About a week before my wedding, it happened again. I mean, I could feel it bubbling right under the skin, but I hoped my anxiety could calm down just long enough to prevent it from rearing its ugly head out from under my cheek. Yet, that wasn’t enough as my wife walked alongside me as I wandered into Sephora looking for a concealer. Needless to say, I immediately realized I needed to write a men’s skincare guide.
Not to say anything was wrong about my experience in Sephora, but I felt like an outsider like this wasn’t a place made for me (because it wasn’t). And since my cystic acne zit decided to be a pain in the ass and show up at absolutely the worst time, I really had no choice unless I wanted to risk all of our wedding photos featuring a flaming red pimple under my eye.
I realized that wasn’t just how annoying acne was but how vital skincare is for men. There still isn’t clear, identifiable space for it in the market. But over the past couple of months, I’ve spoken with fashion influencers, grooming companies, and others about men’s skincare. They’ve all said the same thing: it’s time for men to take it seriously. Whether you’re brand new to the space or someone looking to upgrade your products, our men’s skincare guide wants to be your number one resource for all things skincare for men.
What does this have to do with Positive Masculinity?
I talk a lot about positive masculinity on Dudefluencer, and I like to make sure that most of the articles and guides I publish relate in some way to you living a happier and healthier life. Our men’s skincare guide is no different.
This guide fits within the concept of enclothed cognition, the science of looking good and feeling good. Part of building up positive masculinity is building self-confidence. Having healthy skin is something every dude could use some help with. I know when I’ve had less than desirable skin, my self-confidence cratered, affecting every part of my life.
Looking good and feeling good is a core principle of healthy masculinity. For more information, check out our positive masculinity hub.
What do all of these things mean?
If you’re anything like me, then a trip through the makeup aisle or even your partner’s bathroom cabinet is a complete trip. I didn’t know most of that stuff even existed, to be honest. But since I’ve taken my grooming a bit more seriously, I figured I’d take a couple moments here to highlight some definitions of standard products and activities found in men’s skincare.
So this one seems relatively self-explanatory, but moisturizer does just that: moisturizes your face. The reason why you’d want to use a moisturizer is to protect the skin. According to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, “These areas of skin also shed cells more rapidly than other parts of the body and therefore need moisture to repair itself, which allows for younger skin cells to rise to the surface. Also, the massaging effect used when applying lotion helps stimulate blood circulation and new cell generation.” Look for a moisturizer containing some SPF and protect your skin from the dangers of the sun’s rays. A good moisturizer is something you’d use every day.
While you probably have heard the word “exfoliate” before, you might not know what it actually means. To exfoliate is the “process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin using a chemical, granular substance, or exfoliation tool.” After a round of exfoliating, you can expect your skin to look brighter and healthier. Still, I’d avoid doing it more than two-three times a week. If you have more sensitive skin, cutting that number down will help with redness and irritation.
Sure, you got somebody wash and a washcloth, so why would you need to purchase a separate facial cleanser? The difference is that while most soaps are designed for your entire body, a facial cleanser is made to remove dirt, debris, sunscreen, and other stuff that’s accumulated on your face. Besides cleaning your face, a facial cleanser also unclogs pores and exfoliates the top of skin cells to make sure everything looks excellent daily.
Face masks and cucumbers aren’t just for girl’s night anymore. One of the trickier parts with face masks is that there are just so many options: charcoal, honey, mud, clay, etc. But good news, you can test all of them out, as putting on a good face mask can be one of the most relaxing experiences a dude can have. Plus, throw one on after a relaxing day with your partner, but something good on HBO Max, and you’re guaranteed a great evening.
Suffer from bags under your eyes? Wrinkles? Introducing nourishing eye cream built for men who want to look their best no matter the occasion. I’ll be honest, I never thought about using eye cream until Matt from Huron let me know it’s one of the best products they make. After giving a couple different eye creams a go over the past year, the difference is relatively astounding. I never imagined I’d be one to use a product like this but seriously, dudes, a good eye cream can be a gamechanger in men’s skincare.
The Ultimate Men’s Skincare Guide
Getting started on a skincare routine is relatively easy as long as you know what you’re doing. The first step to any good routine is knowing which products to start off with. And as Jon Shanahan of Stryx points out, “There’s no way to turn back time on your skin but the best time to start prevention is yesterday… or today.” So take a look at our men’s skincare guide, pick up some products, and get your face looking better than ever before.
