The Grooming Journal

Answers To 5 Of The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Men's Skincare 

Lee Kynaston answers some of your most common skincare and grooming questions.

black and white man looking back
Words by Lee Kynaston
Nov 30, 2022 

About Lee Kynaston
Grooming Guru Lee Kynaston is one of the UK’s best-known and most knowledgeable male beauty experts, with over 20 years experience of writing about men's skincare, haircare and fragrance. 

I've been writing about male beauty and grooming for over 20 years now and in that time I’ve been asked hundreds of different questions about skincare. Some questions, however, crop up time and time again, so here are the answers to five of the most common.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to know what a man’s skincare routine should be, how men’s skin differs from women’s and what the best skincare brands for men are read on…

1. Is Men’s Skin Different To Women’s?

Men’s skin is different to women’s in several key ways. Besides being hairier, the presence of testosterone makes it both oiler and up to 25% thicker (yup, we really are thick skinned).

Men’s skin also has more (and larger) pores than women’s and has a higher density of collagen – the stuff that gives skin its structural integrity – which means it ages differently, often leading to late life wrinkles being more pronounced.

Having said all this, on a very basic level, skin functions in pretty much the same way regardless of sex. This is why genderless skincare products still work for both men and women.

So, is men's skincare different to women’s too? Well, in many cases, companies making products for men’s skin have carefully formulated their products to match the specific needs of men’s skin. This is most evident in mattifying moisturisers designed to deal with the extra oil in men’s skin (shine is often cited a major skin concern for men) and balms designed to soothe skin irritated from daily shaving.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use genderless products though or, for that matter, products specifically aimed at women. If a product works for you and suits your skin carry onusing it – it’s a keeper.

2. What Should A Men's Skincare Routine Be?

Asking what should a men’s skincare routine should be is a bit like asking how many toppings a pizza should have. And just like creating a pizza, you can make your daily routine can as simple or as complicated as you like.

The margherita of skincare routines (think no frills but classic) consists of three essentials: a decent face wash to gently cleanse skin; an exfoliator to rid skin of dead cells (that’ll help shaving and speed up cell turnover); and a moisturiser to keep skin hydrated and help support its naturally protective lipid barrier. (I suggest using one with a built-in broad-spectrum sunscreen as it’ll help guard against sun-induced skin ageing).

This option is based around three basic objectives: Cleanse, refresh and protect. Opt for an exfoliating face wash and you’ve space to add another basic – like an after shave balm if you shave or a moisturiser that doesn’t contain a sunscreen thatyou can use last thing at night.

If you’re mad for toppings, though, the world’s your oyster (or meat feast), when it comes to skincare. You can add eye creams, serums, concealers, masks, anti-ageing moisturisers, spot-busters and, well, a whole host of other bits and pieces depending on your needs, skin type, budget and the amount of time you have to devote to your routine.

Keep one thing in mind though: a pizza, regardless of how many toppings it has, is only ever as good as its ingredients so go for the best products you can when deciding what your skincare routine should include.

3. What Are The Top 10 Men's Skincare Products?

Ranking skincare products is a bit like ranking books, bands or football players; you can do it if pushed but it’s an onerous task and everyone’s going to have their own personal favourites.

Having said that, some types of product are more essential to a man’s routine than others. So, here are my top ten skincare products for men, roughly in order of importance. Disagree? Don’t @ me.

1. Sunscreen. The best insurance policy against photo ageing, which leads to finelines, wrinkles and age spots. Look for broad spectrum ones if you want to guard against both the sun’s burning UVB rays and its ageing UVA ones.

2. Moisturiser. Essential for keeping skin soft, supple and hydrated and bolstering the skin’s naturally protective barrier. Using moisturiser daily can also help with shaving – keeping the surface of the skin smooth and easier for razor blades to traverse.

3. Face wash. Cleansing is the bedrock of any grooming routine, helping remove grease, grime and pollution and face washes are designed to do this without stripping skin of its surface oils.

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4. Exfoliator. Whether physical face scrubs (using fine buffing particles) or chemical exfoliators (featuring natural acids like glycolic acid), exfoliators are great for removing the dead cells that block pores, make skin look dull and hinder razor glide.They’re also great for prepping skin before using masks, improving their overall efficacy.

5. Post-shave balm. With shaving an assault on skin, after shave or post shave balms are non-negotiable for anyone who shaves on a daily basis, helping soothe irritated skin, hastening repair and reducing redness.

6. Eye cream. A great add-on to any grooming regime, eye creams and gels arespecially formulated to hydrate the delicate skin around the eyes. Use a cream if your main issue is fine lines and crow’s feet and a (more cooling) gel if bags are a problem.

7. Face mask. An occasional use product, detoxifying clay masks are great for absorbing excess oil and unblocking pores, making them ideal for anyone with oily or spot-prone skin.

8. Serum.The smart bombs of skincare, serums are potent skincare products, whose ingredients target specific needs – be it anti-ageing, skin-brightening, rejuvenating etc, turbo-charging your grooming routine in the process. Lightweight and concentrated, they’re used sparingly.

9. Concealer. When you need to disguise a spot in a hurry, want to hide dark, under eye circles or mask a little skin imperfection, there’s no better piece of beauty kit than a concealer. Think of it as the miracle worker of skincare.

10. Beard oil. You might not think of beard oils and balms as skincare products but not only are they great for conditioning facial hair they also nourish and hydrate the skin beneath, helping reduce the risk of beard dandruff. Ranked 10th here only because not all men sport face furniture.

4. What Should Men's Skincare Steps Be?

I’ve already outlined what a man’s skincare routine should be above but, whichever steps your take to look after your skin and whatever products you use, the order in which you use the products is crucial.

Moisturisers should be applied to freshly cleansed skin, at morning and last thing at night; serums need to be applied after cleansing but before moisturising and face scrubs are best used before shaving (they’ll help shift blade clogging dead cells) and before slapping on face masks (if skin is freshly exfoliated it’ll help the mask’s absorption).

Concealer can be applied anytime but bear in mind that it will adhere to skin better and will be easier to blend if it’s applied to moisturised skin.

5. What Is The Best Men's Skincare Brand?

Asking this question is a bit like asking what’s the best football team: one man might say Manchester United, another might say Liverpool or Leighton Orient.

Ryan Reynolds would probably say Wrexham but then he would. So, when answering this particular question, you’ll forgive me if I’m a little cagey.

Rifle through my bathroom cabinet and you’ll find a whole array of products by different brands and with different price tags – from Auden’s Age Defence Cream and Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Body Scrub to Jack Black’s Power Peel Multi-Acid Resurfacing Pads, Baldape Parlour’s Hair Removal Cream and a couple of beard balms from The Brighton Beard Co. And that’s just for starters.

I’m not slavishly loyal to any one skincare brand and you don’t have to be either (despite what some brands tell you about it being best to create a routine by sticking to products from their range).

As is the case with craft beer, you have to sample what’s on offer before finding something you love and, as is also the case with craft beer, the fun is definitely in the trying.

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