Anyone who took seventh-grade biology class knows that the skin is the body’s largest organ. What’s not taught in school, though, is that the skin is often quite finicky. It’s hairy, prone to discoloration and can look like a relief map of rashes, bumps and indentations. Since the skin is our outermost organ, it’s constantly affected by outside forces like the weather, pollution, foreign chemicals and allergens. These, along with factors like diet and lifestyle, can lead to a number of common skin issues.
On the whole, skin health requires a holistic outlook. That said, creating an effective skincare routine and sticking with it can make a huge difference in the day-to-day look and feel of your skin. This starts with simple things like washing your face at least once a day, using a skin-protecting moisturizer and wearing sunscreen every single day. If you have persistent issues or skin conditions that are painful, consult a dermatologist. But for other, more common problems, there is a range of over-the-counter products appropriate for your routine.
While true acne is most common in teenagers, breakouts can follow men through their whole lives. A man’s skin has larger pores and more active sebaceous (oil) glands than a woman’s, which means break-out causing blockages can happen more regularly. The first step to controlling breakouts is making sure you cleanse your face regularly (morning and night) and after you work out to ensure pores are clear of build-up oil and grime. For extra strength, use a cleanser with salicylic acid to dry out excess oil and flush away dead skin cells. When you do notice a pimple, spot treat it with a drying agent that contains zinc or sulfur to help draw out the oil.
Oil-Free Acne Wash by Neutrogena $9
Drying Lotion by Mario Badescu $17
Excessively oily skin can lead to breakouts but it should be treated differently. Overly-active sebaceous glands can cause our skin to appear shiny. It’s doubly evident for active men since sweat and oil look similar (even though sweat and oil glands are technically different). You can combat shiny skin by using a matte moisturizer, which can help control oil production while also keeping skin hydrated. And if you workout regularly, consider using a cooling wipe after hitting the gym to balance sweat production.
Essential Face Wipes by Ursa Major $24
Oil Control Daily Moisturizer by Lab Series $36
Razor bumps, or ingrown hairs, are common among men with coarse, curly hair. They often occur after shaving when the hair grows into the skin instead of out of it. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), razor bumps can be exacerbated by multi-blade razors which actually shave too close to your skin, making it harder for hairs to break the surface effectively. To combat that issue, switch to a single-blade razor. Always shave during or directly after a shower, when the warm water helps to soften beard hairs for easier shaving and use an antibacterial shave tonic when finished to soothe skin and prevent inflammation.
Post-Shave Mist by Harry’s $12
Shave System Safety Razor by Bevel $37
Dry skin can look red, flaky or dull and can have an uncomfortable tight, tingly or warm feeling. It is a very common issue, but thankfully, there are also many products to help hydrate the skin. After daily cleansing, use a moisturizer that will help hydrate the skin and prevent the loss of moisture throughout the day (look for formulas containing hyaluronic acid, a naturally-occurring chemical that helps skin cells retain moisture). Opt for a gel texture if you have oily skin and a heavier cream if you’re prone to dryness.
Ultra Facial Cream by Kiehl’s $30
Maximum Hydrator Activated Water-Gel Concentrate by Clinique for Men $39
Dark Under-Eye Circles
The skin around your eyes is thinner than the rest of your face. It’s often the first place to show signs of aging in the form of fine lines and wrinkles, sagging skin and dark circles. These problems, especially dark circles, are only exacerbated by dehydration and bad sleep habits. To help calm puffiness, use a cooling eye mask the morning after a late night (keep them in your fridge for extra power). And if you have dark circles, use an eye cream with illuminating properties every morning to help brighten the area.
Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels by Skyn $30
Banana Bright Eye Cream by Ole Henriksen $38
Redness on the skin can be caused by dehydration or sensitivity, but it can also be attributed to more serious conditions like rosacea (an abnormality of the blood vessels which can cause flushing, broken capillaries and sometimes bumps). If you struggle with redness, consider using a fragrance-free cream cleanser, since sensitivities to fragrance can cause facial redness, and a calming serum to help even out skin tone. If redness persists, check with your doctor to see if it could be something more serious.
Gentle Hydrating Cleanser by Dr. Loretta $35
Evercalm Anti-Redness Serum by Ren Clean Skincare $50
There is a range of products designed to address wrinkles on your face. Many companies offer creams or serums with retinol, a powerful derivative of Vitamin A which helps stimulate cell regeneration and turnover. Daily use has been shown to smooth fine lines and improve skin tone. This powerful ingredient is best used at night because it causes sensitivity to sunlight, and one should always wear sunscreen during the day to fight signs of premature aging.
A-Passioni Retinol Cream by Drunk Elephant $74
Retinol Rescue Face Serum by Clark’s Botanicals $105
Your skin is constantly regenerating and the lifecycle of skin cells is up to six-week-long. But after the cells die, they can build up on the surface of our skin. An abundance of dead skin cells can cause dullness and sallowness making the face look tired and older. Exfoliating on a regular basis helps remove these dead skin cells, clearing the way for the newer ones underneath. A scrub that uses physical materials like microbeads or clay can remove dead cells but is often too rough for sensitive skin. So consider using a chemical exfoliant containing glycolic acid. It will do the same thing more gently by breaking the bonds between dead cells.
Face Buff Energizing Scrub by Jack Black $18
Overtime Mask by Summer Fridays $44
Sun damage is the number one cause of premature aging and can lead to skin cancer. Sun damage typically takes the form of dark spots which are especially evident on men with fair or easily sunburned skin. The most important product for long term skin health is a sunscreen applied daily (the AAD recommends a minimum SPF of 30). But if you currently have dark spots, a Vitamin C serum can help lighten darker pigmentation and even skin tone.
UV Shield SPF 45 by Elta MD $25
Vitamin C Ester Brightening Serum by Perricone MD $69
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