A Basic Skincare Routine for Men

Man applying facial cream
  • A good skincare routine is essential for maintaining a clear and healthy complexion and preventing common issues like acne.

  • Establishing a consistent routine is beneficial for people of all genders, and it’s never too late to start.

  • Your skincare regime should, at minimum, include basic steps like cleansing and moisturizing to have a positive effect on your complexion.

  • If your specific skin concerns don’t improve with over-the-counter (OTC) products, it’s recommended to see your doctor for professional guidance.

Although skincare is often seen as a more feminine habit, men can also benefit greatly from an established regime.

This ensures that your skin is protected against external factors while helping you address common concerns like dry skin and breakouts.

But, if you’ve never done it before, establishing a skincare routine can seem like an overwhelming task.

Why Should Men Have a Skincare Routine?

Not only can a skincare routine help you achieve a clearer complexion, but it's also essential for maintaining the overall health of your skin.

The skin serves as a protective barrier against environmental factors, and having a good care routine ensures that it functions optimally.

This helps you prevent common issues like acne, dryness, sun damage, and uneven skin tone.

When should you start your skincare routine?

It’s never too late to start a skincare routine, but it’s generally recommended to do so in your 20s.

During your 20s, your skin starts to change and may begin to show signs of damage — such as sun spots or wrinkles.

Having a good skincare routine during this time can help minimize these concerns, helping you to maintain healthy looking skin.

Although it’s best to start taking care of your skin sooner rather than later, you can still reap the benefits of a proper routine if you’re past your 20s.

Looking after your skin at any age is vital for keeping it healthy and functioning properly.

Tips for Creating Your Skincare Routine

Consider your skin type

Before starting your skincare routine, it’s important to identify which of the skin types you have first.

This will help you select products that won’t irritate your skin and worsen any concerns you may be struggling with.

Here are the characteristics of the different skin types:

  • Dry skin will have a flaky or rough texture and may also be itchy

  • Oily skin looks shiny or greasy, especially in the T-zone (your forehead, nose, and chin)

  • Combination skin will have some dry patches — usually on the cheeks — alongside oily patches, particularly in the T-zone

  • Sensitive skin may sting or burn after using certain products, and you might also be more prone to breakouts

  • Normal skin is typically clear and free of the qualities mentioned above

If you’re still not sure what your skin type is, consult a professional for an expert analysis. They will likely also be able to recommend products that can help you achieve clear skin.

Look for active ingredients

When choosing skincare products, pay attention to the active ingredients listed on the labels.

These ingredients — like retinol, hyaluronic acids, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and niacinamide — are generally a good place to start.

They can help men address skin concerns, like hyperpigmentation (dark spots), dry or oily skin, and wrinkles, to create a healthier-looking complexion.

Key Point: What Does it Mean When an Ingredient is Active?

When an ingredient is labeled as "active" in skincare products, it indicates that it has been scientifically proven to benefit the skin.

Active ingredients are known for their ability to target and address various skin concerns, such as acne, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, visibly large pores, or dry skin.

Skincare products are also formulated to contain active ingredients in concentrations that have proven to be most effective in visibly improving the skin's appearance and overall condition.

This makes active ingredients a key component in achieving healthy-looking skin.

Avoid fragrances

Fragrances in skincare products may seem appealing, but they can be harsh and irritate the face — especially in men with sensitive, delicate skin.

Opting from fragrance-free or unscented products can help minimize this risk, allowing you to get the most out of your skincare routine without making any of your concerns worse.

Which Products Should Men Include in Their Routine?

When it comes to skincare, it’s usually better to keep it simple and get the basics right.

In this section, we’ll take a look at must-have skincare products for men that can help you look after your complexion.


It’s important to wash your face to remove dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and impurities that can clog pores to promote a cleaner and smoother complexion.

While most guys might reach for a traditional bar of soap to wash their faces, dermatologists generally advise against this.

Not only do many soaps contain harsh ingredients that strip your skin of protective oils, but they can also harbor bacteria that can cause breakouts.

Instead, look for a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser that has been specially formulated to use on your face.

A foaming facial cleanser is great for oily or combination skin, while a cream-based face wash is better suited for sensitive types.


Moisturizers are essential for hydrating the complexion — an important part of keeping the skin’s protective barrier healthy and functioning optimally.

Including a hydrating moisturizer in your skincare routine can also help you prevent dryness and soothe irritated patches.

Look for a moisturizer that is lightweight and easily absorbed to ensure a non-greasy look while keeping your skin hydrated.

You can also choose ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides that help the skin retain water, keeping it moisturized for longer.


Protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and preventing damage.

Incorporating a broad-spectrum SPF into your skincare routine can shield you from these rays and help you avoid dark spots, sunburn, and premature signs of aging.

Wearing an SPF every day also helps prevent skin cancer, which can be fatal if it’s not detected early.

Key Point: Do You Have to Wear Sunscreen Every Day?

Applying sun protection daily — even if you’re indoors or if it’s a cloudy day — is the best way to avoid UV damage.

UV rays can penetrate through windows and clouds, so it’s important to ensure that your skin is protected at all times.

A Step-By-Step Skincare Routine

Starting a skincare routine from scratch can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before.

However, with a straightforward and consistent approach, you can easily establish a routine that covers all of the essential steps to help you maintain a clear and healthy complexion.

In the morning

Step 1: Wash your face

Start your day by cleansing your face with a gentle face wash to remove any impurities or excess oil that may have accumulated overnight.

This will leave your skin feeling fresh and ready for the day ahead.

Step 2: Apply moisturizer

After cleansing, use a lightweight moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day.

Look for a moisturizer that suits your skin type and provides adequate hydration without leaving a greasy residue.

Allow around five minutes for the skin to absorb the moisturizer before moving on to the final step.

Step 3: Apply sunscreen

Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

This step is crucial to prevent sun damage, dark spots and an uneven skin tone.

In the evening

Step 1: Cleanse your face

Begin your evening routine by thoroughly cleansing your face to remove dirt, grime, dead skin and any pollutants that may have built up on your skin throughout the day.

This helps to clear any impurities that can clog pores, which is an important step in preventing breakouts from occurring.

Step 2: Apply a serum

Although it’s not always necessary, serums are great skincare products for helping you target specific concerns.

Serums are typically formulated with a higher concentration of active ingredients than normal moisturizers, making them more potent and effective in treating skin issues.

Apply serum to damp skin and allow it to absorb for three to five minutes.

Key Point: What Exactly is a Serum?

A serum is a lightweight skincare product designed to penetrate deeply into the skin. It usually has a slightly watery consistency with a silky texture.

Serums are usually packaged in small, airtight bottles or containers with droppers or pumps for precise and hygienic application.

Here are some examples of common serums:

  • Vitamin A or retinol serums are commonly used for anti-aging and improving skin texture (retinoid serums require prescriptions)

  • Vitamin C serums are great for brightening the skin and repairing sun damage

  • Vitamin B or niacinamide serums are used to clear breakouts and control excess oil to prevent acne from developing

  • Hyaluronic acid serums are fantastic options for hydrating the skin while providing anti-aging and acne-fighting benefits

Step 3: Apply moisturizer

After cleansing or applying your serum, use a nighttime moisturizer to replenish the skin barrier and promote restoration.

Night creams can be heavier than daytime options, but you can also use the same one as in your morning routine. Just make sure that it doesn’t contain SPF, as this can unnecessarily clog pores.

If you’re not using a serum, apply your moisturizer to damp skin for optimal absorption.

Should You Consult a Doctor About Skincare?

If you’re experiencing severe skin issues, it’s recommended to consult a board-certified dermatologist or a healthcare professional.

While many common skincare concerns can be addressed through OTC products and routine adjustments, some may require professional guidance and treatment.

You should also see your doctor or dermatologist if you experience any of the following:

  • Persistent skin problems: If you have persistent issues — such as severe acne, chronic dryness, redness, or unusual rashes — that do not improve with OTC skincare products, speak to your doctor. They can help diagnose the underlying causes and provide a tailored treatment plan.

  • Concerns about moles or skin lesions: If you notice any unusual changes in your skin — such as new moles, changes in the appearance of existing moles, or suspicious lesions — it’s crucial to have them evaluated by a dermatologist. This can help prevent more serious health issues.

  • Severe allergic reactions: If you experience a severe allergy to a skincare product or ingredient, seek immediate medical attention. A doctor can provide the appropriate treatment and help you identify the trigger to prevent future reactions.

  • Chronic skin conditions: If you have a chronic skin condition — such as eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea — it’s important to see your doctor before you start using any new skincare products. Some products may worsen your condition, and a dermatologist can provide recommendations on what you should avoid.

Where Can You Learn More About Skincare?

If you’re concerned about your skin issues or want to know more about taking care of your complexion, LifeMD is here to help.

LifeMD can connect you to a team of medical professionals who can provide information about skincare and guidance on choosing products that can help you reach your goals — all from the comfort of your home.

Make an appointment today to get started.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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