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Men's Grooming: Are You Reactive or Proactive?

Men are expressing themselves more freely and there is a whole host of positive messages as a consequence. However, with change, there are often repercussions - for good or bad. Unfortunately, as our country has shown over the last few weeks - we're not so good at handling it!

Is the UK's growing love for the beard impacting on the men's facial skincare category?

My post last month discussed the 'changing face' of men's grooming. The rise of the beard, the societal change of perceptions towards facial hair, introducing the world to the new age of the modern man. I concluded there was much to be celebrated. Men are expressing themselves more freely and there is a whole host of positive messages as a consequence.

However, with change, there are often repercussions - for good or bad. Unfortunately, as our country has shown over the last few weeks - we're not so good at handling it!

Last month London market research company Mintel released a report stating that 'the nation's love of the beard is hampering sales of men's facial skin care'. I'm here to examine this and to explore the reasons why we shouldn't forget our skin. In my opinion, this is the one part of our grooming regime which simply should not be ditched along with your razor.

So what's been going on?

For me it's simple, men's grooming regimes tend to be "reactive" rather than "pro-active", the polar opposite to the ladies in our lives. In terms of grooming regimes woman are mostly looking into the future. Men, both historically, and still today, on the whole focus their grooming regimes in the present tense.

By reactive I mean men will often have a problem or ailment, for instance: itchy beard, acne breakout, thinning hair etc., and look for a grooming or cosmetic routine to counter it. Even if it's as simple as "I'm looking a bit scruffy this morning, and I have an important meeting so what can I do about it?"

For women, on the other hand, cosmetic routines are much more habitual and routine, mostly focussing on the future - whether it's growing longer hair or having a complex skin-care routine to tackle the challenges of ageing. This may well be due to the relative newness of men to regular daily grooming routines outside of the outdated "razor and a comb" approach yet, in relation to your skin, approaching it with a reactive approach could well be too little too late.

So what has the last 50 years of men's grooming taught us?

Once upon a time shaving was the predominant part of this. Men's grooming was much simpler, but focused routinely on the day-to-day upkeep. Men would wake each morning, glance in the mirror, comb their hair, and shave - the emphasis being on the shaving part.

Shaving gave the feeling of tidiness, cleanliness and manliness all in one - how things have changed for some!

But why is shaving linked to skin care?

I caught up with one of the UK's top skincare experts, Kirsty Mawhinney a skin therapist and beautician. She explained to me that shaving is a huge disrupter to the balance of your skin's PH. This would fit in with my theory of "pro-active" grooming.

She explained, "Traditionally shaving foams are alkaline in nature. Your skin's PH is on the acid side around pH 5.4-5.5". This is due to the fact most shaving foams & creams are soap based. The alkaline foam or cream, unbalances your skin's pH causing anything from dry skin to breakouts.

This explains the connection between skin care & shaving regimes, they go hand in hand. As you consistently imbalance your skin's pH, and dry it out, your skin is screaming out for some moisture, so you head to Boots and pick up a product to sooth your ailing skin!

A moisturiser or after-shave balm is typically used to calm the inflammation caused by shaving. If men are shaving less, they must be moisturising less? This is what Mintel are suggesting here, and would explain the drop in sales over the past year or so.

So why should beardy men still maintain their own skin care routine? Or even adopt one for the first time?

Having a good skin care regime is important for a number of reasons, to help maintain a healthy PH balance, to help reduce wrinkles and ageing (in the long run). Being conscious of your skin in the sun is hugely important as it's a known killer. And finally, tell me a single person who isn't self-conscious of an unexpected break out of spots?

So here's what I suggest...

Exfoliate regularly, at least once a week, this helps your skin to regenerate cells, which can build up and clog your pores.

Try to use a face wash or toner that doesn't contain "Sodium Lauryl Sulfate" (SLS) from the ingredients list - Why? SLS unbalances your skin's pH, and strips your skin of it's natural oil balance. This sends your skin into "break out and go crazy" mode, producing oil like it's its last chance to do so!

Mawhinney explains "Every day your skin is ageing. And the very simple process of washing your face before bed is an excellent way to mitigate the external factors associated with ageing and to stimulate the internal processes that fight ageing"

Once you have cleansed or exfoliated, use a light, natural moisturiser. Because you have washed away the dead cells, this will give the moisturiser a good chance to penetrate the skin. It will leave you feeling fresh and awake.

For the past 6 months, I have worked tirelessly to produce a product which addressed all the above. Our Face & Stubble care products, are sulfate free, work with your skin & not against it, and also are a hybrid product that will help soften and treat itchy and flakey skin which can occur while growing your beard out, along with moisturising your skin!

We should all be putting in the effort now, to reap the rewards later in the life when it comes to our skin. We will regret it down the line if we don't gents. So my advice is simple, don't ditch your skin care routine along with your razor.

Huffington Post readers: if you'd like me to cover anything in these posts I'm always open to ideas so please comment below. If there is a certain problem you're experiencing or any particular insight you would like on the industry please let me know!

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