Looking Good at any Age

Nov 12 11:49 2008 Sandra Prior Print This Article

Whether your skin is dry, oily, or a combination of the two, as most men's skin tends to be, depends on many factors.

American men spend over $20 million yearly on skin care products,Guest Posting according to industry analysts. Yet ask the typical American male what type of skin he has - what his basis for choosing a skin care product should be - and he is likely to say something like, ‘I think my skin is a little dry,’ or, ‘I guess my skin is oily; I used to break out when I was in my teens.’ If this man's age is 40, his answer shows that he really hasn't been paying as much attention to his skin as he may think.

Your skin is living, changing tissue. It is affected by heredity; by aging; by the state of your health; by the environment you live in, indoors and outside; by the ratio of stress and relaxation in your life; and by the type and amount of food, alcohol, and medication you take in. Just as few men live by the exact same routine month in and month out, your skin also can shift in its needs from one season to the next, one year to another. Just as you are probably not wearing all the same clothes this month as you did a few months or years ago, you may not be correct in thinking you can use the same skin care products throughout every month of the year.

The Cotton-Ball Test

First use this highly visual, simple test to get a general idea of your skin type. To begin, mix up the following tonic: In a blender, combine the juice of one lemon, 1/2 cup of distilled water, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and three ice cubes. Blend till the ice is melted. Then brush your hair off your face and cleanse your skin, using a gentle cleansing lotion rather than soap. Finish by re-cleansing the skin using cotton balls wet with the tonic.

Wait three hours. Wet three clean cotton balls with the tonic. Using a circular motion, gently wipe the first cotton ball across your forehead, the second down your nose, the third across one cheek. If all three come up clean your skin is probably dry; if they're dark, it's oily; if they're slightly soiled, your skin, like most men's, is a combination of the two.

Now that you have a general idea of your skin type, it's time to take a closer look at your skin. Choose a room that is brightly lit (near a window in daylight is ideal; fluorescent light will be least flattering), and have a magnifying mirror handy. Look at your skin's surface. Are there uneven, flaky patches that seem to lift up from the surface? Do you see any red areas or parched-looking areas? These are further signs of dry skin.

Examine your nose. Does it often look shiny within a few hours of cleansing? Do you see tiny blackheads, whiteheads, or skin eruptions? If so, your skin in this area is oily, a common condition even if the rest of your face is dry.

Look at your hairline. Do you see any blemishes, blackheads, tiny bumps, or skin eruptions? These can be caused by excessive use of hair spray, gels, or pomades, or by perspiration or the styling of hair onto your forehead.

Focus for a minute on your chin. Look for bumps under the skin or tiny blackheads. Oily skin can be aggravated by bacteria coming from a telephone receiver or the palm of your hand, two unexpected but frequent causes of breakouts in the chin area.

Do you wear glasses? If you do on an everyday basis, take a closer look at the sides and bridge of your nose, where your glasses touch your skin. If you see tiny eruptions here, you may not be cleaning your glasses often enough - which should be, like your skin, a minimum of twice a day, morning and night. Watch for these signs of skin that is sensitive. Whether your skin is dry, oily, or combination, look out for red blotches, broken capillaries, fine spidery lines, and isolated flakiness.

Skin Types

Be aware that your skin is, in many ways, a road map not merely of your contact with the environment but of your genetic past. Granted, many of us reflect the influences of a ‘melting pot heritage, but there are many remaining influences of our primary genetic pasts. In general, skin can be divided into four major cultural groups: White, Black, Hispanic, and Oriental. Bear in mind that some factors within your category may not apply to you, while you may also have influences from several categories.

White skin

This falls into two basic subgroups: fair (Nordic/British) and olive (Mediterranean). Fair skin is light in color, thin in texture, and highly vulnerable to dryness, broken capillaries, and environmental damage from wind and sun. Olive skin tends to be oilier, more prone to blackheads and, by virtue of its darker pigment, has more natural protection against sunburn and windburn.

Black skin

While its cells contain a higher concentration of pigment (melanin) than white skin, black skin is not-as many blacks erroneously perceive - immune to the hazards of sun-induced aging and skin cancer. Black skin needs protection, although what it may not need is the addition of heavy creams and oils.

A common misconception is that all black skin is oily. While the vast majority of blacks do have skin with a natural tendency to be oily, about five percent actually have extremely dry complexions, which often show up in ashy, gray-looking patches. Many black men with normal or combination skin create over-oily skin by slathering on heavy oil-based lotions each morning.

A common and often painful problem afflicting many black men is ingrown hairs, caused by the tendency of a curly hair to grow back down into the hair follicle rather than straight out of the skin surface. This problem can be exacerbated by shaving and by the mistaken use of home treatments that cause further skin infection rather than serving as a cure.

Hispanic skin

This type of skin is rarely dry, usually combination or oily. Hispanic men who have sensitive skin may find that a diet that reflects their cultural heritage tone that is rich in spicy or fried foods) can aggravate pre-existing skin problems. While Hispanics tend to have olive-toned complexions that tan rather than burn when exposed to sunlight, their skin still needs to be protected from the sun-damaging rays.

Asian skin

This type of skin tends to have a smooth surface that, much like Oriental hair, beautifully reflects the light. What is also common among Orientals, though, is highly sensitive skin. Once it becomes acne - or blemish-prone, it tends to heal very slowly over periods of weeks rather than days. Oriental men may also find during shaving that their skin will succumb to nicks or cuts that also heal more slowly than similar abrasions in their white-skinned counterparts.

The darker your skin, the more you need to be aware of the possibilities of hyper-pigmented (or dark-toned) scarring, and the more careful you must be to avoid self-treatment of acne blemishes. Just as your skin's melanocytes (or pigmenting cells) are better able to rush to the skin surface to protect your skin from sun damage, so too can they rush to protect your skin from other perceived ‘attacks, such as the assault of squeezing or picking at a blemish. The major consequence: unlike a suntan, a pigmented scar will not fade away and, in fact, can grow more obvious over time.

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Sandra Prior
Sandra Prior

Sandra Prior runs her own bodybuilding website at http://bodybuild.rr.nu

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