MY (RETROSPECTIVE) SKINCARE MANDATE - WISDOM FOR MY 20-YEAR-OLD SELF

Humanery men's skincare advice for younger self image
Adrian Clark of GQ and Telegraph writes for Humanery's Grooming Journal

By Adrian Clark
Adrian is a regular contributor for British GQ and the Telegraph, where he has a weekly column. Adrian has also previously written for the Guardian and the Sunday Times on men's grooming and other lifestyle topics. Adrian previously held editorial roles at Loaded magazine as style and grooming director and at ShortList. A graduate from Central Saint Martins, Adrian is an award winning writer who lives on the Kent coast with his Jack Russell and husband and works on upcycling vintage furniture in his garage.

I was taught from an early age not to dwell on regrets and that the decisions we make in the past, both good and bad, are integral to the journey which leads us to the man we were destined to be. That said, who wouldn't jump at the opportunity to revisit their 20-year-old self to pass on some valuable and experience-guided hints; hindsight is an equally remarkable and powerful advantage. 

To put this into context, I am 55 years of age, and a lot has changed since I turned from teenager to adult in terms of technological advancements. But the first and most important advice I'd offer to my younger self would be to take better care of my skin with a future-proof skincare regimen. When starting out, we are fearless and think of ourselves as invincible. The last thing on our minds is getting lectured by our 55-year-old self on avoiding the pitfalls that lead to a sallow or radiant complexion later in life. Brave and impetuous is fun, but great skin begins with the understanding that you're never too young to dedicate time and effort to your daily grooming routine, both morning and night.  

It's All About The End Game 

In the same way, you wouldn't expect to get abs the first time you visit the gym; you shouldn't place all your bets on instantly-gratifying 'quick-fix' products. While helpful in camouflaging the aftermath of a late night, they simply paper over the cracks and offer little-to-no long-term benefits. Skincare that takes time for accumulative results to kick in should be first and foremost at the top of your mandate. For example, eye serum may not deliver the same immediate and transformative results as a cooling eye gel. But, an eye serum will be more efficacious at keeping crow-feet and fine lines at bay as you hurtle towards mid-life. The quick fixes, including innovative hybrid cosmetics from brands such as Benny Hancock For Men and Shakeup Cosmetics, can then be integrated into your routine when a little extra help is needed. 

Lock-In A Dedicated Nighttime Routine

While we may now know our way around a bottle of moisturiser better than we did back in the day, men are still lagging way behind the curve in recognising the benefits of an exclusively-assigned overnight grooming drill. Your skin-cell renewal is at its peak, and your skin loses more moisture when you sleep, so it is the perfect time to offer your skin some intense rehabilitation. Opt for SPF-free creams that are richer and more nourishing than you usually wear during the day, or treat yourself to a skin-quenching mask all-nighter. Essentially, take advantage of products that take time to penetrate the pores but that you wouldn't be able to carry off (as they may be too shiny or rich) while you're out and about. 

Don't Go In Too Hard.

One of the biggest mistakes my younger self made was over-cleansing and exfoliation. I'm going to try to keep the science to a minimum, but let me explain it in the most basic way: our skin is protected by a barrier that keeps the good stuff, like moisture and electrolytes, in, and the bad stuff, like pollution and irritants, out. When that barrier is stripped away or damaged, it can lead to all kinds of future skin issues, such as premature ageing, inflammation and acne breakouts. You see, I used to believe the cleaner my skin was, the less chance there would be for anything to cause problems, whereas I was inadvertently opening it up to being defenceless. In summary, look towards gentler cleansing solutions (chemical exfoliators are usually kinder than physical scrubs) that respect and protect the skin barrier function. 

Skincare Is (And Always Has Been) Non-Binary 

When I was young there was very little on offer designed exclusively 'For Men', in fact Clinique For Men, followed by ClarinsMen were for many years the only reputable players in that market. I naively believed if a product didn't market itself as being solely targeted towards the alpha-male, then it wouldn't be of any benefit. The truth of the matter - I don't really buy into the theory that men's skin is thicker than women's and therefore needs its own dedicated formulations - each of us are different, with varied lifestyles; there is no one-size-fits-all, Men-Only regimen. Put another way, I wouldn't expect the same moisturiser to give equal results for a landscape gardener in their early twenties who likes to party as I would a pilot in their mid-fifties who smokes, simply because it says 'For Men' on the jar. Once you get past the fact that a product doesn't need to declare its gender-orientation, a whole world of opportunity opens up from non-specific brands that cater to your skin-type and lifestyle needs, such as Haeckels or Pelegrims

Don't Question The Efficacy Of Botanical-Based & Vegan Formulations.

Natural-based products and treatments powered by plants were only really getting started when I was transforming from boy to man. These were then renowned for having watery textures, little effect and the about the same use-by date as a pint of milk. For obvious reasons that has always made me slightly sceptical and tread carefully, especially around vegan-labelled, skin saviours. But thanks to new and advanced technologies, these teething problems have been solved and now they form the core of my daily grooming regimen. Brands such as Aesop or Augustinus Bader tick all of the right boxes, powered with innovative and newly-discovered plant ingredients. 

Thanks to new technologies, natural and botanical solutions have become real skin-saviours

Of course, I could offer many other words of advice with my greater understanding and experience, like always wear an SPF when exposed to UV and blue-light from technology, get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water. Still, I'd probably also find the time to suggest that maybe I should lay off the tequila, invest everything I had into a start-up called Amazon that would launch in 1994 and question wearing white socks with loafers.

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