New 'Beauty' Routine for Men

None of us grew up watching our fathers dabbing moisturizing cream on their eyes or lying on the couch with tea bags on their face. But men are wising up; sales of department-store eye products for men shot up a whopping 33 percent in 2011 over 2010. Eye creams and gels for men brought in just $3.5 million in 2007. In 2011 they jumped to $5.4 million.

It makes sense. Everyone wants to look younger, though men have long avoided using anything that could appear to be unmanly. “Women go to the bathroom together and talk about lip color, but in my experience guys don’t get together for 'Monday Night Football' and talk about what eye creams they use,” Brian Boye, fashion and grooming director for Men’s Health magazine, recently told The New York Times. 

A Little Dab’ll Do Ya

For the uninitiated, the wall-sized display of eye creams and gels in the store can be daunting. However, the right product choice can really pay off, as a growing number of guys are discovering.  

“My wife said I was getting the old turkey’s feet on the sides of my eyes, the wrinkles,” said Lieutenant George Del Grande, who works two 24-hour shifts a week at the Belleville Fire Department in New Jersey. “I also get dark circles under my eyes, and people tell me I look tired.”

Now he uses Protein Booster Eye Rescue by Jack Black ($40), which promises to combat puffiness, dark circles and fine lines. “When I use it, I get compliments like, ‘You look well-rested,’ or ‘You look healthier,’ or ‘You look like you went tanning,’ ” Lieutenant Del Grande told the New York Times. 

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Finding the Right Wrinkle-Fighter

How can a guy possibly select the right product for his face? First, know your problem, and then read the ingredients. There are important differences between creams and gels, and those differences affect how well a product will work for you. As a general rule, creams are more effective in fighting wrinkles, and gels are better for bags and dark circles under the eyes—a particularly troublesome problem for men, says Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, a Manhattan dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at the Yale University School of Medicine. A few pointers:

  • Gels work on bags and under-eye discoloration because they have a cooling effect that constricts blood vessels in that area. Look for gels that contain caffeine and you’ll decrease the puffiness even more, Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas advises.
  • Chill your eye gel in the refrigerator to maximize its anti-puffiness power.
  • Use gels in the morning or before going out in the evening and you’ll appear more refreshed.
  • Creams are better for wrinkles because of their richer consistency. Like other moisturizers, they do much of their work overnight, so apply eye cream at bedtime.
  • Look for eye cream containing Coenzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant believed to help fight wrinkles. 

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What are men buying?

Most major cosmetics companies now offer eye creams and gels for men. The editors of Men’s Health chose Lab Series Max LS Instant Eye Lift ($44) as the top eye product of 2012, and Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehl’s, told The New York Times that sales of his company’s Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer ($20) has risen some 30 percent each year since the product was introduced four years ago.

Other apparently popular products include Clinique’s Age Defense for Eyes (a cream, $28) and Anti-Fatigue Cooling Eye Gel ($28) and, in drugstores, Nivea for Men Eye Roller Gel ($8) and L’Oreal Paris Men’s Expert Hydra-Energetic Ice Cold Eye Roller ($11).

Natural Alternatives

Those tea bags you thought were only for making tea? Try them on your eyes--you might be surprised at how well they address the under-eye bags. Chill them first in the refrigerator and you’ll benefit from both the cooling action and the caffeine in the bags—and do use caffeinated tea. Herbal teas don’t have the same effect. A few more tips:

  • If you don’t have tea, slice a cold cucumber and place it over your eyes. Cucumbers don’t contain caffeine, but they’re packed with antioxidants that will be good for your skin, and you’ll get the cooling benefit.
  • In a pinch, relax for a few minutes with a cold compress over your eyes.
  • Allergies and nasal congestion can sometimes darken the veins under the delicate under-eye skin. Treat the condition with a saline spray and your dark circles might diminish.
  • It’s said that elevating your head on several pillows as you sleep can prevent blood from pooling under the eyes. It’s worth a try. 

Prevention is Key

You might also consider a few minor lifestyle adjustments. Try these tactics:

  • Get enough shut-eye. “There’s a reason it’s called `beauty sleep,’” Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas told the Times. Sleep is essential for resting your muscles, otherwise you deprive them of oxygen. The result is dilated vessels, puffiness, and discoloration.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A diet containing plenty of salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts, and soy boosts collagen production, allowing fewer wrinkles to form.
  • Stop squinting! Use reading glasses, and invest in sunglasses that protect against UV rays—the ones that damage connective tissues in the skin—and those rays beam down year-round, not just in summer.
  • Don’t smoke! Among the multitude of reasons why smoking is bad for you, it gives you wrinkles. Smoking reduces production of elastin and collagen in your skin by up to 40 percent—including the skin around your eyes.

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