Meet Byrdie Boy and The Method Male creator Saleam T. Singleton. Each month, he'll be covering beauty topics through the lens of self-care and culture.
As it becomes more common for men to explore skincare, they’re asking more and more questions. I get product-related messages regularly on Instagram. I’ve found that men have just as many concerns about their skin as their female counterparts—they just haven’t had a place to express them until recently. I tell everyone that it’s essential to start with the basics and to understand their skin first. Often, men who are new to skincare invest in products they can’t use, or skip over products that may be best for them. It’s always been my goal to show men the benefits of skincare—only now, they don’t need much convincing. What men do need is a place to start. It’s time to end the myth of men not knowing how to take care of their skin. That’s why I put together this guide for grown men to master their skincare routines.
If you’re looking to step up your skincare game, this is for you. There’s more to it than buying products, but there’s no need to be intimidated. Below, you’ll find just enough information to get you started—it’s ok to take your time. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of things and be handling skincare like a pro.
Know Your Skin Type
Before you start to build your skincare regime, it’s necessary to learn your skin type, as well as any skin conditions you may have (which can change over time). Your skin type will determine the products and ingredients you will need to use. It also informs some of the choices you make outside of skincare, like the kinds of foods you consume on a regular basis. It’s not complicated, but it is the best starting point for anyone new to skincare because it can help you determine the best products for you. One thing to note: this doesn’t mean you can’t use products made for other skin types—consider it more of a starting point. It’s also important to be aware of any skin conditions you might have, such as eczema or rosacea; you may also have more sensitive or acne-prone skin. This can influence your daily skincare regime. These are the major skin types:
I've found this to be a helpful guide to determining your skin type.
Look for Active ingredients
This can sound intimidating to some, but it’s not rocket science. Active ingredients do the work that the product you’re using promises. Each product claims to address particular concerns for your skin type, but the active ingredients in the product are what get the job done. This, of course, depends on the formula, the amount of ingredient used, and quality. Every ingredient is used to combat a different skin issue or to promote a desirable result. Think of it as you would medicine—you wouldn’t take Pepto for a headache, so with skincare, you learn what ingredients work best for your skincare concerns at any given time.
It can be useful to do a little research and learn as you go, but in general, know that antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, lycopene, green tea, and niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) can protect and brighten your skin. While retinol can help with skin texture, acne, and wrinkles. Using those most likely won't steer you wrong (though retinol can cause sensitivity so always use it at night or with SPF). It’s not necessary to learn everything at once and mistakes will be made. What’s important is that you get to know your skin and what it needs. Some helpful resources:
I recently had a conversation with a guy who boldly admitted that he never reads his product packaging. No judgment here, but it’s beneficial to know as much as possible about the products you’re using. Labels do more than describe what a product does or promises to do. It’s vital to know the product shelf life (that little jar symbol with the number inside of it) or if an ingredient in the product will be irritating to your skin, such as strong fragrances. Labels tell you how often you should use a product so you don’t have to do any guessing. Finally, labels let you know how much of an active ingredient used in the formula of the product. One important thing to note: generally, the ingredient with the highest content will appear higher on the list. This information helps you become more knowledgeable in your purchases and know that you're spending money on a product that has active ingredients, instead of a bunch of filler.
Consider Seeing a Skincare Professional
It’s important to know when to see a dermatologist or esthetician (not the same thing). Having a product routine is great, but only a professional can identify, diagnose, and treat serious skin issues. Dermatologists can prescribe medication to address numerous skin conditions, from acne to eczema. You may want to see a dermatologist once a year or more if necessary. Dermatology exams are an essential part of understanding your skin and how to best take care of it. If you're considering an injectable, like Botox or filler, a dermatologist—not an esthetician—will be able to help you figure out the best option for you.
An esthetician is who you’ll go to receive services such as facials and extractions. They don’t prescribe medication, but are trained and licensed to treat skin topically. Only a certified esthetician can perform treatments like chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and Hydrafacials. An esthetician is an investment—see one at a frequency that works best for your needs and budget (I recommend a few days before a big event, depending on what treatment you're getting). Some estheticians are also trained to give you a more holistic view into your skin issues, and can work with you long-term to address things like acne through diet and skincare suggestions.
A Daily Regimen For All Skin Types
Below, I've put together a sample skincare regime that can be used by anyone. You can choose these exact products or use what works best for you. The goal is a build a consistent routine suited to your needs and skincare goals. This regimen should be repeated day and night for the best results. You can expect to add and subtract products accordingly throughout the year and as your concerns change.
Step 1: Gentle Cleanser
- Purpose: To keep your skin clean and clear
- Use: Twice daily, day and night
- My suggestion: The Ordinary The Squalane Cleaner
Step 2: Exfoliator
- Purpose: To remove dead skin cells and help skin cell turnover
- Use: Once or twice a week
- My suggestion: Paula's Choice 2% AHA Liquid Exfoliant
Step 3: Toner
- Purpose: To balance your skin's pH levels and add hydration
- Use: Twice daily, day and night after cleansing
- My suggestion: HommeFace The Herbal Spray Toner
Step 4: Serum
- Purpose: To deliver active ingredients to the skin to help with specific skin concerns
- Use: Twice daily, day and night (you can rotate which serum you use in the a.m. vs. p.m.)
- My suggestion: The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1%
Step 5: Moisturizer
- Purpose: To hydrate the skin and lock in moisture
- Use: Twice daily, day and night (you can choose a lighter moisturizer for daytime and a heavier one for nighttime if you prefer)
- My suggestion: Boscia Cactus Water Moisturizer
Add-on: Face Mask
- Purpose: To give an instant brightening, clarifying, or hydrating effect to the skin.
- Use: Once a week
- My suggestion: Baxter Of California Clay Mask AHA
- Know your skin type
- Be aware of any skin conditions you might have
- Find out if you're allergic to any ingredients
- Learn what active ingredients work best for your needs
- Always read product labels
- Always toss products that are past the printed expiration date
- Repeat your skincare regimen day and night for 30 days to see real results (though you may see results earlier)
- See a dermatologist at least once a year
- Visit an esthetician regularly for facial treatments
- Be patient with yourself and your skin
Addor FAS. Antioxidants in dermatology. An Bras Dermatol. 2017;92(3):356-362. doi:10.1590/abd1806-4841.20175697
Zasada M, Budzisz E. Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatments. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2019;36(4):392-397. doi:10.5114/ada.2019.87443