Perhaps you are an outdoorsy person who spends a lot of time in the sun, exposed to the elements. Or you’re the casual, more indoor type. You may be clean-shaven or have a full beard. Regardless of your style or lifestyle, taking care of your skin is important.
Cleveland Clinic is a not-for-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse any non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
“Many men have the common misconception that skin care has to be very complicated, but it doesn’t have to be,” says dermatologist Jane Wu, MD. “You can have a simple regimen that is easy to follow as part of your daily routine.”
dr. Wu shares what kinds of products are important for keeping your skin fresh and healthy, along with both a simple and more advanced routine for men interested in smoothing.
Choosing the right skin care products
In people designated as male at birth (DMAB), the dermis layer of their skin tends to be thicker and tougher than in people designated as female at birth (DFAB). This causes deeper, furrowed wrinkles from repetitive muscle movements. Testosterone can also make your skin oilier. But dr. Wu says choosing the right skincare products isn’t so much about gender as it is about figuring out your skin type.
“You really need to assess your personal skin type, because that can really matter more than gender differences,” says Dr. Wu.
There are roughly four types of skin care:
- Normal skin can tolerate a variety of different skin care products without harsh results.
- Dry skin may be red and scaly in areas, especially when exposed to cold, wintery elements. You can also have this type if you remove your skin’s natural oils by excessive washing or scrubbing your body. If you have this skin type, you are more likely to develop eczema.
- Sensitive skin reacts in different ways to different products. If you develop a rash, itching, redness, or burning sensation when trying new skin care products, you may have this skin type.
- Oily skin makes your face look shiny or bright. If you have this skin type, you tend to break out or suffer from acne more quickly.
You may also have combination skin type, where the center of your face may be oily but other parts of your face, such as your cheeks, may be dry.
At the most basic level, everything you do should cleanse, moisturize, and add a protective layer in case of injury or irritation. At a glance, there are a ton of products on the market, and figuring out which ones to try (and which ones work) can be overwhelming. But if you start narrowing it down to these three goals (cleanse, hydrate, protect), finding the right ingredients can make this process easier. Here are some ingredients to consider when shopping for cleansers and moisturizers, and a few to avoid.
The original cleaner is your good old bar of soap. But dr. Wu warns that many traditional soap products are So good at their job they strip your skin of all its natural oils when removing dirt, oil or makeup. Instead, look for a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser. If you have dry or sensitive skin, try a cream-based cleanser, but if you have oily or combination skin, use a foaming cleanser.
Moisturizers keep water in the skin so it stays hydrated, plumped and plumped. Hyaluronic acid is the ingredient that draws in water and keeps it there. But you also want to look for ceramide-enriched moisturizers.
“Ceramides are a component of the fat or lipid layer of your skin,” explains Dr. Wu. “So it helps replenish your skin barrier.”
Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid
These two ingredients are important for acne care. They both chemically exfoliate the top layer of your skin, but salicylic acid can penetrate even deeper into the sebaceous glands.
Everything smells of something these days, but smells can be a nuisance. They can cause contact allergies, which can result in a red, itchy, or scaly rash on your face, head, and neck. And even if it’s unscented, it’s not completely safe.
“You want to look for something that says it’s fragrance-free,” says Dr. wu. “In something that’s unscented, sometimes they can add a masking scent so you don’t smell anything, but there’s still a scent in the product.”
If you experience a contact allergy to a smell, it is usually a delayed reaction that can occur days or even weeks after you start using the product.
Avoid alcohol-based aftershaves
There’s nothing like burning right after a good shave, and while that may feel refreshing at first, it hinders your ability to stay hydrated as it dries out your skin.
“Alcohol-based products are traditionally intended to be an antiseptic and help prevent infections, but they can be very irritating to the skin. Using a moisturizer is more beneficial for most people than an alcohol-based aftershave,” advises Dr. wu.
Simple Skin Care Routine For Men
For the simplest routine, you’ll want to stick to the basics: cleanse, moisturize, and protect.
Step 1: Cleanse twice a day
You want to cleanse your skin twice a day, usually early in the morning and right before bed. If you tend to exercise in the morning or in the middle of the day, you should cleanse right after your workout.
Hot water can strip the oils from your skin, so use warm water with your cleanser, even if you’re doing this step in the shower. Use your fingertips to massage the cleanser into your skin, then rinse completely. When drying, do not rub off all the moisture. Instead, you want to pat dry.
Step 2: Hydrate twice a day
While your skin is still slightly damp after cleansing, lock in that water with a moisturizer. “The idea here is to replenish your skin’s lipid barrier by locking in moisture,” says Dr. wu. “By repairing your skin barrier, you help defend yourself against chemicals and irritants in the environment.”
Step 3: Apply sunscreen once in the morning
It is important to wear sunscreen every day because UV rays (even on cloudy days) can accelerate aging, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. Sunscreen also helps prevent skin cancer.
If you shave, there are some extra tricks
Shaving is one of the most common concerns for men. While you should avoid alcohol-based aftershaves, there are other things to consider as well.
- Your facial hair will become softer after a warm or hot shower, so cleanse first.
- Use a gentle, mild shaving cream or oil to prevent rashes or ingrown hairs.
- Shave in the direction of your hair growth to reduce irritation. If your skin is irritated or dry, using an electric razor with precautions can help.
- When you’re done shaving, apply a gentle moisturizer to your skin. If you have dry skin, an oil-based product can also be used.
- If you normally get ingrown hairs, use an exfoliant (such as a gentle facial scrub) on your skin a few times a week to remove dead skin cells.
For more advanced routines
“Often less is more, but you can make your routine as sophisticated as you want,” notes Dr. Wu. If you’re looking for a more advanced routine, adding the following steps can take your skincare game to the next level.
Add an antioxidant serum in the morning
“For something more advanced, you’ll want to add a product to prevent damage and repair cells,” says Dr. wu. Adding an antioxidant serum like vitamin C can help protect your skin from free radicals – substances in the environment and in your body that can damage your cells through normal processes like breathing and aging.
“You should apply this after you cleanse, but before you moisturize in the morning,” says Dr. Wu.
Add retinol to your routine at night
“Retinol is one of the key players in anti-aging helping with fine lines, wrinkles, sun damage and hyperpigmentation,” says Dr. wu. Retinol helps to chemically exfoliate the top layer of your skin and helps build collagen, which gives your skin a pleasant, plump feel. Since retinol makes you more sensitive to the sun, avoid it in the morning.
When should you start your skincare routine?
Everyone is built a little differently, but it’s never too early to start a skincare regimen. Some people can show signs of wrinkles and aging as early as their 20s, and Dr. Wu suggests that everyone should be proactive about sun protection from childhood.
When should you see your doctor?
dr. Wu suggests doing self-checks in the mirror or with a partner three to four times a year, as well as having your skin checked during routine physical exams with your primary care physician. If you see signs of new or changing lesions, especially moles or growths that change in size, shape, or color, see your trusted healthcare provider. If you have skin problems that are not improving with your skin care regimen, such as acne, rosacea, or eczema, you should seek help from a board-certified dermatologist.