Skincare shelves are stacked high with pink, floral-scented cleansers and moisturizers galore that are clearly marketed towards women. The skincare market tends to neglect men, so it’s not surprising that men often neglect their skincare routines in return. This lack of targeting men’s skincare needs is a huge problem because men are just as susceptible to acne, fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, and skin conditions like rosacea or eczema, and many men aren’t taking the steps necessary to prevent or treat these issues.
Recently, however, lots of men have been taking the time to research and invest in their skincare, whether it’s on their own accord, or a lady in their life opened their eyes to all the benefits that come with a consistent skincare routine that involves more than just running over your face with a bar of soap.
If you or a fella you know are ready to curate a full-fledged skincare routine, here are some tips to get started.
Men’s skin is inherently different
While stealing from your girlfriend’s skin care shelf can provide you with the basic essentials for skincare, men’s skin has some unique features that have different specific needs. For starters, men’s skin is typically thicker and more oily than women’s. Men also grow facial hair, and whether it’s thick or thin, or if you shave it or choose not to, that also yields specific needs.
However, the basis is the same
The first step in skincare for anyone is determining your skin type because that will have the largest effect on the products you choose to buy. Skin types are typically split into five categories:
- Normal skin - Skin that is not overly oily, dry, or acne-prone
- Dry skin - skin that doesn’t produce enough vital oil and can appear dull and flaky
- Oily skin - skin that produces excess oil and appears shiny and greasy oily skin is common amongst men due to testosterone. Oily skin tends to be acne-prone as excess oil clogs pores
- Combination skin - skin that has some patches that are oily and some that are dry
- Sensitive skin - skin that reacts negatively (burning, itching, redness) to a wide variety of ingredients and products due to allergies or some other skin condition like psoriasis or eczema
Some products are suitable for all skin types, but in most cases, it is best to look for products that are geared toward your skin type, especially if you have sensitive skin and want to avoid breakouts and flare-ups.
What to avoid in general
For the most part, skincare doesn't have a gender so most products on the skincare shelves will work for men, though there are some that should be avoided by everyone. Men probably shy away from the hot pink, fruity-scented face washes, and they’re right in doing so. Artificial dyes and fragrances that are found in many mass-market skin care products aren’t necessary and they can cause dryness and irritation. Fragrance is also the most common allergen found in skin care products, so if you find yourself breaking out in rashes and blotchy red patches after using your skin care products, the fragrance is likely the culprit so stick to fragrance-free skincare for less risk. Other ingredients that can wreak havoc on your skin are:
- Essential oils
As well as many others which you can read about here.
Stick to products with a short ingredients list that avoids these common irritants and relies mainly on natural ingredients. Even if your skin is not sensitive, you don’t want to put yourself at risk for irritation.
There’s debate over how often you should cleanse your face. Some say once a day is fine, some say morning and night, and some go as far as to say cleanse after every single time you go outside. Everyone’s skin has different needs so depending on the dirt and oil your skin retains, cleanse at least once a day, twice if your skin is especially oily or if you sweat a lot during a workout. If you still have trouble controlling oil throughout the day, carry blotting papers with you to dab some of it away without over-cleansing.
If you’ve taken to using your body wash or soap bar as your face cleanser, swap those out for an actual cleanser specifically for your face. Facial skin is more delicate and has a cocktail of vital natural oils that body soaps will strip, which can dry out your skin and cause irritation if you have sensitive skin. Facial cleansers (especially ones that don’t contain harsh ingredients like sulfates, dyes, and fragrance) are specifically formulated to remove excess oil and dirt without completely stripping moisture.
There are multiple cleansers targeted at specific skin types. Oil-based cleansers are great for dry skin to give a little extra boost of hydration, but they can be too much for oily skin and could lead to clogged pores and acne. So look for oil-free or non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) formulas if your skin produces excess oil as it is.
If you can’t quite bring yourself to give up the bar soap, use one that is formulated for both face and body. Cleure’s glycerin face and body bar is formulated with oatmeal to be extra soothing and is pH balanced to ensure skin that isn’t overly dry or oily. If you are going to use bar soap for your face, just make sure to have separate bars: one for your face and one for your body, and don’t get them mixed up. You don’t want to be carrying bacteria from your body onto your face.
