To many men, starting a dedicated skincare routine can seem intimidating. Social media often makes it seem as though you can’t achieve healthy-looking skin without putting in a ton of time and effort. Perhaps you’ve attempted to curate a routine of your own, but you’ve ended up waylaid by questions about whether face serums are necessary and what toner does for your skin. When you aren’t familiar with different types of products and what they do, it can be confusing (especially if your knowledge of skincare for men starts and ends with what your dad taught you about shaving in middle school).
We’re here to tell you that your skin deserves better—and that skincare doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. We want to help you by breaking down a men’s skincare routine that’s perfect for beginners. If you’re not yet comfortable trying some of the more advanced routines and your skin is in relatively good condition (meaning you don’t have any complex skin concerns like widespread breakouts or extreme dryness), these are the products for you. Keep reading to learn how to upgrade your routine with our best men’s skincare products.
5 Can’t-Skip Steps For Your Daily Men’s Skincare Routine
While your daily skincare routine for men can be adjusted according to your needs, there are a few steps you should follow every day. Learn what they are (and what Kiehl’s products are right for the job) below.
Wash Away Dirt and Oil
While there are measurable differences between men’s skin and women’s, the basics of a solid skincare routine are similar for everyone. This means no matter who you are, your skincare routine should start with cleansing. Your skin is exposed to air pollution, dirt, and grime throughout the day, all of which can stick to your face. That, coupled with the excess oil and dead skin that naturally accumulate, makes cleansing twice daily a must.
To ensure your men’s skincare routine starts on the right note, choosing the right cleanser is key. Our signature gel face wash for men, Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash, washes away surface dirt and oil without over-drying the skin. The energizing formula with caffeine and menthol also helps wake up tired, dull-looking skin to give it a fresher appearance. Using the face wash is simple: Just dispense a dime-sized dollop of the gel formula into your palms, then massage the lather onto your face in an upward motion. Once finished, rinse your skin thoroughly with lukewarm water (hot water can be overly drying).
Prep Your Skin With a Kiehl’s Toner
We touched on the topic of toner—and how you may not be familiar with it—earlier. What toner is and whether or not it’s necessary are among the top questions our Kiehl’s experts are asked. Here’s your answer: A toner is a liquid that cleanses and removes any impurities or residue left behind by your face wash. Note that toners can also have a slew of other benefits; for a more in-depth overview of what toners do, check out our article Essence vs. Toner: How Do These Skincare Essentials Differ?.
We recommend starting with a mild, non-drying toner suitable for all men’s skin types, like Facial Fuel Energizing Tonic for Men. Made with caffeine, vitamin C, and bamboo extract, this gentle formula helps to balance and refresh skin after cleansing (or shaving). It visibly reduces the signs of fatigue and leaves your skin feeling hydrated and comfortable. You can apply it with a cotton round or simply pour a bit of the liquid onto your hands, then pat onto your face. Choose whichever method feels best for you.
Address Eye-Area Concerns
Eye cream is a product that you may not think you need, but we recommend rethinking that stance. The skin around your eyes typically has fewer oil glands, meaning it doesn’t naturally produce as much oil as the rest of your face. This can lead to excessive dryness, which can cause fine lines and crepiness to look more pronounced. Treat your eyelids and the thin, delicate under-eye area with a product that addresses your specific eye-area concerns. For general hydration and anti-aging, we suggest Eye Fuel. Like the rest of the products in our men’s Facial Fuel line, it contains caffeine and helps wake up the appearance of tired skin. It can also help visibly diminish dark circles and puffiness when used consistently.
For a more intensive approach to anti-aging, try Super Multi-Corrective Eye Zone Treatment. The rich yet fast-absorbing eye cream works to address the visible signs of aging in four key areas around your eyes (the brow bone, under-eye, outer corners, and eyelids). You can use it morning and night for a smoother, firmer-looking eye area over time.
Moisturize For Hydrated Skin
If the extent of your skincare routine has historically started and ended with scrubbing your face with body wash, you’re committing more than one skincare faux pas. After every cleansing session (with a proper face wash) comes moisturizer. This is true for everyone, regardless of skin type. Even if you have naturally oily skin, moisturizer is a must: It helps keep your skin balanced and hydrated. There are moisturizers, like Facial Fuel Energizing Moisture Treatment for Men, that work for all skin types, and others that can be used to address specific concerns, including oily skin. Facial Fuel is a bestseller thanks to its invigorating formula that absorbs quickly (without residue) and leaves skin feeling refueled, reenergized, and revitalized.
