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With the conversation around men’s self-care and skincare growing rapidly (alongside a noticeable increase in ‘dude’-centric skincare meme accounts and male friends stealing my sheet masks), we understand that the beauty industry hasn’t always catered to our traditionally masculine counterparts. Us included.
With a jungle of confusing three-in-one products, formulas labelled ‘for men’, a sea of pink packaging and a facial hair oversight, it comes as no surprise that the general male population are still trying to get educated on the basics. So, we reached out to god-tier skincare genius Dr. Dennis Gross for some help. If Cole Sprouse and Alexx Mayo (Lizzo’s makeup artist), can rely on him, so can you.
“Male skin does differ from female skin in a few ways,” Dr. Gross clarified. “The first is that men tend to have thicker skin than females. They also tend to be more oily—this is because they have more receptors for androgens,” a.k.a. male hormones. “Men also produce more testosterone than females,” the doctor continued: “these hormones latch onto the androgen receptors and cause more sebum production.” This, he said, can actually increase the chance of breaking out.
We often joke about the timelessness of the Clooney’s and Elba’s in this world, but it turns out there’s very basic biology behind it. “Another major difference between the sexes,” explains Dr. Gross, “is menopause in females. That hormonal change leads to a significant thinning of the skin due to loss of hyaluronic acid. Men do not have such an ageing pattern and instead show a more slow and steady approach rather than a quick drop in thickness.”
In short, not really. “There really are more similarities than differences in male and female skin,” says Dr. Gross. “They both have receptors for ingredients like vitamin C, retinol and LED, and sun damage is the number one cause of premature aging in both skin types. Both really benefit from having a consistent skincare routine that includes active ingredients and an SPF.”
He continues: “Your skincare routine should be based on your skin type—not on gender.” Sure, for the most part male skin does tend to be oilier, the doctor points out, “but this isn’t always the case.” “Both men and women should make sure their skincare routine covers the basics: a cleanser, a serum that targets your specific concerns (like dark spots, large pores, acne), a moisturiser and SPF.”
Although often overlooked, (and rarely spoken about in relation to skincare) the way men look after their facial hair is crucial to maintaining clear, calm skin—especially considering it’s the part of their face most prone to irritation, clogged pores and breakouts. If you’re pairing a bougie moisturiser with the cheapest shave cream you can find (or—god forbid—none at all), just don’t. We’re breaking it down:
The night before you shave: Exfoliate. Ex. Fo. Li. Ate. Whether it’s a chemical exfoliant in the form of a serum , peel pad or solution, or a physical exfoliant like Frank Body’s Coffee Scrub or Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Scrub, good exfoliation will help clear away dead skin and bacteria from the skin to avoid irritation, post-shave breakouts and razor burns.
Moments before you shave: Never put a razor to your face without a cream, gel or oil to help it glide over your skin. Shaving should be frictionless, and shouldn’t leave your skin red and sensitive with razor burn. If you prefer a cream, try the Malin+Goetz Vitamin E Shaving Cream or Aveda’s Pure-Formance Shave Cream, if you like gels, go for Clinique Men’s Aloe Shave Gel, or if oils are more your thing, try REN’s Tamanu High Glide Shaving Oil or Olio E Osso’s Pre-Shave Oil.
Moments after you shave: Although positively antiseptic, a splash of alcohol after shaving will likely sting and leave your skin irritated. That’s why we’re all about aftershave creams and balms. Origin’s Fire Fighter aftershave cream is packed with soothing botanicals (chamomile, cucumber, aloe, eucalyptus and peppermint, to name a few) to take the burn out of shaving and leave your face feeling cool, calm and hydrated, and Le Labo’s After Shave Balm is the modern man’s best friend, cooling, soothing and softening the skin with nourishing avocado and toning rosemary.
On the days you don’t shave: Moisturise! Our bestsellers amongst men include Kiehl’s cult classic Ultra Facial Cream, Malin+Goetz’s Vitamin E Face Moisturiser, and Dr. Dennis Gross’ Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion.
Many men love the novelty of a sheet mask. Love it. But if we’re being totally honest, most of them are designed for the traditionally hairless female face, flapping in the wind rather than adhering to the bottom half of a facial-haired man. Our easy hack is to opt for a two-piece mask, like Mecca Cosmetica’s Fresh Faced Sheet Mask, or 111SKIN’s space-age Sub-Zero De-Puffing Energy Mask Facial. This allows you to easily mask the top half of your face (feeling like a superhero while you do it), without the worry of the fickle bottom half. Let the self-care commence.
Editor’s note: I understand and respect that sex and gender are not binary—please take the advice you feel best applies to your skin’s physiological make up.
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