Building a grooming routine can seem like a daunting task, but it’s certainly true that the sooner you begin, the better off you’ll be down the line. Like working out, a skincare routine is a habit first and foremost, so starting early and building healthy habits will keep your skin — the largest organ in your body — looking and feeling its best for a lifetime.
As you age, so does your skin, which is why your skincare routine should change with the times. However, every routine should contain three basic parts: A cleanser, a moisturizer, and an SPF. These three steps should be the building blocks of your routine, with everything else just an optional benefit. In your 20s, a man’s skincare goal should be preservation and protection. At around age 25 (or earlier if you’re a smoker), your body naturally stops producing collagen, so by the time you hit 30, you might start seeing some visible signs of aging, like wrinkles. This is why your 30s should be all about treatments that can help you slow down the aging process. At age 40 and beyond, your goal should be to maintain the skin you’ve been diligently taking care of for the last 20 years. You might not be able to stop time, but with a solid skincare routine, you can slow down visible signs of aging, which can make you look younger than you actually are.
If you have no idea where to start when it comes to building a skincare routine, we don’t blame you. Walking down the personal care aisle at your local grocery store can feel overwhelming, and turning to the internet for answers presents even more options. How’s a man supposed to choose?
To help you build the best skincare routine for your age, we’ve crafted a list of the best products for the three prime decades of your life. With a little research, preparation, and dedication, your skin will be looking its best at every stage in your life.
Skincare for Men in Their 20s
If you’re old enough to vote, you should have a skincare routine. If you’re old enough to drink, you should be practicing that routine diligently.
Men in their 20s might not be thinking about skincare as something they should be focusing on, but by adopting a long game mindset, those small steps you make every day will pay off in a big way exactly when you need them to. At this age, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get those long-term gains you’re after, which is great if your career is just getting off the ground and all your income is just going toward the basics. Taking care of yourself and your skin should be on that list, along with all the other things that go along with a healthy lifestyle.
If you want to look 21 forever, or at least get compliments on how good you look for years to come, these five basic steps (and corresponding products) will help you get on the right track.
Guys, you need to be washing your face every day. You can wash once (at night) or preferably twice (morning and night), but ridding your skin of grit, grime, and gross stuff on a daily basis is a must since it allows for your skin to perform at its peak. This gentle cleanser is great for acne-prone and sensitive skin, which many men in their 20s experience on-and-off. It contains salicylic acid, which helps remove dead skin cells and improve your skin’s overall texture. If you also suffer from back or body acne, this cleanser is great to use in the shower all over your body. It’s affordable, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and enriched with vitamin D for extra antioxidant protection.
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
Don’t let the word “acid” freak you out. This is not the same as battery acid and it’s nothing like the acid used in “Breaking Bad.” Acids in skincare serves as a chemical exfoliant, which can help clear breakouts and give you smooth, soft skin without any harsh scrubbing. Use this exfoliator nightly after washing your face by applying it onto a cotton pad and wiping it across your face. In less than two weeks, you’ll notice an improvement in your skin’s texture and appearance. It helps calm redness and reduces inflammation from active pimples and spots. Great for clearing blackheads, this liquid exfoliant is your skincare secret weapon.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Zoolander said it best: “Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” Hydration is the key to healthy, balanced skin, but it doesn’t need to be too complicated. This facial cream, which contains squalane, avocado oil, and apricot kernel oil, goes on thick but sinks in immediately, so you don’t go to bed with that greasy feeling. It’s nourishing, gentle on sensitive skin, and can soothe parched, dehydrated winter skin in no time.
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream
If you invest in one thing to ensure good skin as you age — and only one thing — it should be a facial moisturizer with SPF. This is non-negotiable. You can put all the lotions and potions you want on that mug, but if you are getting too much sun, you’re just throwing money away. Yes, other products will do wonders in helping you fend off Father Time, but using sunscreen isn’t just good for your face — it’s good for your health. Skin cancer can be deadly, so to keep your body’s largest organ in tiptop shape, get in the habit of wearing SPF every day. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 is one of our favorites, but we also have a full list of suggestions.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Acne spot treatment
For most of us, zits don’t magically go away the minute you leave your teens. You’ll still experience the odd pimple here and there, which somehow know exactly when you have an important presentation at work or an event to go to and always manage to pop up mere days beforehand. These spot treatment acne patches work like band-aids on your pimples. Their work is twofold: Prevent ingyou from picking and popping your pimples while delivering a medicated treatment that helps your pimples heal faster. Wear them overnight and take them off before you leave the house, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how well they work in such little time. If you need something for the daytime, try one of our other fave zit zappers.
Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original Acne Patches
Aging out of your 20s? You better take a look at how to take care of your skin once you hit your 30s…
Skincare for Men in Their 30s
By now, you should have gotten the memo that taking care of your skin is pretty much a must if you want to age well. If not, refer to our advice on beginning a good skincare regime in your 20s. That’s a great place to start — and it’s never too late to start.
Those of you who are graduating into your 30s, congratulations! We trust that, by now, you have established a good foundation of washing, hydrating, and protecting your skin, so it’s time to dive in a little deeper into keeping that skin looking better, longer.
As we get older, our skin loses its ability to bounce back. Much like how our metabolism slows, our eyesight fades, and our hair falls out, our skin changes quite a bit as we age. After we hit 20, 1 percent less of collagen is produced in the dermis each year and the skin’s natural exfoliation process decreases by almost 30%. Once we hit our thirties, fat cells shrink due to moisture transfer slowing down between the layers of the skin. And this is just the stuff you can’t avoid. Things like your skincare routine, diet, and, most of all, sun exposure can speed all this up faster than you can say Botox.
So what are you going to do about it? For starters, using products that contain higher doses of antioxidants and vitamin A derivatives like retinol, as well as regular chemical exfoliation will help you keep your skin soft and supple, allowing you to age a little more like George Clooney and a little less like Keith Richards. These five basic steps (and corresponding products) will help you get on the right track.
As you get older, your skin loses elasticity and crucial oils that give it that youthful glow. Incorporating more hydrating products into every step of your routine is key if you want to hold onto your skin’s precious natural oils and protect the outermost layer of your skin from water loss that can make your skin look dry and flaky. This cleanser from French pharmacy brand La Roche-Posay is great for people with sensitive skin, as well as people with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. The cleanser contains ceramides, which help to prevent moisture loss and restore the skin’s moisture barrier. It also contains niacinamide, which works wonders as an anti-aging, oil-reducing, pore-smoothing, and brightening ingredient.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser
This potent skin tonic is packed with Alpha Hydroxy Acids like Lactic Acid, Azelaic Acid, and Salicin to keep the skin in peak condition. Gentle enough to use daily (we prefer it as an aftershave with an added kick) swiping this over your face not only helps prevent breakouts as any good post-wash tonic should do, it also gently exfoliates skin, therefore helping to keep wrinkles at bay. With regular use, this daily chemical exfoliant will smooth the texture of your skin, reduce the size of your pores, and give you a glowing complexion that will shave years off your real age.
REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic
By 30, you should be adding a retinol to your routine. Retinol is the hero when it comes to fighting off wrinkles. It’s one of the many derivative forms of vitamin A and it increases cell turnover, which can help to actually reverse damage. There isn’t really another product you just go out and buy that does that. Our pick for those of you just getting started with retinol is the Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum. It a mild retinol to ease you into using this powerful ingredient. Vitamin A products like this can be drying or irritating, but if you start slow, and early, it will become your skin’s best friend.
Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum
After chemically exfoliating to smooth your skin’s texture and slathering on retinol serum to reduce the look of wrinkles, your skin needs a tall glass of water in the form of a moisturizer, preferably one with peptides like this one from Drunk Elephant. Peptides are a small form of amino acids, and if you’re a fitness fanatic, you know how important peptides are to your body’s overall health. This nurturing yet fast-absorbing daily moisturizer is formulated with nine signal peptides, which help bind moisture to skin, visibly plumping, firming, and restoring bounce. It also contains pygmy waterlily stem cell extract, which is an excellent source of antioxidants and effective in supporting youthful, healthy looking skin. It all sounds very complex, but it’s really a simple moisturizer with an anti-aging kick.
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
The skin underneath your eyes is some of the thinnest skin on your body, which is why it’s one of the first areas to show age. Wrinkles and dark circles are a near certainty once you hit your 30s as a result of stress combined with the natural aging process, but there are certain products you can use to help prevent the appearance of these fine lines by boosting hydration. This eye cream from First Aid Beauty contains peptides, seaweed extract, and red algae extract, which help hydrate, firm, and reduce wrinkles underneath and around the eyes. Use morning and night to ward off dark circles, even after a not-so-great night of sleep.
