Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ask An Esthetician : Men's Facial Care Edition

Client K.S. writes to us with some skincare concerns.  Esthetician Christine Giustra steps in to help!

K.S.: Hello Skin Studio Estheticians!  I'm writing because I'm concerned about the blemishes my husband is experiencing in the beard area.  He identifies them as ingrown hairs, however they look to me like clogged pores.  He has tried changing his shaving procedure (razors, soaps), with no result.  What can you recommend?

C.G.: Hi K.S.!  As for the irritated pores on his chin, I think his instinct to change aspects of how he shaves his face is a great first step!  Since that is not ameliorating the situation, my next line of questioning will explore possibilities to find the root cause:

  • How long has he been having this problem?
  • Does the onset of the problem correlate (give or take two to three weeks) with any changes in his life?  These changes could include job changes, diet, travelling a lot, sleep patterns, stress level, personal relationships, or anything else that could negatively affect skin. 
  • How often does he shave, and at what point in his shaving cycle (post shave or during the grow-out period or right before shaving) do you see the most inflammation?
  • What other items are present in his skincare routine?  For example, what soap or cleanser is he using?  Is he using any active preparations like acne treatments or anti-aging formulas?  Is he using sunscreen or moisturizer?  If so, which ones?
  • Finally, what would happen if he were to gently squeeze one of these irritated pores (with clean hands and q-tips and after a hot shower of course)?  What, if anything, would come out?  How would the skin look after a squeeze as compared to before squeezing?

I'd also like to find out why he switched away from the electric shaver, and ask if he would be willing to reconsider that change.  Sometimes the very close shaves provided by wet shaving can just be too irritating for certain skin types.  I'd like to rule out potentially irritating or clogging ingredients in his skincare regimen first, though.

Finally, making sure that he is shaving with fresh blades is important, and given the situation (irritation, pus, swelling), I would even pick up a jug of Barbicide or a similar wet disinfectant and soak his razor for 10-15 minutes (in diluted solution, as instructed) after each shave, to rule out bacterial or viral contamination on his skin from one day to the next.
I hope these suggestions help!  Keep me posted :)

K.S.: The clogged pore issue began after my husband stopped using an electric razor, and has persisted for a couple of years. He shaves everyday in the morning and he just started cold wet shaving which seems to be helping. Within the first couple of hours after shaving he sees bumps starting and by the end of the day they are usually uncomfortable inflamed and usually filled with white pus... mostly not visible until after he showers and I squeeze a bit... followed by cleaning and alcohol. I usually see a hair in the center of the inflamed area and pull it before squeezing. This usually helps and allows the pore to clear. I'm including a photo of all the shaving and skincare products he has been using.

C.G.: Hello again K.S.!  Thanks for your patience.  It did take me a little while to track down ingredient listings for the products your husband is using, and I think I've found the culprit! I noticed that his moisturizer contains several ingredients that I would not usually recommend for acne-prone skin.  Perhaps he was using this moisturizer successfully years ago, but for whatever reason (stress, normal hormone fluctuations, reformulations, etc.), its current ingredients are no longer effective and appropriate for his skin.  The particular ingredients that concern me are Neopentyl glycol diheptanoate, a film-former and thickener, which comes unusually high on the list (normally emulsifiers are much further down the list), and an abundance of this ingredient would tend to thicken sebum and form a film, making it harder for skin oil to flow naturally out of the pores.  Safflower oil, like sunflower oil, is particularly high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which are linked to inflammation internally, and can inflame acne topically. Avocado oil is simply too heavy for acne-prone skin.  I would eliminate that moisturizer first thing, and gauge his moisture levels without it.  If his skin gets too dry (redness, irritation, flaking), then I would recommend the Vivant Allantoin Sedating and Hydrating Lotion as a light acne-safe hydrator.  You can see the Vivant homecare treatments when you are logged in to our web store.  Very importantly, I don't see any SPF in his lineup, so I would also recommend the DermaPotion HydraShield SPF 30+, which is again formulated to be acne-safe.  Best of luck with getting your husband cleared up, and I hope you'll keep me posted on the outcome!

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