The Best Skin Care for Men, According to Dermatologists
Who says men don't need a regular skin-care routine?
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Taking care of your skin is essential, but guys seem to be more hesitant to get on board the skin-care-for-men train. In fact, according to a poll by the men’s skin brand Tiége Hanley, 33% of all men surveyed clearly don’t have a skin-care routine and don’t even wash their face every day.
However, skin care is one of the secrets to keeping your skin healthy, free from shaving irritation and looking good—so we contacted board-certified dermatologists Corey L. Hartman, MD, and David Kim, MD, to get all the details on crafting a skin-care routine for men. A few of the things Dr. Kim would expect men will notice? “Their skin will be smoother, less clogged or bumpy, more hydrated and moisturized and will have less discoloration.”
But finding the perfect skin-care routine for men can feel a little tricky, regardless of whether you have oily skin, dry skin or a combination of those two, since the majority of the advice seems to be geared toward women, who often have different skin concerns. But skin self-care doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. This simple advice—and recommendations for the best skin-care brands—will give you great results.
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Skin-care routine steps
Your basic skin-care-for-men routine should center around two steps: washing to strip away debris, and moisturizing to help restore your skin’s hydration levels. From there, you can add in what you need to deal with specific concerns and problem areas like oily T-zones and under-eye circles. Here’s how you do it:
Washing your face is the first step in any skin-care routine, yet many men are still skipping it. Why? One suggestion from Dr. Hartman: “Most men don’t wear makeup, so they don’t have to wash that off every day.” That means they don’t always think to wash at all. However, even if you’re not wearing makeup, debris, pollution and even your skin’s own oil can still accumulate on your skin throughout the day or overnight. Rinsing it away with a face cleanser will help you start and end the day with a clean slate.
Find the best cleanser for your skin type
Finding the best face wash for men starts by identifying your skin type. Figuring out if your skin is dry, oily or a combination (meaning dry in some places, oily across your forehead, nose and cheeks) is probably the easiest, as it’s fairly self-explanatory. But you may also have sensitive skin if you get irritated easily; mature skin if you’re 40 or older; or acne-prone skin if you’re battling breakouts. Find the type that best describes the most significant concern you struggle with, then follow this advice from Dr. Hartman to find your perfect formula.
|Skin type||Type of cleanser||Why it’s best|
|Oily||A foaming or gel formula that contains benzoyl peroxide||Helps clear pores|
|Dry or Combination||A creamy cleanser, with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid||Allows skin to hold on to moisture|
|Sensitive||A face wash that contains soothing ingredients like oatmeal||Won’t irritate the skin|
|Mature||A hydrating formula without a lot of active ingredients||Doesn’t overwhelm the skin|
When it comes to skin care for men, science supports the idea that you should be using moisturizer. According to a review in the journal Cosmetics, not only do these products increase the water content in your skin, but they help your skin maintain a normal pH, allow the skin to hold moisture longer, make your skin smoother and softer and may even have anti-inflammatory benefits that can help with wound-healing. So reaching for a moisturizer every day should be a no-brainer. And bonus: If you choose one with SPF, all the better—since everyone is advised to wear sunscreen daily anyway.
Find the best moisturizer for you
Here’s what Dr. Kim says to look for when searching for the best moisturizer (whether you’re looking for the best night cream, best anti-aging creams or just the best daily formula you’ll actually use), according to your skin type:
|Skin type||Type of moisturizer||Why it’s best|
|Oily||A lightweight gel with few essential oils or vitamin E||Hydrates without feeling heavy|
|Dry||A creamy moisturizer with ceramides and lipids||Keeps the skin barrier intact to hold moisture in|
|Combination||A thick cream twice a week and a creamy moisturizer with ceramides and lipids the other five days||Creates the right moisture balance|
|Sensitive||A formula with calming ingredients like oatmeal or green tea extract||Soothes irritation|
|Mature||A thick formula with peptides||Keeps skin hydrated|
Do men really need a separate eye cream from their usual moisturizer? Not necessarily, according to Dr. Hartman. If you’re happy using your regular moisturizer—and you really do use it—then there’s no reason to add another step. But here’s what you may want to consider: Eye creams can be beneficial in addressing specific concerns. As Dr. Hartman explains, “The skin is a little different there.”
