Fall Guy

The headless horseman gets a makeover.

By James Whittall
MenEssentials President

Fall Guy

I grew up in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, an expanse of rolling countryside one hour east of Montreal and a half hour's drive to Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York State.

The regional culture is a curious union of French Canadian and English loyalist traditions, where American post-revolutionary legends like Washington Irving's Headless Horseman are as much a part of the local vernacular as rural Quebecois folklore. It's a spectacular place to visit at any time of year. In the fall, it's a feast for the senses.

Amber, orange and brown garlands unfurl from the lampposts. Bouquets of dried corn and small, yellow gourds rattle and bump against the front doors of people's homes. Wax pencil drawings of nasty-looking jack-o'-lanterns appear in the windows of the elementary schools. The foothills blaze with the most vivid colors of the season.

Yes, it's hard to dislike autumn when you come from a place like the Townships. But I do. Or, more accurately, I did. Until recently.

For me and lots of other guys (particularly those who live in the mountains or northern climes), fall is a never-ending siege of chronic skin ailments. In most cases, the irritation confines itself to patches of sore, flaky dryness. But some poor boobs exhibit the full pyrotechnic spectacle of diseases like eczema, psoriasis, or seborrhea.

Why does it happen? And why in the fall?

In a word, summer.

The sun can have a devastating effect on your skin, in spite of your best efforts to protect it. Mix sun damage with regular exposure to chlorine or salt water, and you've got yourself a nasty batch of bad skin juju.

And winter's right around the corner. If you think you're itchy now, wait until that cold dry arctic air starts to gust up your pant leg.

Change Your Regimen

Fall is a great time to repair summer damage in preparation for the long dry months ahead. This is why you should seriously reconsider your maintenance program especially if you're monogamous to a handful of skin and hair care products that may not be suited to the changing weather conditions.

Start in on the moisturizers. If you have dry skin, a facial moisturizer or moisturizing body spray will hydrate and provide an additional layer of protection against the brutal winter elements.

Apply the right conditioner. Anthony Logistics extra-strength conditioner works wonders on hair that my youngest son refers to as "crispy." California North Watermint conditioner restores hair that's become moderately dehydrated. Even oily hair dries out at this time of year. But fear not; Anthony Logistics peppermint conditioner will redress the balance.

Use plenty of hand lotion. This is especially true after going outside without gloves, washing dishes, or exposing your hands to harsh chemical or biodegradable detergents. If you work on engines, don't use a degreaser. Instead, try a moisturizing pumice cleanser that won't chap your skin.

Shower or bathe with glycerin soap. Mass market deodorant or antibacterial soaps can strip your skin of its protective oils, which causes dryness or flaking.

Don't forget the sunscreen! Believe it or not, your chances of sun damage actually increase in the fall and winter. Snow and cloud reflect the sun's rays, and most people never think to apply protection before they venture outside. If you can't remember to use sunscreen, try an SPF-enhanced moisturizer. Ya gotta use one anyway.

Enjoy the Season

The Horseman didn't have a flaming pumpkin for a head. He probably just needed a new skin care regime.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament, take heart. A few simple modifications to your product lineup might be the answer you need.

Make the change. Get out there and truly enjoy the season as nature intended it.

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