Masks and scrubs
When you think of face masks the image that pops into your head is probably one of those bright green, peel-off face masks that are, let’s face it, a little bit scary. But put that fear behind, because face masks have so many amazing benefits. A mud or clay mask can deeply cleanse the skin of its impurities, and remove dead skin cells leaving skin fresh and rejuvenated.
Exfoliating with a face scrub has similar skin-renewing benefits, but make sure to reach for one that uses a gentle, finely-ground exfoliant and not something super abrasive like nuts, fruit pits, salt, or shells. Cleure Exfoliating Scrub is gentle enough to be used daily, or whenever your skin just needs a little extra pick me up.
Try exfoliating on days you shave; removing dead surface skin prior to shaving makes for a cleaner, smoother shave, and a lesser chance of razor bumps and ingrown hairs because there’s less blocking the hair follicle.
Men and women alike deal with the trials and tribulations of shaving: ingrown hairs, razor bumps, redness, and irritation are all common if you aren’t being careful with your shaving method.
To avoid these problems, make sure you are using a sharp razor, generously apply shaving cream, lotion, or gel, shave after showering or wet your face with warm water to soften the hair follicle, shave with the grain of the hair rather than against it, and last but not least: you don’t need aftershave. Aftershave was necessary when straight razors were common and caused a lot of nicks to the skin which could become infected if not treated with alcohol. If you're careful and have a nick-free shave there’s no need for aftershave, and the alcohol can just cause irritation and dry out your skin. Instead, rely on your moisturizing and exfoliating routine to soothe skin after shaving.
Cleanse your beard too
If you’ve decided to let your facial hair grow free, make sure you don’t neglect proper hygiene and maintenance of your beard. Use either a face wash or gentle shampoo to scrub your beard clean so that bacteria doesn’t build up in your beard and the skin underneath it.
Once you're thoroughly cleansed and shaved, make sure to not rub your skin, but pat it dry with a soft, clean towel. Rubbing can cause further dryness and irritation, and using a dirty towel will transfer bacteria to your skin when you just worked so hard to do the opposite.
Finish with a moisturizer
Once your skin is cleansed, exfoliated, and dried, finish with a moisturizer that will keep skin soft and hydrated. Moisturizers work to lock water into the outer layer of skin, which will not only eliminate the dull, flaky appearance but also help prevent wrinkles in the long run. Look for ingredients like glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, and shea butter, which all have natural moisturizing properties.
Like cleansers, there’s a wide variety of moisturizers with different benefits for different skin types. In general look for a non-comedogenic moisturizer. If you have dry skin, thick and rich cream moisturizers will be absorbed by your skin and provide the deep hydration you need, but if your skin is oily to begin with, look for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that won’t cause excess buildup and shine.
If your skin is parched and can handle a thicker cream, antioxidant-rich day creams with Vitamins C or E are a smart choice. Not only will it provide intense moisture, but the antioxidants will protect the skin from environmental stressors like air pollution and smoke which can break down the skin and limit the cell renewal process, speeding up signs of aging even more.
If you’re leaving the house it’s crucial to slather on sunscreen to prevent lifetime sun damage like wrinkles, sun spots, freckles, and skin cancer. Even if it’s cloudy out, UV rays can seep through the clouds and cause damage, so if you oversleep and have to skip the rest of your routine, you should still make sunscreen a priority.
Natural, mineral-based sunscreens that use Zinc and Titanium Dioxide to protect from both UVA and UVB rays are best because they typically don’t contain dangerous chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone which can seep into the body and cause harm to hormonal and bodily functions.
Lip care = skincare
Your lips are just as important as the rest of your skin and so proper lip care should find a place in your skincare routine too. Flavored and scented lip balms are just as much a problem as scented skincare products, so use a flavor-free lip balm with nourishing ingredients like shea butter and cocoa butter for soft, chap-free lips.
At the end of the day, most (if not all) skincare is unisex, but the skincare market tends to market in a way that says otherwise. Men who are looking to improve the health of their skin have it in their best interest to ignore the pastel bottles and jars. Getting into the habit of a daily skincare routine has so many benefits, and once you start to see the results, you’ll be wishing you had taken a deep dive into the skincare aisle sooner.