Why adventurer Levison Wood says even manly men need skincare

Why adventurer Levison Wood says even manly men need skincare

Homme improvement

Text: Renée Batchelor

Even the rugged explorer, photographer and author Levison Wood use skincare. As part of Clinique For Men's new #BehindTheFace campaign, find out why he thinks it's an essential

Guys, it's time to stop that stigma around male grooming and the need for a proper skincare regimen. If Levison Wood, the English born explorer, photographer and best-selling author, uses face cream and sunscreen, you darn well should be as well. Wood has travelled to over 90 countries worldwide walking both the Himalayas and the Nile, as well as interviewing and photographing prominent names. Find out firsthand why this ex-military men and natural-born adventurer thinks skincare — and sunscreen — should be used by every man, and why he wishes he had started with it earlier.

How did this collaboration with Clinique first come about?
Clinique approached me when they were launching a campaign called Behind the Face. They wanted to delve a bit deeper into my own personal journey, what inspires me, how I look after myself and how that links in with skincare and health. It was an interesting collaboration and not something I'd ever really considered, but I've always taken skincare and health seriously — especially with my background in the military, you have to look after yourself... no one else is going to do it for you! So the collaboration with Clinique seemed like a natural fit. And if I can help to promote skincare, sun protection, all those kinds of things and really take the stigma away from male grooming (which in fact has moved on leaps and bounds over the last few years) then that can only be a good thing.

Is skincare something you've used a lot in the past? Why or why not?
I wouldn't say a lot, probably like most men I didn't start really taking care of my skin until it was a bit late! But the older you get you have to take your skin seriously, and especially for me being outside and exposed to the elements so much (in desserts one minute and climbing a mountain the next), it can all take its toll unless you look after yourself. I always use moisturiser, SPF and beard moisturiser — it's a simple routine. I know the products I like to use, and I'm diligent about it.

Travelling to different and extreme climates must wreak havoc on your skin. What are some of the typical concerns you have and what has been your approach with dealing with this in the past?
Sunburn is probably the biggest concern, so I have to make sure I'm really disciplined about applying the right factor. Dry skin all over is also a problem, especially during my last trip to Central America — I spent most of the time soaking wet so unless I really looked after myself I was going to have problems. So it's not just about looking after yourself from a vanity perspective, it's also about looking after yourself from a practical perspective so you can actually do the job.

How, if at all has your attitude towards your skin changed after working with Clinique? Why do you think that even someone like yourself, an ex-soldier and adventurer, should take time for their skin?
It's given me more of an awareness of the products on offer, and the subtle differences. It's been great because I've been able to experiment with products I didn't even know existed... like beard moisturiser!

What are three of your favourite products in the Clinique For Men line and what about them do you like? How do they fit into a typical day for you?
I like the Maximum Hydrator, the Anti-Age Moisturiser and the Beard Conditioner, which I've found works just as well on your hair as it does on your beard! It's great. I use them all every day... I'm running out actually!

Clinique For Men 2 in 1 skin hydrator + beard conditioner, Maximum Hydrator and Anti-Age Moisturizer
What to you are the most beautiful places you've explored on foot?
I like the diversity of the places I've visited. I'm very lucky that I've managed to convince my sponsors to let me go to all the places I've fallen in love with. The Himalayas, the jungles of Central America and East Africa are the three places I've always wanted to go to, so to go and see them as part of my job has been really great.

What is the next region or location you want to explore or the next challenge you are dying to take on?
I've got another expedition planned which I'm heading off on soon... but I can't say anything about that. I got back from my last trip two months ago, and while I wouldn't say that I'm ready to head off again, I'm going whether I like it or not! But there are loads of places I want to see — I'd love to go to Canada and Alaska.

Levison Wood behind the scenes for Clinique For Men
You document your journeys through both writing and photography. Which is your favourite of the two mediums and why?
They're both quite different but the great thing is telling the story in different ways. I really enjoy the writing process, although it can be quite hard work it's very satisfying for me to see a finished book. But also to be able to capture the journey and a moment in an image is really special. Writing and photography are complementary, but a book is the most honest for me — you can't convey the whole picture through TV, or in one image, but with a book you can certainly paint a great picture.

Who are your personal heroes be they adventurers or people in other professions? Why do they inspire you?
I've always been inspired by the Victorian eras of exploration, people like Henry Morton Stanley and David Livingstone. Richard Burton is also one of my favourites because he was such a profoundly curious man, he spoke the basics of about 20 different languages. But also in the modern era we've got people like Ranulph Fiennes who's in his 70s but still going strong.