If you frequent the Kiehl's Skincare Advice blog, you may have seen us mention the differences between male skin and female skin before. Though all human skin performs the same basic functions, there are notable differences in male and female skin characteristics. One of the biggest differences is typically in skin type. Men tend to have oilier skin than women (and, unsurprisingly, experience more oily skin-related concerns, like enlarged pores, than their drier-skinned counterparts). That's because sebum production is controlled by androgens, a sex hormone produced more in men than in women. The upside of this: Oil helps preserve the skin, so men with oily skin often have fewer wrinkles than those with drier skin types.
Of course, with excess oiliness may come acne (oil, as you may know, is what you'll find stuck inside of clogged pores). As such, it's important for guys—even those without acne-prone skin—to have effective acne treatments on hand for when the sudden blemish does strike. Here, we'll introduce you to 10 Kiehl's staple acne treatments for men, from cleansers to masks (and everything in between). You'll also learn a few helpful tips for using these acne-fighting essentials to reveal clearer-looking skin. Keep reading to discover our most effective acne treatments to add to your men's skincare routine.
Cleansers and Toners
Cleansing helps remove dirt, oil, and other impurities from your skin, which may help minimize oiliness and decrease the likelihood of developing clogged pores and breakouts. Additionally, some cleansers are formulated with acne-fighting ingredients and can help reduce active breakouts when they appear. Choosing the best formula for your needs depends on your skin type and your skin's current condition.
When you're battling an active breakout, reach for a cleanser designed to help minimize acne. We recommend Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment, which boasts salicylic acid and ginger root essential oil. The medicated foaming cleanser (arguably our best acne face wash for men) deep-cleans pores to remove traces of dirt and oil and help reduce stubborn blemishes. When used regularly, it also helps prevent new breakouts from forming. It's best suited for those with oily or acne-prone skin, and can be used daily or as needed for a clearer appearance.
If you're not experiencing any active breakouts, opt for a gentle cleanser that won't strip your skin, like Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash. This gel wash for all skin types emulsifies with water to create a dense foam that lifts away pore-clogging oil and other impurities without over-drying the skin. Use it as the first step in your men's skincare routine to help keep your skin feeling refreshed and revitalized.
After cleansing with your chosen face wash, use a clean cotton pad to sweep toner over your face to remove any lingering dirt or oil. Try our cult-classic Calendula Herbal Extract Toner, which we first developed in the 1960s. This gentle, alcohol-free toner with whole calendula petals helps cleanse the skin while soothing problem areas. It won't overdry your acne-prone skin and can be used daily after cleansing for a fresh, clean feel.
Serums and Oils
If you have acne-prone skin, there's a good chance that breakouts aren't your only concern. Dark spots (like post-acne marks), uneven skin texture, and blotchiness can also accompany persistent breakouts.
To help address these concerns, we recommend incorporating concentrated treatments—namely, serums and oils (yes, oils!)—into your regular routine. For visible dark spots and discolorations, try Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector. This brightening face serum boasts an effective blend of ingredients, including ethylated ascorbic acid (a stabilized form of pure vitamin C) and buffered salicylic acid. The potent formula is clinically-proven to help diminish hyperpigmentation and other dark spots by up to 49%.* It's dermatologist-tested and suitable for all skin types. Apply a thin layer of this lightweight serum to your whole face or directly to problem areas after toning on a consistent basis for more even-looking skin.
*Based on a 12-week clinical study of 17 women with all skin types presented with a mild to moderate severity of attributes, including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
For problem skin prone to visible redness and discomfort, a soothing face oil may provide relief. We know—the thought of using oil on blemish-prone skin can be intimidating. But there's no need to worry if you stick with non-comedogenic products, like Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate Face Oil. This calmative formula is made with 100% naturally-derived ingredients, including hemp-derived Cannabis sativaseed oil.* It helps balance hydration and strengthens the skin's natural moisture barrier to help your skin better protect itself against stressors.
When used consistently, it also helps diminish redness (like the kind you'll find surrounding blotchy breakouts) and relieves discomfort. To use it, we recommend a "less-is-more" approach. Dispense two to three drops into clean palms and pat your hands over your face, focusing on problem areas. Allow several minutes for the oil to sink into your skin before continuing on with the rest of your acne skincare routine.
*We consider ingredients to be naturally-derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.
Face Creams and Moisturizers
We'll let you in on a secret: Moisturizer is one of the most important (and effective) acne treatments you can buy. It seems counterintuitive, since excessive oiliness is a common cause of blemishes, but drying out the skin can do (much) more harm than good. When your skin becomes dehydrated, your body may produce excess oil to compensate for the lack of natural moisture in your skin. This excess oil can clog your pores, leading to breakouts.
Keeping your skin well-hydrated and balanced means using lightweight moisturizers every day (morning and night). If you have blemish-prone skin but aren't in the throes of a breakout, reach for Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream. This calendula-infused gel cream sinks into the skin quickly, refreshing it with weightless 24-hour hydration. It helps boost radiance and visibly evens skin's tone within just one week, while continued use helps reduce skin redness to reveal fresh, hydrated skin.
When you're struggling with stubborn blemishes, swap out the above for Breakout Control Acne Treatment Facial Lotion. This moisturizer is formulated with salicylic acid, a powerful acne-fighting ingredient. It's clinically-demonstrated to reduce acne blemishes while improving the appearance of rough, dull-looking skin.* It's suitable for oily and acne-prone skin, and can be used daily or as needed to promote smoother, clearer-looking skin.
*Tested in a clinical study.
Targeted acne treatments, like spot creams, are a mainstay of any effective skincare routine for blemish-prone skin—because they work. Typically, acne spot treatments are formulated with a high concentration of acne-fighting ingredients (like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide) and are used to help clear individual blemishes quickly and efficiently.
Blue Herbal Spot Treatment
Your skin type largely determines the best spot treatment for your skin. For oily, acne-prone skin (including teenage breakouts), we recommend Blue Herbal Spot Treatment, which contains 1.5% salicylic acid. It targets problem areas to help clear blackheads, pimples, and other types of blemishes to reveal clearer-looking skin.
Breakout Control Acne Spot Treatment
If you're dealing with adult acne, you can alternatively try Breakout Control Acne Spot Treatment. It's made with mineral sulfur and niacinamide, plus exfoliating glycolic acid. The fast-absorbing, blendable formula helps rapidly reduce the appearance of acne blemishes and helps prevent new breakouts from forming for visibly clearer skin.
Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask
Of course, spot treatments aren't the only effective blemish treatments. Masks can be a powerful weapon in your skincare arsenal, too. If you struggle with clogged pores, try adding Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque to your weekly skincare routine. This award-winning mask with Amazonian white clay helps draw out dirt, oil, and other impurities that can cause clogged pores. It reduces excess oil and helps minimize the appearance of enlarged pores when used consistently. For details on how to use a face mask properly, check out our article How To Apply a Face Mask The Right Way.
*Based on results two hours after use vs. untreated skin.