men's skincare routine

How to Build An Effortlessly Effective Men’s Skincare Routine

The concept of skincare has recently begun to enter the collective consciousness of contemporary men. Gone are the days when the average men’s skincare routine consisted of a 2-in-1 body and face wash and potentially a bar of soap, with more men than ever concerned about the health and appearance of their skin. If you’re still a little unsure of how to formulate the most effective men’s skincare routine for your needs, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know.

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Skincare, should men care?

Skincare isn’t a gender exclusive thing; your skin is your body’s largest organ, so not only does a quality skincare routine keep your skin looking aesthetically pleasing, it helps prevent the contraction of diseases and infections. Having an optimum men’s skincare routine is one of the most effective methods of defence against the common skin problems men experience, including acne, sun damage, premature ageing, wrinkles, and inflammatory skin conditions.

What’s the difference between men’s skin and women’s skin?

While it can be tempting to slap on some of your girlfriend’s moisturiser and call it a day, that won’t do you much good. Though men don’t necessarily handle criticism better than women, they do have thicker skin. Differing hormone levels mean men’s skin is oilier, contains more collagen, and is around 20-25% thicker than women’s skin, causing men to experience different skincare concerns than women. 

Men are less likely to develop superficial fine lines than women, but are more prone to deep wrinkles caused by repetitive facial expressions over a prolonged period of time, like nasolabial folds (or smile lines), horizontal forehead lines (from raised eyebrows), frown lines. Higher sebum (oil) levels in men’s skin can cause clogged pores, making men more prone to acne than women.

Men’s skin types

Identifying your skin type allows you to create a men’s skincare routine targeted towards your skin’s specific needs. The main skin types are normal, sensitive, oily, dry, and combination, though these aren’t entirely cut and dry – your skin could be a mixture of these or change during the year based on factors like the weather, your overall health, and sun exposure, so these should just be used as general guidelines. 

Sensitive skin 

If your skin is easily irritated by everything from a new cleanser to sun exposure, you likely have sensitive skin. The signs of sensitive skin can vary, though they often manifest as visible redness and dryness, or feelings of tight, uncomfortable skin. To manage sensitive skin, opt for fragrance-free products and avoid over-exfoliating as this can aggravate sensitive skin (stick to two to three times a week).

Normal skin

Much like the popular Australian peanut butter, some people are blessed with skin that’s never oily and never dry. While those with normal skin may still experience skincare issues like mild acne, overall normal skin is naturally balanced and produces the right amount of sebum to maintain supple, hydrated skin without appearing overly oily or shiny. Normal skin will typically feel firm without being dry or tight. 

Dry skin 

Different from dehydrated skin (which any skin type can have), dry skin often feels flaky, red, tight, and (obviously) dry, with primary triggers including indoor air conditioning and environmental factors like sun exposure and harsh winds. 

Oily skin 

Essentially what it sounds like, oily skin occurs when your skin produces too much sebum. People with oily skin tend to have a visible glossy sheen on their skin and are more prone to developing clogged pores, acne, and blackheads. It’s not all bad though; in the long run, men with oily skin are less likely to develop wrinkles and other signs of ageing than their normal or dry skin counterparts.

The best men’s skincare routine

The best men’s skincare routine is one that works for you, your skin type, and your goals. That being said, there are some pretty standard skincare steps that all guys should be doing. Without further ado, here’s a guide to the most effective skincare routine for men.

1. Cleanse

A skincare non-negotiable, cleansing your face morning and night is the bare minimum. Washing your face helps you remove the dirt, debris, and excess oil on your face, preventing clogged pores, breakouts, and reducing the sheen those with oily skin experience. Plus, if you don’t cleanse properly, you pretty much render the rest of your products ineffective; start off with a blank canvas (i.e. your clean face) to ensure the rest of your products are able to do their jobs. 

AR recommends 

Grown Alchemist Hydra+ Oil-Gel Facial Cleanser

mens skincare routine cleanser grown alchemist

Gentle and effective, this cleanser removes impurities without stripping your skin, leaving your face feeling calm, clean, soothed, and hydrated. This multi-functional formula is great for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

Aesop Amazing Face Cleanser

mens skincare routine aesop cleanser

Suitable for all skin types, this gentle daily cleanser removes impurities without drying, using lavender, ylang-ylang, and mandarin to soothe the skin.