First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy
Skincare for Men in Their 40s (and Beyond)
If you’ve been smart enough to take good care of your skin while in your 20s and 30s, then your 40s should only require a few moderate additions. If you haven’t, and you’re starting to see those fine lines turn into straight-up wrinkles, you may want to take a more drastic approach and investigate dermatological procedures like Botox and fillers. There’s no shame in wanting to look your best because when you look better, you feel better, right?
What’s really going on with your skin once you start going over that hill? Well, for starters: Gravity. Yep, you’ve been fighting gravity for decades and it really starts to win once you hit 40. What else? Your body’s collagen (what keeps your skin “plump”) and elasticity (what lets it bounce back from the natural aging process) have been on the decline over the last decade, but that deterioration really starts to pick up the pace.
To fend off future wrinkles (or at least slow them down), you need to up your defense against these three offenders. Below are some of our favorite skincare products to add to your good skin regime that will help fight back against this aggregate of aging. For those of you behind in the good skin game, it’s OK. Pick these up now, and you’ll certainly see some results sooner than you can say “40 is the new 30.”
Inflammation is the root of many skin concerns, which is what makes this cleanser featuring soothing ingredients like turmeric and licorice root a great pick for men over 40. If you’re dealing with redness, the occasional breakout, and general dullness, the Scotch Porter Restoring Face Wash is a gentle, soothing, and calming way to begin your skincare routine. Your skin will feel clean, smooth, and ready for the next step in your routine.
Scotch Porter Restoring Face Wash
If it’s not clear already, allow me to repeat it for the final time: Proper hydration is the key to great skin. This lightweight moisturizer from Sunday Riley delivers intense hydration with two forms of hyaluronic acid and tamarind extract. According to the brand, it increases your skin’s hydration by up to 68% in as little as 15 minutes for up to 24 hours of continuous moisture. It gives you an instant shot of soft, supple skin without feeling heavy or greasy. Use it in the morning and at night if you have super dehydrated skin, or skip the moisturizer in the morning and go straight to SPF if you have combination or oily skin.
Sunday Riley TIDAL Brightening Enzyme Water Cream
Anyone who knows anything about skincare swears by EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum. Why? Because it’s just that good, plain and simple. Once you’re over 40, you don’t want to spend time trying the latest and greatest products that might or might not work for you. This sunscreen is a favorite of dermatologists, facialists, and moms everywhere. It’s not greasy, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic, but it also contains antioxidants that help protect against skin-damaging free radicals. There are plenty of other reasons why this sunscreen is so good, like the addition of niacinamide and lactic acid, but it’s the combination of all these elements that somehow come together perfectly to create the perfect SPF protection.
EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum
If you’ve ever looked at your face on what would be considered a “good skin day” and just felt it was lacking … something? That something is brightness, and it’s another one of those things that dull as you age. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and aids in your skin’s natural regeneration process, which helps your body repair damaged skin cells. The result is brighter, glowing skin will make you look at least 10 years younger. The Revitalift Derm Intensives Vitamin C Serum by L’Oreal is a great drugstore find formulated with 10% vitamin C to reduce wrinkles and leave skin looking brighter and feeling softer. Apply it in the morning before your SPF, as vitamin C can actually help your SPF work better in protecting your skin against the sun’s harmful rays.
L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives Vitamin C Serum
If you started using retinol in your 30s, you’re ahead of the curveball and your skin is better for it. If you’re in your 40s, it’s not too late to start incorporating this wrinkle-reducing miracle ingredient in your skincare routine. This retinol from Skinceuticals is consistently hailed as one of the best, and at 1% strength, it’s incredibly powerful. If you’re new to retinol, use it once a week as the last step in your routine. Apply a tiny amount where you get wrinkles, like on your forehead and around your smile lines, and use sparingly everywhere else. After a month or two, you should see visible brightening, refining, and tightening results that will make you believe in the anti-aging power of a great skincare routine.
Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0
- The Best Men’s Toners for Clear and Healthy Skin
- Retinol For Men: What to Know and What to Buy in 2021
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- The Best Men’s Serums to Fix Almost Any Skin Problem