Hey everyone. Ryan here. I'm taking over for this blog because I want to focus in on men's skincare. Enjoy this Man's Guide to Skincare that's written by a man (that's me, in case you missed it).
I hear a lot of guys saying they don't bother with taking care of their skin. Sometimes it's because they don't think they need to. Maybe they think it's because they don't have acne or wrinkles. Or maybe it's because they think they don't have the time.
Here's the thing: if you have skin, you need skincare.
It doesn't have to be a big deal, but you at least need to be doing something. It's just like going to the gym, eating right, or changing your oil: a little preventive maintenance goes a long, long way.
Natural men's skincare doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, I think it's better when it's simple. Stay consistent with a few minutes a day and your skin will look and feel better. You'll also see benefits down the road when it comes to aging. The best time to start was a year ago. The second best time to start is now.
Why Natural Skincare Matters
Don't just slap anything on your face. The ingredients that go into your products matter. A lot of that stuff is going to go into your skin and body. And since you'll hopefully be caring for your skin every day, it's going to build up. That's a big problem if you're using poor quality ingredients.
Take parabens, for example. They're a type of preservative you'll find in a lot of conventional products. There's research that shows men who are exposed to parabens have lower testosterone levels. Parabens are also correlated with lower fertility.
Look at some of the products in your shower right now. You'll probably see "fragrance" listed under ingredients. That's a catch-all word for any of thousands of chemicals that manufacturers don't have to list out. You literally don't know what you're putting on your skin.
Make a point to use natural products and you won't have to worry about what you're putting on and into your body.
What Goes Into a Solid Skincare Routine?
In my opinion, there are a few things that need to go into a good skincare routine.
First, you need good products. I've already talked about why natural ingredients are important.
But it's also good to know that most products are gender-neutral. They're designed around skin type, not whether you're a man or woman. Skin is skin.
Second, you need products that work for your skin. Most men have skin that's on the oilier and thicker side. If that sounds like your skin, you want products that help control moisture. It's also possible to have dry, flaky skin. In that case, you'll want to use heavier, moisturizing products. We'll talk more about that later.
Finally, your skincare routine needs to be something you'll actually stick with. I'm not trying to set you up with a 47 step routine. The way I see it, there are four basic things you need to do every morning: cleanse, shave, moisturize, and protect. At night, all you have are two steps: cleanse and moisturize. Simple.
You know your skin better than I do. If you think there's something worth adding to those steps, go for it. But for the rest of this blog, I'm going to go into detail on those four ideas.
Step One: Cleansing
Cleansing is the first step in any skincare routine. If you do nothing else, clean your skin.
Doesn't matter where you work or what you do. Your face is out there in the world, all day every day. It's picking up anything you encounter. Dirt, grime, pollution, bacteria, sweat, oil… everything. Unless you make a point to wash it off, it's all going to stay there.
Cleanse your face at least once a day. If once is all you're willing to do, do it in the evening. You'll clean off the dirt of the day, along with any bacteria that may be on your face. This will help reduce the risk of your pores getting clogged. Clogged pores lead to a greater risk of breakouts. Keep your face clean for clearer skin.
It's up to you if you want to cleanse in the morning. If your skin isn't too oily, simply rinsing with water may be enough to refresh your face. Use a foaming face wash if your skin is oily. This will help get you ready for a good shave.
However often you choose, it's important to use a cleanser meant for your face. Body cleansers tend to strip away more oils. That's fine for cleaning your body. It's not so good for your face. Face-specific cleansers will help your skin stay balanced.
Here's a step-by-step on how to cleanse your face with a foaming face wash:
- Wet your face slightly. It doesn't have to be dripping wet, just damp.
- Pump a bit of foaming soap into your hand. One to two pumps should be plenty.
- Rub your hands together to work up a good lather.
- Use the tips of your fingers to gently massage your cleanser onto your face. Be extra gentle around your eyes.
- Rinse the remaining cleanser.
- Pat your face dry - don't rub.
Whether you cleanse in the morning, at night, or both, it should always be the first step in your skincare routine.
Step Two: Shaving
I know. I know. You know how to shave. I just want to draw your attention to a certain shaving product: natural shaving soap.
Any shave is going to be better when you use some kind of lather. It's going to give you some lubrication between your skin and the blade. This means a smoother shave with less irritation. Plus, there's water involved. This softens your hair and makes it easier to shave.
What are you currently using for shaving foam? Most guys tend to go for those tall canisters of blue gel. It works fine, but the ingredients aren't ideal. Plus the cost can add up.
Shaving soap works a little differently. Natural soaps use safer ingredients. They also last a lot longer than shaving gel tubes. They give you more control over your lather. And trust me: it's much, much more enjoyable to shave with fresh warm soap lather than with something you shot out of a can.