2. Exfoliate

While physical exfoliants such as scrubs with walnut shells, coffee grounds, sugar, or microbeads may feel like they’re removing dead skin, they can be abrasive, harsh on the skin, and don’t penetrate deep into your skin. Instead, look for chemical exfoliants with AHAs like lactic and glycolic acid or BHAs like salicylic acid, which work to remove dead skin cells and have long term benefits on the skin. Exfoliating before you shave has the added benefit of loosening up your hair follicles, allowing for a closer shave and preventing ingrown hairs. When used over a prolonged period of time, chemical exfoliants serve to brighten the complexion and even out skin tone, as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin firmness and elasticity. 

Depending on the type of exfoliant, you should aim to exfoliate three to four times a week to reap the benefits. 

AR recommends

Grown Alchemist Enzyme Exfoliant

winter skincare

Designed to suit even the most sensitive skin, Grown Alchemist Enzyme Exfoliant buffs away dead skin cells and dissolves surface debris. A papain and amino acid complex increases cell turnover and renewal, boosts hydration levels, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while ficin enzymes and omega-3 fatty acids nourish and condition the skin. Use two to three times a week.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

the ordinary mens skincare routine

This 10-minute AHA and BHA peel contains lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid to chemically exfoliate, helping improve the quality and appearance of skin tone and texture, and fight blemishes. Use twice a week to improve congested skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

3. Shave (optional)

If you choose to shave your facial hair, using a good shaving cream or gel is a must. A high-quality shaving gel prepares the hair follicles for shaving, ensuring a smooth, pain-free shave. If you opt to sport facial hair, apply a good beard oil to keep your facial hair hydrated and happy. 

AR recommends

Grown Alchemist Shaving Gel

mens skincare routine shaving gel grown alchemist

This light gel assists with a clean, close shave by softening and lifting hair follicles, preventing razor burn and irritated skin.

Baxter Of California Beard Grooming Oil

baxter of california beard oil

Suitable for all beard types, a nourishing blend of vitamin E, avocado oil, and squalane work to smooth beard hair, promote beard growth, and moisturise the skin underneath your beard.  

4. Tone

An essential for men with oily or acne-prone skin (and still great for those with neither), using a good facial toner aids in restoring the skin’s pH balance, moderating oil production, soothing the skin, tightening and cleansing your pores, and prepares your face for the rest of your skincare routine. To apply toner, spray it over your face or transfer to a cotton pad and dab it on.

Avoid toners with harsh ingredients like alcohol and focus on products with witch hazel, AHAs, and BHAs.

AR recommends

YORA Refresh Face Mist

yora refresh face mist skincare routine

Refreshing and revitalising, this face mist tones the skin with witch hazel and hydrates with rose water, while patented GENENCARE from sugar beet roots provides hydration and Superox-C creates a barrier on the skin, protecting it from harsh weather conditions.

Baxter Of California Herbal Mint Toner

This toner removes any dirt, oil, and residual cleanser which may be leftover after washing your face. Vitamin E brightens the skin’s complexion while a blend of mint, cucumber and witch hazel reduces redness and works to moderate oil production.

5. Serum

A serum is one of the most important tools you can have in your skincare arsenal. Often brushed aside in favour of a three step cleanse-tone-moisturise skincare routine, serums are designed to deliver targeted corrective action to the skin. Formulated with a smaller molecule size, serums are able to penetrate deeper into the skin than moisturiser alone.

Dull complexion, uneven skin tone, fine lines, hyperpigmentation? No matter what your skincare concern is, there’s a serum for it.

AR recommends

Grown Alchemist Brightening Serum

grown alchemist brightening serum

Ideal for normal, yet lacklustre skin, this serum addresses skin discolouration, with phyto-complex from licorice and barberry) working to reduce the appearance of sun spots, hyper-pigmentation, and age spots. Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid, phyto-complex, and rose extract provide hydration and moisture, improve skin texture, and add radiance.

