Focusing on Follicles Means Men are Suddenly Skin-Aware
In recent years, beards have moved from fad to fashion for men all over New York City, and across the country. In fact, just last year GQ announced “Whether we’re talking about a thick, irreverent Galifianakis or a jawline-amping mown lawn, a beard is just about the most on-trend accessory you can pull on this season.”
Looking like a well-groomed Lumberjack or a sophisticated bon-vivant is harder than it looks! This male aesthetic appeals to the outdoor renaissance man, an urbanite who travels frequently and holds an axe with two hands, but who can suit up or dress down as necessary.
Maintaining a beard requires product, time, and effort– as this entertaining but lengthy article in GQ describes. There’s the need to take time with shaving, to trim and fade (groom shorter beards in such a way that it’s neat and integrates with the neck in an attractive way) and to use proper products for both cleanliness and aesthetics.
As men get into grooming they pay more attention to their skin. Which, from a scientific standpoint makes sense. Hair follicles are tiny skin cavities that sheath the root of a hair, so skin and hair are intertwined at the cellular level.
Also, despite cultural biases, skincare has never been just for women. Think of the luxurious barber shop shaves, with comforting hot towels and tonics, that preceded the invention of the safety razor at the turn of the twentieth century. As more and more of today’s men spend face time with their facial hair, they realize the importance of a good skincare regime.
Where do “beard grooming” and “skincare regime” intersect? At the juncture of cleansers, moisturizers and exfoliation.
First, basic cleaning. A face wash is fine, as long as it has the proper, non-drying, ingredients and no harmful ingredients, like formaldehyde (for more on that topic, see this article in CareDash) but the beard itself should be shampooed, just like head hair.
Exfoliation is key, especially if there’s any sign of beard dandruff. The trick is to get to the dead skin cells that are under a beard, and rinse them away, before they flake off and are sprinkled around in an unsightly manner. But, be careful to choose a product that’s not too gummy or oily, which will just mat the thick androgenic hair that makes up a beard. No borrowing that organic salt and oil scrub from sisters or girlfriends!
Finally, it is important to moisturize. Again, nothing too thick or creamy, and it will take some time to massage the product into the beard and get to the skin underneath, but it’s worth it to eliminate dry skin and keep the epidermis healthy.
Another benefit of beards: men are more apt to notice skin problems if they are paying attention to grooming their beard.
Small issues like ingrown hairs (which should never be squeezed! Gentle exfoliation or a hot towel compress to open the pore is best.) can be dealt with easily. Other issues or concerns may require a trip to a dermatologist. It’s vitally important to check with a doctor if a new mole appears. Also, any lesion that itches, bleeds or doesn’t heal quickly should be checked out by a medical professional.
But, as long as skin is clean and healthy looking, all beard maintenance efforts can be directed at the fun, and fashion, of having a beard.
For a consultation with NYC’s most sought-after dermatologist, make an appointment with Bobby Buka MD on ZocDoc today.