By the time a man passes his fifth decade his skin has put up with decades of harsh and unforgiving treatment. But now there is a new acronym to inspire you. Introducing the Hoff (hot, fit and fifty), a term coined by Simon Mills in The Times on the new male vanity and the possible decline of the ‘dad bod’.
“I am part of the new generation of shame-faced male narcissists,” he writes. “A generation that is vain but is as embarrassed about it as say, young, oiled-up Ronaldo is proud of it.”
Liam Neeson, Brad Pitt and of course George Clooney are all Hoffs among our ranks, and male vanity is becoming overt. Men of chiselled jawlines and smooth skin are no more the sole domain of the young. The Hoff moisturises, protects and polishes.
Sun damage has left your skin wrinkled and littered with tiny age spots; the amount of collagen and elastin – the stuff that keeps it firm – aren’t quite what they were; and a fondness for Rioja has led to the odd broken capillary around the nose.
One thing’s for sure: your skin isn’t the same as it was at 20. “As you age your skin’s requirements change quite dramatically,” says Sally Penford of the International Dermal Institute.
“The most significant change is that everything slows down, from the rate of cell renewal to oil production. Skin begins to look more tired, duller, looser and uneven in tone.”
And that’s before you factor in the effects of sun damage, pollution and the aforementioned wine.
“Unfortunately, how well you look at 50 and beyond will largely depend on how well you’ve looked after your skin in the proceeding decades” says Sally.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that, in the same way a 20th-century cottage can be renovated to give it a whole new lease of life, there’s plenty you can do to improve your own ageing exterior. You just need to know how to go about it. So here’s what you need to do to, quite literally, save face.
“Your fifties is the decade during which, if you haven’t been using sunscreen, earlier sun damage really becomes apparent,” says dermatologist Dr Nicholas Lowe, author of Skin Secrets. That doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause: “Using SPF15 daily will help slow down the formation of wrinkles and age spots, which often proliferate in this decade” he says.
The easiest way to do this is to use a moisturiser with a built-in sunscreen. My own favourite is Dermalogica’s Broad Spectrum Daily Defense SPF15. Also good is Lab Series’ Daily Moisture Defense SPF15.
Since the sun’s UVA rays (they’re the skin ageing ones) are prevalent all year round – and even minute amounts can do damage – use this every morning, whatever time of year it is. Think of it as a daily defence shield for skin.
For our top tips on SPF and ray blocking, here’s the eight best sunscreens to try this summer.
Because the production of sebum – the oil that keeps skin moist and supple – slows down as we get older, skin can feel drier and be more susceptible to dehydration. So keeping your skin adequately hydrated becomes especially important.
If you’ve never used a moisturiser before, now’s the time to start. And if you’ve always used one, now might be the time to switch to something a little richer and more hydrating. As well as helping protect against future wrinkles (dehydrated skin is more susceptible to premature ageing and wrinkles) it will make the fine lines you do have slightly less noticeable by plumping up the skin.
“Water loss from the skin is greatest at night so it’s especially important to moisturise before bed” says Sally. It’s not going to turn back the clock but it can stop it from running 20 minutes too fast.
Your skin relies on collagen – a fibrous structural protein – for its strength. In men’s skin, collagen is particularly dense, which is why we wrinkle later in life than women. The downside of this is that when we do wrinkle we wrinkle big time, with deeper furrows and more pronounced wrinkles.
Skin’s elasticity also declines over time so if you’ve noticed that your face seems to be heading south a bit lately it’s time to give it a push back ‘up north’ with a product such as Elemis’ acclaimed Pro-Collagen Marine Cream. Dr Lowe also suggests cutting back on the booze (sorry!) as alcohol dilates the facial blood vessels, putting pressure on the collagen and elastin in the skin’s dermis.
In the last few years a number of male grooming products have appeared that aim to brighten skin and reduce the appearance of age spots and uneven pigmentation. It’s easy to see their appeal: age spots are like giant advertisements for a man’s true age.
The most common cause is sun damage, which can stimulate the overproduction of melanin – the stuff that gives you a tan – in concentrated areas. Shaving cuts, blemishes and small wounds can trigger hyperpigmentation, too.
To help reverse some of this damage use Clinique For Men Dark Spot Corrector. It contains a raft of natural, skin-brightening extracts to even out skin tone and break up the clusters of melanin that cause age spots.
To help its absorption, Clinique’s Executive Director of Research, Dr Tom Mammone, suggests you exfoliate your skin first with a face scrub. “Exfoliation will also help remove the build-up of dead surface skin cells, which can make dark sports look even darker,” he says.
Maybe, despite all the above, you can’t be bothered to drastically change your grooming routine. You want a quick solution to the ageing process (but don’t fancy Botox). Well, for an instant improver, look for skincare products such as Lab Series BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF35, which contain light-reflecting particles.
These help to diffuse light as it hits the skin, diminishing shadows, evening out your skin tone and making wrinkles a little less pronounced. Using one is a bit like running your face through a photo-editing tool but a little less complicated to master. It’s cheating a little but, hey, what’s wrong with that?
If you’re feeling inspired head on over to see our chat with Jonathan Durden who created the male grooming range Below the Belt Grooming. Fresh & Dry Balls anyone?