Paulas Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

paulas choice bha 2 mens skincare routine

This leave-on exfoliant uses a combination of salicylic acid and antioxidant-rich green tea extract to unclog pores, smoothen out wrinkles, and promote a brighter, more even skin tone. Suitable for all skin types, this exfoliant can be used twice daily, layered under your other serums and moisturiser.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

drunk elephent best serum

A potent antioxidant, vitamin C works to even skin tone, stimulate collagen production, and protect your skin from harmful environmental free radicals. Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum is loaded with 15% vitamin C, making it a powerful tool to brighten your complexion and the perfect starter serum for guys who just want a good all-rounder.

6. Moisturise

Essential for hydrating and protecting the skin, moisturiser soothes and nourishes the skin, while sealing in any serums you’ve used. During the day, moisturising creates a barrier to shield your skin from potential environmental pollutants, while at night time it helps your skin cells repair and regenerate. 

AR recommends

Tony & Munro Renew Nourishing BB Cream

Tony & Munro Renew Nourishing BB Cream

Created by men, for men. Tony & Munro was born out of the idea that beauty should be for everyone; with their products specifically formulated for men’s thicker skin. Perfect for daytime wear, Tony & Munro Renew Nourishing BB Cream provides natural-looking coverage, masking blemishes and redness for flawless skin. Available in light, medium, and dark shades, the Renew Nourishing BB Cream also contains SPF 30 protection.

YORA Revitalise Face Moisturiser

Revitalise face moisturiser

Ideal for oily skin types, this lightweight gel moisturiser provides protection against environmental aggressors while ginseng, fruit, and cereal complex work to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin tone. Red snow algae fights the effects of free radical damage while hydrating the skin.

This daytime lightweight gel moisturiser works while you are on the go, providing protection against the elements for smooth, luminous skin that will leave you feeling confident all day long.

A lightweight gel moisturiser formulated with tetrapeptides and a ginseng, fruit and cereal complex to

Grown Alchemist Detox Night Cream

grown alchemist night cream

Formulated with a blend of peptides, hyaluronic acid, omega-fatty-acids, vitamins, and herbs, this rich night cream detoxes the skin and promotes skin cell regeneration overnight, working to reduce signs of ageing.

Skin Physics Ultra Plumping Night Cream

skin physics ultra plumping night cream

Lightweight yet potent, this night cream harnesses the benefits of antioxidant-rich dragon’s blood extract and argan oil which work synergistically to improve skin firmness and provide moisture to the skin, while hyaluronic acid helps plump out wrinkles and smooth facial lines.

7. SPF

Ultraviolet (UV) ray exposure from the sun is one of the biggest threats to skin health and is a common cause of premature ageing. Protecting yourself from the sun all year round – yes, even in winter – is one of the most effective ways to keep your skin looking youthful and healthy. Look for an SPF with 30+ coverage and wear it during the day.

AR recommends

Ultra Violette Queen Screen SPF 50+ Luminising Sun Serum

winter skincare

Lightweight and non-greasy, Ultra Violette’s Luminising Sun Serum combines the protection of SPF 50+ with the anti-ageing, free-radical fighting benefits of kakadu plum and dragosine plus. Use as the final step in your daytime skincare routine.

8. Mask

A good face mask complements the rest of your men’s skincare routine and is a surefire way to up your skincare game quickly, with face masks available for pretty much every skincare concern out there. Whether your skin is dry, ageing, congested, acne-prone, dull, or is just in need of a little luxury, there’s a face mask for you. For best results, use a face mask twice to three times a week.

AR recommends

Skin Physics Vitamin C Brightening Sleep Mask

mens skincare routine mask

Let your skincare work while you sleep; this overnight mask is enriched with vitamin C from Kakadu Plum, which works to promote surface skin renewal while lightly exfoliating, and improving skin tone and texture, ensuring you wake up with a brighter complexion.

Kiehl’s Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask

Rich in fatty acids, Kiehl’s Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask provides intense hydration and nourishment to dry skin.

Words by John Deckard