The Basic Skin Care Routine Every Man Should Follow
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If you’re reading this you likely fall into one of two camps: You are interested in bettering your skin’s health or appearance but don’t know where to start, or you’re already a skin-care junkie but aren’t seeing the results that these bottles and potions claim to offer. (Or heck, maybe you’re thinking skin-care isn’t for a burly man such as yourself, but that’s an argument for a different day.)
“It’s not just about making your skin look the best that it can look, but it’s also about keeping your skin healthy,” says Mona Gahara, M.D., dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine. “I think that people forget that skin is an organ like everything else, and it’s important to keep it healthy.”
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No matter where you fall on the spectrum, when it comes to finding the best skin care routine for men, it’s actually way simpler than you likely thought. While it’s true that every person’s skin-care needs are different — skin health and appearance come down to a mix of factors including genetics, lifestyle, eating habits, and environment, and even things like stress can manifest on your skin — there are some general rules of thumb that can help anyone get started on bettering their skin.
So whether you’re a skin-care newbie or veteran over-buyer, look to this pared-down, universal skin-care routine for men that will give you the results you’re after with minimal effort and just a few stellar products.
Step-By-By Skin Care Routine for Men
In the Morning:
You want to opt for a gentle cleanser to maintain a healthy skin barrier — multiple layers of cells that offer protection from the bad stuff, such as pollutants, and keep the good stuff, such as water, inside. “A lot of guys have a tendency to use really harsh soaps on their face,” which can strip the skin of its natural oils and impact its pH balance, says Dr. Gahara.
Your skin’s pH level is essentially how acidic or alkaline it is — one indication of how healthy your skin is overall. You want to aim to have a balanced pH level for optimal skin health and appearance.
Buy: Dove Beauty Bar
“You can use it on your body and your face,” says Dr. Gohara. “It’s like one and done.”
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A good moisturizer will do wonders for any man’s skin-care routine — particularly after shaving, if that’s something you do. “Shaving can be irritating to the face, so moisturizing helps to strengthen the skin barrier,” explains Dr. Gohara.
Buy: EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30 Plus
“It’s a sunscreen that’s a moisturizer, opposed to a moisturizer that has a touch of sunscreen in it,” says Dr. Gohara of why she loves this double-duty product.
$27 at DermStore.com
Another critical piece that, no, cannot be skipped even in the winter months is sunscreen. Harmful UVA rays are omnipresent year-round and can cause sun damage, skin cancer, and just kill the vibe of any otherwise healthy skin regimen, rendering all those products essentially moot. But, if you don’t want to deal with yet another step in the morning, you can minimize your skin-care routine even further by combining your moisturizer and sunscreen with a combo 2-for-1 product, adds Dr. Gohara.
Buy: EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
If you don’t want to combine your moisturizer and sunscreen, this is another great pick from the EltaMD brand (a favorite of Dr. Gohara’s) that offers 46 SPF daily sunscreen.
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Bonus: Hyaluronic Acid
If two to three steps are NBD for you in the morning, you can take your skin-care routine up a notch by adding in a bonus product containing hyaluronic acid that will continue to hydrate and revitalize your skin, says Dr. Gohara. This lightweight, active ingredient is actually found in the skin naturally, but can be stripped away thanks to, yep, harsh chemicals or products, so your skin could always use more of this bouncy skin-care ingredient.
Buy: La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum
This serum offers the bonus ingredient of vitamin B5 to smooth and hydrate skin even further.
$33 at Ulta.com
This is a skin-care product for men that you’ll only want to use once or twice a week at night, says Dr. Gohara. Exfoliants come in two forms — chemical and physical — and the same limitations and benefits apply. Chemical exfoliators use acids to break down the top layer of skin to loosen the dead skin cells. Whereas physical formulas usually contain tiny beads or granules that physically slough off dead skin cells. Either way, the result is smoother, brighter skin. You just want to avoid overusing an exfoliating cleanser as that can actually start to have the opposite effect and lead to red, irritated skin.
Buy: Glycolix 10% Cleansing Pads
This is a great choice for on-the-go since the acid comes on a pad versus a cleanser.
$25 for 60 at Amazon.com
If you’re ready to level-up your nighttime skin-care routine, opt for the champion of anti-aging: retinoids. Retinoids, a type of derivative of vitamin A, or retinols, the gentler form you’ll find in OTC serums and creams, help increase cellular turnover for smoother skin, boost collagen to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and combat breakouts — it can even liberate any nagging ingrown hairs left from shaving, says Dr. Gohara.
Note that if you opt to add a retinol as a bonus step to your nighttime skin-care routine, it should be applied after your cleanser, before your night cream.
Buy: La Roche-Posay Retinol Face Serum with Vitamin B3
“This is a great starter serum,” says Dr. Gohara.
$42 at Ulta.com
Finally, you’ll want to add a heavier, weighty night cream for deep, nighttime moisturization that can help cells repair and regenerate while you sleep, explains Dr. Gohara. And no, you can’t use your daily morning moisturizer for this job, unfortunately. Daytime moisturizers and sunscreens are light for a reason – you’re out and about and can’t exactly get away with globbing on a thick cream on the job. But night creams are thicker because they help lock in moisture and the other skin-boosting benefits — active ingredients will vary between formulas — when all you need to do is dream to wake up with better skin.
Buy: No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Night Cream
The brand offers a range of different night creams, if you’re curious to tailor your skin-care routine even further, but this advanced option should do the trick.
$25 at Ulta.com
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