Skincare isn’t just a woman’s game – it’s something that men can benefit from if they use the right products.
If you’ve never tried a skincare routine before, knowing where to start can be difficult. That’s why we’ve written this guide that has everything you need to know.
Fortunately for us, men’s skincare is more straightforward than women’s skincare. We have thicker skin that, thanks to testosterone, also grows more hair and secretes more oil.
There’s a big market for simple, all-in-one products that get deep into the skin, eliminate oil, and nourish facial hair. Using the right products for the male skin profile can clear your face of texture issues, blemishes, and imperfections. Even a little goes a long way.
We’re not all talk here – you can find links throughout this piece that back up what we say and give you more to read if you want to learn more.
So, let’s get started. First, why should you care about skincare?
Table of contents
Do Men Care About Skin Care?
Well, do you? If you’ve found yourself here, you probably have some interest in taking care of your skin. There are many misconceptions about skincare that need to be addressed.
Skincare is commonly thought of as a feminine thing. There are reasons for that based on both biology and the economy.
First, as we have already mentioned, men have thicker skin that tends to age differently. Differently in this case means that men’s skin remains firmer and less wrinkled – again, thanks to testosterone.
Also, in many cultures, imperfections on men’s faces are more accepted as part of the whole rugged look (but you can have rugged features while still taking care of your skin).
Then there’s the industry – beauty products are thrown in with makeup and women buy more skincare products than men.
This means those products are marketed towards women, with lots of traditionally feminine iconography and color scheming. It’s superficial, sure, but it does influence people’s perceptions of skincare.
As for men generally caring about skincare, there’s one resounding answer – yes, but not as much as women.
Men care more about repairing any pre-existing problems, especially if they identify overly dry or oily skin. Women do that too, of course, but so many products are marketed to women based on preserving the skin.
Many men don’t think that far ahead, they just see a problem or a blemish and they want it gone.
Of course, we’re speaking in generalities here, there will always be exceptions.
The market for men’s grooming products is still huge and is steadily growing. Like any other human being, skin problems can affect a man’s confidence and self-image, affecting performance in their lives and harming their relationships with others.
As men, we try to embrace self-betterment in many parts of our lives, and more men than ever are taking that attitude towards skincare too.
With all of that said, even if no other man in the world cared about skincare – you care about skincare. That’s why you’re here, so stop worrying about what other guys are doing and take care of yourself instead.
A Simple Skin Care Regimen
When it comes to skincare, consistency is key. You don’t need to get fancy with it, a simple but dependable skincare routine that you follow regularly will go a very long way.
The simplest skin care regimen should do three things – cleanse, repair, and moisturize.
Cleansing is all about keeping the surface of your face clear from dirt and oils so that they don’t cause blemishes to form over time. Many people, both men and women, fervently wash their faces every morning and night to cleanse them.
That isn’t the answer. When it comes to washing your face, there is such a thing as too much. Washing your face too much disturbs the balance of natural oils in your skin. That oil on your face is there for a reason, not all of it is bad.
Clearing your face in the morning is a no-go. Instead, it’s better to douse your face in water every night. This removes any dirt and pollution before you go to bed, so it can’t seep into your face overnight.
Washing with warm water should be fine, there’s no need to wash with soap every day, that’s overdoing it.
When shaving, you should also keep surface oil away by using a cleansing product. Go for something mild and light, like a foam cleanser.
You can consider an exfoliating cleanser too but, if you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to be careful. Likewise, those with oily skin should use a hot towel to clean their face, then splash some cold water on it to cool off.
A skincare regimen should also repair any damage that has been done to your skin. You can’t slap skincare products onto a cut, we’re talking about subtle, slow-wearing damage from things like free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that have an uneven number of electrons. If that’s too much chemistry for you today, don’t worry.
All you need to know is that those atoms accelerate cell damage. This can cause the symptoms of aging to happen faster in your skin and even cause illness and disease. You can learn more about free radicals here.
The kind of damage that free radicals cause is called oxidative stress. It’s a negative reaction that happens when the skin faces polluted air, smoke, chemicals, and even UV rays.
You can’t avoid all of those, obviously, but taking care of your skin can minimize this damage and lead to healthier, happier skin.
Find an antioxidant serum that you can apply in the mornings. When you shave, you should apply it afterward, and after any cleanser that you may have used. If you’re over 30, you should also consider applying retinol cream before you go to sleep.
3. Moisturize & Protect
Lastly, a skincare regimen should moisturize your skin, which goes hand in hand with protecting your skin for the future.
