Frank Mueller watches, Savile Row suits, Bikram yoga, Shiatsu massages, whey protein, hair gel, foot powder and even a chest wax for the very bold. There’s little a modern man won’t do to look his best; yet most men choose to treat their face like it’s separate from the rest of their body and pay little or no attention to it. Michelle Peck, uber facialist to stars such as Madonna and Jennifer Lopez and advocate for spa and skincare line Intraceuticals, says, “A $500 (around Rs 22,650) suit will fall flat against bad skin, but good skin can make even an inexpensive suit look worth millions.”
For men, a facial still lurks in the dark side of male grooming. While they aren’t averse to giving their feet a rub-a-dub with pedicures, facials are still considered a women’s-only indulgence. But gone are the days when facials were laboriously long, heavily scented and administered in the back rooms of a women’s beauty parlour. These days skin treatments (as they’re now called) are relevant for both men and women. Here’s breaking five myths that could be preventing you from getting one, because reality is that real men (including Intraceuticals fans Justin Timberlake and David Beckham) do get facials.
1. I DON’T NEED A FACIAL
Myth: have in common with our parents—superfoods and Pilates, for instance. Yet, these trappings are necessary in modern life when stress levels are higher and environmental quality much lower. Ditto for your skin. So even if your father didn’t need facials, you do because of the high levels of stress and pollution that aggravate the skin. Says Michelle Peck, “Earlier, we had normal, dry, oily and combination skin types, but these days, there are many more categories within these types.” There is oily skin with eczema, oily with acne and even oily with rosacea. This means that skincare is far more complicated and requires professional help. In addition, men’s skin tends to be thicker, coarser and oilier because of different hormonal constituents. “Shaving also causes acne-like breakouts in a large number of men,” says Sachin Dhawan, director, clinical and aesthetic dermatology, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon. Sangeeta Amladi, head, medical services, Kaya Skin Clinic, India, suggests facials as an answer to these skin issues, “These days, facials are basically an effective way of getting a thorough and much required cleansing.”
2. IT WILL EAT INTO MY TIME
Myth: There are many options that’ll have you glowing in anything between 15-45 minutes. A simple microdermabrasion at the dermatologist’s takes only 15 minutes; a chemical peel at the dermatologist is even shorter—between 15 seconds and 5 minutes. Because these treatments are so clinical—aluminum crystals sprayed with a pen-like applicator or a transparent gel applied with a swab—they don’t require you to change into a fancy robe but they effectively exfoliate and refresh the skin and also help reduce blemishes and old acne scars. If you want something a little more relaxing when you have extra time, go for a microdermabrasion combined with a face pack to soothe and refresh. Just remember to slather on the sunscreen post-procedure because skin needs that extra protection after a dose of heavy-duty exfoliation. While a dermatologist is the ideal place to get a clinical facial, if you choose to go to a salon, look for one with a certified, in-house dermatologist. And the best part? You can go straight from the salon to the boardroom with zero rashes and not a whiff of rose in sight.
3. IT’S NOT REALLY SCIENTIFIC
Myth: Facials these days are so scientific they use laser, radio frequencies and enzymes in combination with various botanicals and medicines to target specific skin problems. Peck performs her trademark oxygen and hyaluronic acid facial (Rs 23,000 upwards) on singer Madonna each time she goes on stage. Before you write off hyaluronic acid as another fad, consider this: Hyaluronic acid is distributed widely in the body in the connective and neural tissues and its function is to cushion and lubricate. It reduces due to age-related wear and tear, which is why one of Pecks’ clients, a popular National Football League (NFL) player, injects hyaluronic acid into his knees to keep his joints supple, she claims. Explains Dr Dhawan, “Hyaluronic acid is a ground substance which keeps the cells integrated and the moisture going; it is the cement between cells and when you inject it inside the
knees, it keeps them pain free and cushions the upper and lower part of the leg.” Hyaluronic acid is also a great humectant that attracts moisture. Since lack of hydration is one of the top skin concerns today, pumping the face with hyaluronic acid is like giving parched skin a long, cooling drink. Do check with a dermatologist what procedure is best for your skin.
4. A FACIAL IS THE ONLY THING I NEED
Myth: Facials help alleviate the effects of the environment and stress, but if you keep adding toxins to your system, there’s little it can do. Dr Dhawan says a diet rich in vitamins A and C (yellow and orange fruits and vegetables) keeps the skin young and clear along with 8-10 glasses of water and regular exercise. In addition, get a simple skin routine in order. The easiest thing is to opt for two drops of a serum. Peck says serums have lower molecular weight and are able to penetrate the skin better than creams that just sit on the top of the skin. If you suffer from oily skin, look for a refining serum that exfoliates and keeps your pores clear, like Estee Lauder’s Idealist, Pore Refining Skin Refinisher, Rs 5,135. Those looking for moisture should go for something hydrating like Chanel’s Precision Hydramax Serum, Rs 5,900. Whitening serums don’t make you fair but help lighten dark spots. If you want to lighten blemishes, go for Shiseido’s White Lucent Intensive Spot Targeting Serum, Rs 4,200. And finally if you’re looking for luxury, go for Intraceuticals Rejuvanate Serum, Rs 27,900.
5. IT’S JUST AN INDULGENCE
Myth: Says Dr Amladi, “In medicine, there is a huge shift from illness to wellness, and it does have a positive effect on the hormonal and endocrine system, which contributes to the overall health.” However, the right facial can also be extremely helpful in different situations. An international trip can leave your skin tight and dry. A hyaluronic facial comes in handy to stay moisturized, so you can ignore your skin and concentrate on work. Similarly, a smattering of stress-related acne can be resolved before an important event with a 20-30% salicylic acid peel. A big boil (that doesn’t show signs of healing itself) before an important day can be deflated with a steroid injection at the dermatologist’s. Even if you wish for a new skin altogether, it will be granted. Laser resurfacing is one such procedure where old scars, pigmentation, pock marks and wrinkles can all be smoothened to fresh, unlined and unmarked skin. As long as you’re in the hands of a good dermatologist, a facial will not only give you immediate and long-term benefits, but can also become a very important part of grooming, just like a haircut or a shave.
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