The essential skincare routine products include a facial cleanser, eye cream, moisturizer, exfoliator, serum, masks, and night creams. Now you don’t need to buy all of these at once, but some companies such as Geologie offer most of those products in a complete set. The key is finding the right ones for your skin type.
After you do that, getting into a routine is easy. Moisturizer, facial cleanser in the morning. Night cream and eye cream at night. Throw in a mask or exfoliator once or twice a week, and you’re golden.
The tricky part really comes down to identifying which products work best for your specific skin type. It’s 100% about finding the right stuff versus anything else.
Learn to know your skin type.
So before you rush out or Google any of the products in our men’s skincare guide, it’s imperative to know what kind of skin you have. And yes, you can have more than one type of skin.
As mentioned in our list of the best body soaps for men, the type of product you use really is dependent on the type of skin you have. It’s relatively simple that there are only four skin types to think about: normal, dry, oily, or combination.
Normal skin is precisely that: no flakes, not too oily. Everything is just right, which means you can use a majority of products on the market. For everyone else, once you’ve identified what type of skin you have, the next step is to find the right products. Thankfully there are a ton of options available no matter your skin type. As technology has advanced, it’s become easier (and cheaper) to find the right stuff for you.
Steps to take to prevent dry skin.
Let’s start with dry skin. It’s something that’s affected most people at some point in their lives. Dry skin can result from “hot or cold weather, low moisture in the air, and soaking in hot water.” Sometimes dry skin is just something that happens naturally. The key to protecting yourself against dry skin is being proactive in your skincare routine and finding the specific products that work best at healing dry skin.
If you’re unsure whether or not you have dry skin, check for flaking, cracks, itchiness, or even peeling skin. Dry skin will look scaly and can cause “a feeling of skin tightness, especially after showering, bathing or swimming.” Although my skin is frequently oily, I will go through bursts of dry skin in the winter months.
Outside of finding the right products, the men’s skincare guide suggests a couple of other lifestyle changes that could prevent dry skin. The first would be to rethink your showers: close the bathroom door, limit shower time to around 10 minutes, and make sure whatever soap you’re using won’t make your skin dryer. Adding a humidifier or some kind of moisture into the air will also help prevent dry skin.
When looking for products for dry skin, there are definitely some ingredients you should look for. Director of Dermatology Noelani Gonzalez told New York Magazine, “goopy and greasy creams and ointments are your best friend if you have dry skin, because they are oil-based, have a thicker consistency, and provide more hydration than lotions.” For ingredients, “a mixture of emollients (like ceramides), which repair your skin barrier, and humectants (like glycerin and hyaluronic acid), which draw and seal moisture into the skin,” should be a part of any dry skin product.
According to Prevention Magazine, there are also some hydrators that you can look for: “hyaluronic acid, ceramides, urea, plant oils, aloe vera, shea butter, glycerin, squalane, soy, colloidal oatmeal, and B vitamins.”
For folks who suffer from more serious dry skin like psoriasis and eczema, it’s best to leave that up to your dermatologist as you may require prescription grade lotions to help cure your dry skin.
But no matter what, there’s always something you can do to help protect yourself from dry skin.
Avoiding oily skin.
For oily skin, this is what happens when the “sebaceous glands in the skin make too much sebum.” If you look at yourself in the mirror and notice a particular shine or greasiness, you’re likely to have oily skin. Folks with oily skin are also more susceptible to breakouts and acne. Between working at a pizzeria in my teenage years and genetics, I’ve suffered from oily skin most of my life. Hence, it’s no wonder that I’d want to create a men’s skincare guide with tips and tricks to avoid some of the same skin issues I’ve dealt with over the years.
The most likely cause of oily skin is down to genetics. If either of your parents suffered from this condition, then it’s expected to be passed down to you. Hot weather and over-washing can also cause oily skin. There’s a reason why young men suddenly acne and pimples pop up: puberty and testosterone. “Androgens are the hormones most responsible for oil production, and sometimes they can fluctuate, stimulating an increase in sebum production.”
Remember the cystic acne I mentioned at the beginning of this piece caused in part due to stress. Anyone who has planned a wedding knows that feeling. My anxiety just so happened to manifest itself on my face right before my wife, and I’s big day.
Whereas there’s nothing you can do about genetics and puberty to prevent oily skin, there are a couple of different techniques you can try to minimize breakouts and acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, “wash your face every morning, evening, and after exercise. While washing, resist the temptation to scrub your skin, even to remove makeup. Scrubbing irritates your skin, which can make it look worse.” The key is to make sure you don’t scrub your face too hard, causing your body to create more sebum, causing oily skin. Something else to think about is how often you touch your face. Or basically, stop touching your face. Your hands have dirt on them; thus, the dirt then ends up on your face—two easy enough changes to your daily life.
