Men's Skin care Guide
Updated: Oct 5, 2022
Firstly, I’d like to preface this article by saying that men’s skincare is not exclusive to men and what is considered all other skincare is not considered a no no for men either. Choose and use what is best for you and your skin. However, I know that lots of men like to use products specifically designed for men’s skin, and often, for good reason. Male skin is structurally different to women’s and therefore can benefit from the use of products specifically formulated for them.
It’s not just the contents of the products that may be different. Packaging and the language used are often distinct too. Functional, easy to use packaging is partnered with language which is much more male orientated. So instead of ‘anti-ageing’ (which, by the way, is a saying I loathe) a men’s skincare product may say ‘anti-fatigue’ or ‘energising’ for example. These products will encourage skin to feel fresh, give a healthy looking glow whilst providing comfort. And let’s not forget that they can pack a punch when targeting many skincare concerns such as fine lines, blemishes or pigmentation to name a few.
For many men, looking after their skin with a daily skincare routine is a relatively new phenomenon or it has passed them by completely. If we think about the main skincare priorities as a teenager they tend to be getting to grips with shaving and dealing with spots and for many the routine hasn’t changed a great deal. Washing faces with shower gel or shampoo whilst showering has been the norm for some, along with not moisturising or protecting skin from the sun. The great thing is that, if this sounds like you or someone close to you, there are small changes which can make a real difference to the look and feel of the skin without costing the earth or taking hours to do. The tables are turning full speed because lots of men take their skincare seriously and the choice available now is better than ever. Our skin is the largest organ of the body, performing a multitude of functions, and as such needs a good deal of looking after.
I’ve written lots of blogs and all are relevant to men’s skin so grab your favourite drink, find a comfy spot and have a read. I share lots of hints and tips about our skin, products to incorporate into your morning and evening routine plus the best type of products to choose and why. Within this blog I will be running through the differences between men’s and women’s skin, a little about skin types and conditions, plus the best ways of caring for your skin with an effective and efficient routine.
So how is men’s skin different to women’s skin?
A thicker skin
Testosterone causes an increase in skin thickness, resulting in a man’s skin being about 25% thicker than a woman’s. It is also tougher in texture too. So products need to be able to successfully penetrate those thicker upper skin layers.
Two facial zones
Men’s faces can be divided into two areas. The beard area from cheek bones down the neck which is well served by oil glands and benefits from their natural, age-protective action. Whereas the facial area, above the beard, may experience fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the eyes and fore head. Both areas may need to be treated differently. Above the beard men’s concerns are often similar to women’s.
Increased sebum production
Sebum (oil) production is greater too which tends to mean male skin is oilier and, in some cases, more prone to long lasting acne. But this can also be an advantage as it might not show signs of ageing as much as a drier skin.
An obvious one but due to this fact there is an increased risk of ingrown hairs. This is where, instead of the hair growing out of the skin, it grows back on itself within the skin layers. This causes lumps, bumps, boils and general irritation. Shaving is a big cause of this problem.
Higher collagen density
I think it is totally unfair that men have a higher collagen density than women! So with this in mind men’s skin generally doesn’t age at the rate that women’s does. However, where many men let themselves down is that they don’t use sunscreens so this ‘skin age gap’ is often not noticeable because sun damage causes premature ageing which outweighs the slower natural ageing.
The nature of shaving means that every time shaving happens it’s an intensive form of exfoliation. The benefit of this is that it can give the appearance of a youthful skin but it can certainly heighten sensitivity and irritation including ingrown hairs and lumps and bumps.
What type of skin do you have?
Firstly, it’s important to try to identify and understand your own skin type as this will help you to care for it in the best way by choosing the correct products. This will also mean that you won’t waste money buying items that aren’t right for your skin.
Is your skin:
Clear with no issues or sensitivities. Unfortunately hardly anyone has this type of skin apart from babies and young children.
Can appear and feel flaky, itchy, rough with an uneven surface texture. Skin pores may be hard to see.
Tends to be shiny and greasy, with possible spots and blemishes and obvious looking pores.
This is not actually a skin type but is where some areas (usually the cheek areas) are dry whilst other areas (perhaps the nose, chin and forehead) are oily. This will often happen if the protective layer on the surface of the skin is being stripped because a product is being applied that is too harsh. This can therefore create an imbalance of the skins natural pH level. For example, using shampoo or shower gel or a harsh abrasive soap to wash the face.
What’s the condition of your skin like?
Skin conditions are in addition to your skin type. They can come and go. So when considering what your skin is like think about the following - Do you suffer with any sensitivity, for example, redness or rashes? Or perhaps your skin is dehydrated. If you pinch your skin between two fingers and notice fine lines chances are it’s in need of hydration. If you apply product and it soaks into your skin straight away or your skin has a dull appearance these could also be signs of dehydration. Maybe you have pigmentation on areas of your face. This is where the colour is not even and you may have darker patches. This is usually caused by sun damage. If you have patches of redness mainly on the cheek or nose area this could be an indication of rosacea. These are some of the most common skin conditions. And there are skincare products suitable for each of these.
So what can you do to look after your skin in the best way?
The basic elements of an effective skin care plan remain the same between men and women. But I’ve outlined here what a typical routine might look like for a guy, including shaving tips.
Clean the face with a gentle facial wash or balm. This can be done in the shower or at the sink. Massage the product into dry skin and massage into the face, add a little water to give it some slip and remove with a warm flannel. This will not only remove excess oil, bacteria, pollution and sweat etc but it will also prepare the skin for shaving by warming the surface and lifting the hairs. Try not to use really hot water on the face as this can be an irritant. Cleanse your face morning and evening plus after exercise.
