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The Ultimate Men’s Skincare Routine

To many men, starting a skincare routine seems intimidating. You forgo using a facial cleanser and simply use a bar of soap for hair, body, and face because it’s easy, or stick to borrowing your girlfriend’s moisturizer out of convenience. Maybe you’ve even 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, to say the least, especially if right now, your knowledge of skincare for men is based on what your dad taught you when you started shaving in middle school.

We’re here to tell you that your skin deserves better. No more using products that aren’t meant for your face or sharing skincare essentials when they may not suit your skin type. Tackling a new topic may be challenging, but you won’t be fending for yourself. 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 more complex concerns like acne or extreme dryness), these are the products for you. Keep reading to learn how to upgrade your routine, the best Kiehl’s men’s products to get you there, and the right way to apply them to get the best results.


Step 1: Wash Away Dirt And Oil With A Cleanser

Research shows that there are significant differences between men’s and women’s skin. For example, men typically have thicker skin than their female counterparts. Despite this, the basics of a solid skincare routine are similar for everyone.I 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, which sticks to your face. That, coupled with the excess oil and dead skin that naturally accumulates, makes it necessary to wash your face twice a day. 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 and helps skin resist the effects of environmental stressors, like pollution. It gives tired-looking skin a healthier appearance and can make your complexion feel less stressed post-shaving. The formula contains caffeine, menthol, vitamin E, and orange and lemon extracts.

In the morning and at night, wet your face, then lather the cleanser between your hands. Massage the formula onto your skin in upward and outward motions before rinsing off with lukewarm water.


Step 2: Sweep Toner Over Your Skin To Prep

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 tasked with answering. A toner is a liquid that cleanses and removes any impurities or residue left behind by your face wash. Toners can also have a slew of other benefits and uses: Some facial toners mattify, some hydrate, others minimize the appearance of pores, and so on. Choosing the best toner comes down to your skin type and needs.

Toner For All Skin Types

If you’ve started doing some of your own research on toner, you may have noticed there are mixed opinions about it. Many assume that all formulas are drying; however, that’s far from the case. As we mentioned, the right toner can actually hydrate your skin. Facial Fuel Energizing Tonic for Men is a prime example. This toner, which contains bamboo extract, vitamin C, and caffeine, leaves skin feeling hydrated and comfortable. It can also be used to refresh skin post-shaving: either splash the formula directly onto your skin or apply it with a cotton pad.

Toner For Oily Skin

For oily complexions, we recommend Oil Eliminator Refreshing Shine Control Toner for Men. The formula helps reduce excess oil and minimize the appearance of large pores. You’ll love the instant cooling sensation, not to mention the healthy-looking, matte finish your skin will be left with. Spritz the toner directly onto your skin for easy application.


Step 3: Target Skin Concerns With A Serum

Using a serum may be a step you’re inclined to skip (or one you’ve never given a thought to), but we have to recommend you reconsider. Serums aren’t merely an extra layer of product or reserved for 10-step routines: These potent formulas target your skincare concerns, whatever those may be. Much like there are toners for every skin issue you can imagine, the same goes for serums. Of course, there are also options that work for all skin types, which is perfect for a beginner skincare routine for men. Age Defender Power Serum suits any skin type, including sensitive skin, and can be used to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. After cleansing and toning, smooth the serum over your skin, applying it every morning and night.


Step 4: Keep Eyes Smooth And Moisturized

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. De-puff under-eye bags with the cooling Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer, or improve the look of dark circles and eye wrinkles with Age Defender Eye Repair, which has an instant brightening effect.


Step 5: Apply A Moisturizer Made For Men’s Skin

You should apply moisturizer anytime you cleanse your skin. This means if the extent of your skincare routine has always included cleansing your face with body wash or shampoo residue, you’re committing more than one skincare faux pas. After every cleansing session (with a proper face wash) comes moisturizer. This is true, regardless of skin type. You read that correctly, those with oily skin need to moisturize, too—even if it seems counterproductive. The reason being, oily skin still needs hydration. 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’re looking to start a men’s anti-aging routine, your moisturizer will be an essential skincare step. Try Age Defender Gel Moisturizer for a formula that visibly lifts and firms skin while helping reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. As for those of you with oily skin, Oil Eliminator 24-Hour Anti-Shine Moisturizer for Men is your match. It moisturizes skin while also reducing excess oil, sweat, and pollution. Over time, you’ll notice your skin looks less shiny, and your pores even look smaller.


Step 6: Protect Your Skin With SPF

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 you wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. Beyond this, you should take other protective measures including wearing sunglasses, donning a broad-brimmed hat, and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day.II

Kiehl's Expert Tip: Work smarter, not harder. You may have heard this tip in the office, but it can also apply to your skincare routine. You don’t always have to add additional steps or time to your routine; you can use multitasking skincare products for men to streamline things. One example is using a moisturizer with SPF to knockout two steps in one. In the morning, apply Facial Fuel Daily Energizing Moisture Treatment for Men SPF 20, which is formulated with caffeine, vitamin C, caffeine extract, and broad-spectrum SPF 20 to protect skin from UVA and UVB rays while it moisturizes.


Routine-Boosting Step: Use A Scrub To Slough Away Dead Skin Cells

Not every step in our recommended men’s skincare routine is meant to be done daily. Some additional steps are only necessary a few times a week or when your complexion is in need of a boost. One such step is exfoliation. Scrubbing your skin or sloughing its surface isn’t an everyday activity. In fact, exfoliating too often can irritate your skin. However, that doesn’t make it any less important. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, which, in turn, helps your skin look brighter and allows it to better absorb products.

We recommend starting by exfoliating your face just once per week, then assessing how your skin responds and building up over time if needed. You may find that exfoliating once per week is plenty, while others may need to use a scrub two to three times a week. This will also vary based on the product you’re using.

Two popular options for exfoliating are face scrubs and exfoliating cleansers. While the two are similar, they aren’t the same. A face scrub should be used to slough your skin after cleansing, while an exfoliating cleanser works as a substitute for your daily face wash. In many cases, an exfoliating cleanser will be gentler and may have finer particles than a face scrub.

Our favorite face scrub is Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub. Use it to slough away dead cells, oil, and dirt and help soften tough facial hair for a more comfortable shave. If you prefer an exfoliating cleanser, try Age Defender Dual-Action Exfoliating Cleanser or Oil Eliminator Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Face Wash, which cleanses skin and reduces shine.


Routine-Boosting Step: Indulge In a Face Mask For Men

We all need to practice self-care after a long day, and one of the best ways to do so is to apply a face mask while you soak in the tub or read a chapter in a good book. For everything you need to know about masking, here’s a guide to the best face masks for men. If you’d rather avoid buying an extra product, we recommend Age Defender Exfoliating Cleanser. The unique dual-action formula can be used as a daily cleanser or as an effective exfoliating clay mask.

Once you have your match, apply it to your face after cleansing. Rinse off after it has worked its magic (follow directions on the specific mask you choose), then move through the rest of your skincare routine, starting with toner.

Kiehl's Expert Tip:: Don’t let a little facial hair keep you from sporting a face mask. Guys with beards can upgrade their skincare routines, too. Follow our advice on how to use a face mask for men with beards.


How To Update Your Skincare Routine on Shaving Days

A good skincare routine isn’t set in stone: It’s flexible. Beyond changing based on your skincare concerns, how recently you’ve exfoliated, and whether or not your skin needs TLC, your facial hair can also influence your skincare routine. Below, we’re recommending simple switches for days when you shave.

Step 1: Ensure A Smooth Shave With Shaving Cream

Shaving fits into your regular skincare routine after cleansing, exfoliating, and toning. However, when removing facial hair, you need to take extra care of your skin. Improperly using a razor can lead to razor bumps, burn, and dryness. 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 our best-selling Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream White Eagle can help cushion skin from sharp blades and keep irritation to a minimum. The formula contains menthol and camphor, works on all skin types, and leaves skin primed for a close shave.

Close Shavers Squadron™ Smooth Glider Precision Shave Lotion is another favorite option. This shave lotion softens hair for a precise shave and helps protect skin from irritation.


Step 2: Nourish Shaved Skin Or Facial Hair

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.

If you haven’t completely done away with your facial hair, you can also follow-up with a few drops of beard oil. Grooming Solutions Nourishing Beard Grooming Oil is our recommendation. This facial hair treatment tames and smoothes hair without leaving behind a greasy feel.


Once post-shave care is tackled, you can return to your regular routine, applying your eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen as per usual.
Next: How To Prevent and Treat Razor Bumps

I."Skin Care Tips for Men." American Academy of Dermatology.
II."Sunscreen: How to Help Protect Your Skin From the Sun." United States Food and Drug Administration, 2019.

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