When it comes to finding the best skincare for men, it’s important to take into consideration the man’s age because, like all things in life, not every face is created equal.
A man in his 20s is going to have skin that’s a touch oilier, more prone to breakout, and requires less exfoliation because those young skin cells are regenerating and turning over faster than you can say “over the hill,” therefore he is going to have its own set of special requirements when compared with a man in his 30s when the primary skin concern is battling aging as opposed to remedying a complexion issue. A man in his 30s is going to want more retinol, eye cream, and exfoliation than a man in his 20s, but much less of an intensive regimen than a man who has already hit his 40s and his skin is showing it. Men of middle age will see their skin dull, discolor, and start to sag and so a man in his 40s skincare goals should be focused on exfoliation, moisturization, and anti-aging.
If this all sounds confusing and a little excessive, don’t be so daunted. After all, you’re only in one of the above age groups, so you only have one area to focus on. To make finding out which skincare regimen is best for you and your age, we mapped out the best products for the three prime decades of a man’s life. With a little preparation, a few products, and a dedicated routine, you can end up looking 30 when you’re 40 … or, in the case of Jared Leto, 23 when you’re nearly 50.
Skincare for Men in Their 20s
When it comes to good skincare, it’s never too early to start. Yep, we’re looking at you, kid.
Men have a habit of trying to fix a problem rather than prevent one. If you start taking good care of your skin by the time you’re in your twenties, you’re ahead of the game. With your budget likely prioritizing booze and rent, good skincare may be towards the bottom of the list. So, we remind you that drinking gets you through the night, but your face sticks with you for good.
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.
Wash Your Face
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. Using a glycolic acid face wash like the one from Jack Black is a great way to get started. In the right doses, glycolic acid is great for ridding skin of dead skin cells without stripping oils that keep the skin balanced. This face wash is loaded with antioxidant-rich volcanic ash, which helps to repair skin while maintaining your moisture balance. If that wasn’t enough (that’s more than some products that cost twice as much), it can double as a mask when you want to give your face a little extra attention.
Sometimes You Gotta Scrub
Having a great cleanser is the first step in any skincare routine, but sometimes you need something with a little more oomph. Add this Exfoliating Scrub from Mario Badescu for a little texture in your routine. Earth-friendly ground seeds of the Ecuadorian ivory palm (never opt for micro-beads) polishes skin while aloe vera, coconut, ginger, ginkgo, and green tea hydrate and invigorate. (If this doesn’t appeal to you, check out our roundup of the best exfoliators.) Don’t forget: Scrubbing before a shave is a great way to help prevent ingrowns.
Take Care of the Eyes
Eyes show age. The skin around your eyes is some of the thinnest you have, and if you are going to be living your best life all night, then you need a strong, kick-ass eye cream to help hide the evidence. Recipe For Men is a luxury brand from Sweden that is known all over the world, but they also have a collection that is made for the every man (it’s a lot less expensive). The core values of the company mean you’re getting a great product, no matter what. The price means you can afford it. Pro tip: Keep this in the refrigerator for a cooling sensation that will snap your eyes into shape in record time. For other eye cream options, head here.
Use SPF Every Day — No Exceptions
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 nonnegotiable. 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 for vanity — it’s for your health. Plus, a lot of those anti-aging products can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Kiehls Facial Fuel is one of our favorites, but we also have a full list of suggestions.
Zap Those Zits
For most of us, zits don’t ever go away. Those people that say they go away after your teenage years are liars. Zits will settle down a bit and only show up for important occasions, making them all the more frustrating. It’s likely you don’t need all that crazy acne stuff anymore (unless you have cystic acne, in which case, listen to your dermatologist, not me). This Overnight Spot Treatment from (Malin + Goetz) works on the targeted area and works fast. By the time you wake up in the morning, chances are you’ll be zit-free, or at least well on your way. No need to use another medication during the day either — too much attention to a zit can dry out your skin, causing it to go into oil overdrive, which is what helps cause zits in the first place. If you need something for the daytime, try one of our other fave zit zappers.
(Malin + Goetz) Acne Treatment Nighttime – $22
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! Welcome to the decade many men call one of the best of their lives (said the 30-something author of the post you’re currently enjoying). 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 percent. 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 exfoliation will help you keep your skin in youth mode, allowing you to age a little more like George Clooney and a little less like Kieth Richards. These five basic steps (and corresponding products) will help you get on the right track.
