Men's Facial Skincare Guide: How To Start Caring For Your Skin
The one thing about skin and skincare is that they are universal topics and experiences between everyone-or at least they should be. Everyone has skin, and it’s important for every person to take care of their skin no matter skin type, skin tone, skin color, gender, or anything else. But, for a multitude of reasons, society has deemed men's skincare - especially men's facial skincare - to be a latent priority and a feminized practice. So how can we change that narrative?
- Societal norms can be extremely harmful. Especially the narrative that self care is for women or is feminine. Everyone should practice self care in whatever way best suits them and their lifestyle
- Male skin tends to be more oily and have larger amounts of hair follicles. Therefore, men tend to need higher concentrations of active ingredients in order to see results
- A simple men's facial skincare routine consists of a gentle cleanser, a lightweight moisturizer, and an SPF in the mornings.
Breaking societal norms
Societal norms are everywhere. They play a role in everything we do and everything we talk about. The truth of the matter is that, at the end of the day, they aren’t going anywhere. As long as societies exist there are going to be societal norms, it’s human nature.
But, it’s our job as the younger generations to make an effort to change the narratives surrounding some of these harmful societal norms.
One societal norm that may not seem harmful on a surface level, is the idea of skincare. Skincare is beneficial, right?
Skincare is a part of a larger idea that we as a society have named “self care.” Self care can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some people may consider self care prioritizing physical activities like working out, eating healthy, and drinking enough water. Others consider self care to be more mental practices such as therapy, journaling, meditation, or breathing exercises. And there are also people that think self care means doing anything that makes you happy or makes you feel good.
All of these definitions are correct. That’s the cool thing about self care: there is no one definition.
Over the past few years, and especially during quarantine in 2020, we all had way more time on our hands and found ways to entertain ourselves. One of the many things people gained an interest in during lockdown was skincare.
Skincare is a phenomenal thing to be interested in because it benefits both your mental and physical health and, most of all, helps to boost confidence. However, people often lump skincare and makeup together. In fact, the skincare image across traditional and new media is only ever associated with and reserved for women. Neither makeup nor skincare is gender reserved.
The entire idea of self care is to better yourself by taking care of your mind, body, and spirit to live a longer, healthier, and happier life. So why should men be exempt from that discussion? Men deserve to live healthier and happier lives as well, and we should encourage people to take better care of themselves no matter their gender identity.
There is this deep-rooted stereotype that men should be tough and pride themselves on their physicality. Men are often ridiculed for wanting to take care of themselves mentally or physically in ways that women typically do.
Now we see more men on social media sharing their self care practices and how important it is to keep up with a routine to care for their bodies in more ways than gym attendance.
Does men’s skin require different care than women’s?
On a less serious note, let’s discuss what physically is different about men’s skin in comparison to women’s skin. While male skin isn’t that different from women’s in general, there are some key points to note when discussing men's facial skincare.
Obviously, skin type is not dependent on sex assigned at birth, and the process of caring for your skin is individual. These general distinctions provide a basis for building a skincare routine.
For starters, men’s skin tends to be more sebaceous (meaning more oily) and has an increased density of hair follicles. Generally, because men produce facial hair, they have more hair follicles on their faces, typically the lower regions near the chin and jaw. Hair follicles are what some people consider “pores” and they are the site of oil production. So, an increased amount of hair follicles usually means an increase in oil.
Dermatologist, Rita Linkner, says that because men typically have higher levels of oil production and higher amounts of hair follicles, they tend to need active ingredients with higher concentrations in order to see results. People who have drier or more moderate skin work the opposite because the increased concentration is more likely to dry out their skin and leave it feeling irritated.
One thing that men don’t have to worry about as much as women is hormonal acne. While every teenager going through puberty struggles with hormone changes and breakouts, women’s hormones go through more drastic fluctuations that continue post-puberty.
Simple men's facial skincare ritual
The majority of people, men included, want a simple skincare ritual to follow so that it’s easier to stick to. The good news is that simple is really all you need. The most basic skincare ritual requires only 3 steps:
- Gentle cleanser
- Lightweight moisturizer
While there are hundreds of other skincare products and ingredients that can be beneficial and some may argue are crucial, these core 3 steps provide the basis of a healthy skincare ritual. After you perfect this simple routine, you can begin to slowly add in ingredients or products tailored to your skin type and your specific needs.
Products to use
It has almost become a trend these days to spend hundreds or even thousands on skincare products. While taking care of your skin is extremely important, affordable options are just as effective as the higher-end brands.
Cleansers are one of the products where simplicity triumphs. Cleanser at its core is a soap. It contains sulfate used to break down oil, dirt, and bacteria. So while some brands may claim their cleansers are life changing or contain special ingredients, there truly is only so much a cleanser can do. Therefore, my advice is to always save on a cleanser because the ones at the drugstore are going to be just as effective as the ones at Sephora.
My absolute favorite cleanser is the Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser, and it retails for $9.99 at any drugstore or pharmacy. This cleanser is so simple yet so effective. It doesn’t contain any harmful or irritating ingredients, and it does its job.
A lightweight moisturizer is also easy to come by at the drugstore, but moisturizer tends to be one of those products people prefer to splurge on. Again, whatever makes you feel the best and works for your skin is ideal. The Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer ($14.99) and the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($13.99) are both great options.
And lastly, the most important of them all, sunscreen. I know it sounds repetitive, but sunscreen truly is the fountain of youth when it comes to skincare. You can have the most extensive skincare routine and get the most expensive treatments and procedures done, but if you’re not consistently wearing sunscreen, all of that goes down the drain.
Sunscreen is like insurance for your skin. You need to be wearing it every day. My holy grail sunscreen is the EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Sunscreen which you can find on Amazon or Dermstore for $34.50. It is a little pricey, but again, the drugstore has some solid options for SPF as well. While using sunscreen at all is better than nothing, it’s always recommended to use a standalone SPF rather than just a moisturizer or makeup products that contain SPF.
Skincare is self care, and self care is for everyone. We have come such a long way but there’s still so much work to be done. Break the stereotypes and celebrate all types of people wanting to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Written by Jordan Hammaren
- Photo by ben o'bro on Unsplash