When you think of men’s skincare, what do you remember seeing if you think back to your dad’s (or grandfather’s) medicine cabinet? A three-in-one shampoo, conditioner, and body wash? A bag of disposable razors and a can of shaving cream? Aftershave? Brut deodorant, perhaps? As you may already know, the best men’s skincare has come a long way.
While there’s no doubt that there are still some die-hard gentlemen who believe grooming and men’s skincare products are one and the same, the past two decades have changed the way men are thinking about the health and appearance of their skin — and it’s only going to grow from here on up. The best men’s skincare of today is made up of results-driven formulas that make up an effective skincare routine for men.
Not sure what to look for in the best skincare for men? No worries. Here at The Derm Review,we’ve reviewed hundreds of products with a scientific lens to ensure you’re creating a skincare routine for men that’s safe and effective.
The Science Behind Men’s Skin
The skin is the body’s largest organ, so taking care of it is vital. But is men’s skin so different from women’s that it requires a separate set of products, or are clever marketing and social conditioning at play? The short answer is a little bit of both.
Scientific research suggests men’s skin is between 10 and 20 percent thicker than women’s (though some skincare experts claim it can be up to 25 percent) because it contains more collagen and elastin.
Androgens such as testosterone affect the thickness of the skin and how much sebum the skin’s sebaceous glands produce. Seeing as men produce more testosterone, their skin is thicker and oilier than women’s — though women have their own crosses to bear due to hormonal issues concerning their cycle, pregnancy, and menopause.
While oil and thickness can help from a wrinkle-prevention perspective, it also means that it’s more difficult for a man to absorb the vital ingredients from skincare products than a woman’s skin.
Another great wrinkle-fighting perk is that a man’s skin tends to have more collagen than a woman’s. This doesn’t mean they’re exempt from wrinkles or other signs of aging, which is another reason why a solid men’s skincare routine is vital.
Skincare Routine For Men
We’re going to get into more detail about what men are looking for in a skincare routine next, but let’s just say it’s all about simplicity. While that might mean just a cleanser and a moisturizer for some men, adding in a few extra vital steps can significantly impact the health and appearance of the skin. The following routine takes just less than five minutes.
Cleansing is an integral step in any skincare routine, regardless of gender. Also, considering men’s skin is naturally oilier than women’s, cleansing removes dirt, pollutants, and excess oil that has settled inside your pores and the surface layer of the skin.
Cleanse twice a day (morning and night) and after exercise — if you work out in the a.m., your first can come after your sweat sesh. Work the product into the skin in circular motions for 30 seconds to a minute.
Toners have come a long way from the skin-stripping solutions of yesteryear. Today you can find formulas that hydrate, mattify, control blemishes, etc., so choose one based on your skin type and needs. Simply swipe a cotton ball or round saturated with toner across your face after cleansing.
Note that if you washed your face in the afternoon and exercise later in the day, you could use a toner instead of a cleanser so you’re not over-cleansing, which can strip the skin of its natural oils.
Using a serum may be a step you’re inclined to skip (or one you’ve never even thought about), but we recommend you reconsider. Serums are highly concentrated, and they can penetrate the skin at a deeper level to target skincare concerns that you are experiencing — from wrinkles and sun damage to oil and acne and everything else in between.
A serum should be applied day and night — you only need a pea-sized amount. Wait approximately one minute for the product to fully absorb before moving on to the next moisturizing step.
An eye cream, gel, serum, is another product you may skip out on to save time (it only takes a few seconds!), but since the skin around the orbital area is thinner and more fragile than the rest of the body, it needs a little extra TLC.
There are formulas to address common concerns such as puffiness, dark circles, dryness, and eye wrinkles. You only need a pea-sized amount for both eyes, like your serum. Apply gently — use your ring finger because it has the lightest touch.
A moisturizer delivers vitamins and nutrients to the skin while creating a barrier to protect your skin from complexion-compromising environmental aggressors like pollution.
Apply a moisturizer in the morning to replenish moisture lost during sleep and before bed to maximize the potency of the skin-strengthening nutrients while your body’s cells regenerate.
The sun may feel good on your skin and boost your mood, but it’s crucial to wear an SPF — or a sunscreen moisturizer — daily. It protects from harmful UVA/UVB rays that cause premature aging, maintains an even skin tone, and helps prevent skin cancer.
For the best results (and protection), you should reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or excessive sweating. If you work indoors and are not seated near a window, you may not need to reapply as frequently. Obviously, this is step can be skipped at night.
In most cases, exfoliating isn’t a daily step — but it is an important one because it helps remove the dead skin cells that are harboring on the surface. It also helps keep pores clean and refined and keeps breakouts at bay.
