For plenty of men, the concept of skincare has barely entered their vocabulary, let alone their bathroom cabinets. All too common is the grooming routine comprised solely of shower gel and body spray gift sets, picked from supermarket bargain bins as last minute Christmas gifts from distant aunties.
Everyone stands to gain from proper skincare, and reaping the benefits is surprisingly simple.
Know Your Skin Type.
Men’s skin is thicker than women’s, and at a very basic level, formulas need to work to treat these differences,
says Justina Mejia,
Vice President of Global Product Development at Lab Series.
Specifically, our research has shown that men have very distinct sensorial triggers, and they look for products that evoke efficacy via the initial sensorial experience.
Beyond picking products that are formulated to penetrate deeper down for thicker skin, you should also identify whether your face tends to be oily or dry. For the former—particularly during the summer months—you want something with anti-shine elements
And consider adding a sunscreen as well. “Men put their skin through a lot every day, including shaving and coming in contact with the environment and the elements like pollution and sun,” notes Mejia. “As they age, the skin needs extra care to ensure it remains in peak condition.”
Age-Defying Skincare Routine
You’ve never washed your face with anything other than hand soap and never used, much less bought, a moisturizer.
Step 1: Facial Cleanser
When we think of clean skin, we’re conditioned to expect a dry, squeaky-clean feeling. That might feel good on your body, but that same feeling on your face is actually bad. It means your skin’s protective barrier is disrupted and you’ve stripped away good oils that keep it moisturized. Instead, use a specific facial cleanser that contains moisturizing ingredients, but still has a dose of salicylic acid (and maybe even witch hazel) to gently control oil. Use it twice a day (morning and night).
Step 2: Eye Cream
Nothing makes you look older than dark circles and puffiness under your eyes. What’s going on here?
Both are a result of poor circulation. Blood pools in the thin, sensitive skin under your eyes and forms dark circles. Fluid collects there as well, leading to puffiness and bags.
Eye cream for men treats these problems with powerful moisturizers and caffeine. The former promote collagen production and healthy skin pigmentation. The latter promotes better circulation.
Step 3: Moisturizer
Once you’ve cleansed and buffed the skin, it’s time to hydrate and protect your face. Thus, the final product in the standard “three-step regimen” is moisturizer. It delivers soothing vitamins and nutrients to the skin, while also creating a barrier atop the skin so as to shield you from complexion-compromising toxins (eg. smoke or smog).
Apply it in the morning to recover from lost moisture during sleep, as well as before bed to maximize the potency of the skin-strengthening nutrients while your body’s cells regenerate. You can even substitute a night cream for the bedtime, for a denser, ore protective and corrective barrier on the skin.
Step 4: SPF
Ultraviolet rays from the sun mutate the cells in your skin—on cloudy and cold days, too. These UV rays lead to sun spots, wrinkles, sun burns, dry patches, moles, and even cancer. It’s important to shield your skin from these rays with SPF, whether it’s packed inside your daily moisturizer or added as an additional layer atop the hydrator.
If you’re only outside during the commute or a quick lunch, then a lightweight SPF should suffice, but if you hit the beach or are outside in direct light for extended periods of time (an hour or more), then you should consider something higher—SPF 30 is a safe bet.
Congrats: you’ve learned how to wash your face like an adult and you even found a moisturizing sunscreen you don’t mind wearing every day. It’s time to graduate to the next level.
Step 1: Chemical Exfoliator
The first step, exfoliation, serves to remove dead skin cells, dirt, and sebum from the skin. The deep clean an exfoliating product offers also penetrates into the pores and unblocks deep lying impurities, stopping the blockages that contribute to problems like cystic spots and blackheads. For this reason, it is absolutely crucial to maintaining skin health and preventing breakouts.
An important thing to know is that there are two types of exfoliators:
Abrasive Exfoliators (or scrubs)
If you have sensitive skin which is easily irritated, using a chemical exfoliant rather than a scrub may be preferable for you. With a chemical exfoliant, massage into the skin in the shower or when washing your face and leave to absorb for 30 seconds before washing off. With a scrub, massage continually for approximately 30 seconds, focusing on problem areas, before washing away.
For most, exfoliating 2-3 times per week is ideal, but if your skin type is oily (read more aboutskin type if you’re lost at this point) then you may benefit from exfoliating more frequently.
Step 2: Serum
If your skincare routine were a smoothie, serum would the wheatgrass shot (or whatever booster you want, I don’t know your life). Serums are more potent than your daily moisturizer, and are meant to impart active ingredients and nutrients more quickly and effectively.
The good news is that no matter your skin concern, there is a serum for that. The bad news is that it can be hard to know what you need. If you’re new to the serum game, look for one that addresses a variety of issues: They’ll usually contain hydrating and skin-building ingredients that all skin can benefit from. Use it twice a day, after your cleanser and before your moisturizer.
Step 3: Mask
There are hundreds of different kinds of masks, and what they all have in common is that they’re meant to supplement our core skincare routines. They’re like serums, in that they deliver more concentrated ingredients and target specific skin concerns.
The best kind of mask for men, especially beginners, is a clay mask. These masks use ingredients like clay and mud to cleanse deep into your pores (deeper than your twice-daily cleanser can go) and remove built-up dirt, oil and debris.
