To lessen the irritation, you could first try using a brushless cream or a shaving soap that contains ingredients specifically for razor glide. These ingredients are silicones, lanolin, glycerine or other oils.

An electric razor doesn’t irritate as much as a blade but, as most men know, it tends not to give as close a shave.

It is best to shave after a warm bath or shower when the hair is soft and swollen with moisture. Shaving with the grain will lessen the irritation but will not give as close a shave. Examine your beard closely and you will likely find that the direction of growth changes from the face to the neck and so should the direction you shave. After shaving, rinse well with tepid water, pat the skin dry and then apply a skin cream, balm, or a cooling gel or lotion that is designed for a sensitive skin. Some shaving products contain lime, lemon, menthols or a perfume and these should be avoided since they may be a source of irritation.

I have recently developed an allergy to eye makeup and I understand from a dermatologist that it is an allergy to methyl or propyl paraben. Is there a product that does not have these ingredients?

Methyl paraben is used in cold creams, eyeliners, liquid makeup and other cosmetics as an antimicrobial and a preservative. It is non-toxic in small amounts but can cause allergic skin reactions. Propyl paraben is used widely in cosmetics as a preservative and to kill bacteria and fungus. Both are active against a wide variety of organisms but can cause contact dermatitis.

Since bacterial infections around the eyes can lead to serious problems, preservatives and anti-fungal/bacterial ingredients are necessary in cosmetics.

We don’t know of any makeup that doesn’t contain these ingredients. An alternative is to have your lashes tinted by an esthetician.

I had some rough, scaly patches on my face and neck that kept peeling. I finally got my doctor to check them and he said that they were actinic keratosis. What causes these? He said they have to come off. Do you know anything about this?

Your doctor is far better able to describe what is occuring on your skin than we can and should be the person to hear your concerns. If you feel it necessary, don’t be afraid to get a second medical opinion.

Actinic keratosis or solar keratosis is caused by repeated and prolonged sun exposure. These blemishes are usually found in the most sun- exposed areas of the body – face, hands, forearms and neck or the V of the neck. Most actinic keratoses are superficial, therefore treatment is relatively simple. They are not skin cancers but could eventually become so. Their removal can involve the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the affected cells and encourage a mild peeling; a chemical treatment rubbed on twice per day; a surgical scraping, etc.

To prevent their reoccurence, stay out of the sun as much as possible, wear a sun hat and wear a high sun filter. Sun damage is permanent and irreversible. If the skin has already been damaged to the point of developing actinic keratosis, new ones may appear after treatment.

I am going on a holiday to a location at a higher altitude. Will I need more sun protection there than I do at home?

We suggest that you take along a sunscreen with a higher SPF than you usually use because the higher the altitude, the less atmospheric buffer there is between you and the sun. For every 1,000- foot rise above sea level, the radiation increases in intensity by 10 per cent. Theoretically, any decrease in the ozone protection will hasten the rate at which the skin ages and will heighten the risk of skin cancer.

A higher SPF should also be used by those who spend a lot of time on or around the water, when on or around salt water, especially as one gets closer to the equator.

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