers containing these enhance the skin’s own renewal process. Regular use of them can make fine lines appear less obvious by enhancing hydration and desquamation (the shedding of the skin’s outer layers),” says Dr. John Gray, author of The World Of Skincare.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are natural chemicals contained in fruits, sour milk and sugar cane. In recent years more and more men’s products have featured them.
Baxter of California’s Night Cream AHA, $24 for 120ml, and Anthony Logistics Anti-Wrinkle Glycolic Peptide Serum, $55 for 30ml, are two products worth trying. They can’t perform miracles but with continued use you should see a few of those fine lines disappear – and every little helps, right?