By now, hopefully you know that having a solid skincare routine isn’t just a trendy topic for discussion on social media, it’s crucial for keeping your skin healthy. Using the face washes for men, moisturizing balms and even sunscreen can have a major impact on not just the look of your skin, but your overall health too. Your skincare routine, like your skin, should also change as you age and your skincare needs change.
The routine you used in your teens to ward off cystic acne probably isn’t the same one you’ll use in your 20’s and 30’s. And once you hit your 40’s and 50’s your needs change yet again, and thus the products you use and prioritize will also shift. Doing the research and narrowing down which products you need can be confusing. And as soon as you get that list, deciding between a plethora of skincare brands magnifies the complexity times ten. We decided to help you out, and create a men’s skincare guide through the ages that tackles all the products you need at any and every age, and how to use them. We didn’t do this alone, in fact we consulted with 7 dermatologists and skincare experts who weighed in on the must-haves for healthy men’s skin throughout life. No matter where you are in your skincare journey or what your routine currently looks like, something in the guide below will be helpful. Keep scrolling and craft your perfect routine.
Why Is It Important To Have A Skincare Routine?
Taking care of your skin is just as important as all the other ways you take care of your health — like getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating healthy foods and getting exercise. Having a skincare routine doesn’t mean you spend hundreds of dollars and apply 14 different products every night, in fact you’ve only got to check off a few boxes to do your skin due diligence. Your skincare routine also doesn’t need to be incredibly complex, it’s more important that you’re consistent and start off early in life.
Dr. Marisa K Garshick, MD is a board-certified dermatologist in NYC and explained that “A skincare routine is important for men as it keeps the skin looking and feeling healthy. Men can suffer from various skincare concerns including breakouts, shaving bumps or rashes, increased oil production, dry or irritated skin and as a result of these many issues, it is important to commit to a regular skincare routine to help to prevent and address these various conditions.”
“Additionally, since we know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it is always best to commit to a skincare routine to prevent any issue before they start.”
James Beckman, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon and an adjunct, Associate Clinical Professor in the Dermatology Department at University of Arkansas Medical School. He explains that “The very best thing you can do for your skin in this decade is to establish a daily skin care routine that addresses all of your needs. While one product is easier to apply than four, using only one product cannot supply everything your skin needs.”
“Instead, start a simple routine that gently but thoroughly cleans skin, stimulates cell turnover, provides antioxidants and restores the natural moisture level. All of these critical steps working together can delay, or even reverse, the damage your skin has received.”
What Should Definitely Be in My Skincare Routine?
We asked each of the experts we talked to about products that should be in everyone’s skincare routine, no matter how old you are. They all agreed on the products below, and I’ve included a few suggestions from my favorite brands for each one.
Sunscreen is crucial for skin health no matter how old you are. Dr. Karyn Grossman of Grossman Dermatology in Santa Monica, CA explained that “we spend over $8.1 billion every year treating skin cancer, which about 90% is caused from sun exposure starting in childhood. Furthermore, the American Academy of Dermatology states that about 90% of aging is also due to sun exposure over a lifetime. So to try to avoid wrinkles, brown spots, sagging skin and scars due to skin cancer, early daily use of SPF is so important.”
The AAD recommends at least 30 SPF for maintaining healthy skin, however some dermatologists recommend upwards of 50 SPF since the average person doesn’t apply enough of it. We’ll leave that up to you.
“A lot of men have a hard time find[ing] the “right” sunscreen for them. Younger men tend to be a bit greasier, and don’t like the sunscreen “feel” of products. They are also often worried about breaking out from products. So, for this age group, looking for an oil-free, non-comedogenic product is important,” said Grossman.
Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Sunscreen
Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Sunscreen
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen
EltaMD Clear Facial Sunscreen
Using a cleanser daily to wash off oil, debris and residue from the day’s events is also an important step in skincare health. According to Dr. Beckman, using a face wash once a day is all you need to do if you have normal skin that isn’t too oily or too dry. “Use a mild cleanser — either a gel, if your skin is oily, or a milky one, if it’s dry. We like the Theraderm Cleansing Wash. Its soap-free formula still foams to get skin squeaky clean, but it won’t dry your skin like a soap.”
Theraderm Cleansing Wash
Theraderm Cleansing Wash
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
A third crucial component of a basic skincare routine at any age is moisturizer. Keeping your skin moisturized is key to maintaining the moisture barrier that protects the outermost layer of the skin from daily toxins and irritants. Less is more, according to Dr. Beckman, and you’ll want to choose one that works for your skin type.
