Skin care seems to be a topic that is not particularly masculine-and indeed, products for skin care seem to be overwhelmingly targeted towards the fair sex, as illustrated by this image of the default Google Image results for “skin care”.
But while I will never tell my audience to turn themselves into perfumed dandies, hygiene is of importance to the modern man for the simple fact that you won’t command much respect if you’re unkempt with the acne-encrusted skin of a 15 year old.
Like most things in life that are worth doing, masculine skin care (and I suppose this can work for the women in the audience as well) is simple in theory, but requires a bit of “elbow grease” in practice. And as somebody who was a pizza-faced teenager, I am intimately familiar with every type of elbow grease necessary for clearing up your skin.
The first, and arguably most important, thing you need to do is to cut the crap out of your diet-eating an excess of fats, sugars, carbs, and oils will clog your pores. And while this advice mostly refers to eating the junk food typical of modernity, I will also advise you to keep even healthy fats in moderation. For example, one of my favorite snacks is a handful of mixed nuts, but while these provide many useful nutrients (particularly the fatty acids), they also can cause acne to erupt on the skin. You can excise these fats completely from your diet, but I don’t think it’s necessary, just reduce them-all things in moderation, after all.
Secondly, get your hair cut in a way so your hairline doesn’t fall upon the forehead. We’ve already established that our goal in this exercise is not to look like a pimply pubescent boy-a very simple step to take is to not have your hair cut in the manner of said pimply teenage boy. From my experience, having longer hair always led to more sweat and oils building up on the skin, so I’d advise against it.
Thirdly, Expose yourself to natural light and fresh air, and get a full night’s sleep. This works in conjunction with the first tenet in getting your endocrine system functioning in the way it was intended (the endocrine system being in charge of hormones, and in short the reason why teens have bad skin). The stereotype of the slovenly, acne-covered nerd exists for a reason, and while it’s largely due to the crappy diet and lack of exercise these persons get, the artificial light, sedentary lifestyle, and irregular sleeping patterns certainly aren’t helping matters.
Those three steps are “passive” ways to clear up your skin-they don’t really require any deliberate action applied to the skin, and in many cases they will fix your skin problems. But if your acne persists, here is what I recommend:
First and foremost: Cold Water! The colder the water is, the better it is for your skin in most cases (shaving being the one major exception). I’m certainly not the first person to advocate taking cold showers, but I go one step further in advocating using cold water to wash your face in the sink as well. The reason that cold water is better for your skin is because the low temperature forces your skin cells to contract, closing your cuticles and pores and making it more difficult for any filth to get in them (As well as squeezing out what’s already in there).
When deciding what you should put on your face besides the cold water, bear in mind that there are definitely a lot of products on the market pertaining to skin care-various moisturizers and creams and what have you. From my experience, none of them are really bad per se, but I’ve gotten the exact same results from them as I do with a normal bar of soap.
When purchasing a bar of soap, do the same thing you would do when buying food: look at the ingredients. And just like buying food, try to avoid soap that is full of artificial crap-overly processed food does nothing for your innards, and artificial soap does nothing for your skin. Instead, buy soap made with natural fats and oils-I use the same brand of soap I use to shave, as it is full of cocoa butter and wholesome vegetable fats.
And finally, an essential tool that is also the most “exotic” thing I will use on my skin: the loofah.
This versatile tropical vine can be eaten (particularly in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine), but is best known to Westerners as an abrasive bath and/or kitchen sponge. I will admit I was skeptical of it when a friend recommended it to me, but after a couple of showers, I noticed that it worked wonders for my skin.
The loofah is incredibly cheap (I purchased mine for 1 dollar), and it is more abrasive than your standard washcloth-even after it has been softened up by water absorption.
Now that we’ve discussed the materials, the application is the simplest part: Just apply soap to your face and any other afflicted areas, and scrub with the loofah (not so hard that you irritate the skin, of course). Once you’ve rinsed and dried off, you might notice that your skin already looks shinier and healthier.
And that’s really all there is to it. I’m aware that a lot of people in the manosphere will advocate more esoteric methods like the always-popular Kratom, or in the case of my Return of Kings colleague Matt Forney the admittedly pretty interesting Aztec Secret face mask. But seeing as I am if nothing else a cheap bastard, and the loofah/soap combination costs a third of what the Indian Clay costs, I will choose to skip it.
As with most things, the key to healthy skin is simple, and just requires your labor. So get to it.