While plenty of skincare ranges and brands describe themselves as unisex, when it comes to choosing the right products for men, experts say it’s important to remember male skin is physiologically different to female skin.
"The difference is created by testosterone," says Dermalogica education manager Victoria Evans. "During puberty men produce huge amounts of testosterone, which affects the physiology of their skin and impacts its overall texture, thickness, sebum [oil] production and hair growth."
Due to increased oil production, male skin tends to be better hydrated than female skin, but it’s not immune to complexion problems.
"Men can also experience a range of skin conditions, from sensitivity, pigmentation, breakouts and ageing – due to environmental and lifestyle factors such as pollution, UV exposure, stress and diet, along with the impact of shaving facial hair," Evans says.
With that in mind, we asked grooming experts to talk through the six key products every man should have in his skincare routine…
"If you get cleansing wrong, it’s hard to get skincare right," says cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. "The ideal cleanser effectively removes oil, pollution and skincare products like SPF, without disturbing the skin’s acid mantle or clogging pores."
She recommends washing your face twice a day with a gentle, non-foaming cleanser for most skin types, that won’t strip the skin of moisturising oils. "For those with very oily skin, try a salicylic acid-based cleanser," she says.
Two or three nights a week, Evan suggests your next step should be exfoliating. "Removing built-up dead skin and pore-clogging debris can be achieved with a gentle exfoliator to keep skin smooth and clear," she says.
She favours powder exfoliators that turn into a scrub when mixed with water in your palm. "With a gentle blend of hydroxy acids and enzymes to smooth and brighten skin, this is a great way to prep skin prior to shaving, and keep on top of ingrown hairs and uneven skin tone."
A bit like the superfoods of the skincare world, serums are packed with potent ingredients.
"They’re useful in preventing fine lines and other visible signs of aging and can heal and repair skin," explains Faace skincare expert Dr Sonia Khorana, a GP with special interest in dermatology. "For example, vitamin C is used for brightness and also helps protect against free radical damage. This is best used in the morning, just after cleansing."
If you’re looking for anti-ageing benefits, the vitamin A derivative retinol is the gold standard, she says. "Serums with retinoids are great for ageing concerns, fine lines and wrinkles. I would recommend using this at night just before your moisturiser."
"Finishing your morning routine with an SPF product is the single most important thing you can do for your skin," says Heather Wish, skincare specialist at Paula’s Choice.
"Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF30 or greater will ensure your skin is protected against sun damage and premature ageing."
Are moisturisers with sunscreen incorporated adequate? Yes, according to Wish. "Just make sure it has the above SPF rating, and you’re liberally applying all over your skin," she says.
Sunscreen is only required during the day, of course, so at night a non-SPF moisturiser is what you need for long-lasting hydration.
"As we go about our daily activities, water is constantly evaporating away from the surface of our skin," explains Bunting. She suggests this is a problem, as dead skin cells can only be eliminated by water-dependent enzymes.
"Not enough water and these don’t work, leading to a disrupted barrier as dead skin cells stack up and the stratum corneum [the outermost layer of the skin] no longer does its protective job effectively."
A moisturising night cream can lock in water and prevent that from happening. To find the right formula, consider your skin type.
"If your skin is oily, stick to gels and light lotions – you can even get mattifying textures," Wish says. "If your skin is dry, use a thicker hydrating cream. Combination skin would be best using light lotions."
6. Shaving cream
For guys who prefer a clean-shaven look, the product you use alongside your razor will make a big difference to your complexion.
"Choosing a shaving cream rich in proteins and nourishing ingredients is important to not only help soften the hair, but to ensure the skin retains moisture during and post the shave," says Samuele Frank Bartolotti Jr, master barber at Daimon Barber.
"The trick is in mixing up the cream with warm water and applying it in a circular motion to the shaving area, to really lift the hairs up and away from the face. You will have much more of a precise shave this way."