Depending on your skin type, you can use a face scrub formula or a non-gritty acid-based exfoliator (like an at-home chemical peel) to dissolve dead skin cells versus sweeping them away. Twice a week should do the trick, but some exfoliators are formulated to be gentle enough for daily uses. Be mindful of reading the instructions on the package.
The Best Skincare Routine for Men: What They Want
Regardless of the difference in men’s skin, for the most part, the concerns between genders are relatively the same and therefore can be treated similarly with skincare products for men.
Even so, while there’s nothing wrong with a man borrowing his significant other’s eye cream or face moisturizer, research shows that guys do have some specific requirements for a skincare routine for men, such as:
- Products that are easy to use and do the job without a lot of hassle.
- Products that disappear into the skin without any residue.
- Their own products, and not those used by women.
- They generally do not want strong scents — or any at all.
Men’s Skincare Products: The Statistics
According to a report by Grand View Research, the global men’s skincare products market is poised to reach 18.92 billion (USD) by 2027. That’s an estimated 6.2% CAGR increase from 2020 to 2027. One of the driving factors behind this upturn is the growing demand for skincare for men in the premium category, including organic and natural formulations.
While male consumers worldwide are dipping their toes in the luxury skincare pond, baby boomers make up a big piece of the pie, as they are looking for targeted solutions that go beyond shave care and fragrance. Though cleansers, face washes, and sunscreen have been on the upswing, in recent years, face masks and serums have been more in demand as well — and with some of the best men’s skincare brands.
Best Men’s Skincare
A men’s skincare routine need not be complicated, but it should still include effective products to take care of excess oil, breakouts, ingrown hairs, and the signs of aging skin. If you’re not confident with choosing your own formulas, consult a dermatologist or esthetician for advice. Here are 12 products considered among the best skincare for men to help you get started.
Formulyst AHA Cleanser, $29
Formulyst’s AHA foaming cleanser helps refine pores, control excess oil, and smooth away any surface-level roughness, which can be challenging for male skin. Enriched with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) for an intense clean and complex blend of soothing citrus and botanical extracts, this profoundly purifying formulation actively dissolves dead surface cells, draws out pore-clogging impurities, and removes excess oil. The skin is left feeling clean, clear, and refreshed.
Carrot & Stick The Brightening Pads, $40
As mentioned, men like to keep things simple, so it may be hard to convince them to add another step to their very simplistic routine. However, exfoliating should not be skipped, especially if large pores, blackheads, and oiliness are concerned. Luckily, these pads only take seconds to get the job done.
The pre-saturated pads are formulated with a concentrated blend of salicylic, lactic, and mandelic acids to sweep away the build-up of dead skin cells, gently exfoliating to promote clarity, refined texture, and clear pores. Herbal extracts fight visible photodamage while helping keep the appearance of redness in check. Resurfaced skin is smoother, brighter, and more receptive to other products.
Kiehl’s Facial Fuel, $35
This best-selling moisturizer was formulated to check off all of the boxes men are looking for in a skincare product. It’s lightweight, absorbs quickly, sans any residue, and is suitable for all skin types. Soy, chestnut extract, and vitamins C and E hydrate and revitalize a dull, tired complexion. Kiehl’s for men continues to be one of the most popular picks for men who wish to take care of their skin.
CLEARSTEM Men’s Starter Set, $148
Take the guesswork out of figuring out a skincare routine with this simple yet effective three-step men’s skincare set. The cleanser and exfoliant hybrid takes care of two crucial steps simultaneously, leaving the skin smooth, refined, and brightened.
The CELLRENEW serum targets acne, razor bumps, and scarring, providing hydration and anti-aging benefits. This moisturizer also contains bakuchiol, a natural form of retinol, to help fade fine lines, wrinkles, and restore tone while you sleep.
Babor Energizing Face and Eye Gel, $69.95
Babor is a favored skincare brand among spas worldwide, but you need not book a facial to reap the benefits of their fantastic products. Their line of men’s products honestly considered the desire to achieve results without the hassle of multiple steps.
This two-in-one gel energizes the face and eye area by harnessing the power of taurine, Siberian ginseng, and a cell boost factor. Pores become more refined, oil production is balanced, and dark circles and puffiness are reduced.
REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Gel, $34
A good face wash should cleanse the skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Lactic acid sweeps away dead surface cells and hydrates simultaneously. Oat amino acids help soothe irritation associated with shaving and breakouts. Skin is left clean, calm, and balanced.
Nuria Defend Skin Shielding Essence, $36
As noted earlier, men are becoming increasingly interested in naturally-formulated products. This essence is incredible, but Nuria’s entire line of products will make you rethink why you’ve not gone the “au naturale” route sooner.
