Smart skincare doesn’t need to be complicated, and this basic skincare routine for men proves that. It only takes a few products to maintain clear, healthy skin.
Some people’s skincare routines are long, ornate, and often intimidating to anyone trying to build his or her own regimen for the first time. However, it’s possible and acceptable to follow a much simpler regimen if you want to—especially when starting out. The basic skincare routine for men is really just two or three steps, and it still promotes clear, healthy complexion. Here is a look at that regimen, and how it alters (ever so slightly) from morning to midday to night.
Step 1: Cleanse
For morning and night, you’ll need a cleanser. Pick one that deep cleans the pores: A clay cleanser, for example, can be both gentle on skin and extremely powerful in removing oil and grime from deep within pores. (This is why Cardon chose clay as a key ingredient in its cleanser.)
When you wake up in the morning, you’ve got to wash your face right away. You’ve been sleeping on your pillows night after night, which have soaked up your sweat and oils, and thus they’re likely harboring lots of bacteria. (Bonus hygiene tip: Wash your pillowcases weekly, and your bed sheets every other week.)
Before bed, then, you’ve also got to wash away the entire day’s accumulation of oil, grime, sweat, and dirt. If not, you’ll layer all of these things onto your pillowcase and then press your also-dirty face into it for eight hours while you sleep. And then you’ll wake with breakouts, enlarged pores, or that not-so-fresh feeling.
Step 2: Moisturize
Next, in both the morning and evening, you need to moisturize the skin. There is more purpose to using moisturizer than simply adding hydration. Moisturizer boosts the “barrier function” of the skin, in that it works as a “double epidermis”. (Try saying "double epidermis" ten times fast.) It does so in one way by protecting skin from environmental toxins, like pollution, that otherwise age our appearance and damage cells. In addition to that defense, the barrier boost of moisturizers also prevents excess water loss from beneath the skin. So, it prevents bad stuff from getting in, and good stuff from getting out.
Look for moisturizers that feature nourishing ingredients, from plant extracts to vitamins. Each moisturizer’s formula will deliver something different to the skin based on which of these ingredients is used, and each brand should be able to articulate why they chose the ones they did. Take Cardon as an example, which uses cactus extract as a key ingredient in each of its products. This ingredient is known for its soothing, healing properties, and gives a moisturizer that much more muscle.
Your moisturizer should differ from morning to night. So, in theory, you should have two moisturizers on your sinkledge. Here is how they differ:
Morning moisturizer: The morning moisturizer needs to include broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30 or greater. (SPF 30 provides 97% protection from the sun, whereas SPF 15 only offers 93% coverage.) It’s easy to mistake SPF as only necessary for long sunny picnics or beach days, but it is imperative to use every day. That’s because the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays are active every day, and they mutate our skin cells and can lead to premature skin aging (that’s UVA rays) as well as skin cancer (that’s UVB rays). On top of that, UVA rays can also go through glass, meaning the sun can still age your skin prematurely and aggressively even if you’re sitting indoors or inside the car. It’s like they’re stalking you.
But SPF gives you an invisibility cloak of sorts, at least from these omnipresent and oppressive UV rays. Pick a lightweight, water-based, fast-absorbing SPF moisturizer for daily use—like Cardon’s Daily SPF + Moisturizer—so that it doesn’t leave any greasy residue on the skin or cause excess sweating. This type of SPF moisturizer is good for all skin types, too. In particular, anyone dealing with oily skin will appreciate how it doesn’t aggravate the situation.
This morning moisturizer should be reapplied midday, too. For one, the barrier-boosting powers of the product will have started to wane, but also, SPF typically only wears for a couple hours. Assuming you ditch the office for a lunch break, that’s the perfect time for a second application, or a couple hours later to precede your commute home. Just wash your hands and splash some water on your face, then let it dry before reapplying.
Evening moisturizer: You obviously don’t need SPF at bedtime, unless you live in Norway and it’s summer and you sleep with the blinds drawn like a crazy person. Also, at bedtime, you want something a little thicker and denser that will wear longer than a typical daytime option, and that promises to help repair the skin. This is important, the repairing bit. Because as you sleep, your body is healing and your cells are regenerating. Every part of you is getting stronger, including your skin, and a repairing nighttime moisturizer works in tandem with the body’s regenerative cycle to magnify these overnight results. So look for ingredients that help firm complexion, boost moisture, stimulate collagen production, and the likes—this is why Cardon put the multitasking, anti-aging rosehip oil into its nighttime gel moisturizer.
Basic Men’s Skincare Regimen Recap
AM: Cleanse, Moisturize with SPF hydrator
Midday: Moisturize with SPF hydrator
PM: Cleanse, Moisturize with reparative nighttime hydrator
Once you’ve mastered this list, you can then target the specifics of your own grooming needs. A more advanced skincare routine can include eye creams or gels for dark circles, fine lines, and puffy eyes; targeted treatments for acne or dark spots; face masks for deep cleansing or deep moisture; an anti-aging regimen that includes serums and retinol to help skin look firm, bright, and youthful; and much more. But don’t stress about that stuff now—focus on mastering the basics, and you can add complexities as you see fit and necessary.