There’s not a dead skin cell in sight and your pores are clean AF. Maybe you even have multiple serums. Welcome to the big leagues.
Step 1: Retinol
Retinol is a form of vitamin A that causes skin cells to turn over more rapidly, boosting collagen in the process. It’s effective in reversing sun damage, fighting acne, reducing wrinkles, and shrinking pores.
It’s just as effective for men as it is for women, even though, like most skincare products, it’s mostly marketed to women.
I use retinol and retinoids in my male patients all the time
Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., A dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York. “As a matter of fact, men are more likely to have enlarged pores and inflammatory acne, as well as premature aging due to sun exposure, and retinoids are my go-to for those issues.” (In case you’re wondering, retinoids are a more potent version of the vitamin A derivative that you can usually only get through a prescription.)
Michelle Henry, M.D., a clinical instructor of dermatology at Cornell, also adds that retinol and retinoids can help reduce razor bumps as well.
“Your mid-20s is a great time to start using a topical retinol,” Henry says. “Retinol will help fight the collagen loss and pigmentation changes that usually occur in your thirties.” The New York dermatologist recommends applying retinol after you wash your face at night (as vitamin A degrades in the light), followed by a rich moisturizer. She advises that if irritation occurs, as it often does with this potent ingredient, simply skip a few days in order to let your skin calm down.
Step 2: Toner
If you have oily skin or struggle with acne, toner can be an invaluable step in keeping your skin clear and shine free. Use a cotton pad to swipe some of it over your face after cleansing to deep clean your pores and get rid of excess oil and buildup. Or if you’re not a cotton pad man, use one in a gel form.
Step 3: Night Cream
Wearing a special moisturizer at night may seem crazy at first, but while you’re resting, your skin is trying to rebuild itself. Night creams are typically very, very hydrating and contain specific active ingredients like peptides to help this regenerating process. Wearing the same moisturizer during the day and night is fine, but having a separate cream at night is a pro move.
Lifestyle choices also has an prominent effect on you skin
Get At Least 2.5 Hours Of Exercise A Week
Superficial improvements are good, and if you’re willing to follow the skincare routine above, good for you. But to permanently change your skin for the better, you’ll need to commit to a change in lifestyle. That means regular exercise.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week (2.5 hours).
Working up a sweat can help your skin expel the environmental pollutants, dirt and built up oil that collect on the skin throughout the day. It also releases feel-good endorphins, which can help reduce everyday tension in your body and in turn reduce strain on your skin.
When you work out, your heart rate will become elevated and blood flow increases. Exercise can help you to look more awake – or even more youthful.
Remember to cleanse your skin after a workout so that dirt and sweat don’t lead to bacterial buildup. Follow up by applying moisturizer to replenish the skin of some of the moisture it has lost.
Cook Your Own Meals
We all know that over-relying on fast food and other convenience meals can be bad for your health – but it’s especially bad for your skin. That means your skincare routine has to start on the inside.
Highly processed foods such as packaged microwavable meals have high levels of additives that your body interprets as toxins. Your liver takes care of most of them, but when it’s overloaded, the body starts secreting the toxins through your skin to get rid of them as fast as possible. This process can result in acne.
The best foods for healthy skin are foods containing healthy fats like mackerel, herring, coconut, and avocado, and vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamins.
As a rule of thumb? Avoid processed foods and cook your meals yourself.
Cut Back Alcohol Use
It’s a little-known fact that alcohol messes with your hormone levels – which can cause imbalances that can result in acne, and speed up the signs of aging. It also badly dehydrates your skin.
Your skin visibly takes longer to rebound when pinched if you’re hungover.
You know how your cheeks flush after a couple shots? That’s because alcohol enlarges your blood vessels. And while all may seem rosy with that, keep in mind: binge drinking and overuse of alcohol use can eventually lead to spider veins.
Stress can take a toll on your skin. Facial tension and tiredness are key factors in features that make your face appear aged, like frown lines and undereye bags – all of which can become permanent if they appear frequently enough. Some wrinkles appear distinguished, but you don’t want to look permanently grumpy in your old age.
While it’s a myth that stress causes acne, sensitive skin may be even touchier when the effects of stress are ravaging the body.
Make sure you get time to yourself each week, and practice using stress management techniques – such as mindful thinking, deep breathing, and walking away from conflict so you can cool down.
Remember that you don’t have to stay stuck in the first emotion that comes up when something goes wrong.
If you consistently struggle to manage stress, consider reaching out to a trusted friend or a mental health professional for support.
Get At Least 7 Hours Of Sleep Every Night
Sleep is when the body rests and regenerates. The second stage of sleep is called Delta sleep. During Delta sleep, hormone levels peak and your cells – including your skin – actually begin to repair themselves.
No matter how good your skincare routine is, the effect of too little sleep on your skin will be obvious, particularly around the eyes. When you lose sleep, fluid builds under your eyes, giving your eyes a puffy, tired look. When you do get your sleep, this can be corrected.
All stages of sleep are involved in dissolving free radicals – notorious for their contribution to early aging.
If your sleep is struggling, try cutting off caffeine at 3 P.M., making sure your room is dark enough, practicing conscious breathing to help yourself relax before sleep, and avoiding electronic screens right before bedtime (if you need your phone or computer, a screen-tinting app can at least cut the wakefulness-producing blue light).