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Acne Skin Care Tips for Men

The ongoing quest for healthy, acne-free skin is typically considered a woman's pursuit. However, with the advent of the "metrosexual," the gender lines are becoming more and more blurred when it comes to what's male and what's female. Especially when it comes to acne treatment. And yet, in spite of this evolution in personal care, one thing that has not changed is men's desire to keep acne skin care simple.

The key to skin care for men is to create a simple, daily anti-acne program that is high on results and low on maintenance.

STEP 1: Select an Appropriate Cleanser
According to dermatologist Christopher B. Harmon, M.D., clinical instructor, department of dermatology, University of Alabama, Birmingham, the first step men should follow in a daily skin care routine is to wash their skin once a day using a cleanser that is appropriate for acne skin type. Mild, hypoallergenic cleansers that are fragrance-free are generally good products for men with fair complexions, blonde hair and blue eyes. These cleansers also work well for men with sensitive skin that becomes easily irritated.

Men with oily skin should use more drying acne cleansers, such as those containing alcohol, which dissolves the oil on the skin. Men with oily skin also can use plain soap and water. Conversely, men with dry skin should avoid astringents and any product with alcohol because they easily strip away moisture from the skin.

STEP 2: Moisturize
Once skin is clean, the next step men should follow in a daily skin care
routine is to moisturize in order to hydrate the skin. For men, daily moisturizers help maintain a balance between oiliness and dryness and therefore play an important role in keeping skin healthy. However, these moisturizers also should offer sun protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays, as well as antioxidants to guard against free radicals in the environment that can age the skin.

"All-in-one products are the key to simplifying this step for men," advised Dr. Harmon. "Men should look for moisturizers containing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, as well as antioxidants in order to maximize the application's benefits while avoiding the use of multiple products."

Dr. Harmon went on to say that individuals with oily skin do not need the heavy oils found in some moisturizers and should use moisturizers specifically designed for oily skin. Those with sensitive skin should use moisturizers designed for this skin type because they tend to be less abrasive and contain gentler, yet still effective, ingredients.

STEP 3: Apply a Topical Retinoid
For most men, the final step in a daily skin care routine is to apply a topical retinoid at bedtime to decrease acne and oiliness, reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots, and help prevent the signs of aging. The daily use of retinoids also may protect again future skin cancers by promoting cell turnover and eliminating pre-cancerous, sun-damaged cells.

"Retinoids are very effective in reducing the appearance of sun spots and aging," said Dr. Harmon. "However, products containing retinoids may be drying and increase the chance of skin flaking and redness, so it's important to also use a moisturizer that contains sunscreen in order to keep skin hydrated and combat the increased sun sensitivity that is associated with these products."

While retinoid products (most commonly retinal) are available over the counter (OTC), some men may need higher levels of retinoids than what are available OTC in order to see results. Dr. Harmon commented that prescription retinoid products have the greatest amount of scientific data to support their effectiveness and contain retinoic acid or tazarotene as the active ingredient.

According to Dr. Harmon, "Effective skin care doesn't have to be time-consuming or fussy. Regardless of gender, if a person is having difficulty figuring out the best way to care for his or her skin, my advice is to work with a dermatologist who can help identify the best skin care program for the individual skin type."