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Gentlemen, please!

There are real benefits for men in choosing natural skin and haircare products. Rude Health magazine finds out what is available

In your local health store

“Due to an increase in demand for men’s toiletries, we now stock a wider range of personal care products for men than we ever have,” says Niamh Larkin, skincare specialist at Evergreen health foods. “Face care for him includes moisturisers, scrubs and washes and shaving products (think natural shaving creams, aftershaves and beard oils) across a number of well-known brands. In body care we stock natural deodorants and shower gels, as well as bathroom essentials like natural bristle nail brushes and sponges. Hair products include natural shampoos and hair styling products such as modelling waxes and natural hair gels.”

“Our male customers would buy a number of skin products including body washes, shaving products, such as shaving oil and deodorants,” says Siân Eustace of Healing Harvest in Kinvara, Co Clare. “Having said that, there is a definite market for moisturiser for men too, as well as many more men being conscious of using a sun factor, which is also available in more natural forms. Some of the men’s ranges offer streamlined products such as a body wash combined with shampoo or a combined body lotion and facial moisturiser.”

“The most popular products from our men’s range would be face care products,” says Niamh Larkin. “Although hair and body products are gaining popularity, we sell more moisturisers and shaving products than anything else.”

Natural properties

“Most men’s skincare products will contain aloe vera as an ingredient and this is because of its soothing properties,” says Niamh Larkin. “Aftershaves, moisturisers and hair gels tend to contain either aloe vera gel or aloe leaf powder, be it for product texture (in hair gel) or for its deeply moisturising and calming properties (in aftershave). Any essential oils that are added to men’s skincare tend to be of a woody or musky nature – think sandalwood, sage and rosemary. These give a more masculine aroma than the more floral undertones often present in standard skincare essentials.”

“Our skincare offerings are often certified organic and are missing many of the less kind chemicals found in mainstream ranges,” says Siân Eustace. “Naturally-occurring ingredients such as essential oils and plant gels and oils are used in the products.”

Male vs female products

“The most notable difference between men’s and women’s skincare is probably the aroma,” says Niamh Larkin. “Men’s skincare products tend to include muskier scents than those marketed towards women. Essential oils added to men’s skincare are often in there for more than just the smell. Sandalwood oil, for example, is often added to men’s anti-ageing products not only for its woody scent but also for its ability to tighten and firm the skin while also soothing irritation or redness. It is also known for its ability to heal the skin, making it an ideal candidate for men’s aftershaves. Rosemary’s anti-inflammatory properties make it an optimal addition to aftershaves and moisturisers. It is also beneficial in reducing skin conditions from eczema to acne and it even gives the skin a healthy glow.”

“The main difference between male and female products seems to be the more streamlined nature of the ranges,” says Siân Eustace. “There would also be a difference in the essential oils used to fragrance the products – men’s products often use oils such as cedar or sandalwood.”

“Because men’s skin is often tougher than women’s, softening ingredients like aloe and chamomile are popular alongside the essential oils,” says Niamh Larkin. “Shea butter is a great all-rounder for men. It locks in moisture when applied to the skin so it works great as a hand cream for manual workers but can also be used as a shaving oil or intensive moisturiser.”

Common skincare issues – solved

“For men one of the major issues is going to be the use of deodorants and I have been working on getting an all-day solution for quite some time,” says Matt Ronan of Evolv health store in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. “First use a loofah type sponge in the shower and properly cleanse and exfoliate the underarm area so that you are removing all of the dead skin which may carry over some odour from the previous day. Then when you are dried off and about to apply your chosen natural deodorant a quick squirt of colloidal silver to the underarm area can make the deodorant last for an extra few hours.

“Another area where natural products shine for men is in shaving foam. Here the use of the lather from a good handmade natural soap can be hugely less irritating to the skin for many men and I regularly advise this to my customers. It can be a game changer for teenagers who have sensitive skin and when they begin to shave find that the abrasiveness of a conventional shaving foam can create a huge amount of redness and irritation.

“Men who are engaging in sport outside such as cycling and running should use an organic sun factor on the face to protect skin from the ageing effect of the sun’s rays. Men are often oblivious to the sort of damage that the sun will inflict on skin when spending considerable hours outdoors.”

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