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The Only Things You Need to Know To Build A Men's Skincare Routine

By Katie Sobelman

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The idea of taking-on a multi-step skincare routine can seem daunting and less than ideal for many men, yet men need to take care of their skin, too. If you are a gentleman interested in taking care of your skin but don’t know where to start, this blog post is for you. Here we’ll cover skincare basics for those new to a daily routine, and for those looking for a little more than the standard options, you’ll find simple step-by-step suggestions to address your unique skin needs.

‌‌‌‌The Basics: What Every Men’s Skincare Routine Needs

At a bare minimum, no matter what your skin type or specific skin concerns, every skincare routine needs to start by washing your face and should end by applying a moisturizer.  Cleansing and moisturizing make up the simplest of skincare routines. Once you have these foundational steps down, you can build from there, customizing as you go. 

Why Washing Your Face Is So Important

Cleansing your skin is the most crucial step in a skincare routine. This first step removes dirt, dead skin cells, and pollution from the surface of your face. If not removed, this gunk will build up, leading to things like redness, flakiness, acne, and can even increase skin aging. 

Keep in mind that the skin on your face acts much differently than the skin on the rest of your body, yet it is not uncommon for men to use one product to wash both. Body cleansers, however, tend to be too harsh for the face, drying out the skin, and their fragrances are known to cause skin irritation. If you are currently using a 2-in-1 product, an easy way to improve your skin’s health would be to use a facial cleanser different from what you use to wash your body.

Look for facial cleansers that are free from the surfactant sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). This often-used skincare ingredient, responsible for creating a sudsy lather, strips the skin of its natural oils, breaking down the skin’s defenses, causing dryness, irritation, and inflamed skin. Most companies proudly mark their product’s bottles with the words sodium lauryl sulphate-free or SLS-free. 

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Lock In Moisture And Protect Your Skin

Once your skin is clean, it now needs moisture and hydration. By applying a moisturizer, you are protecting your skin, preventing moisture from evaporating through the surface, and shielding your skin from the outside world. Without proper moisture, your skin will become unbalanced, which can lead to dryness or oiliness, depending on the skin type.  

Moisturizers come in all shapes and sizes, so there truly is something for everyone. Lotions tend to be lighter weight and great for normal skin that is not too oily and not too dry. Creams tend to have a slightly richer texture, ideal for skin that feels tight and might look a little flaky. For very oily skin types, look for a gel moisturizer—these water-based products tend to have a mattifying effect and absorb quickly into the skin to combat shininess.

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You can stop right here if your skin is happy with just the basics. If you need a little more help with building out the rest of your routine or addressing specific skin concerns, you can go on to adding the following extras in, as needed.

‌‌‌‌The Extras: Addressing Specific Skin Concerns

Maybe you’re experiencing irritation after shaving or noticing flaky, dry patches on your skin or in your beard. It is quite possible that on their own, cleansing and moisturizing are not enough for your skin to be its best. Now that you know the men’s skincare basics, for those of you looking for a little more from your routine, here are a few additional options to increase the health of your skin. This is a great way to streamline your skincare while focusing on your skin’s unique needs. Simply add to your routine the steps that speak to your specific skin concerns and skip anything that doesn’t.

Exfoliate to Remove Dead Skin And Unclog Pores

Every night while you sleep, your skin cells regenerate, creating fresh new cells. These new cells push older cells to the surface, creating a layer of dead skin. Exfoliants work to remove this top layer, preventing clogged pores that lead to breakouts and dryness that can lead to excessive flakiness and irritation. By removing this dead layer of skin, other skincare products are able to penetrate deeper and be more effective.

There are two types of exfoliants, physical and chemical:

  • Physical exfoliants, such as scrubs, remove dead skin by the physical action of scrubbing it off. Look for facial scrubs that use spherical jojoba beads or fine powders instead of sharp shell fragments that can snag pores and cause irritation. 
  • Chemical exfoliants, such as fruit enzymes or alpha-hydroxy acids, remove dead skin by gently dissolving it and have the ability to improve the health of the skin by stimulating cellular functions. Enzymes and acids can be a little stimulating, so opt for a facial scrub if you have more sensitive skin.

Try using an exfoliating cleanser when you wash your face in the shower. The steam from the shower softens dead skin and opens pores allowing the scrub or enzyme to easily remove build-up. This is great to do before you shave. It will help prevent ingrown hairs and promote a closer shave. For those of you with beards, make sure to use your exfoliating cleanser in your beard, lifting the hair in the opposite direction it grows. This will help remove flakey dead skin trapped under your facial hair.

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Skip The Aftershave And Try a Facial Toner Instead

Aftershaves were designed to neutralize bacteria on the skin, and heal any nicks or cuts your razor might have created while also tightening pores. Unfortunately, most aftershaves use alcohol to achieve this, which is incredibly drying for the skin. Aftershaves also tend to be heavily fragranced, which can cause the skin to become irritated. Instead of reaching for a traditional aftershave post grooming, opt for a facial toner.

Toners are fast-absorbing liquid skincare products designed to balance the pH of your skin while removing excess dirt and oil. They often use ingredients like salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid that is naturally antimicrobial, fantastic for dissolving build-up in the pores and increasing moisture. Simply press a little toner into your skin after you shave to add hydration and soothe any razor-induced irritation. 

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Multitask With Facial Oils

Facial oils are multifunctional skincare products that can be used in place of shaving creams and moisturizers.  For the gentleman wanting the most minimal of skincare collections, imagine using only one product for multiple steps of your routine. Derived from plants, nuts, and seeds, facial oils contain a wide range of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3, 6, and 9, that can be amazing for the skin, even for more oily or acne-prone skin types.  

Oils high in omega-3, such as rosehip oil (which doesn’t smell at all like roses), are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help protect the skin from UV damage. Oils high in omega-6, such as hemp seed and safflower oils, are fantastic for both cleansing and moisturizing the skin, are exceptionally well suited for oilier skin types, and can even help prevent breakouts. Facial oils high in omega-9, such as argan oil, are ideal for moisturizing dry skin and conditioning facial hair. 

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Fight Aging With Antioxidants and Vitamin C  

External aggressors like pollution and UV exposure trigger our bodies to produce cell-damaging molecules called free radicals. Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals and prevent damage to our cells. Using skincare with antioxidant ingredients, such as vitamins A, E, and C is a simple way to increase anti-aging and improve the health of your skin. 

One of the most common and most beneficial antioxidants is vitamin C. Vitamin C is a multifunctional antioxidant that defends against age-inducing free radicals, stimulates collagen, brightens the skin, and protects the skin from UV damage. Using skincare products that contain vitamin C is a simple way to quickly improve the health of your skin. There are numerous forms of vitamin C used in skincare products. While all have skin benefits, some are more stable than others, which helps them absorb easily and without causing irritation. An easy way to start incorporating vitamin C into your routine is to look for products that use magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, the most stable form of vitamin C. 

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‌‌‌‌Always Wear SPF 

Applying a sunscreen daily, either on top of your moisturizer or in place of one, is an easy way to prevent aging and protect your skin. UV-induced sun damage is the leading cause of skin aging. By adding an SPF to your daily skincare routine, you are, in one streamlined step, protecting against sunburns, decreasing your risk of skin cancer, and preventing the formation of discoloration, wrinkles, and sagging skin. 

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