Check out my cleansing blog here https://www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/the-power-of-double-cleansing-for-healthy-looking-skin
Exfoliating the skin will encourage removal of dry dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Not only will this aid shaving, making it easier for the razor to glide, it will also lift hairs ready for shaving and brighten and energise the skins appearance. By exfoliating each week you will also find that you don’t need to apply as much of the products you subsequently apply, for example, a moisturiser as it will be able to penetrate the upper skin layers much more effectively. Exfoliators are products that contain tiny particles. When massaged onto the skin they create a light friction which buffs away the dead skin cells. This only needs to be done a couple of times a week.
Check out my exfoliating blog here https://www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/our-skin-is-a-super-hero-why-is-an-exfoliator-the-perfect-multi-tasking-side-kick
If you struggle with shaving you could invest in a shaving oil. Massage it into the skin before shaving. This encourages the hairs to lift and improves razor glide. All whilst helping to keep the skin moisturised minimising razor burn and rashes. You could use any number of facial oils for this. It doesn’t have to be a specific shaving oil. You could use the oil as your shaving product alone or apply it under a shaving gel or cream. This will moisturise and comfort the skin. It’s also a great skin buffer as many cheaper foams and gels will dry out the skin. If you can, choose the best quality products you can afford. Ones that are skincare led because they are specifically designed to calm the skin and provide comfort whilst delivering results.
Check out my facial oils blog here https://www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/facial-oils-the-quickest-way-to-get-the-glow
Dry your face after shaving and then spritz the face with a toner or facial mist. Either spray directly onto face or on a cotton pad. Done every day after shaving will instantly cool the skin and prepare it for moisture. Really try to avoid traditional splash-on aftershaves which are heavily alcohol based. They will send you through the roof if you splash them onto your face directly after a shave. The alcohol can be extremely drying on the skin and sting like crazy. There are much kinder products to choose from.
Check out my toning blog here https://www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/why-toner-could-be-the-secret-skincare-weapon-you-didn-t-know-you-needed
If signs of fatigue or dryness are a concern around your eyes then an eye cream or gel would be advantageous. Apply an amount the same size as a grain of rice to each eye with your ring fingers, being careful not to press too hard. Less is definitely more. If you are tempted to slather it on you may end up with puffy eyes and wasted product.
Check out my eye care blog here https://www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/eye-products-why-do-i-need-a-specific-product
Serums are where the magic really happens. They are usually packed full of active ingredients which will give your skin a really boost and freshen the face. They tend to be of a light consistency so are easily absorbed. There are serums for all sorts of concerns including tired, dull skin, to increase cell turnover, dehydration, pigmentation, fine lines. Massage a small amount on your face and neck after cleansing, toning and applying an eye product.
Check out my serums blog here https://www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/serums-the-creme-de-la-creme-of-performance-skincare
A moisturiser will soothe and bring comfort to the skin whilst keeping it hydrated. It’s an important step no matter what your skin type. There are oil free versions for oily or blemished skin and rich nourishing formulations for drier skin plus everything in between. Massage moisturiser in after each of the previous steps.
Check out my moisturiser blogs here https://www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/moisturisers-your-protective-skincare-shield
SPF – Sun Protection Factor
Sun cream should be applied every day no matter what the weather. The harmful UV rays can even penetrate clouds and glass. Apart from helping to protect our skin against cancer, a sun cream will slow down signs of ageing such as fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation. Opt for factor 50 if you can and don’t go below factor 30. Apply two finger lengths full of cream for the face and another for the scalp if you are bald. Don’t forget your ears and the back of your neck. Apply before leaving home in the morning and reapply frequently. Wear every day even when it isn’t sunny. This is where a lot of guys undo all of the excellent benefits of having a higher collagen density. That healthy skin can very easily get negatively impacted by the sun. For best protection choose a broad spectrum sun cream which will protect against UVA rays (the ageing rays) and UVB rays (the burning rays).
Check out my sun protection blog here https://www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/the-importance-of-sun-protection-do-you-want-to-be-a-grape-or-a-prune
Face masks area a great way to instantly treat a skin concern, whether that be skin that looks tired and dull, dehydrated, excess oiliness, sensitivity or spots to name a few. These are mostly applied to the skin and left on for a few minutes before being removed with a flannel and water. They can give a natural looking glow, boost hydration or soothe sensitised or decongest skin.
Check out my blog on face masks here https://www.nicolameirholistictherapies.com/post/face-masks-the-perfect-time-for-a-mindful-moment
Aftershaves, fragrance, colognes
Spritz these on arms, chest and back of the neck. Avoid the face, it’s not necessary. A word of warning - don’t use fragrance before sunbathing as it may cause pigmentation and increase skin sensitivity. Save your fragrance for afterwards.
I know it’s not for everyone but don’t rule out make up. There are some incredible tinted moisturisers and under eye concealers available and they are a subtle way of giving a healthy glow. Tinted moisturiser can even out skin tone whilst concealers with light reflecting particles can lift the eyes and help cover dark circles.
This is you enjoying your skincare routine!
So, if all of this is new to you or you are wanting to switch up how you currently look after your skin, this blog is giving your permission to nurture your skin and in turn look after yourself in a small way. Your skin will thank you for it!
Here are some of my handpicked specific skincare for men favourites:
Remember that these are specific mens skincare products. There is nothing stopping you from purchasing any skincare as long as it is right for your individual skin. All of the blog links contained in this article share my personal recommendations for each skincare step.
If you aren’t looking for a comprehensive regimen but would like to get started I would recommend the following products as being excellent staples (alongside your shaving products) They would be applied to the face in this order:
Cleanser (Morning & Evening)
Exfoliator (Two to three times a week after cleansing face in the morning)
Serum/Moisturiser (Morning & Evening)
SPF- Sun cream (Morning only)
Really consider investing in a serum as this is where the magic really happens