I’m no skincare expert. Dermatology was not my field of academic study. In fact, I spent most of my life with bad skin at my side.
Yes, from the age of twelve until my mid-twenties I suffered, daily, from what I knew to be the absolute, unrelenting bane of my existence. Your face is the first thing other people see, and when that first port of call is damaged, inflamed, infected, unhealthy and, well, pretty nasty looking it’s not the easiest thing to live with—at least that’s what I thought back then. Some days, I found it difficult to even look people in the eye, opting instead to hang my head down so they didn't notice my skin. Not a pleasant way to live, but I maintained a certain confidence and exuberance, which maybe distracted my peers from my pimples! Like my old friend Jo always said: "When you're an unfortunate looking teen you have to develop some semblance of a personality to get you through!"
In hindsight, my skin wasn’t that bad. No, I didn’t have weeping sores on my cheeks, nor did I suffer what is medically called known as acne, I just had some hormonal and diet-related zits that I blew way out of proportion, the ex-drama queen that is me. Yes, spots that, probably, everyone deals with. It’s just that, once their on your own face, they seem catastrophic.
I tried everything. In frustration I picked, squeezed, and popped; in an act of desperation I used a potentially hazardous concoction of lemon juice and vinegar hoping, somehow, to bleach my red hot spots; I used sunbeds which helped somewhat; I procured every lotion, potion, and enough healing tincture to fill an ocean. Finally, in exhaustion and acceptance, I stopped. I let my skin breathe.
So let’s take a look at some of the things, which actually worked for me. How did I develop a skincare routine, one which worked for my skin. Not that I have perfect skin today, but it’s a hell of a lot clearer than my fifteen year old self’s.
Eating—and drinking—for clearer skin
Where I blame hormones in my adolescence, I blame diet between the ages of 17-21. My breakfasts usually consisted of cigarettes and coffee; lunch while working in restaurants where I ate whatever was available in the kitchen, maybe a small something in the evening, probably a mountain of crisps and cheese, or anything savoury and full of fat, and of course, out for pints and after-hours chips most nights. Actually now that I think of it, my bad skin may well have been caused by a mild to moderate case of socially acceptable alcoholism—that’s for another blog though!
Alcohol causes your skin’s pores to dilate, which can lead to blackheads and whiteheads, as well as leading to a dehydrated, duller complexion. But is any alcohol safe to drink? According to our friends who actually study this kind of stuff, red wine is the best, in moderation. And yes, you’re sick to death of hearing how a diet abundant in leafy greens and plenty of water can keep you glowing and healthy from the inside out, so here it is one more time: eat that veg and your skin will thank you. Mine did! And it’s all about finding what your triggers are.
Mine? Dairy. I now don’t drink dairy milk, opting mainly for oat or almond alternatives, unless I’m in some back-country cafe and they look at me like I have ten heads asking for almond milk. As we say in Ireland: “Sure it’s far from that you were reared!” I also try to limit foods like cheese, chips or crisps usually doused in salt and unhealthy oils and fats. Cooking with coconut oil as much as I can also seems to have worked for me. Experiment. Find out what works with you body. (Sidenote: I just spent the last five days in Barcelona, where I did the complete opposite of everything I'm telling you now, but that's okay, too!)
Hydrate Yo Face!
Fun fact: For years I didn’t moisturise, thinking that, if I just added more moisture—aka oil—I would further exacerbate my problems! And what did that lead to? Yes, kids, a bad case of dry skin. I then had a wonderfully balanced combo of an oily T-Zone with specks of dry skin across my face. Yin and Yang, Ladies and Gents.
My new favourite skincare saviour is a relatively new Irish brand, NEUÚ. Since their launch this year, they’ve already been featured in The Examiner and Irish Times, props given for their Back-to-Nature ethos, which is going down a storm with skincare and grooming nerds the world over.
Based out of Co Limerick, Ireland, their seaweed based lotions and potions are my daily go-to I’m finding pretty hard to put down. For the last 2 months, I sampled their Hair & Body Wash and Hydrate Moisturizer and I love them! This, my friends, doesn't happen easily. For about 3 years, the only thing I would place on my face was coconut oil. Nothing more. Nothing less. I was glowing. Then I introduced Beard Oil, and gradually, began to add more and more to my grooming arsenal. NEUÚ's Hydrate Moisturiser is exactly what I need first thing in the morning, when my skin is feeling dehydrated, and last thing at night after a busy day. And it's made of seaweed. As you know from previous posts, I love me some seaweed. And the science bit? According to the gang over at NEUU, the magic is in something called the Lipid Lock:
"This [lipid Lock] multi-step process extracts Essential Marine Fatty Acids—or lipids—from Atlantic seaweed. These lipids are removed separately then recombined in a new potent form.
Lipids keep seaweed hydrated and elastic, protecting it from sun, salt, pollution, constant wave motion and abrasion."
What’s Your Type?
Not all men are created equal, meaning us boys have varying degrees of skin sensitivity and needs. Let your skincare toolbelt be reflective of that, making sure you stock up on products, which are designed to keep your skin in good nick!
Dry: For this type of skin you need a little extra drench in your skincare routine. If acne is not an issue, an oil-based lotion might be a good shout, even trying a hydrating mask once a week.
Oily: Keep it light. Avoid anything heavy, or creamy, opting instead for an oil-free or mattifying moisturiser. I love anything lightweight on my skin.
Sensitive: Say no to alcohol, dyes, fragrances, and parabens. Make sure you buy products which note they are created for sensitive skin.
Whatever skin type you came into this world wearing, you may need a wee bit more than just daily moisturising. I'm talking exfoliation and a little bit of R&R with some pamper-session Masc Masks! Eh...is MASC a really amazing name for a men's grooming range? What did I just stumble on?
I stumbled upon UK brand Barber Pro while wandering 'round Penneys a few weeks ago. Yet again, I'm in love. I don't use face masks all too often, actually rarely, but I do exfoliate. Barber Pro's Peel Off Mask with Activated Charcoal has taken pride of place in my bathroom, and will be a regular addition to my skincare routine, with its combination of charcoal, grapefruit, orange, green tea, tea tree, lemon, and lots more lovely natural bits and pieces!
So guys, what should you do to ensure you rock around the clock with better skin, clearer complexions, and a brighter glow? What skincare products should you use? If there's one key takeaway you get from this blog it's this: whether it's seaweed or charcoal, keep things natural.
Design the Life, Style & Business you Deserve with The Bearded Irishman