When it comes to trying new skincare and beauty products, I'm a kid in a candy shop. It's my number one passion, and I'm delighted that I get to review products designed specifically for men—an area that continues to grow but hasn’t matured quite yet.
This past holiday season, I spent several weeks testing products from Estée Lauder’s Lab Series Skincare for Men. This line debuted back in the late ‘80s, when men's skincare was still very new, and at best, consisted mostly of relabeled products originally marketed for women that were intended to be more about grooming than skincare. Lab Series has since undergone a total makeover in both its physical packaging and its product formulations, ushering in a “new era'' in men’s skincare, the brand tells us. Since its founding in 1987, not only have the products evolved, but the brand has more sustainable packaging and has created more interactive shopping experiences, including an app that analyzes your skin type using a selfie.
Founded: By Estée Lauder Companies Inc., in 1987.
Based in: New York, NY
Best known for: Throughout the last 35 years, the brand has been constantly pioneering elevated skincare regimens for men.
Most popular products: Daily Rescue Water Lotion, Daily Rescue Energizing Face Lotion, All-In-One Multi-Action Face Wash
Fun fact: Lab Series launched a personalized online assessment tool to evaluate your skin type from anywhere using your smartphone. The tool uses an uploaded selfie and artificial intelligence (AI) to generate a personalized skin report mapping six main skin concerns, as well as customized product solutions to address each one.
Other brands you’ll love: ClarinsMen, Jack Black, Dr. Barbara Sturm
The brand tells us that it's targeting “today’s modern man.” The idea is that the modern man considers skin care part of his betterment cycle—“looking better, feeling better and being his best self. We design skin care solutions to address his skin concerns, because when his skin is at its best, he can be at his best.” While I believe that the current state of men's skincare means many are still learning when it comes to establishing a skincare regimen, I fully agree that when someone looks good, they feel good, and we all perform better when we're feeling good.
What is the secret to the longevity of Lab Series? Estée Lauder tells us that it has remained a leader in men’s premium skincare thanks to the brand's understanding and focus on “men’s relationship with their skincare.” While it's hard to precisely define what that means, having explored Lab Series products for several weeks, I suspect it means the brand is strong at addressing three aspects. First, Lab Series prioritizes the link between aging and hydration—two areas of men’s skincare where we see increased demand. Next, the packaging is both simple and masculine (there's little mistaking these products for those marketed towards women). Thirdly, certain products or series combine several functions or features (“All-in-One”), streamlining choices for those who want to keep things simple or are just starting to develop a skincare regimen.
Curious to learn how this longstanding men's skincare pioneer can upgrade your routine? Read on to discover some of Lab Series’ bestselling products and learn which ones might best for your personal skincare needs.
Daily Rescue Water Lotion
This product is a moisturizing toner for the face that the brand claims will double hydration while balancing your skin tone. I used this toner daily for several weeks after coming out of the shower, in combination with the Daily Rescue Energizing Face Lotion and Daily Rescue Repair Serum, and observed that my skin looked fuller, smoother, brighter, and well-hydrated.
Daily Rescue Energizing Face Lotion
This moisturizing lotion works to defend against visible signs of aging as well as the effects of pollution and other environmental toxins. At its core, the product is a moisturizer with a light consistency, which makes it easy to use alongside other products, such as sunscreen. The product contains vitamin B3, caffeine, and ginseng, all of which can help to enhance glow and revitalize skin.
All-in-One Multi-Action Face Wash
This cleanser uses a gentle exfoliant to keep pores unclogged while removing excess oil and dirt from your face. While shaving often helps to exfoliate the skin, it's important to exfoliate areas that the razor doesn’t reach on your upper face and forehead, or even within your beard area to prevent or remove ingrown hairs that can cause inflammation. The face wash contains chamomile flower oil, which works to accelerate cell renewal, as well as peppermint oil, which cools and comforts the skin.
All-in-One Defense Lotion SPF 35
Lab Series claims that this SPF-infused moisturizer will “shield against environmental aggressors: UV rays, pollution, free radicals, blue light, infrared rays (IR), ozone, and harsh weather conditions.” I tried it daily for a few weeks in combination with the Water Lotion and Energizing Face Lotion, and I found it to be moisturizing without feeling heavy. If your skin does well with just a bit of lightweight hydration, this product can help you to simplify your routine, as well.
Anti-Age Max LS Lotion
This product feels more like an anti-aging serum than a lotion. It's light in consistency and feels refreshing to the skin upon application. Lab Series intends for the serum to smooth skin with mild exfoliants while providing a hydration boost with concentrated moisturizers. Key ingredients include palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, which the brand tells us can improve elasticity, and acetyl hexapeptide-8, which encourages the growth of natural collagen.
Oil Control Clay Cleanser + Mask
Part foaming face wash and part deep-cleansing mask, this cleanser creates a rich lather to remove dirt and excess oil from the skin. To use it as a mask, which the brand says can help minimize the appearance of pores, apply it to dry skin and leave it on for five minutes before rinsing. The product contains salicylic and lactic acids, both known to remove dead skin cells and help exfoliate, as well as Amazonian white clay, which absorbs excess oil.
Daily Rescue Repair Serum
According to the brand, this serum is designed to “defend against environmental aggressors and repair visible signs of aging.” Lab Series also tells us that the formula works to encourage natural collagen growth. The formula includes a range of botanicals including algae extract, which helps to hydrate and tone the skin, and lactobacillus ferment, known for its ability to reduce irritation. This lightweight serum has a pleasant scent and texture upon application, as well.