Moisturizing is the last thing you should do, so it should come after the following:
- Foam cleansing
- Antioxidant serum
If your routine is in the morning, an antioxidant serum should be used. Look for a serum that has an SPF rating of 30 or above, too. Many people in the west, especially men, think that sunscreen is just for going to the beach or that heatwave that comes once a year.
It isn’t. The best skin care routines out of places like Korea use products that grant a lot of protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and the results speak for themselves.
By protecting your skin against the sun, even when it’s not hot or sunny, your skin will go a long way. The sun is always out there, after all, so it’s always doing damage to your skin somehow. It’s time to put an end to that.
For evening routines, you can use light moisturizers that don’t have sunscreen in them. You don’t need that kind of protection to survive a face-to-face confrontation with your pillow. Also, if your skin isn’t dry at all, don’t moisturize. Only do it when needed.
How To Pick Products
Part of building a skincare routine is finding the right products. We’ve already suggested some product types for you but we stayed away from specific brands and products. There’s a reason for that.
We don’t know where you live or what you have access to. We also don’t know your skin profile. There’s a lot we don’t know that you know.
It’s easier for everybody if we tell you how to find the best products for yourself. That way, you don’t need to rely on us to build a skincare routine for you.
With that in mind, here are four things that you should keep in mind when shopping for skincare products.
Know Your Skin Type
First, we need to have a long talk about skin types.
That’s right, just like women, men also have a variety of skin types that change what products you can use.
As we said, men have thicker skin that has more oil when compared to women. However, within men, there are still skin types that are oilier or drier.
If you have oily skin, most men’s products will be made to suit you and your skin type.
If you have dry skin, you’ll need to go the extra mile to find products that help with that. A tell-tale sign of dry skin is flakiness, especially in the so-called T-zone.
Then there’s sensitive skin, which can burn or become irritated by certain products and stimuli.
There’s also combination skin, where you have parts that are both oily and dry all at once. Fortunately, many products market themselves as being ideal for it.
Below you can find a detailed rundown of each skin type and how they should be treated.
This is standard skin that doesn’t suffer from having too much oiliness or dryness. It still needs some care, however. Here are some tips.
- Cleanse day and night to manage grease.
- Scrub with exfoliator once or twice per week. This removes dead cells and allows the fresher, better skin beneath to make an appearance.
- Use skin toners to improve your skin between cleaning and moisturizing. This is the most skipped skincare practice but it keeps skin clean and fortifies any moisture you use.
- Next, check out serums to apply before you moisturize. Just a few drops will go a long way and there are many, many serums marketed for all purposes, like holding back aging.
- You’re lucky enough to have standard skin, so you have free choice of any moisturizer out there.
It’s more common for men to have oily skin than dry, so let’s go through what it takes to reduce oil.
- First, you should look for a cleanser that is designed for oily skin. These cleansers will market themselves as unclogging pores, reducing sebum buildup, and eliminating shine from your skin.
- For exfoliation, do this for approximately five minutes once or twice a week. You can get exfoliators specifically made for treating oily skin.
- Toner can get oily so, if you use some, you should make sure that it’s compatible with your skin type. Balancing toners are great at this for most men. You don’t want to overcorrect and make your skin dry, after all.
- Speaking of balancing your skin, you’ll need to start adding moisture at this point. You can do this without making your skin oilier if you use the right products. First, find a serum that uses hyaluronic acid. It’s lightweight and won’t clog pores.
- Next, get a strong but light moisturizer. Many with oily skin don’t use moisturizer at all but this can make your skin produce even more oil.
For those with flaky skin, keeping it hydrated is key. You need to avoid redness, roughness, flakiness, and other issues by making sure your skin gets enough moisture. Fortunately, there are a lot of products out there for this. Here’s how the average dry skin routine should look.
- As always, you need to cleanse your skin to start. Dry skin can often be sensitive, so opting for a gentle cleanser is best, especially when it has hydrating properties. Micellar water is common for this because it cleanses, it’s literally water, and it won’t interfere with natural oils in the skin.
- Next is exfoliation. If you have dry skin, you need to exfoliate less than other skin types. While that may sound counterintuitive, over-exfoliation will make your dry skin even worse in the long run. Instead, you need to find a gentle exfoliator and stick with it once a week.
- Most people with dry skin don’t need to use toner, it won’t add much to their skin. If you’re thorough and want to use a toner, just make sure that it doesn’t contain alcohol. Also, use it just once a day.