If you need a moisturizer formulated to address your concerns, find your match in our article How To Choose The Best Moisturizer For Your Skin Type.
Apply (and Reapply) Sunscreen
If there’s one non-negotiable step in any skincare routine, it’s using sunscreen. Protecting your skin isn’t reserved for days at the beach or high temperatures. Applying SPF is something you should do every day, regardless of the weather or even how much time you’ll spend outside. It’s a healthy skin habit that will be easy to stick to once you make it part of your daily routine. It may tack an extra minute or two onto how long it takes you to get ready in the morning, but the benefits are immense. Not only does effective sun protection diminish your chances of getting a sunburn, something you surely know, but by avoiding UV damage, you can prevent visible signs of aging that result from sun exposure.
Experts recommend reaching for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, such as Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+. The lightweight, non-comedogenic formula absorbs quickly, leaving the skin with a matte finish. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be applied to your face and body. You’ll want to apply an even layer of sunscreen to all exposed skin at least 15 minutes before going outside (and reapply it every two hours, or after sweating or swimming). Other sun protective measures you should follow include sticking to the shade, avoiding direct sunlight at midday, and protecting your eyes with UV-filtering sunglasses.
Routine Booster: Deep Clean With a Kiehl’s Clay Mask
Not every step in our recommended skincare routine for men is meant to be done daily. Some additional steps are only necessary a few times a week or when your skin is in need of a boost. One such step is masking. Men’s skin tends to be on the oilier side, which means skin concerns like clogged pores and visible shininess can be an issue for some. To help address these concerns, we recommend reaching for a clay face mask, like Rare Earth Deep Pore-Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask. The award-winning formula, which stars fairly-traded Amazonian white clay, helps detoxify the skin. It’s clinically-demonstrated to instantly diminish the appearance of clogged pores, while continued use also helps enlarged pores appear smaller over time.* You can use this powerful mask once per week or as needed to deep-clean your skin for a visibly more refined appearance.
*Results based on expert grading in a 2-week clinical test on 54 subjects.
How To Update Your Men’s Skincare Routine on Shaving Days
A good skincare routine isn’t set in stone: It’s flexible. Beyond changing based on your skincare concerns, your facial hair can also influence your skincare routine. Below, we’re recommending simple switches for days when you shave.
Slough Away Dead Skin
Exfoliating helps remove dead cells from the surface of your skin, which can encourage a closer, more comfortable shave. That being said, you don’t necessarily want to shave daily—in fact, doing so can irritate your skin. On shaving days, however, it can be beneficial. Before reaching for your razor, prep your skin with Facial Fuel Scrub. This men’s skincare staple with menthol and crushed apricot kernels cleanses and helps slough away dead skin and other impurities. When used prior to shaving, it also helps soften tough facial hair. You don’t need much of the product to reap the benefits: A dime-sized dollop, massaged gently over your face, is ideal for your pre-shave skin prep.
Prep With Shaving Cream
One of the biggest shaving mistakes is trying to shave dry skin. When you shave, you should use shaving cream, gel, or lotion to help the razor glide over your damp skin. A brushless shave cream like Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream Blue Eagle can help cushion skin from sharp blades and keep irritation to a minimum. The gentle formula contains aloe vera and sesame seed oil, works on all skin types, and leaves skin primed for a smooth shave.
Apply a Post-Shave Lotion
Once you’ve removed your facial hair as you see fit, you can’t simply leave your skin as-is. Freshly shaved skin and trimmed hair require extra care. First, nip razor bumps and burn in the bud with Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief. This aftershave product is formulated with aloe vera, a skin-soothing staple, for a product that reduces irritation and leaves skin feeling virtually sting-free. After the product absorbs, you can continue with the rest of your routine, applying your moisturizer and SPF as usual.
Kiehl’s Tip: Traveling? Get everything you need for an on-the-go shaving session with our Ultimate Shave Collection Gift Set. The four-piece men’s skincare kit includes a cleanser, moisturizer, shaving cream, and aftershave lotion, so you can have smooth, comfortable skin, no matter how far you are from home.