No Shave-November is just around the corner and you can bet that at least some of your male patients will be joining the scores of men from countries like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Spain, Great Britain, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan and the United States in growing out their facial hair.
The origins and ongoing goal of No-Shave November (also known as “Mo Shave November,” in honor of the moustache) is to grow cancer awareness by embracing one’s hair, which many cancer patients lose. Participants are encouraged to put down their razors for 30 days and to donate the money they would typically spend on shaving and grooming to organizations educating people about cancer prevention and working toward cures.
As a skin specialist, you already know there are some pretty basic steps to keep in mind when it comes to skin care and shaving (we have some of those listed here, too) but what about those special tidbits that come from your colleagues? Read on and see which of these tips and pearls might work for you and your patients!
The Prep: Some would argue the most important step
Dr. Kevin Smith of Niagara, Ontario, kicks things off with the always bedrock: wash your face first. His recommendation is to “wash with soap before applying shaving cream, [as you] get a much smoother shave that way.” He recommends patients use a Panoxyl-10 bar.
In Chicago, Dr. Amy Taub tells her patients, that “twice weekly exfoliation” can help to prevent razor burn. And she always reminds her patients that shaving after they shower allows the warm water and steam to open up follicles and soften their hair.
Dr. Taub also has some suggestions when it comes to shaving cream. Contrary to what is marketed in so many advertisements, too much foam is “a sign of low-quality shaving cream or gel. These gels are wasteful and can cause resistance, irritation and nicks.” She says people should “use a shaving cream with a high concentration of lubricants and moisturizers to protect [their] skin.”
Out of shaving cream and time, making a trip to the drug store impossible? Dr. Taub has a tip for that, too! “Olive oil or hair conditioner work well as shaving agents and are much better than bar soap or body washes, which can dry out skin. Just be sure to clean your face thoroughly after using either.”
The Shave: A Fine Art
While it may seem like everyone knows this, it is also important to remind patients to go with the grain when shaving. Shaving against the grain can actually remove layers of skin, increase sensitivity and irritation, and cause acne as well as ingrown hairs.
If you aren’t getting a clean shave, Dr. Joel Schlessinger of Omaha, NE, suggests you try a safety razor. “They give the closest possible shave for the value without having to resort to a straight razor.” But he also warns, that “you may have to learn a slightly new technique.” It is also important to note that in general, “straight razors are less expensive and are more environmentally friendly because the blades can be recycled.”
If you nick yourself, forget the dab of facial tissue, says Dr. Taub. “Go for a styptic pencil or alum block. They cost only a few dollars apiece and will last for years! In a pinch, lip balm will work, too.”
The After: It’s All About Follow-Through
To help your patients both save money and avoid future nicks, remind them to store their razor somewhere it can completely dry. “Hanging is a great option whenever possible,” says Dr. Schlessinger. “You might go so far as to suggest they apply an anti-corrosive agent, which will extend the life of the blade.”
Dr. Schlessinger also suggests that, “If your patient is new to the facial hair scene, you may also want to warn them that new growth can sometimes be itchy.” To avoid furthering the irritation by scratching furiously, it is important to “keep their skin hydrated” and sometimes they may want to use a “good, stiff-bristled brush” as that, too, can help alleviate the itchiness. His go-to shave gel (ELEMIS Time for Men Ice-Cool Foaming Shave Gel) addresses both issues of hydration and sensitivity. Schlessinger says, “This thick formula contains moisturizing ingredients to replenish the complexion and help prevent razor burn. It cools on contact to minimize redness, itching and flakiness and contains aloe vera to soothe as well as witch hazel extract to help reduce inflammation and prevent irritation. It also contains natural jujube extract which eliminates bacteria on the skin’s surface that can aggravate a sensitive complexion and cause acne and blemishes.”
The Look: A Well-Considered Choice
Lastly, each man wears his facial hair as an accessory. Beard, moustache or goatee, with twirled ends, braids or all grizzly – it’s about flair. It’s a choice that lets the world know something about you before you even speak. But now that he’s on his way to growing stellar facial hair, one must consider the do’s and don’ts of being a “guy with facial hair.”
Dr. Jeanine Downie of Montclair, NJ, suggests the following to make sure all that hard work is shown off at its finest!
- Wear sunscreen everyday rain or shine as it will help improve the texture and tone of their (exposed) skin. For male patients, I highly recommend SkinMedica Total Defense & Repair (comes in SPF 34 tinted and untinted as well as an SPF 50)
- Men should also shampoo and condition their beard hair so that it looks professional. Without doing this it could appear lackluster and dull. Both Nexus and Kerastase offer good options.
- If a gentleman’s beard hair is growing out very gray, he may want to consider dying it to match the color of the hair on his head.
- Etiquette comes first — he may not eat and leave any food particles in his beard hair!
To keep the beard looking its best in whatever style your patient chooses, there are plenty of products our there to sculpt and tame facial hair. Brands like The Art of Shaving, Baxter of California, eShave and many more offer a plethora of products for your patients to choose from. While this is not the purvey of the typical medical practitioner, in Coral Gables, FL, Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy does make at least one recommendation to her patients: StriVectin Hair. She says, “it’s a lightweight, non-stiff holding solution that can groom/tame even the messiest of hipster beards/man ponies (monies)/man buns (muns)!”