You have probably heard that skin is your body’s largest organ, but did you know it’s also one of the body’s organs of elimination? Skin is involved in the excretion of water, sodium, and small amounts of urea and xenobiotics (foreign substances in the body). There is preliminary evidence that decreased skin function impairs proper detoxification of certain substances and may contribute to increased oxidative stress in the body. Keeping your skin happy is about more than vanity, healthy skin can improve self-esteem and body image.
Men have more sebum in their skin, an oily substance that keeps skin and hair moisturized. Without proper skincare, this substance can build up and lead to breakouts. Too much sebum can also increase water loss from the skin, which can dry out your skin and set you up for breakouts. For most men, keeping breakouts down as an adult is as easy as developing a sustainable skin care routine.
Moisturizers are an important part of any skin care routine. According to a recent review, skin dryness is increasing due to urbanization, pollution, and reduced use of traditional oils and skin care practices. Certain products also contribute to skin dryness, as well as advancing age. Maintaining proper skin moisture is important for overall skin health and function.
The best way to moisturize your skin is to moisturize from the inside out by making sure you drink plenty of water. Besides that, choosing a product that contains ingredients that increase moisture but won’t clog your pores and increase your chance of a breakout is important. Hyaluronic acid is a popular and effective ingredient that can moisturize without leaving your skin feeling oily. Certain oils with lower ratings on the comedogenic scale can also be appropriate for certain skin types. Everything is individual so test a few things out and see what works best for you.
The comedogenic scale is commonly used to assess the pore-clogging and acne-instigating potential of different oils and skin care ingredients. Lower scores mean less likelihood of causing breakouts. Popular oils like argan oil and hemp seed oil have a rating of 0, indicating they are less likely to clog pores and cause acne than oils like coconut oil, which has a rating of 4.
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Different ingredients are going to interact differently with each person’s skin and the scale has not been rigorously studied. The scale is based on input from lots of skin care experts, so it is a good place to start when choosing oils or products for your skin care routine.
Ingredients to Avoid
Parabens are class of chemical preservatives that have been used in skin and hair care products since the early twentieth century. Several parabens are banned in Europe but there is no regulation on their use in the United States.
Parabens have been extensively studied and have been promoted as safe for human use. Recently, however, more research has focused on the hormonal impact of parabens. Some research suggests that parabens act like estrogen in the body and may interfere with proper estrogen metabolism. There is even some preliminary research suggesting that paraben exposure may be involved in the development of breast cancer.
Overall, there is no agreement on the overall health effects of parabens. Much of the research has been done in the lab instead of in human subjects, meaning that the effects in the body may not be the same as those observed in the lab. Given the potential for hormone disruption, reducing paraben exposure may still be a good idea. Try to choose skincare products are paraben free, because even if the research has a way to go, less chemical exposure is never a bad thing.
Phthalates are chemicals added to personal care products like soap, shampoos, moisturizer, and aftershave lotions. These chemicals are often listed on ingredient labels as “fragrance.” Phthalates are known hormone disruptors. One Chinese study investigated the relationship between phthalate exposure and testosterone and found that male participants with the highest levels of urinary phthalates had lower free testosterone.
Because we live in a chemical-filled world, it is impossible to completely avoid these chemicals. But you can reduce your exposure by choosing personal care products that are phthalate-free. One of the best resources for choosing products is the Environmental Working Group Healthy Living website or mobile app.
Skincare is important for maintaining overall health. For men, a simple routine including cleansing, moisturizing, and working with products made from natural products can go a long way in improving the appearance and function of your skin.
- Liu XX, Sun CB, Yang TT, et al. Decreased skin-mediated detoxification contributes to oxidative stress and insulin resistance. Experimental Diabetes Research. 2012 ;2012:128694. DOI: 10.1155/2012/128694.
- Sethi A, Kaur T, Malhotra SK, Gambhir ML. Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian J Dermatol. 2016;61(3):279‐287. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.182427
- Comedogenic Ratings Database. Skin Reference. https://www.skinreference.com/comedogenic-ratings-causes-acne/. Published March 22, 2016. Accessed June 7, 2020.
- Engeli RT, Rohrer SR, Vuorinen A, et al. Interference of Paraben Compounds with Estrogen Metabolism by Inhibition of 17β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(9):2007. Published 2017 Sep 19. doi:10.3390/ijms18092007
- Pan G, Hanaoka T, Yoshimura M, et al. Decreased serum free testosterone in workers exposed to high levels of di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP): a cross-sectional study in China. Environ Health Perspect. 2006;114(11):1643‐1648. doi:10.1289/ehp.9016