Vitamin A for Effort
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 an buy that does that. Our pick for those of you just getting started with retinol is this duo from Dermalogica. It allows you to ease into retinol by letting you customize your overnight treatment. 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.
Take a Hit of (Alpha Hydroxy) Acid
Yes, there is a tonic outside of that which goes well with gin. This potent skin tonic is packed with Alpha Hydroxy Acids like Lactic Acid, Azelaic Acid, and Salicin to keep skin in its 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 like any good post wash tonic should do, it also gently exfoliates skin, therefore, helping to keep wrinkles at bay. The key to all skincare, but especially a routine that involves vitamin A products and acids, is regular sunscreen use.
Use SPF Daily
Now that you have embraced retinol and acids for cell-turnover and exfoliation, it’s time to up your daily dose of SPF. We’ll say it again and again — sunscreen is an absolute MUST if you want to fend off the signs of aging. And whereas the aforementioned products do wonders your skin the envy of all who see it, you’re just wasting your time if you don’t protect it every day. This new sunscreen from Avène is our pick because it’s chemical sunscreen-free and specifically made for those who have oil-prone skin and don’t like wearing sunscreen (so … most guys). On top of that, there are added antioxidants that help protect skin from other harmful elements out there and of course Avène Thermal Spring Water to help hydrate the driest skin.
Fight off the Free Radicals
Speaking of antioxidants – if you haven’t started already, it’s OK. Your 30s are a great time to add an antioxidant serum to the mix. Resveratrol and ferulic acid are both antioxidant powerhouses and in this concentration, you’re doing your skin a solid by using a couple drops every morning. Yep, all you need is a couple drops after you wash and before you put on any creams and sunscreens. Your skin will have a protective base layer fending off free-radicals caused by pollution. Other brands can charge well over $100 for this kind of stuff, but we wanted to let you in on the secret of The Ordinary, where you can get almost any of their products for less than $10.
Pay Extra Attention to the Eyes
The skin around your eyes is the thinnest skin you have. Baggage and wrinkles show up here first, and once they do, good luck getting rid of them without the aid of your neighborhood dermatologist. So now that you’ve hit your 30s, spend a little extra and give them something with some strength. Ferulic acid (the same as above) and retinol (yep, same too) are added to the Dr. Dennis Gross ECG Complex to act together and keep the delicate eye area looking it’s best by keeping skin not only super hydrated but also gently exfoliated.
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 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 worse), 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.”
Guys tend to think that in order to achieve a clean face, it’s got to squeak. It’s not true — you actually want to hold on to some of that oil. As our skin gets older, it gets dryer, which will only get worse if you keep using that same oil-absorbing face wash you used as a 20-something. Switch out whatever soap you’re using for this creamy cleanser from Lab Series that leaves your skin feeling fresh while helping keep that all-important moisture where it belongs: in your face.
Not only does our skin get dryer as we age, but it stops renewing itself as much as it once did. That’s called “cell renewal,” and it’s what kept your skin glowing when you were younger. To give your skin’s natural renewal process a push, use these Glycolic Pads from Malin+Goetz. The pads help fend off fine lines while keeping hyper-pigmentation, or dark spots, away. Use these bad boys once or twice a week, and you’ll notice a big difference in no time.
What’s one of the biggest giveaways that you’re getting older? Age spots — it’s right there in the name after all. You don’t have to see spots though. Using a targeted treatment to fight them, like this Discoloration Defense from SkinCeuticals, is a necessary step if you really want to fade any surfacing darkness. Most important with any dark spot treatment? Consistency. Use this twice a day, every day, to get rid of those stubborn spots. They took years to get here, so they aren’t going down without a fight. Be patient and dedicated and you’ll definitely see results.
Men aren’t typically the ones to grab the rich, heavy, anti-aging cream to keep hydration up and wrinkles down. Add this lightweight — no really, it’s super light — Water-Gel Concentrate from Clinique For Men to your routine after you wash and before your go-to moisturizer to give your skin a hydrating boost. You won’t even notice the gel after you put it on, but you will notice a dramatic difference in your skin. All that moisture and you didn’t even need to pick up a fancy French crème.
If you haven’t gotten on board with retinol yet, then what are you waiting for? Adding this gentle, yet effective night cream from Verso is a must. Basically, you need retinol at night like you need SPF during the day (as in, you should always use it). This cream, like the majority of Verso’s products, use a unique form of retinol – Retinol 8 – to do what other retinols can’t, which leads to high power results without drying out skin. In fact, it’s so good, they even made a day cream with Retinol 8 in it (but you still need your sunscreen).
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