What every man needs to know about looking after his skin and facial hair: an exclusive interview with Dr Allan Peterkin

A few days ago, The Style Examiner had the opportunity to meet Dr Allan Peterkin for an exclusive interview to find out the answers to men’s concerns about skin and facial hair grooming, as well as to discuss recent innovations in the growing skincare market.

Those who have the slightest of interest in this area must have come across Dr Peterkin’s expertise in, at least, one of his many publications and documentaries. An international authority on men’s skin and the author of several books on the cultural history of facial hair and grooming (such as The Bearded Gentleman: A Style Guide to Shaving Face), Dr Peterkin is currently working with skincare brand Dove on its new Men+Care range. In an exclusive interview for The Style Examiner’s readers, he shared some useful tips that we recommend keeping in mind at all times.

The Style Examiner: Men are often told that their skincare routine needs products especially created for them because their skins are different from women’s. In reality, how different are men’s and women’s skins?
Dr Allan Peterkin: I would definitely agree that men need products designed specifically for them. First of all, men have hair on their faces that they must shave at some point, which creates a step in a man’s skincare routine that is not usually present in a woman’s beauty regimen! Men need to be sure that they are using the right shaving technique as well as the right products – that includes a shave gel and an alcohol-free post shave balm, like the Dove Men+Care Hydrate+ Post Shave Balm, that will help prevent irritation and soothe the skin after shaving.

The most common skincare concerns for men include sensitive or irritated skin, looking tired, blocked pores or blemishes, and oily skin.

TSE: Besides fragrance, what kind of ingredients can men expect to find in their skincare products that women won’t find in theirs (and vice-versa)?
AP: Men tend to have thicker and oilier skin than women so it’s more common for women to use heavy moisturizers, whereas men’s products are generally lighter and are absorbed by the skin more quickly than women’s products. Also, since men are more likely to be shaving their faces than women, they need products that have healing benefits that a women’s product may not have. For example, men should use a post shave balm after shaving to help relieve irritation and soothe the skin – the Dove Men+Care Hydrate+ Post Shave Balm is great for this, and it contains vitamin B5, which aids in relieving irritation after shaving.
TSE: Over the last few years, facial hair has become much more accepted and common in Western societies. Why do you think that is?
AP: Men used to take their cues from authority figures on facial hair or shaving. So it would be your clergymen, your pope, your king or your politician. There were rules based on your class status on what you could or couldn’t do. Today, men take their cues from pop culture – athletes, actors, musicians and so on. With the impact of the web nowadays, images are spread worldwide in a second. So if Brad Pitt has a goatee, guys are going to emulate that. If George Clooney is doing -salt and pepper stubble, that will give a guy the impression that I can probably do that too.

The grooming and fashion industries also have an impact. If you look in men’s magazines, you’ll see that still in the ads, probably every third face has stubble, or a beard, or sideburns, or a partial moustache.

Our evolving society has also lent itself to furrier faces. Men in the work place aren’t held to the same clean shaven standards as they once were. Sure, if you are a corporate banker or lawyer it’s likely you will be clean shaven, but most industries today allow guys to express themselves with their facial hair styles.

Finally, I also think facial hair trends are cyclical—a lot of the patterns you’ll see are ones we’ve seen before. As you’ve noticed – we’re seeing a resurgence of major amounts of hair: in fact, the last time men were this bushy was back in Victorian period. Heavy moustaches, beards, and sideburns have made a comeback. However, within five years I think the pendulum is set to swing the other way—right back to the preppy, clean shaven, Mad Men look.

TSE: Every time a man decides to grow a beard, he often feels an uncomfortable itchiness on his face. Why does this happen and how can it be stopped?
AP: The itchiness is something that can’t be avoided; however, it can be minimized by keeping the beard clean then applying a little bit of baby oil, hair conditioner or a light moisturizer.

TSE: There seems to be a stage in the process of growing a beard when facial hair just seems to stick out. How can this be avoided?
AP: I’m not sure this can be avoided either as it is a part of the growing process. You just have to stick with it! Let your hair grow naturally, without shaving at all, for four to six weeks so that you can see your beard’s destiny, thickness and growth patterns. Then I’d recommend visiting your barber to help you trim and shape your beard.

TSE: Can you tell us what kind of research has gone into developing the products from the Dove Men+Care range?
AP: Dove Men+Care bases their programming and product development on consumer insights, anticipating men’s grooming needs and creating products to meet them. Dove Men+Care found through research that men are not caring for their faces, and that the market for men’s face products was currently dormant amongst men ages 35-44.

Research revealed that 48% of US men never use a face wash and 46% never use a face moisturizer; Dove Men+Care aimed to help men finally care for their faces with a new range of face care products specifically for men that will help improve the appearance of their skin. Dove Men+Care also researched male-specific skincare problems and developed a variety of solutions designed for men’s different skin types.

Most common skin concerns for men are skin dryness, sensitive skin, looking tired, blocked pores or blemishes, and oily skin.

TSE: These days, most skincare brands manufacture products for men. What makes Dove Men+Care different from the rest?
AP: The brand focuses on the consumer and develops specific product solutions to help men improve the appearance of their skin. Additionally, the Dove Men+Care Face Range includes a variety of products, designed for men’s different skin types, that can be used in three easy steps,
1. Cleanse with the Dove Men+Care Face Wash (in Hydrate+ or Sensitive+ variants)
2. Shave with the Dove Men+Care Shave Gel (in Hydrate+ or Sensitive+ variants)
3. Finish with the Dove Men+Care Post Shave Balm (in Hydrate+ or Sensitive+ variants) or Face Lotion (in Hydrate+, Revitalize+ or Sensitive+ variants)

TSE: In your experience, what are the most common errors that men make when it comes to looking after their skin?
AP: I’ve found that many men think they need to endure pain, or ‘face torture,’ when caring for their skin. For example, most guys think the burning sensation from alcohol-based aftershaves is a good thing or that it’s ok to shave with soap lather. It’s not! It actually contributes to making skin look worn, tired and neglected.

TSE: If you had to give an essential piece of advice on skin care to men, what would it be?
AP: Moisturize! Moisturizing is the most important step—so if you haven’t started yet…start now! This is especially important for older guys, who are most susceptible to dryness and wrinkles. I’d recommend using a moisturizing cleanser like the Dove Men+Care Hydrate+ Face Wash, followed by a lightweight moisturizer (try the Dove Men+Care Hydrate+ Face lotion with SPF) every morning and evening to help care for your skin, keeping it healthy and fresh.