According to skincare chemists Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu, “the three fundamental products are cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen. Men tend to skew more oily during the day so you can simply use just a sunscreen and skip moisturizing if you feel the daytime routine gets too greasy.”
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Face Moisturizer
Antiperspirant was another skincare product that many of the dermatologists we spoke to recommended for men of all ages. Many of you probably already use some sort of deodorant for men, but Dr. Garshick also clarified how to use antiperspirant correctly to maximize the benefits.
“Additionally, men of all ages can benefit from using an antiperspirant, but not just using it, but using it correctly. It may be surprising to some, but antiperspirants, such as Certain Dri Prescription Strength Clinical Roll-On, are actually meant to be used at bedtime instead of immediately after showering. At night is when the sweat glands are empty, and the skin is dry to maximize efficacy and minimize irritation.”
She went onto explain that “finding a good antiperspirant can also be a helpful part of your routine in your 20s. Some men suffer from hyperhidrosis –uncontrollable, excessive sweating — which while the initial onset may occur in childhood or adolescence, the diagnosis may be delayed making it common for men to learn about it when they are in their 20s and 30s and realizing that it’s possible what they have been using may not be treating the underlying concern.”
Certain Dri Prescription Strength Deodorant
Certain Dri Prescription Strength Antiperspirant
Degree Men’s Original Antiperspirant Deodorant
A Note About Men’s vs. Women’s Skincare Routines
Many men are inspired to create their own skincare routine after gazing over at their S.O’s side of the bathroom at the small army of gels, serums and creams that have gathered. The truth is, even though those products might look like they’re only for women, many would work very effectively on men’s skin as well.
Dr. Grossman explained that “men often ask if they need to use specific male care products – and the answer is no! Many skincare products are unisex – even if their packaging and marketing are not male-centric.”
She also clarified that “Men are less likely than women to want to undergo multiple anti-aging treatments and the surgical scars associated with cosmetic surgery are often more difficult to hide for men. And, even for men who do a lot of treatments, skincare is so important to maintain and enhance those results.”
“Men also tend to have thicker skin compared to women, which means if they get skin cancer, the scars may be a bit more noticeable. So good skincare is part of good self-care.” In case you needed any more convincing…
How Does The Skin Change As We Age?
“In general, as one ages, the skin begins loose its collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastic fibers, Leading toward sagging, wrinkles and larger pores. In the eye area this also contributes to the red/blue/purple discoloration seen under the eyes as the skin thins. Brown spots and broken BV may also develop, often due to sun exposure. Also, the skin tends to lose oiliness over time and will become dryer as one ages,” said Dr. Grossman.
Dr. Garshick confirmed what she said, and added that “as we age, the skin barrier weakens, and the skin becomes drier as there is increased moisture loss. While many men note increased oiliness, this can decrease with age. Skin appearance also shows the signs of aging from sun damage due to cumulative exposure to the sun. This may appear as dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, skin laxity, and loss of collagen.”
All of the recommendations and products below are designed to meet the needs of your skin as you age, and help supplement the natural losses and additions that occur as we continue our time on earth. As always, please consult a medical professional and/or your dermatologist before you add or remove anything from your routine.
Men’s Skincare for Your 20’s
The younger you are, the more important it is to solidify solid skincare routines that’ll serve you the rest of your life. Julius Few, MD is a Plastic Surgeon and Founder of The Few Institute, a dermatology office in Chicago that specializes in surgical and non-surgical solutions for skincare problems.
Dr. Few explains that “You may not see the damage yet, but treating your skin well during this decade will slow down the aging process down the road. If you take good care of your skin in your twenties, you can help forestall the need for more invasive procedures down the road. I preach prevention over correction as the first line of defense.”
According to Dr. Few, after the age of 21, “a person produces about one percent less collagen in the skin each year. As a result, skin becomes thinner and fine lines become more visible. Incorporating a solid, yet simple skin care regimen from an early age sets skin up to age well.”
He recommends adding a hyaluronic acid to your routine, to help moisturize and supplement that loss of collagen.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
I use this hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary and it’s great. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel greasy, and it’s definitely improved the moisture levels in my skin. The Ordinary makes great skincare products that are not only straightforward formulas without unnecessary ingredients, they’re also super affordable.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
According to Dr. Grossman and skincare chemists Fu and Lu, adding AHA/BHA chemical exfoliants is also a great idea during this decade. Dr. Grossman recommends adding one in as an aftershave or toner, as it can help improve the greasy texture some men might experience on their skin. They can also “help to prevent acne and clogged pores and ingrown hairs.”