You have your shaving soap. But clearly it's not ready to use yet. You're going to need a couple more tools. First, some kind of container. Try a mug, a bowl, or a jar. Now drop your soap inside. Done. Next, you'll need a shaving brush. You'll use it to work your soap into a lather and apply it to your face.
Here's how to do it:
- Run your brush under hot water or soak it in a bowl for a minute to get it wet.
- Tap off any extra water.
- Swirl your brush onto the top of your soap. This is going to work up a lather. Keep swirling until the bubbles go away and you end up with a thick lather. Expect it to take 30 seconds or so.
- Your brush is going to be soapy now. Use it to apply the lather to your skin. Use circular motions. This will help soften your hair as well as make the lather more dense.
- Keep lathering and shaving until you're done.
- Pour out any standing water in your container. Let your soap air dry.
Shaving with a bar soap is more of an art than a science, but the results are worth it.
Bonus Tip: If you have facial hair, you need to be taking care of it. A great natural option is Argan oil. Work it into your beard for moisturization and to help keep it looking neat and maintained.
Step Three: Moisturizing (Yes, Moisturizing is for men too . . .)
Daily life dries out your skin. It doesn't really matter what you're doing -—that's just the way it is. The same goes for shaving. If you don't do anything about it your skin is going to look dull and loose.
The older you get, the less moisture your skin's cells can hold. If you're 20 that might not seem like a big deal, but it is. If you ignore your skin, it's going to look older faster than if you took care of it. That's why you moisturize. Unless you're totally into looking like this (no judgment here):
Moisturizing rehydrates your skin. It also delivers nutrients to your skin cells. This makes your skin look firmer and younger. It also keeps your face from feeling dry and uncomfortable.
I've talked to guys who don't moisturize because they don't like the feeling of something heavy on their face. I get it. But there are a lot of different products out there. A lightweight oil control moisturizer hydrates without feeling goopy.
Moisturize twice a day: morning and night. Do it after you cleanse and shave.
Here's a step by step of the process:
- Start with a damp face. If you've already cleansed and shaved, you're good.
- Squeeze a dime-sized amount of moisturizer onto your fingertips.
- Use your fingers to apply your moisturizer to your face.
- Use circular motions to massage it into your skin.
- Be careful around the eyes. Some people like to use a separate lotion around their eyes since the skin there is a little different. That's up to you though.
Step Four: Protection
If you want your skin to look old, tough, and wrinkly, the best thing you can do is go without sunscreen. Seriously. It's crazy how much damage a few years without sunscreen will wreak on your skin. If you want your skin to look decent, you have to use an SPF. That's why every good men's guide to skincare must include SPF protection.
The sun beats up your skin. You don't have to work outside to get a faceful of sun damage. Even office workers still get enough sun exposure from day to day life to do some serious damage. We're talking early skin aging, sunburn, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. Use an SPF moisturizer every morning to protect your skin.
Not all SPF products are made equal.
There are two main groups: chemical sunscreens and mineral sunscreens. I highly, highly recommend you avoid chemical sunscreens. They use ingredients like oxybenzone, which messes with the way your body works. They're designed to sink into your skin and they build up in your body over time. In some cases, they do way more harm than good.
Look for a mineral sunscreen. They use non-nano zinc oxide instead of skin-penetrating chemicals. The zinc sits on top of your skin to form a barrier. Mineral sunscreens are also much less likely to use other harmful ingredients like parabens.
Use a mineral sunscreen for your body, and a mineral facial sunscreen for your face. They're formulated differently, so it's important to use the right product for the right part of your skin. And yes, use the facial moisturizer too, even if you've already used an oil control moisturizer that day. If you really only want to use one, make it the SPF.
Here's the rundown:
- Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to your arms, legs, neck, and any exposed area of your chest if you're going to spend more than a few minutes outside today. The keyword here is generous. You need an ounce to cover your body - that's a full shot glass.
- Apply facial sunscreen to your face using circular motions. Don't forget your ears and the front of your neck.
- Reapply after working up a sweat, swimming, or spending more than 80 minutes in the sun.
A Man's Simple Skincare Routine
So that's a lot of information to take in. Here's a quick guide for a morning and evening skincare routine.
A Man's Morning Skincare Routine:
- Cleanse with foaming face wash
- Shave with bar soap
- Apply argan oil to beard (if relevant)
- Moisturize with oil control or other moisturizer
- Use SPF facial moisturizer every day, and body sunscreen if you'll be in the sun
A Man's Evening Skincare Routine:
That'll get you started, but the sky's the limit. Trust me: once you see the difference a regular skincare routine makes, you'll never go without one again.