It’s a fact! Sensitive skin (or reactive or hyper-reactive skin) is not just a woman’s bane. While 50 to 60 percent of women have problems with sensitive skin, some 30 percent of men are affected by it as well.
Sensitive skin should not be confused with other similar skin conditions. For example, “sensitive” does not necessarily mean “allergy-prone” (reacting to contact with a specific allergen). Nor is it the same as “intolerant skin.” Sensitive skin does not give visible clues, but is characterized rather by a pulling, tingling sensation, without automatically causing redness, while intolerant skin strongly reacts to external elements by peeling and turning red.
General and specific causes of sensitive skin
Various causes not related to gender per se can explain skin sensitivity:
- Psychological or internal factors (excessive stress, fatigue);
- Lifestyle factors (alcohol intake, spicy foods, surgery, etc.);
- Environmental factors (wind, heat, cold);
- Physical irritants (contact with coarse wool, a beard, a touch, repetitive exfoliation, etc.);
- Chemical irritants (air pollution, hard water, certain ingredients in cosmetics, such as fragrances, perfumes, conservation agents, essential oils, vitamin A acid).
Men’s skin differs significantly from that of women. It is both oilier and thicker due to the action of testosterone, which regulates the skin’s structure and function. In men, over-reactive skin can be the result of specific factors, such as:
- Fair complexion: men with red or blond hair generally have drier, more fragile skin (which produces less sebum, a natural skin barrier);
- Daily shaving, especially for men with delicate skin and less facial hair (men with coarser beards generally have tougher skin).
Spotlight on razor burn and shaving-related irritation
Razor burn presents various signs of skin irritation, such as a tingling, pulling sensation, redness and pimples. It can be caused simply by not properly washing the skin after shaving, using the wrong kind of razor for a given skin type or shaving with a dull blade. But skin type can also be a factor, and sensitive skin is obviously susceptible! Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to prevent sensitive skin from over-reacting to shaving.
- Before shaving, wash your face with a mild soap.
- Apply shaving cream or gel suited to your skin type.
- Gently exfoliate skin on a regular basis to eliminate dead skin and prevent ingrown hairs.
- Use a moisturizing after-shave product or balm. (It should not contain alcohol).
- If using a liquid after-shave or thermal water in spray form, apply a soothing moisturizing cream for sensitive skin (following the after-shave), if needed. If not, a regular moisturizing after-shave may suffice.
All the gentlemen out there will be glad to know that nearly every top dermo-cosmetic company offers lines of skin care products for men specially formulated for sensitive skin. Visit your Uniprix location to find out more. And if you’re not sure, just ask one of our dermo-cosmetic consultants for advice.