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When looking for the best skincare products for men, it's important to understand one thing first: No two people have the same skin concerns. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Zain Husain of New Jersey Dermatology & Aesthetics Center in Marlboro, New Jersey, many factors play a role in the overall condition of one's skin.
"Environmental and life factors combined with your genetics ultimately influence your skin's overall health and appearance," he says. "So it is important to consider your personal skin type, like oily, dry, acne-prone, normal, or sensitive skin concerns, like acne, hyperpigmentation, aging, or redness."
Once you understand the best types of products you should be looking for, you can factor in other things like ingredients, cost, and the big-picture regimen. Dr. Husain notes that price doesn't always correlate with results, especially when you need products geared toward your specific needs. More than anything else, focus on building a sustainable, effective regimen.
"The key part of your skincare regimen is making sure it becomes part of your daily routine," he says. "Skincare requires consistency to see results. Developing a routine may seem daunting, so consulting your dermatologist might help you take a step in the right direction."
It's why we contacted Dr. Husain to discuss some of his favorite ingredients and skincare products for men. Still, he reminds us to keep in mind that all genders can use most products. Below find his advice, along with a handful of product picks all centered around key ingredients and formulas.
Best Overall: Oars + Alps 100% Mineral Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer with SPF 30
It feels important to give the top spot to a multitasking moisturizer, one that doubly protects your skin from UV damage and environmental pollution while nourishing skin and preserving your face’s moisture levels. Oars + Alps’ moisturizer checks all the boxes.
“Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen every day is an essential step in your skincare routine,” Husain adds. “UV damage results in wrinkles, dark spots, and premature aging signs. Using a moisturizer with SPF (30 or higher) can help simplify your skincare routine. I’m a huge proponent of mineral sunscreens over chemical sunscreens. These sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the main ingredient. They are broad-spectrum, less likely to cause allergic reactions, and are more eco-friendly.”
Best Drugstore: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
From an overall brand POV, CeraVe has one of Dr. Husain’s favorite lineups of skincare products. “They have basic, gentle, and simple products that you can use for all different skin types and concerns,” he says. Not to mention, you can build a thorough regimen for a fraction of the cost of their top competitors. One of the brand’s best-selling products (and for a good reason) is its gentle, foam-free cleanser, infused with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides, for a nourishing cleanse that won’t compromise the skin.
Best Budget: Dove Men+Care Extra Fresh Body and Face Bar Soap
Many people think that the mass drugstore soaps are a step down from more luxe brands, but that's often not the case. "Not all bar soaps are created equal," Dr. Husain says. "Synthetically produced detergents, or syndets, were developed for use on human skin. Syndet bars are milder than other soap-based bars, making them better for patients with skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis," he explains. "I think that syndet bar soaps are great to use as facial cleansers, with the added benefit of reducing plastic waste compared to using liquid cleansers in bottles." That's why it's impossible to write a Best Skincare Products roundup and not include the best of the syndets: Dove. It's hydrating, it's gentle on skin, and it's probably your dermo's favorite, too.
Best Hydrating Serum: La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum
You can add many different serums to your regimen; some help exfoliate skin or unclog pores, while others promote skin firmness, brightness, hydration, and everything in between. "Serums have high concentrations of active ingredients to address your specific needs," Husain says. "Unlike moisturizers, serums don't have occlusive ingredients, which lets the active ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin."
Dr. Husain loves hyaluronic acid serums for people with dry or mature skin, and one great example is La Roche Posay's. "Hyaluronic acid is naturally found as a sugar in the skin and can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water," he says. "This makes it an excellent ingredient for hydration."
Best Vitamin C Serum: BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner
In skincare, Vitamin C is widely regarded as the secret to brighter skin. It does this by reducing inflammation and interfering with pigment production, says Husain. "As a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C can also neutralize free radicals to protect the skin from cancer-causing UV damage and exposure to air pollution. For this reason, vitamin C is perfect during the daytime. Vitamin C's high acidity also accelerates collagen and elastin production, which helps keep your skin plump and firm, reducing signs of premature aging."
Another thing vitamin C is known for is its instability in poorly formulated products. So, it's a good spot to invest. Dr. Husain says the most reliable form of vitamin C can be found in ascorbic acid—the hero ingredient in BeautyStat's excellent serum.
