Summer may be the hottest time of year, but winter is the driest. With heat blasting inside and no (unfrozen) moisture outside, your skin takes a pounding for months on end. But your grooming routine doesn't have to choose between dry and cracked or greasy and shimmering... and possibly laced with the faint but noticeable scent of strawberry daiquiri from a girlfriend’s borrowed lip balm.
Fortunately, there are some alternatives made for men who want to maintain moisture in their skin and pride in their hearts.
For Your Beard
Everything dries out in the winter, even the skin under your beard. Dry beard skin means your once proud man mane is now a source of itchy irritation. The term “beardruff” has even been coined for this dry, flaky skin, which is clever, but disgusting.
There are two main products that can help with these issues: beard balm and beard oil. The difference is consistency – both usually contain essential, often botanical-based oils that nurture the skin under your beard.
Oil has an easier time penetrating hair and reaching the skin underneath, so that’s a great option for nurturing a healthy beard. Some oils, however, can also mat your hair down and leave an unwanted sheen.
Beard balm usually contains beeswax, which conveys some level of health treatment to the beard while also making it excellent for styling – straightening out that proud-but-scraggly mass into a unified, manly force growing out of your face.
For Your Lips
If kissing you is like puckering up to a tiny day-old croissant, it’s going to be a long, cold, and probably very lonely winter indeed. But lip balm is a tough subject for men. Unisex classics like Chapstick and Burt’s Bees can lead to an unwanted sheen on your lips, and — I don’t know — maybe you don’t want to taste like a fresh pomegranate. So for guys, there are a few things to keep an eye out for.
Be sure to buy one that mentions a non-waxy or non-sheen formula to prevent your lips from looking like you just stole some teenager's lip gloss. If your lips are already chapped, plenty of balms offer antioxidants and skin conditioners. And while many men’s balms are flavorless, but there are some that have really interesting approaches, like clove cigarettes or bourbon.
Take your day to day commute into account, too. If you’re getting blasted with a nor’easter every day in the winter, you’ll want something that protects against windburn and offers a decently high SPF – say, between 20 and 30.
For Your Hands
Whether you’re shaking hands to seal a contract or just getting ready to seal your bathtub, dry and cracked skin just isn’t sustainable. On the other hand (ha), a moisturizer leaving you with a greasy grip isn’t much better.
Basically, you’re looking for a protective layer to cover over dry, broken skin, locking what moisture is left, and then funnel more moisture in while healing the cuts already formed. That’s pretty much how hand lotion works.
But to get one that works especially well, look for low-residue formula and high-quality ingredients. Plant-based additives like botanical oils or aloe that work with your body’s natural skin oils are definitely a plus.
As with all things in cold weather, a little preparation pays huge dividends when you’re actually out in the elements. With this moisturizing arsenal, you’ll be ready to embark into any ice desert beckoning you to adventure.