Growing up, the extent of skincare advice I got from my parents consisted of being told to wash my face. Beyond that, I was just handed a razor and some shaving cream and expected to figure out what to do with my skin on my own.
That's a pretty common experience for a lot of guys. Most guys grow up knowing very little about how to take care of their skin.
Failing to take good care of your skin, however, can contribute to:
- Dry, uncomfortable skin
- An uneven complexion
- A Higher Risk of Developing Skin Cancer
Remember: your skin is your body's largest organ and is a vital first layer of protection for your overall health. Taking care of your skin will help you look better, feel better, and be more healthful.
The Basics of Skincare
Skincare routines can get out of hand very quickly. Some sites and skincare gurus will recommend a list of products that's a mile long and could cost you several hundred dollars per month to purchase all of the supplies you need.
Luckily, you can take good care of your skin and greatly improve your skin health in a few easy steps and at fairly low supply costs.
At least twice per week, you should be exfoliating. I'm not just talking about your face– you should be exfoliating your entire body.
Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and buildup on the surface of your skin. It helps your cleanser and moisturizer work more effectively and is thought to also help with preventing wrinkles and cleaning build-up out of your pores.
If you shave your face, exfoliating before shaving can also help you get a closer shave and prevent razor bumps.
There are plenty of facial exfoliating scrubs you can use on your face. I recommend looking for an exfoliating scrub that has a high concentration of exfoliant (AKA you want it to feel kind of gritty). You also don't want to get a facewash that uses plastic microbeads as its exfoliant. Not only are microbeads awful for the environment, but they're pretty ineffective at actually exfoliating your skin.
I've had luck with Alba Botanica's Face & Body Scrub. I get it at the grocery store pharmacy for around $9.50 per tube and it lasts quite a while. It makes my face feel super smooth and the exfoliant in it is natural willow bark.
Using a scrub-style wash on your body is also an option. However, for the rest of my body, I've found that using an exfoliating body cloth is more effective. With it, I can use my normal body wash. Plus, the length of it helps me wash hard-to-reach places on my back. Since it's machine washable, I just chuck it in the wash once a week when I clean my bath towels to keep them clean and free of bacteria.
If you do use some form of scrubber or a washcloth, be sure to wash it frequently. These tools live in warm, damp environments. They will grow bacteria and mold if you're not cleaning them regularly, and if that happens, they're going to be pretty ineffective at helping you get clean.
Every day, usually morning and at night, you should wash your face. Depending upon your skin type and individual concerns, the type of wash you'll want to use may vary.
Luckily, you can get an effective, beneficial face wash at most pharmacies, grocery stores, or retail stores. Brands like Alba Botanica, Neutrogena, PanOxyl, Burt's Bees, Cetaphil, and CeraVe all make effective face washes that are affordably priced.
If you have acne-prone skin, you'll probably want to pick a cleanser that contains either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Both ingredients help to kill acne-causing bacteria and act as an astringent, eliminating excess moisture from the surface of your skin.
However, it should be noted that both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are fairly harsh chemicals, so it's extra important to moisturize each and every time you wash with them. Additionally, benzoyl peroxide, no matter how well you rinse, will end up bleaching your towels and maybe even your clothing; for this reason, I prefer salicylic acid washes.
Personally, I currently use Lumen's charcoal scrub as my go-to face wash. I will probably write up a full review of Lumen soon, but I'm still too early on in using it consistently to have a strong opinion. So far, though, I'm happy with it.
After washing and drying your skin, you need to apply a moisturizer. Moisturizer will prevent your skin from feeling tight and dry, and most moisturizers will also deposit skin-enriching nutrients that help it maintain elasticity and strength.
The best moisturizer you can use is one that is fragrance-free and which contains an SPF.
A scented moisturizer isn't the end of the world. The fragrance isn't going to be bad for your skin. I typically recommend avoiding them, however, simply because most guys also wear a scented deodorant and may have a scented aftershave or cologne as well. All of those scents combined plus a scented moisturizer is just too much.
SPF (sun protection factor), however, is non-negotiable, especially for your face. Wearing something with an SPF does more than prevent you from getting a sunburn. More importantly, it helps protect your skin from harmful UV radiation, which increases your risk of developing skin cancer. Along with skin cancer, UV exposure is a major contributing factor for premature aging signs, such as leathery skin and wrinkles.
You may want to get a face-specific lotion. Facial lotions are formulated to not clog your pores, look overly shiny, or irritate acne.
For your body, a lotion with an SPF is still ideal, but finding something that absorbs into your skin and which you like is most important. Some brands have "manly" lotion options available, but if I'm being honest, those are just slightly more expensive repackages of their other lotions. Go for a standard, plain body lotion or shea butter to save a few bucks and get the same results.
What About Advanced Skincare?
Believe it or not, but if you're exfoliating regularly, cleansing your face daily, and moisturizing every time you cleanse, you've already got the basics of skincare down. You're going better at taking care of your skin than the majority of men.
If you have more specific concerns or want to go above and beyond, you absolutely can.
Most facial serums are applied between cleansing and moisturizing. They're concentrated formulations that have a specific purpose. A Vitamin-C serum, for example, will give your skin a fresh glow. Anti-wrinkle serums reduce the appearance of fine lines and help new wrinkles from forming. Other serums help with discoloration, rosacea, dullness, and prevent damage.
Serums will typically feel moisturizing, but they still need to be sealed with a moisturizer.
Masks are typically used once or twice per week. Like serums, most masks will be formulated for specific outcomes.
The most common masks that you'll see online are exfoliating masks. These include clay masks and peel-off masks. This type of facial mask adheres to your skin as a liquid, and as it dries, it holds onto impurities and dead skin on the surface of your skin. When the mask is then peeled off or removed, it takes the build-up with it.
Other types of masks are more therapeutic in nature. For example, some masks help you feel relaxed and have a cooling, soothing sensation for your skin. Others may help with things like reducing inflammation or tightening your skin.
Eye Creams and Eye Masks
Eye creams and masks are placed below the eyes. This part of your face is particularly prone to discoloration and drooping. If you're familiar with the term "having bags under your eyes," then you know what I'm talking about.
Your under-eyes can visibly display exhaustion and sometimes require a little extra attention.
Like serums, eye creams and masks are typically meant to be applied after you have cleansed your face, and then you can seal them in with a moisturizer.