Best Facial Moisturizer (without SPF): Shani Darden Skin Care Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer
Dr. Husain has a three-pronged approach to identifying a good moisturizer if we take SPF out of play. "Good moisturizers have a combination of humectant, occlusive, and emollient ingredients," he says. But many moisturizers check those essential boxes, so it's more a matter of what kinds of these ingredients they use. "Humectants like hyaluronic acid or glycerin attract water to hydrate the outer layer of skin. Emollients, like shea butter, collagen, and ceramides, smooth the skin by filling in any cracks, helping to seal in moisture."
According to Dr. Husain, occlusive ingredients (like dimethicone) form a protective barrier on the skin surface to physically block water loss. With hyaluronic acid, collagen, and dimethicone, Shani Darden's hydrator knocks it out of the park on the ingredient front. It's a lightweight, oil-free formula that is terrific for all skin types, especially oily ones.
Best Face Sunscreen: EltaMD UV Shield Face and Body Sunscreen Lotion Broad-Spectrum SPF 45
Perhaps you've got a face moisturizer that you already love, but it lacks SPF. You can add a layer of face sunscreen on top of that. "SPF does not have to be included in your moisturizer, but it certainly makes it more convenient for most guys who traditionally don't like using too many products in their daily skincare routines," Dr. Husain notes. "You can apply moisturizer after cleansing your face and applying any serums, followed by a broad-spectrum sunscreen."
Make sure it's dedicated for your face, though, as somebody sunscreens have comedogenic ingredients that may clog your pores and lead to breakouts. However, some options work for both face and body, like Dr. Husain's favorite, Elta MD's UV Shield broad-spectrum SPF 45 daily sunscreen. "It applies smoothly because of its lightweight water-based formula and is great for acne-prone skin types, those with rosacea, and also those with hyperpigmentation." He cites ingredients like hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, niacinamide, and antioxidants, which together protect skin from toxins, deeply moisturize, gently exfoliate dead cells, and smooth your overall complexion.
Best Night Cream: Dr. Zenovia Skincare Peptide + Ceramide Repairing Moisturizer
“Your skin repairs and recovers itself while you sleep, so a good anti-aging night cream should focus on moisturization and repair with added ingredients to improve skin tone, texture, fine lines, and wrinkles,” Dr. Husain says. In addition to retinol (see below), Dr. Husain also suggests his patients seek out ceramides, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid for their night creams. “These will hydrate your skin and keep a protective barrier to prevent water loss while you sleep,” he adds. You’ll find ceramides front and center in Dr. Zenovia’s night cream, along with skin-firming peptides.
Best Gentle Cleanser: Ceylon Facial Wash
"A good cleanser will suit your specific skin needs," Dr. Husain says. "So, knowing your skin type and looking at ingredients will help prevent skin irritation. Both natural and artificial fragrances can irritate those with sensitive or acne-prone skin. These products will also usually have denatured alcohols such as ethanol, propanol, or isopropanol which are very drying for the skin." Dr. Husain adds that if you are acne-prone, you should shop cleansers (and all products) that specifically label themselves as 'non-comedogenic, meaning they won't cause pimples. Ceylon's excellent gentle cleanser doesn't tout the term, but its ingredients do check out as non-comedogenic.
Best Face Scrub: Fresh Sugar Face Polish Exfoliator
“You should avoid scrubs with large exfoliating granules like nut shells or fruit pits, which can cause tiny tears in the skin, called micro-tears,” Dr. Husain says. “Choosing a less abrasive physical scrub, like one with small sugar granules, gets the job done without irritating your skin.” Fresh’s scrub is invigorating not only on the face but also on rough elbows, heels, hands, and more. It would help if you only used this (and any other exfoliants) up to three times weekly, tops. Give your skin a break between use so that it can generate more buildup to buff away. Otherwise, you’ll scrub off the lively, healthy cells.