According to Fu and Lu, “Earlier in life, a good category of products to dabble in are chemical exfoliants. These are your AHAs (glycolic acid, mandelic acid, and lactic acid) as well as BHA salicylic acid. Finding your exfoliant sidekick can help keep skin congestion-free and even provide some acne breakout assistance.”
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Chemical exfoliants are great ways to clear away dead skin cells, dirt, grime and other stuff that can sit on the surface of skin and clog pores. Paula’s Choice makes a great chemical exfoliator that’s non-abrasive, leave-on and designed to benefit skin in many ways. It’s gentle enough for daily use and is designed to work on all skin types.
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting Acid Exfoliant
Men’s Skincare For Your 30’s
Retinols are the big important skincare product to add to your routine in your 30’s, as it’s designed to stimulate new skin cell growth, faster turnover of cells and improve overall skin health. Your 30’s, according to Fu and Lu, is also a great time to introduce active ingredients like Vitamin C that “helps prevent free radical damage, promotes collagen production and brightens skin. It is the perfect sidekick to your daily sunscreen to prevent premature aging.”
Dr. Grossman explained that “Retinols are great lifetime products to use. Not only are they great for acne and pores, but they also are the cornerstone of anti-aging products for their collagen promotion.”
“The trick to retinols is to start out slow, every other day, with a gentle product, and build up to what you can tolerate for a nightly routine. This one you probably want to stick with for all the decades moving forward.”
CeraVe Retinol Serum
CeraVe makes great skincare products that are also affordable. This retinol serum has three different essential ceramides that help protect the skin’s barrier, and also includes hyaluronic acid as well. It helps to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and uses MVE controlled release technology so the results are long-lasting.
CeraVe Retinol Serum
Differin Gel for Face With Adapalene
Differin is a retinoid! Adapalene is a somewhat gentle but effective retinoid that used to only be available via prescription and is now available over the counter for anyone to purchase. This formula is designed to clear breakouts, restore your skin’s texture and tone and normalize your skin’s cell turnover. It’s a water-based formula that’s oil-free, alcohol-free and non-comedogenic as well.
Differin Face Gel with Adapalene
Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Serum
This vitamin C serum from Paula’s Choice is designed to be hydrating, brightening and deliver antioxidants that improve the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and uneven skin tone. It contains stabilized vitamin C and peptides formulated to restore hydration to dry or sun damaged skin. If you’re interested in working a vitamin C serum into your routine, this is a great way to go.
Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Serum
Men’s Skincare For Your 40’s, 50’s and Beyond
As men enter their 40’s, 50’s and the later stages of life it may be helpful to use products like eye creams or heavier moisturizers to hydrate dry skin and slow visible signs of aging. Dr. Grossman shared that around the 40-year mark “it’s time to start thinking about your eyes. Get some good multipurpose eye cream and use it twice a day. Ones that fight all aging signs – puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles, are the best.”
In your 50’s, she said “a good anti-aging night cream should be a staple over your retinoid. Find one with great overnight actives such as anti-glycation, DNA repair, collagen stimulating, hyaluronic acid hydrating and slather it on your face and neck.”
Dr. Garshick stressed the importance of an antioxidant like Vitamin C in your 50’s “to help protect the skin against free radical damage. It is best to commit to an antioxidant every morning to protect the skin against common environmental stressors and triggers.”
She also recommended a strong moisturizer for men in their 60’s to help strengthen and restore the skin’s barrier.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel Eye Cream
This eye cream from Neutrogena contains hyaluronic acid and is designed to be gentle and effective on the delicate skin around the eye area. It’s made with a water gel that absorbs quickly but delivers long-lasting moisture like a cream. The formula is non-comedogenic and won’t clog pores, and it’s also fragrance-free.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Eye Gel
Oars + Alps Anti-Aging Kit
Oars + Alps is a favorite skincare brand here at Spy, and this anti-aging kit from them is made to help you moisturize effectively and protect your skin as you age. The Wake Up Face Serum is designed to be used in the morning and includes Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E. The Face + Eye Cream is non-greasy and designed to lock in moisture. It contains ingredients like aloe and Vitamin E for fighting free radicals, as well as Alpine Caribou Moss for boosting elasticity.