Skincare Routine For Men

man cleansing his face

Looking to get started with skin care but want to keep it simple? In this article we run through the differences between male and female skin types, and we’ve assembled a minimal skincare routine for men based on these differences and some other factors. We’ve included pointers throughout to keep your skin looking healthy.

Are there any differences between men’s and women’s skincare?

The real question is whether there’s any difference between men’s and women’s skin, which there certainly is. Many studies have been undertaken to discover such differences, we’ve summed up the findings below.

Figure 1 compares the difference in skin thickness between male and female subjects, from the facial skin to the abdomen area in μm. The results show that male skin is thicker throughout the body, a difference of up to 25% is seen. The most drastic difference is the thickness of the neck skin and jowl, which is the flesh on the lower part of the cheek

Study depicting difference in thickness of mens and womens skin
Figure 1 – Skin Thickness (μm) [1]

What causes these differences?

Androgens are likely responsible for this difference in skin thickness. Androgens refer to hormones responsible for male characteristics, Testosterone is the primary androgen found in males.

Testosterone is significant contributor in other differences between male and female skin. A study conducted by Pochi and Strauss (1974), reported that sebum production and pore sizes are higher in men when compared with female counterparts [2][3]. Sebum is an oily secretion from the sebaceous glands, its function is to protect and moisturise the skin. Excess sebum production causes an oily complexion, clogged pores, and acne; this explains the longer periods of acne for men during and after puberty. Men usually have less dry skin because of this, dry skin is a contributor towards early aging.

Collagen density is also higher for males. Collagen is a protein and one of the key building blocks for your skins structure and elasticity. As you age, the body produces less collagen; the skin progressively loses it’s elasticity and signs of aging start to appear. For this reason and the increased activity in the sebaceous glands, men typically look younger when compared to women of the same age.

Note that this doesn’t always hold true. While in theory men should look younger, we often neglect our skin. Men are less likely to use UV protection/sunscreen, and are less likely to have an established skincare routine. Men are however becoming more aware of the importance of skin care products and routines, and startups focusing on this demographic are on the rise.

Ok ok enough facts, let’s get on with the minimal routine.

Skincare Routine For Men

This is an easy 4-step routine that shouldn’t take much time at all. If it’s your first proper skin care routine it will completely transform your complexion

Step 1. Cleanse

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser for Mens Skincare Routine

This is a critical step in any skin care routine. You’ll want to use a gentle but effective cleanser. As your skin produces more sebum you want to ensure you’re very thorough with this step. Target the areas that are most oily on your face, and ensure you cleanse twice a day. Once first thing in the morning and once at night.

A product we recommend is Cetaphil – Oily Skin Cleanser. This is for oily/combination skin, if you feel you don’t fit in this category, they also do a cleanser for regular skin.

Step 2. Serum

The Ordinary - Salicylic Acid for Mens Skin

A serum refers to a product typically applied after cleansing but before moisturising. The purpose is to deliver active ingredients which help tackle problems with your skin such as acne, or dryness. If you’re inexperienced or new to serums, we’ve written an article to help get you started:

The Skincare Serums You SHOULD Be Using And What They Do

Hopefully the above article will give you an insight into which one is right for you. Once you’ve established your skin care goal (e.g. clearing up acne) you can proceed to apply the serum (BHA, for example) prior to moisturising. Make sure you target the problem areas.

Step 3. Moisturise

Cleansing and applying serums can leave your skin feeling a little dry. Dry skin can cause sebaceous glands to overproduce sebum, causing an oily complexion/clogging pores. Dry skin can also cause irritation, redness and flaking.

You therefore want to make sure your skin is properly moisturised at all times. Use a moisturiser that is non-comedogenic (doesn’t block pores), and oil-free.

Paula's choice Oil Free moisturiser for acne prone skin

We recommend this moisturiser by Paula’s Choice. It’s oil-free and very light feeling. Doesn’t clog pores and sinks into the skin for a nice hydrated looking complexion. The addition of Niacinamide means it will also help to minimise the appearance of pores and regulate sebum production.

RRP: £28

Step 4. Sunscreen

I can’t stress the importance of this step enough. Many men neglect using any sun protection products and their skin suffers as a result. UV rays directly damage collagen and elastin in the skin. Over several years this sun damage can cause premature aging, and even skin cancer.

To simplify things even further, there are moisturisers with SPF included. Perhaps consider purchasing a couple to combine steps #3 and #4.

That’s all there is to it! We hope this minimal routine works for your skin, especially if you’ve only just started with skincare. Make sure you read our other articles for more advice 🙂


[1] Bailey S.H, Oni G., Brown S.A., Kashefi N, The use of non-invasive instruments in characterizing human facial and abdominal skin. 2012. DOI: 10.1002/lsm.21147 

[2] Rahrovan S, Fanian F, Mehryan P, Humbert P, Firooz A. Male versus female skin: What dermatologists and cosmeticians should know. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2018;4(3):122–130. Published 2018 Jun 22. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2018.03.002

[3] Pochi P.E., Strauss J.S., Endocrinologic Control to the Development and Activity of the Human Sebaceous Gland, 1974.

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