Common Skincare Problems, and the Hero Ingredients That Save the Day
From oily skin to acne, these are the most common skincare issues we hear about from men, along with our suggestions for the best ingredients to fix each problem.
While the list of skincare ingredients to avoid is fairly universal to everyone, the same cannot be said for those ingredients to actively seek out. While many ingredients are universally beneficial to everyone, they are not necessarily required uniformly, since different skin conditions require different strategies—and thus, different ingredients.
Below are the most common skincare grievances that we hear about at Cardon, along with the best “hero” ingredients that might remedy each one. You’ll see most of the ingredients repeated many times; after all, that’s why we call them “hero” ingredients. Here’s an important note about the recommendations, too: Because we chose to focus on the best ingredients, we didn’t want to overwhelm you by also outlining the overall regimen required for each condition. However, for many of the conditions, we do have articles tailored to the regimen itself, and will link to those accordingly.
If your skin is overactive and produces too much oil, this is often because it’s fighting underlying dehydration. But the best news for oily skinned guys is that you can train your skin to produce less oil by using the right ingredients. The best one to prioritize is hyaluronic acid (via a serum or moisturizer), which helps skin absorb and retain moisture, so that it never has to account for dehydration.
In terms of mitigating excess oil (and the accompanying appearance of large pores), look for niacinamide, which regulates oil production and pore appearance while also improving surface texture. Salicylic acid will help unclog pores and break down dead skin cells (minimizing breakouts and shine), and a good clay-based product will help extract oil and other impurities from deep with the skin. Just be sure to rehydrate after any cleansing efforts.
Regimen Guide: Best Oily Skincare Routine for Men
Dry Skin (Genetic or Temporary)
Gentle, non-abrasive exfoliating ingredients like lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid work wonders on perennially dry skin. They help slough away any rough patches and prevent dead skin cells from clogging pores and causing breakouts. It’s smart to spot-check these ingredients if your skin is sensitive, though it’s easy to find them in small-dose formulas, too.
Hyaluronic acid will also help your skin absorb and retain moisture, while ceramides help reinforce the skin’s moisture barrier to prevent dehydration. Look for nourishing oils in your moisturizer, like argan and jojoba, or a texture-smoothing ingredient like niacinamide.
Regimen Guide: Best Dry Skincare Routine for Men
Here they are again: Lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid are great for acne-prone skin, since they help dissolve dead skin, mitigate oil production, and keep pores clear. (Ditto for niacinamide’s oil-controlling powers.) Deep-extracting ingredients like clay will double down on these efforts, while a nightly application of retinol or daily application of benzoyl peroxide can help prevent persistent breakouts. (Talk to your board-certified dermatologist for acne-fighting prescriptions of the latter two.)
Regimen Guide: How to Prevent and Treat Acne/Maskne
Fine lines and wrinkles
Retinol is the tried-and-true wrinkle reducer, and your dermatologist can prescribe a prescription-grade one that helps firm skin and drastically slow further wear. SPF is doubly mandatory since UV rays work year round to mutate cells and “age” your skin. Prioritize collagen and peptides to help firm up the skin, prevent moisture loss, and promote elasticity, be it around the eyes or mouth, as well as across the forehead.
Regimen Guide: Best Habits for Anti-Aging
Tired Eyes (Dark circles and puffiness)
Even the guys who drink adequate water and get restful sleep can wake up with puffy eyes or dark circles. If you want a morning boost, find a caffeine-packed eye cream to boost circulation in the area. However, a long-term solution and preventative measure (applied at bedtime) can be found with niacinamide and peptides. The former helps boost moisture levels and strengthen the skin barrier (which in turn prevents those dark circles from peeking through so readily). Peptides, meanwhile, boost collagen production and in turn improve elasticity, yielding similar smoothing and happily hydrating benefits. Wearing SPF daily will also prevent this thin skin from breaking down and giving in to puffiness and dark circles. (Not to mention, fine lines, too.)
Regimen Guide: How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Under Eyes
Vitamin C is the sought-after ingredient for helping skin brighten (reduce) dark spots left behind by acne. You can also promote the rapid turnover of skin with an exfoliating or peeling ingredient like lactic acid, glycolic acid, mandelic acid, or salicylic acid, along with other alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs/BHAs). Lastly, a routine prescription-strength retinol product (like tretinoin) can promote the consistent, rapid turnover of skin cells, and can also prevent things like acne from even occurring in the first place.
sensitivity or irritability
People with sensitive or easily irritable skin need to use fewer products and less aggressive ingredients. It’s important for them to prioritize soothing recipes, with aloe vera, cactus extract, cica (tiger grass), heartleaf, or chamomile. And while wearing SPF is necessary for everyone, it’s these sensitive-skin types who need to be especially cautious against the sun’s harmful, painful rays.
While so many shaving woes are a result of a hasty shave or poor shaving hygiene, they can often be tempered with a soothing, cooling post-shave application (with aloe, cactus extract, chamomile, or the likes), and preceded by a non-alcohol toner splash (like witch hazel) to disinfect the pores without drying them out.
Regimen Guide: How to Get a Better Shave