Let’s face it, if men were allowed to hibernate like bears in the winter, we would all do it. It’s certainly better than dealing with the harsh realities of the season, where your skin dries out and cracks like beef jerky. Once the snow melts and the grass starts to grow again, though, it’s time for a little spring cleaning. That applies both to clearing out the garage and taking care of your face—which brings us to the topic of exfoliation.
In all honesty, I’ve never really been into exfoliating. I have a beard, so half of my face is always covered and most of the other parts by default get exfoliated when I shave. Is that enough?
As it turns out, no. A regular exfoliation ritual can clear away dead skin cells, prevent ingrown hairs and keep your pores clean. “Men’s skin generally has larger pores and a lot more hair,” says Terese Linke, global education and spa training director for Amala skincare. “Hair traps oil, dirt, sweat and grime, which makes it even more important for men to exfoliate their skin.” See, ladies? Being a dude isn’t as easy as you think.
The biggest surprise to me with exfoliation is how easy it is to add it to your regular grooming routine. To get a firsthand glimpse of how it all works, I went to the Exhale Spa at the newly renovated Loews Hollywood Hotel where aesthetician Lanore Sutton gave me my first facial treatment. After more than an hour of rubbing, buffing and extracting, I had a new appreciation for the entire process. Sutton used Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask and gave me insight into why exfoliating is so important: “The purpose of exfoliation is to remind the cells that they need to shed every 26 days,” she told me. “It’s also going to help the skin remember to produce collagen, which is going to keep it nice and firm and taut.”
Since most of us can’t make it into spas all of the time, I asked Sutton for ways to exfoliate at home, and it’s really so simple. She recommends doing it once a week if you have normal skin, and a little more frequently if your skin is oily. Start by softly rinsing your face off with water, then rubbing in your exfoliant of choice—be it a mask, a peel or a scrub. The important part is to do it all gently and let the product do the work. If there are little granules involved, make sure they’re perfectly round so they don’t wind up scratching your face.
I’ve been test-driving products at home and found a few that I really like. In terms of scrubs, check out both from Bulldog skincare and Son for men, each are designed exclusively for men. They’re great for pre-shave exfoliation. Sibu also makes a good unisex scrub out of apricot and sea-buckthorn. If you’re not into feeling tiny beads all over your skin, Amala’s unisex detoxifying body cleanse made out of myrtle, almond and sea algae does the trick.
The bottom line is that it’s time for you to add exfoliation into your spring cleaning ritual. Heck, you’ll feel so good, you may even skip hibernation next year.
Jason Kessler is a lifestyle writer/columnist for Bon Appetit, Food Republic and a slew of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @TheHungryClown.