- When looking at serum, you should opt for products that have all or mostly natural ingredients. These will cause less irritation to your skin, giving you the benefits of serum without the negatives associated with over-stimulating dry skin.
- Then there’s the part you’ve been waiting for – moisturizer. Here you need to get the best. Those will be the heaviest moisturizers that have been made in a lab, by people much smarter than us, to specifically get rid of that dry skin.
Lastly, there’s sensitive skin. This can go hand in hand with dry skin, so many of the treatments are similar, but it is possible to have sensitive oily skin too. If you suffer from redness, spots, and lots of blemishes, you’ll need to consider the following advice.
- First, cleanse using micellar water. Micellar water is great for dry skin because it’s soft without interfering with natural oils, making it good for sensitive skin too. You can also use cleansing milk.
- Again, like with dry skin, you don’t want to harass sensitive skin too much. As such, only exfoliate once per week. Even when you do exfoliate, be gentle about it. If you get rough, your skin will get rougher.
- Look for toners that use words like comforting and organic, because natural ingredients tend to be nicer on the skin. With that said, check the ingredients. You may know what chemicals your skin is sensitive to; in which case you need to avoid them and find alternatives. You can also just get toners with very few ingredients, so you don’t trigger anything in your skin accidentally.
- For serum, you’re going to need to reach for that hyaluronic acid. As we covered in our section about oily skin – it’s gentle and doesn’t clog pores. That’s pretty much all you need from serum when you have sensitive skin.
- Like with toners, you’ll also want to go for a moisturizer that has fewer ingredients, or at least less powerful ingredients. This means skipping out on any nice smells – get fragrance-free moisturizer instead – and it should be hypoallergenic too.
The second part of our grand plan to find the best skin care products is quite simple – forget gender.
You’ll find that the cosmetic industry neatly separates male and female skincare products. However, you’ll also find that the women’s market for skincare products is ten times bigger than the men’s market, if not more. Many male skincare products are great for your skin but sometimes, they can limit your search for solutions.
You need to broaden your horizons. This means finding products that work best for you and, if that product happens to come in a hot pink bottle, so be it. Don’t limit yourself based on packaging and marketing gimmicks, if a product has the right stuff for you, you use it.
Even with a lot of female skincare products, you can find fragrance-free versions that won’t make you smell like flowers. In fact, you can find alternatives that have manly scents like wood – cedarwood or sandalwood, usually.
If you consider the entire market for skincare products, you’ll have more luck with finding ones that work for you. It’s as simple as that.
Consider Your Ethnicity
Before you go looting the women’s cosmetic aisle at your local superstore, you need to consider something else when choosing products – ethnicity.
The two main issues here are the colors of your skin and the way that your hair grows.
That’s right, colors, plural. If you have Hispanic or Asian heritage, you may have irregular skin pigmentation that can present itself on your face.
Try to avoid prolonged sun exposure in your daily life and use products that brighten the skin, bring the color out, and balance your natural skin pigments.
Of course, you can be any color and have pigment issues. If that is the case, you’ll also benefit from using skin-brightening products.
As for hair, those of African descent will need to be careful when trimming. This is because their hair can have natural curls in them, making hairs more likely to bury themselves in the skin. Ingrown hairs are more common on the body but it is definitely a concern for the face too.
In this case, you need to add depilatory creams to your arsenal. These thick creams weaken keratin in the hairs, typically by using thioglycolic acid.
Then they can easily be swept away with no worry. This allows guys to shave without making their skin lumpy and suffering from ingrown hairs.
Finally, sometimes you just need to experiment. You can research and strategize all you want but sometimes, a product just works. The only way to find that out is to use it and see what kind of results you get.
Start with samples, so that the exploration process is more affordable. Many places also have generous return policies that you can take advantage of if that’s a possibility in your local area.
Some services offer sample boxes or subscription-based products that come in small sizes if you’re struggling to find small products to try out.
From there, it’s all about good-old trial and error. Find products for each of the five main regimen steps – cleanser, exfoliator, toner, serum, and moisturizer – and then start experimenting. This is a process, of course, it’s not something you can do in an afternoon.
Over time, you’ll find which products work best for each step. Then, assuming they are all compatible, you combine them and use them regularly for your skincare routine.
Managing Skin Irritation & Eruptions
At the start of this guide, we said that guys tend to worry about skincare when they can see a problem. If that’s you, you may want some help in managing skin irritation, eruptions, and other issues that leave a hole in your face.
There are three big concerns that men have with their faces – razor burn, ingrown hairs, and pimples/blemishes. All of these create lumpy, uneven complexions that men hate. So, what can we do about them?
