A lot of guys consider themselves pretty tough, but chances are their skin is anything but. “Men's skin is way more oily than women's, so it attracts more dirt and oil. Plus, most men tend to shave every day, which causes the skin to be more sensitive,” says Kim Schroeder, an aesthetician in Santa Barbara, California. Sun exposure and stress also take heavy tolls on the face. The best solution is a soothing and calming skin care regimen — one not often provided by guys' grooming products, which can be harsh and aggressive. But men can give their skin the pampering it deserves — and still feel macho — with these natural helpers.

Showering

Forget squeaky clean, says Alan Dattner, MD, a holistic dermatologist with practices in New York City and New Rochelle, New York. If you're plagued by dry skin, take fewer and cooler showers, especially in cold weather. “You wash off your body's natural oils and humectants and this dries out the skin.” Humectants are moisture-loving molecules that draw and hold water in the skin, and oils provide a protective barrier on top. If you need a basic freshening up, it's not always necessary to wash the whole body. “Certain areas get dirty, and certain areas don't,” says Dattner. “Most men don't get dirty enough to use soap on their forearms and legs.”

When it's time to step in the shower, skip soaps that contain animal products, artificial fragrances, synthetic antibacterial chemicals, and heavy colorants, such as coal-derived Brilliant Blue FCF and Fast Green FCF. All can lead to inflammation or allergic reactions, says Luke Vukmer, founder of Herban Cowboy Organic Grooming Products. If you're prone to overly oily skin, soaps with mild citrus ingredients may help reduce buildup without drying out the skin. “Men also need to dry off well after showering because excess water can lead to bacterial growth — a precursor to odor,” says Vukmer.

Skin care

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate — that's the secret to everyday skin care for men. “I see way too many guys with cracked, dry skin and lips,” says Vukmer. “Establishing a twice-a-day routine of applying a small amount of vegetable-based skin balm or lotion, and using natural ingredients like aloe vera or shea butter can help the skin stay resilient and healthy. The water in the lotion also helps hydrate the skin. Even if you spend your days in an office, incidental solar exposure adds up, so don't forget to add a physical sunblock or sunscreen (titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) with a SPF of at least 15.

Shaving

Foaming shave cream may look soothing, but the lather comes from soaps that dry out skin. To lessen the abrasion of that sharp blade against your skin, Vukmer prefers nonlathering products. Also, avoid pore-clogging oils, and opt for mineral-based silicones, such as dimethicone, which provide the glide without the irritation, says Schroeder. If you're prone to razor burn, replace harsh alcohol-based aftershaves with soothing chamomile or vitamin E oil; replace your razor regularly, too.

Lifestyle

Taking care of your skin is an all-day affair, says Dattner. Like women, men should indulge in antioxidant nutrients — which help protect skin against solar radiation and environmental toxins — as well as massages, meditation, and other activities that help reduce the effects of stress. And although sun exposure, smoking, and drinking may be all the rage with rugged, hard-living male celebrities, such behaviors lead to oxidation in the skin, causing enzymes to break down elastic tissue and collagen, producing sags and wrinkles. “What's cool on the screen and in the magazines is not sustainable,” says Dattner. “We may want to look a little bit weathered in our 20s, but we don't want to look old in our 50s and 60s.”

Princely products
CLEANSING SHAVING MOISTURIZING
Aubrey Organics Men's Stock Basic Cleansing Bar A long-lasting bar with organic vegetable glycerin, organic shea butter, and a hint of fresh-smelling menthol. Jason All Natural Shaving Lotion Beard & Skin Therapy This soap- and propellant-free cream buffers the skin with certified-organic aloe vera gel. Burt's Bees Natural Skin Care for Men Aftershave This lotion uses sunflower and coconut oils to moisturize the skin, and aloe and vitamin E to soothe it.
Zia Men ActiClean Face Scrub This face wash uses corncob and pineapple to unblock pores, and tea tree extracts and vitamins to soothe blemished skin and prevent razor bumps. Tom's of Maine Natural Conditioning Shave Cream Coconut and olive oils lubricate the skin while also protecting and conditioning it. Earth Science Face & Body Skin Care Balm This light lotion, combining aloe juice, chamomile extract, gotu kola extract, and vitamin E, works as an aftershave or full-body moisturizer.
-J.W.

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