Best Chemical Exfoliant: Bolden Nighttime Repair Serum
Dr. Husain prefers chemical exfoliants to physical ones. Those marked as AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids, like lactic, mandelic, or glycolic) provide surface-level exfoliation by dissolving dead skin cells. Those with BHA (beta-hydroxy acids, primarily salicylic acid) also help flush out any buildup within the cells, including oil, grime, dead skin, and the likes. Thus, chemical exfoliants help promote smoother, blemish-free, brighter skin.
Dr. Husain adds another benefit to the list: “Chemical exfoliants do not involve harshly rubbing the skin and can penetrate the skin for a deeper exfoliation.” One of our favorites is Bolden’s overnight AHA serum, which will help skin look more alert and less dull when you wake up. Similar to scrubs, you typically only need chemical exfoliants two to three times weekly, maximum.
Best Eye Cream: Brickell Restoring Eye Cream
Often, the degree to which you experience puffiness and dark circles can be genetic or based on your environment and lifestyle. "Because of this, it may be best to consult a dermatologist about your skin concerns," Dr. Husain says. "However, there are ingredients in topical eye creams that can help reduce factors that contribute to puffiness or dark circles." According to Dr. Husain, caffeine can help reenergize your skin, similar to how caffeine helps you feel awake.
Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, reducing swelling, redness, and fluid around the eyes. The skin around your eyes is fragile and delicate, causing the skin to dry out more quickly. Hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid or ceramides, keep moisture in the eye area and help the ultra-thin skin look better." Brickell's eye cream packs soothing aloe with caffeine from green tea extract, along with hyaluronic acid and peptides to hydrate and firm the area.
Best Retinol Product: SkinCeuticals Retinol Cream 0.5
Dr. Husain suggests seeing your board-certified dermatologist before beginning any journey with retinoids or retinol, which are known for their powerful anti-aging and anti-blemish abilities. These words are often interchangeable in our vocabulary, but they do represent different things. In skincare products, you can get retinol over the counter, but prescription retinoids often target more aggressive goals. "Those newer to retinoids may want to start with over-the-counter retinol, which are more gentle and work more gradually than prescription retinoids," he says. However, if and when you do begin, he suggests SkinCeuticals' retinol cream for first-time retinol users (which has variants of 0.3, 0.5, and 1.0 percent pure retinol). "To avoid irritation, I would recommend starting with a lower percentage of retinol and gradually increase to higher percentages according to your skin's tolerance," he says. You can apply it underneath your night cream before bed to maximize its benefits as your body goes into rejuvenation mode overnight.
Since no two people will have the same skin concerns, sometimes the best way to shop is with an ingredients-first approach. You can understand that ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, peptides, vitamin C, and SPF are universally suitable for all skin types. But other ingredients, like exfoliants, retinol, or oil-based products, might polarize other people. The first two can be harsh on sensitive skin types, and the latter can block the pores of oily-skinned people.
So, get familiar with those universal ‘goods,’ and then tailor your choices from there. We did our best to pick universally beneficial products for the above list, but you’ll need to match them against your personal needs, too.
What to look for in a good skincare product for men:
Universally Good Ingredients
It bears repeating: There are some ingredients that all men should prioritize. Chief among them are SPF, ceramides, peptides, Vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid. Make sure these things appear in your regimen at some point, and often (in most cases, they should appear daily, too).
Sensitive on Skin
incare products for men are in addressing frequent shaves and that their skin may be more susceptible to irritation as a result. In general, though, it’s good to shop for sensitive-skin products all the time—avoiding added fragrance, in particular. Exceptions can be made if you’re looking for treatment-style ingredients, like AHAs/BHAs for exfoliation and blemish clearing or retinol for miracle anti-aging powers. Always talk with your dermatologist before proceeding with these harsher ingredients.
Don’t Clog Pores
Shopping “non-comedogenic” is imperative, especially if you’re acne-prone or oily skinned (and men do tend to have more oily skin than women). Look for ingredients that tout this or for formulas that are “oil-free” and gentle. One big offender is coconut oil—it’s something we love using on the body and hair, but not on the face, for its propensity for pore-clogging.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Adam Hurly has been covering grooming for nearly eight years. He began working for Birchbox in 2013, then became a freelance writer/editor in 2016. Since then, he has written for GQ, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, Esquire, Gear Patrol, Bloomberg, Highsnobiety, Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Forbes...and of course, Byrdie.