No matter how adept you are at leaping over all the various hurdles modern fatherhood presents you, you’re going to look stressed — either because, well, you are or because you’ve lost a lot of sleep. It’s inevitable. And whether you’re a 30-minutes-in-the-mirror sort a guy or a splash-some-water-on-your-cheeks-and-call-it-a-night dude you should take some extra measures to prevent yourself from looking so depleted. Why? Well, firstly, you’ll stop coworkers from saying those wink-wink-nudge-nudge-parenting-amirte? jokes every time they see your tired face. Secondly, if you don’t take a proactive approach against this external wear, it can have lasting effects. The good news: As tired and spread-thin as you are, you can get ahead of the stress with a simple skincare regimen, and keep yourself looking fresh-faced and youthful, well into the future. Here’s what you need to know.
First and foremost, you need to maintain a consistent skincare regimen. This will keep skin clear, reduce stress pimples, fight signs of aging and environmental wear, and keep you looking younger longer, despite the fact that you’re paying off the mortgage, putting your kids through school, vying for a promotion… yada yada yada.
At the core of any good regimen are three things (in order of use):
- Cleanser: Use this twice a day, morning and night, to remove excess dirt and oil from your pores, and to cleanse the canvas for everything else you’re about to do.
We Like: Shodai Face Wash
- Exfoliant: Do this once every three days, after cleansing. A gentle scrub will remove the dead skin that sits atop your face and can clog pores. It makes way for the healthier skin underneath, and helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
We Like: Every Man Jack Face Scrub
- Moisturizer: The final “core” step of the regimen is to rehydrate the skin, since cleansers can strip it of its natural, healthy moisture (though you should still cleanse; this just emphasizes the importance of the moisturizer). This cream delivers nutrients to the skin and keeps it supple. Pick one with SPF and you’ll block UV rays from doing any harm to your precious mug (thus thwarting sun spots, wrinkles, crow’s feet, and more, not to mention sunburn too).
We Like: Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion with SPF 18
A steady regimen is just the start — it’s the foundation of healthy skin. As mentioned, there are many other creams (in addition to improving your diet, getting more sleep, and not reading the news) that will keep you looking less strained. Comstock recommends something she calls “The A-Team” of topical programs, which adds two products to the regimen:
- A power-packed serum: Applied before the moisturizer, to penetrate all three layers of skin for hyper nourishment (whereas the moisturizer sits atop the skin and shields it). Get one that is packed with antioxidants to help protect against environmental wear and stimulate collagen production.
We Like: Alto Defense Serum
- A retinoid: Applied before bed (after serums, and in place of the moisturizer), retinols are a topical Vitamin-A, and are universally embraced by dermatologists as miracle anti-aging agents. They exfoliate the skin, reverse photodamage from the sun, prevent and heal acne, and smooth out wrinkles.
We Like: AlphaRet.
- An eye de-puffer: A daily patting of this cream under each eye will keep the skin firm and bright.
We like: Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer
Now, let’s talk about stress pimples.
Hormone imbalances from stress are bound to happen, and they result in big, painful pimples, often across your forehead. Comstock says that the best way to prevent these deep-seeded, don’t-pop-them-because-they-only-get-worse pimples is to change your diet and anticipate the situation with a doctor-ordered antibiotic. “Eat with avoidance of dairy, soy, peanuts, and gluten,” she says. “If you know you have a stressful situation coming up such as a presentation or in-law vacation, then take one low-grade aspirin a day (with food), or pulse yourself with an oral antibiotic.” She says to speak with your dermatologist about this, because people who are acne-prone will often incorporate an oral antibiotic into their daily routine to minimize the culprits. It works very effectively, but it can also compromise the good bacteria that regulate digestion in your gut, so you shouldn’t go on the antibiotics without proper clearance and instruction from your doctor. (And you should always follow it with a probiotic regimen.)
Next, your advanced skincare regimen, especially with the deployment of retinol, should help prevent any pimples caused by hormonal changes. Nevertheless, they will arise, and it’s important to treat them effectively.
When acne cysts do happen, do not pop them. They aren’t your garden variety whiteheads, so they won’t just explode with ease and clear up in two days. Instead, they grow, they throb, they take weeks or even months to heal. They’re a very public sign of stress that you must wear like a scarlet letter. It’s best to visit your dermatologist, says Comstock, and s/he can inject the pimple with a mild steroid. If you can’t visit him or her, the aforementioned daily aspirin or antibiotic will help reduce the bugger, too.
She also has a simple at-home, OTC remedy: “Place a little steroid cream, such as hydrocortisone, directly onto the acne lesion twice a day, for a couple days, to additionally lessen the redness or inflammation. Secondly, Domeboro astringent soaks on the acne lesion will help dry it out quickly.”