When searching for skincare products to help with oily skin, “products should be non-comedogenic, meaning they don’t clog pores and are oil-free. Look for labels that have active ingredients that help your oil glands function more normally, like sulfur, retinol, and salicylic acid,” according to Dermatologist Melanie Palm. You’re also going to want to find a gentle face cleanser (look for a cleanser that foams) and remember to moisturize daily. Even though moisturizer seems counter-intuitive, if you let your skin dry out, it’ll cause an overabundance of sebum to be produced, making your skin oilier than ever.
Before my current skin regimen, I went to many doctors as the over-the-counter anti-acne stuff just did not work. Don’t be afraid to reach out for some help when it comes to this stuff, as I know blemishes can be confidence-crushing. At the end of the article, I’m also going to list out a couple of products that I wish existed when I was younger that conceal acne and blemishes.
What happens if I have combination skin?
Combination skin is both oily and dry skin in different areas of the face. Usually, your forehead, nose, and chin will be oily while the rest of your face is dry. If you’re looking for reasons why you might have combination skin, it’s more than likely going to be because of genetics. There’s really not much you can do at that point. That being said, avoid using harsh products that might oil up some areas while drying out others. Finding the correct products is essential to taking care of combination skin.
As you might be able to guess, the best way to treat combination skin is the divide and conquer approach. For your dry skin areas, treat them with products designed for dry skin. The same goes for the oily parts of your skin. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, but if you suffer from combination skin, it’s even more critical that you find the right products to keep everything operating smoothly and successfully.
Don’t try to be tougher than the sun.
Alright, dudes, do you really think you’re tougher than the sun? Let me tell you: you’re not. So while the summer heats up, time to take your sunscreen game seriously.
You have an increased risk of melanoma already; stop thinking you’re too good for some sunscreen. Suppose you’re wondering why I’m harping on sunscreen in our men’s skincare guide. In that case, it’s because of data like this from a 2015 study that revealed 18% of men wear sunscreen, whereas 42% of women do. Men are already less likely to speak with a doctor regarding their skincare, which means it’s all the more important that you get the right sunscreen on your face and body.
When purchasing sunscreen, The AAD recommends “Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays), SPF 30 or higher, and water resistance.” There are many moisturizers out there that already feature SPF, so double-check the ingredients before purchasing.
No matter what, let me reiterate, think that you are stronger than the sun.
Now that you understand the importance of men’s skincare, I want to highlight a couple of the products that I personally have tried out that I think are well worth a look.
Expect this list to continue to grow as I test out more products.
I’ve boasted about Geologie before, but they are my favorite men’s skincare company on the planet. I love that each formula comes custom-made for your skin type, but more importantly, they make it so easy. Just four bottles: Morning Face Wash, Face Cream, Nighttime Face Wash, and Eye Cream. There are even some instructions in case you get confused. Geologie is the perfect starter set for anyone looking to get their men’s skincare game going.
Beau Brummel Charcoal Face Mask
There are a million different types of face masks…okay, maybe not a million, but there’s a lot. For me, one stands out as one of the best, and that’s the Beau Brummel Charcoal Face Mask. It’s easy to put on, even easier to take off, and most importantly, left my skin looking refreshed for a good while after its use. The next time your partner wants a relaxing evening, grab yourself some Beau Brummel and let their charcoal face mask do all of the work.
Huron Eye Stick
Huron already has some of my favorite body wash; now, I’d like to add their Eye Stick to our men’s skincare guide repertoire. One of the founder’s favorite items, this eye stick “refreshes as it fights against puffiness, dark circles, and fine lines.” It’s small enough to fit in your pocket and throw on whenever you might need a pick-me-up.
Stryx Concealer Tool
The Stryx Concealer Tool is a product I wish existed when I was younger. While it’s not a skincare product per se, it is the perfect item to carry around with you to hide red marks or blemishes. Heck, this can even conceal acne scars and razor burns. I’ve used it a bunch over the past couple of months, and it’s the perfect product to help build confidence on those days you’re not feeling confident. Seriously, give the Stryx Concealer Tool a shot.
The time to start a men’s skincare routine is today. Like right now. You need to protect the largest organ on your body from the sun and regular dirt and debris. So what are you waiting for? Get started today.
Do you have a favorite skincare product? Or routine tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments below!