1. Razor Burn
You may find that following our skincare advice makes shaving easier anyway. Healthier skin is easier to shave in most cases. Maybe you’re just doing something wrong when shaving, in which case you should change your habits to avoid that.
If irritation and razor burn are still an issue, you should use washing products in the shower that have salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in them. These are cleaner ingredients that will soften bumps, no matter if it’s acne, ingrown, or follicle inflammation.
Note that salicylic acid is also best used as a pre-shave exfoliator and can protect against inflammation. As for benzoyl peroxide, it fights bacteria. In that fight, it can sometimes harm sensitive skin, so we’d recommend sensitive-skinned people to use salicylic acid instead.
2. Ingrown Hairs
Problems with ingrown hairs on the face are also heavily linked to how you shave. First, make sure you’re doing the following:
- Washing your skin with warm water and cleanser before shaving.
- Using lubricating cream/gel to soften the hair before shaving.
- Using a sharp razor. Yes, that includes not re-using old razors too.
- Shaving in the direction that your facial hair grows.
- Rinsing the blade after every single stroke.
- Not shaving too close to the skin.
- Not pulling your skin tight while shaving
- Rinsing your skin and applying post-shave lotion afterward.
There are also alternative means of trimming your hair that can help prevent ingrown hairs.
We’ve already mentioned one when talking about the relationship between skincare and ethnicity – depilatories. These are handy creams that chemically remove hair. They can irritate, however, so apply a small amount first to make sure your skin can handle it.
If you don’t shave too close, electric razors can also do a great job at trimming your hair without interfering with the skin. Still, you should use products that soften the skin and hair afterward to get the best results.
If you want to go further down the chemical route, you may also want to consider creams that decrease hair growth. Many of these kinds of drugs are prescribed, however, namely eflornithine, which is sold as Vaniqa.
They also work best when combined with other hair removal methods, like lasering, for example.
3. Pimples & Blemishes
If you’re following the skincare advice given throughout this guide, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with pimples and other similar blemishes.
Breakouts are usually caused by oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, or inflammation, and they are all dealt with in a balanced skincare routine. The sun can also be a factor but again, you should be using products that carry an SPF rating as part of your regimen.
You should also keep any brushes or sponges you may use during your routine clean. You don’t need to use anything fancy, soap and warm water will get the job done.
You wouldn’t apply products with your dish-washing sponge, so why would you let your skincare tools get dirty? Better yet, most men don’t even use sponges. Your fingers will be fine if you wash them first.
Even with all these precautions, acne can be stubborn, so here are some other things you can try.
First, forget your skin. Remember that other areas in your life can affect your skin and how it develops. It’s the largest organ in your body and it’s one of the best visual representations of a person’s general health.
This means that you can pamper your skin all day to make it look good but having truly healthy skin requires being healthy.
How hydrated are you? Not getting enough water can cause your skin to develop imperfections. Aim for eight glasses a day – that’s about eight ounces or two liters a day, at least.
Drink a little more than that if you can. You should also watch what you eat. Eating too many sugary foods or foods high in carbohydrates can cause the same problems.
Stress can also cause breakouts. Get rid of stress by exerting yourself through exercise, then meditating when you need some chill time. You can also spend more time with nature, which has been found to reduce cortisol levels – take the nature pill.
You can also relax and enjoy yourself by doing the things that you like to do. Hobbies are great for this, as they can often be productive and allow you to unlock accomplishment chemicals like serotonin.
If you have real acne, as in the bacteria, and not just a few pimples on your face, then you should consider getting antibiotics from your doctor. That will help reduce the overgrowth of the bacteria, keeping your face and body clear.
If you develop pimples, leave them alone. Picking or popping them will cause inflammation, further damaging the skin around them.
In some cases, it can even scar and leave a semi-permanent mark on your face. If you must treat pimples and other blemishes, topical treatments are better than the old pincer technique.
That’s all a guy needs to know to get started with a skincare routine.
We haven’t told you what to do – we’ve given you the information you need to figure it out yourself. You’ve learned the basics of a skincare regimen, how to find the best products, and how to build a skincare routine that works with your unique brand of skin.
There are many products and techniques out there for you to try, so it’s time to start experimenting and finding which ones work for you. We’re more alike than different, so most men won’t have trouble finding something that works.
Men tend to have lower standards than most women, after all. That said, nothing is stopping you from diving deeper into skincare and finding the perfect routine.
This was just a guide for those who are starting out, there’s a lot more information out there about men’s skincare if you’re willing to look for it.