Thin, fragile and prone to damage, the skin around your orbital region may need a bit more love. So if your skin is dehydrated and crepey around your eyelids, you might want something heavier or even anti-aging for that area. If you notice under-eye puffiness, an eye cream formulated to reduce bags may help you feel more confident. If you have discoloration, a brightening eye cream might make you look more alert.
Find the best eye cream for you
If you’re ready to join the world of eye creams, find the concern you’re looking to tackle for the ingredients that will help.
|Concern||Eye cream ingredients||Why it’s best|
|Puffiness||Caffeine||Constricts to depuff bags|
|Dark circles||Brightening or illuminating ingredients like vitamin C or light-reflecting pigments||Lightens the area without looking like makeup|
|Fine lines||Retinol, reparative peptides and wrinkle reducers||Won’t irritate the skin|
|Dryness||An ultra-rich hydrator like hyaluronic acid||Locks in moisture|
You may have heard exfoliation touted as the way to help head off ingrown hairs after shaving—and that’s true—but it can do so much more for the skin. “Gentle exfoliation helps get rid of the dead layer of the skin and keeps it soft and smooth,” explains Dr. Kim. By whisking away all the stuff you don’t want on the surface, exfoliators make for a more even, healthier-looking complexion with less visible pores (which tend to be bigger in male skin). They can also slough away debris before it has a chance to cause a pimple—crucial for those with acne.
Find the best exfoliator for you
There are two types of exfoliators: chemical (think acids in liquid exfoliants) and physical (think tiny particles in facial scrubs). Dr. Kim likes chemical exfoliants for men, as they can often be less abrasive—which is key if you’re shaving. And while most people’s skin can handle exfoliation a few times a week, he notes that sensitive and mature skin types should limit it to once a week. Beyond that, here’s his basic advice by skin type:
|Skin type||Exfoliator type||Why it’s best|
|Oily||One featuring salicylic acid||Helps curb excess sebum|
|Dry, combination, sensitive and mature||A gentle formula with lactic or mandelic acid||Keeps skin looking fresh and smooth without irritation|
Shaving creams and oils
Shaving is one of the essential aspects of skin care for men. It may be tempting to reach for soap when it comes time to shave. However, that is a no-no, since it can clog your razor—and doesn’t give you the slip you need to avoid razor burn. Beyond that, there’s not much to know, according to Dr. Hartman. He says when it comes to foams, gels and creams, “Shaving cream is shaving cream. You just want to make sure it’s not irritating your skin.” That means if you’re sensitive, you’ll want to reach for one without extras like fragrance that can trigger redness and irritation. If you prefer oil, that also works. However, Dr. Hartman warns, “If you have oily skin, avoid oil—it may clog your pores.” Next, learn the best skin-care routine for oily skin.
And another note: If your skin gets irritated after shaving and you’re using a cream marked for sensitive skin already, it’s time to look at your razor. Men’s razors often come with several blades for an extra-smooth shave, however all those sharp edges against your face can be rough on skin. So if that’s the case, Dr. Hartman suggests skipping the “quatro” blades and looking for a single or double razor instead.
Your basic steps to a great shave:
- After washing your face, wet your skin.
- Apply your shaving cream, gel or oil.
- Shave in the direction of your hair growth.
- Rinse your razor as you go.
- Finish with a moisturizer to help soothe irritation.
- Corey L. Hartman, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL
- David Kim, MD, board-certified dermatologist at IDRISS Dermatology in NYC
- Tiége Hanley: “10 Crazy Stats on Men and Skincare”
- Cosmetics: “A Review of Moisturizers; History, Preparation, Characterization and Applications”
- American Academy of Dermatology: “Hair Removal: How to Shave”