As you look out on the possibilities of a brand new year – perfect and unsullied like new fallen January snow – you might be ready to dream big.
A new opportunity.
A date with the woman of your dreams.
Maybe just a killer new look.
A good skincare routine won't necessarily hand you any of that on a platter. But it WILL make you significantly better looking.
Will that help your chances? ABSOLUTELY.
1. Drink 3 Liters Of Water A Day
According to the Institute of Medicine, 13 cups, or 3 liters, of water are needed to keep an adult man fully hydrated. Yet nearly eighty percent of working Americans say they don't drink enough water. If you're one of them, this is your year to change that.
Being dehydrated makes your skin dry, tight and flaky. Properly hydrated skin, on the other hand, will be more elastic (wrinkle less easily) and have a healthy glow that gives you an alert, vibrant appearance. Of course you won't see results an hour after downing your first glass – but a just few weeks of proper water intake will give a noticeable boost.
Drink 16 oz / 2 cups of water right after you wake up to rehydrate your skin.
Ice cold water fires up your metabolism, wakes you up and hydrates you quickly. Then space your water drink out through the rest of the day so your body is able to fully absorb each glass. If you drink fat-free or low-fat milk, or other drinks without added sugars, you can count it as part of your water intake.
Coffee lover? Beware: caffeine dehydrates the skin and therefore emphasizes fine lines and wrinkles.
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2. Use SPF 15+ Sunscreen Every Day
Only 14% of American men use sunscreen regularly (compared to 30% of women). But (in addition to its other health benefits) sunscreen may be the most effective anti-aging product in your drawer.
People who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily show 24 percent less skin aging.
For the best protection from UV rays – which cause sun damage – you need broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects from both UVB and the more harmful UVA rays. Although you should put it on every morning as part of your skincare routine, also remember to reapply every hour you’re outside in the sun, especially if you’re sweating or swimming.
3. Know Your Skin Type
To find your skin type, check your T-zone (across your forehead and a straight line down your chin) at the end of the day.
- If it's shiny: you have oily skin. You need light non-oily products.
- If it's matte: you have dry skin. You need a men's natural face wash product – avoid anything containing alcohol which can dry and irritate your skin.
- If it's in between (not noticeably shiny, not noticeably dull): normal skin. You need products that are in between.
A slightly trickier situation is combination skin, which tends to be dry on the cheeks and oily in the T-zone. If your t-zone is shiny but your cheeks are rough or flaky, you probably have this skin type.
Depending on how extreme the difference is, you may be able to use in-between products intended for normal skin, or you may need to use different products on different parts of your face (simply skipping moisturizer on the t-zone and keeping astringents meant to dry up oil off your cheeks is a good policy).
4. Get A Skincare Routine
Twice Daily: Cleanse
Oils build up on your face continuously, and they need to be removed to prevent clogged pores and other problems. You shouldn't over-wash your face – that can lead to dryness and irritation – but a quick scrub each morning and night is a must.
Before applying any face wash, wet your face with warm (NOT HOT – high heat can be damaging) water. Dispense a small amount – approximately the size of a nickel – of your chosen face wash into the palm of your hand. (Tip: make sure you go for a men's natural face wash product – avoid anything containing alcohol which can irritate your skin). Then rub the cleanser gently into the skin, covering your whole face and avoiding the eyes.
To dry, simply pat your skin lightly with a clean, soft towel. Don't rub – it can irritate your skin.
Twice Daily: Apply Moisturizer
Make sure you don’t pull at your skin while applying moisturizer. A natural face moisturizer gives your skin the hydration it needs, preventing the flakiness as well as the overproduction of oil from stripped cells. If you get a product that includes sunscreen it also gently protects against UV rays.
Twice / 3 Times Weekly: Exfoliate
Apply an exfoliator / face scrub onto wet skin. Massage it on your face, neck and beard areas in small circular motions. A face scrub unclogs pores and raises hairs, allowing your razor a clear passage.
5. Get At Least 2.5 Hours Of Exercise A Week
Superficial improvements are good, and if you're willing to follow the skincare routine above, good for you. But to permanently change your skin for the better, you'll need to commit to a change in lifestyle. That means regular exercise.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week (2.5 hours).
Working up a sweat can help your skin expel the environmental pollutants, dirt and built up oil that collect on the skin throughout the day. It also releases feel-good endorphins, which can help reduce everyday tension in your body and in turn reduce strain on your skin.
When you work out, your heart rate will become elevated and blood flow increases. Exercise can help you to look more awake – or even more youthful.
Remember to cleanse your skin after a workout so that dirt and sweat don't lead to bacterial buildup. Follow up by applying moisturizer to replenish the skin of some of the moisture it has lost.
6. Cook Your Own Meals
We all know that over-relying on fast food and other convenience meals can be bad for your health – but it's especially bad for your skin. That means your skincare routine has to start on the inside.
Highly processed foods such as packaged microwavable meals have high levels of additives that your body interprets as toxins. Your liver takes care of most of them, but when it's overloaded, the body starts secreting the toxins through your skin to get rid of them as fast as possible. This process can result in acne.
The best foods for healthy skin are foods containing healthy fats like mackerel, herring, coconut, and avocado, and vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamins.
As a rule of thumb? Avoid processed foods and cook your meals yourself.
7. Cut Back Alcohol Use
It's a little-known fact that alcohol messes with your hormone levels – which can cause imbalances that can result in acne, and speed up the signs of aging. It also badly dehydrates your skin.
Your skin visibly takes longer to rebound when pinched if you're hungover.
You know how your cheeks flush after a couple shots? That's because alcohol enlarges your blood vessels. And while all may seem rosy with that, keep in mind: binge drinking and overuse of alcohol use can eventually lead to spider veins.
8. Reduce Stress
Stress can take a toll on your skin. Facial tension and tiredness are key factors in features that make your face appear aged, like frown lines and undereye bags – all of which can become permanent if they appear frequently enough. Some wrinkles appear distinguished, but you don't want to look permanently grumpy in your old age.
While it's a myth that stress causes acne, sensitive skin may be even touchier when the effects of stress are ravaging the body.
Make sure you get time to yourself each week, and practice using stress management techniques – such as mindful thinking, deep breathing, and walking away from conflict so you can cool down.
Remember that you don't have to stay stuck in the first emotion that comes up when something goes wrong.
If you consistently struggle to manage stress, consider reaching out to a trusted friend or a mental health professional for support.
9. Get At Least 7 Hours Of Sleep Every Night
Sleep is when the body rests and regenerates. The second stage of sleep is called Delta sleep. During Delta sleep, hormone levels peak and your cells – including your skin – actually begin to repair themselves.
No matter how good your skincare routine is, the effect of too little sleep on your skin will be obvious, particularly around the eyes. When you lose sleep, fluid builds under your eyes, giving your eyes a puffy, tired look. When you do get your sleep, this can be corrected.
All stages of sleep are involved in dissolving free radicals – notorious for their contribution to early aging.
If your sleep is struggling, try cutting off caffeine at 3 P.M., making sure your room is dark enough, practicing conscious breathing to help yourself relax before sleep, and avoiding electronic screens right before bedtime (if you need your phone or computer, a screen-tinting app can at least cut the wakefulness-producing blue light).
By this point, you might be saying, wait, I thought this was about my skincare routine – these are overall health tips. But the fact is that your skin is the largest organ in your body – if you want to look your best, good health is as vital as quality skincare products: