Want to build a skincare routine, but don’t know where to start? These three men share the rituals & products they swear by

When it comes to the world of beauty, you’d be hard-pushed to find an area that’s had as big a makeover as men’s skincare in recent times. 

Demand has never been higher. In fact, Google search data from 2020 revealed that queries about male skincare increased by 175% compared to 2019.* "With the revamping of notions of masculinity, the market has grown steadily in recent years," says Daniela Montello, senior data analyst at global communications agency, VMLY&R. "This space is continuing to expand, particularly when it comes to labels that promote and create genderless products and packaging."

However, some men still don’t feel comfortable talking about skincare, despite their interest. A survey carried out by Clarins of 1,000 UK men found that more than half secretly used their partner’s skincare products, even though 91% reported having at least one skincare insecurity, ranging from dry skin to dark under-eye circles and acne

Intrigued by skincare, but not sure where to start? Meet Dan, Dom and Leon – a skincare minimalist, a recent convert and a lifelong fan respectively – who’ve given us an all-access pass to their bathroom shelves to show what the face of men’s skincare really looks like. 

From how they got into skincare to their key concerns and the products they swear by, here’s how they found a routine that works for them – and how you can too.

The minimalist
Meet Daniel Moreno, 26, a digital marketing specialist from London

"I became interested in skincare after my wife, who’s super into it and even has a YouTube channel on the topic, talked me into it."

"I’ve always felt like I have very oily skin, but thought that a face cleanser was all I needed. However, my wife explained that I could also do with a few other essentials to get it right, which led me to the minimalist skincare routine I use today."

"My approach towards skincare has always been to keep it quick and simple, and stick to one brand. That way, it’s easy for me to do it in the morning before heading to work and not too time-consuming in the evening."

My skincare routine

"I’m a big fan of Avène as it has a range of products for oily skin, which has worked brilliantly for me over the years. I use the Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel, twice a day – right after I shower and before going to bed. I then apply Avène Cleanance Mattifying Emulsion for Oily, Blemish-Prone Skin, on top which I find is great for hydration, but also for helping manage any excess oil. After around five minutes, I then apply sunscreen, and I’m good to go! I’ve tried both Avène Very High Protection Cleanance SPF50+ Sun Cream for Oily, Blemish-Prone Skin, and Avène Very High Protection Mineral Fluid SPF50+. The mineral formula tends to work better for my skin."

"I also like exfoliating my face once or twice a week with Avène Cleanance Mask-Scrub for Oily, Blemish-Prone Skin. This is a recent addition to my routine and I can really see the difference after using it. I can’t believe I went so long without one."

"Another game-changing suggestion from my wife was to apply The Inkey List Beta Hydroxy Acid Serum, on my face every time I get a pimple. I usually find it works within a day or two – it’s incredible!"

"I think skincare’s a topic that still hasn’t gained much traction with men (I’ve only heard one of my mates talk about having a routine or being interested in the subject), but it’s such a nice way of taking care of yourself, just like hitting the gym or eating healthily. I hope it’s something that changes in the future, because I’ve seen such a big difference to my skin by using the right products."

The recent convert
Meet Dom Wakeford, 31, a freelance book editor from Margate

"I first started properly thinking about skincare during the pandemic – it was something to do to pass the time! I’d never given it much attention before (my routine, if you can call it that, was putting on moisturiser in the morning), but suddenly being confronted with my face on endless video calls made me more aware of it."

"As someone prone to both dry and oily skin, I was looking to balance and even out my skin tone. I did some research and implemented a new day and night routine of cleansing, using serums and moisturising, which I’ve noticed has made a real difference to my skin – it’s more hydrated, less oily and feels healthier." 

"The biggest difference, for me, has been consistency – I feel my skin is less susceptible to environmental factors than before, and now pretty much looks and feels the same all the time."

"I’m not particularly brand-loyal – I love The Ordinary, but now tend to use whatever has the best reviews. I’d still like to find a product to reduce the visibility of my pores, but otherwise I’m very happy with the routine I have now. It feels as natural as having a shower and shave in the morning. I honestly used to roll my eyes at the idea of a five/seven/10-step routine, but as you can probably see from my before and after pics, the results speak for themselves!"

My skincare routine

"In the mornings, I start by cleansing my face with Byoma Creamy Jelly Cleanser, after my shower. I then use The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, followed by Garnier SkinActive Vitamin C Brightening Serum, which I’ve noticed makes such a difference to the brightness of my skin. I then finish with Olay Total Effects 7 in One SPF30 Day Moisturiser, and a few drops of Bulldog Original Beard Oil, which I’ve found cuts down on the flaky skin underneath my beard."

"After washing my face with Byoma Creamy Jelly Cleanser again in the evening, I apply The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, which helps reduce congestion and even out my skin tone. I finish with Olay Total Effects 7 in One Night Moisturiser – this has made a big difference to my skin, as I never realised one should moisturise before bed! I tend to follow this routine pretty assiduously – even when I’ve been out drinking, it’s a nice thing to force myself to do before bed to wind down."

"Once a week, I’ll typically do an exfoliating peel, too. I use The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution – though less really is more here, as I’ve found that doing it too often can encourage my skin to breakout."

"For anyone looking to start taking care of their skin, I recommend doing your research based on your own skin type and concerns rather than going for a “one-size-fits-all” approach."

The lifelong fan
Meet Leon Anthony Graham, 44, a senior account manager from London

"I started a skincare regime when I was about 13 years old to help with my acne. I’d seen several dermatologists and tried multiple products, but nothing seemed to help. Looking back, I really struggled to find brands that catered for me as a Black man and my skin’s particular needs (and still do). The more clinical stuff used to make my skin burn so I started trying gentler formulas, which agreed a lot more with my skin. Through a lot of trial and error (and money!) over the years, I’ve finally found a routine that works for me."

"I’d describe my skin now as combination – I have a really oily T-zone, but I’m also prone to dryness and itchiness when the weather becomes colder. I’ve found that heavily perfumed products can irritate my skin and so I have to be careful about the skincare I use and watch out for too much fragrance on ingredients labels."

"Because of how sensitive my skin can be, I try to keep things fairly simple. I like to stick to a couple of brands at a time, have a yearly facial for a deep cleanse and change up my routine every three to four years as my skin changes. I think nowadays, there’s a temptation to overuse certain actives and so I try to focus on the basics."

My skincare routine

"Working in central London where there can be a lot of pollution, I’ve found that a consistent cleansing routine is really important for me. In the morning, I use Revolution Skincare Ceramides Hydrating Cleanser, and after patting (never rubbing) my skin dry, follow it up with a toner containing niacinamide, such as Bliss Disappearing Act Micro Purifying Toner. Afterwards, I apply The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, which I find helps reduce congestion and oil. Finally, I use my go-to SPF, Nivea Sun UV Face Shine Control SPF50. It offers sun protection, but I also find it stops shine. Plus, it’s brilliant value. I even pop it onto my T-zone before a meeting if it’s really oily!" 

"In the evening, I love coming home and washing my face straight away and applying The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, which has an oil-free formula. Twice a week, I exfoliate with a physical exfoliator, such as Sukin Signature Revitalising Facial Scrub, and if my skin’s feeling dry, I use Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial Masque Hydratant – I often travel for work and it’s great for preventing my skin from feeling dehydrated on a plane. It’s an essential in my carry-on."

"For me, consistency is key, as is sunscreen. I use loads of SPF as I’ve learned how important it is for warding off skin damage. I’ve also found that I don’t need to spend a lot to find good skincare – take it from me, not everything that’s expensive works!"

*Source: Delta Group