This essence (applied like a toner) does a lot more than you think just by looking at it. Ginseng softens fine lines and wrinkles while balancing oil production. Carob calms and smoothes troubled, stressed skin, and gold (yes, gold) strengthens the skin barrier and elasticity. Niacinamide (vitamin B) is a buzzy ingredient that calms pores, refines pores, and evens out the skin tone.
SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream, $125
This is one of those products that your wife or girlfriend will want to steal because it’s simply that amazing. As mentioned, baby boomers make up a large part of the growing men’s skincare market, but that doesn’t mean the younger set can’t benefit from this results-driven night cream. An alpha hydroxy acid and a retinoid reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while improving elasticity and tone.
Thanks to SkinBetter’s proprietary retinol technology (and a blend of skin-soothing ingredients), you’ll reap all the benefits minus any irritation. The addition of glycolic acid visibly improves the skin’s texture while stoking other ingredients to increase efficiency. A potent blend of peptides and antioxidants profoundly hydrates the skin while protecting it from free radical damage.
Tom Ford Exfoliating Energy Scrub, $57
Tom Ford skincare (and cosmetics) taps into the growing luxury men’s skincare market. Formulated for those with normal to oily skin, this invigorating scrub contains crushed apricot seeds (not shells) to remove dead surface cells and unclog pores. Ford’s proprietary skin calming complex ensures that the skin is soft, supple, and soothed during and after the exfoliation process.
Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer, $28
According to research conducted by the NPD Group, the best-selling moisturizer in 2019 was this formula from Jack Black skincare. It’s lightweight, yet it provides long-lasting hydration while improving the skin’s overall appearance.
There’s no need to add an extra step to your morning routine. This formula also incorporates a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 20 and antioxidants to protect the skin from environmental stress, including pollution, UV light, and blue light.
Perricone MD Eye Cream, $110
This one-stop-shop eye cream addresses all major concerns, including dark circles, crow’s feet, a loss of elasticity, dryness, and puffiness. Vitamin C, peptides, and omega fatty acids work to provide short- and long-term benefits when worn day and night.
Clinique For Men Super Energizer Anti-Fatigue Depuffing Eye Gel, $35
This cooling roll-on gel hydrates, comforts, and energizes the delicate eye area, thanks to ingredients like hyaluronic acid and caffeine. It’s a no-nonsense solution whether you’re on the go or simply looking for a quick way to help cover up a lack of sleep, stress, or age. It absorbs quickly, so you can apply it anytime to refresh tired eyes.
Skincare Routine for Men: The Bottom Line
Men’s skin is between 10 and 20 percent thicker than women’s (though some skincare experts claim it can be up to 25 percent) because it contains more collagen and elastin.
Androgens such as testosterone affect the thickness of the skin and how much sebum the skin’s sebaceous glands produce. As men have more testosterone, their skin is thicker and oilier than women’s.
Even so, a basic skincare routine for men should follow the same guidelines regardless of gender, meaning choosing products based on skin type, condition, and concern, versus packaging and branding.
Still, research suggests males are still seeking skincare products for men not used by women. They should be easy to use and get the job done without a hassle. Products that absorb quickly and don’t have a strong scent are also desirable.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding skincare for men.
Healthy skin is well-nourished skin regardless of gender. Not to mention, the best men’s skincare of today is formulated to effectively reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne, oiliness, discoloration, ingrown hairs, razor burn, and more. The bottom line is that men need to take care of their facial skin if they want it to be healthy and look its best — regardless of age.
Yes — besides having facial hair, there are structural differences between men’s and women’s skin. Androgen (testosterone) stimulation causes an increase in skin thickness, which accounts for why a man’s skin is approximately 20- 25% thicker than a woman’s. A man’s skin texture is also tougher.
If you’re a man and you’re feeling greasy in your t-zone or even all over, you’re not alone.
While oil production slows with age, many men deal with oily skin because men produce more testosterone, and their skin is thicker and oilier than a woman’s. However, contrary, face oil is a good thing. We need sebum to help nourish and moisturize both skin and hair.
A skincare routine is not gender-inclusive. It’s all about skin type, condition, and concern. If you’re unsure what products or treatments you need, don’t hesitate to speak to a skincare professional such as a dermatologist or licensed esthetician.
Just because men have more active sebaceous glands doesn’t mean they can escape the aging process. As with other skin types and genders, UV light exposure causes free radicals that damage collagen, elastin, and skin cells. This leads to premature aging, which appears as wrinkling, dark spots, dryness, and loss of tone. Even short amounts of sun exposure daily add up over a lifetime.
While we stand by a well-formulated men’s skincare product (or any product for the skin for that matter), in addition to moisturizing the skin, aloe vera gel can ease or soothe conditions such as sunburn, frostbite, or an allergic reaction.