Rachel Marie Walsh assesses the latest sunscreens, eye moisturisers and face washes for men.
Jack Black Oil-Free Sun Guard SPF 45, €21.50 at Boots
Broad-spectrum UV protection is the best anti-ageing cream.
Men sometimes look better with age (their deep wrinkles come in later because men have more collagen and menopause thins women’s skin) but issues like dark shadows, sagging and rosacea can be caused or exacerbated by sun exposure.
Shaving increases skin’s vulnerability to UV rays, which hit you even on cloudy days.
UVA rays penetrate glass, including car windows.
Jack Black is a Texan skincare brand that uses natural, sometimes organic ingredients.
I like this alcohol and fragrance-free SPF because it resists water and sweat and doesn’t leave skin shiny.
Oil-free lotions can be more difficult to smooth over dry and mature skin, causing the accumulation of filters in dehydrated patches (UV filters are designed to adhere to skin).
I think richer, alcohol-free creams are the best options for these skin-types, especially when their formulas go on clearly and quickly without reddening skin through endless rubbing.
Soleil Toujours is another US brand built on natural, sometimes organic ingredients.
Clinique For Men Super Energizer™ SPF 40 AntiFatigue Hydrating Concentrate, €52
This is excellent broad-spectrum, fragrance-free sun protection that absorbs easily and doesn’t look white-ish.
The bottle is orange but the ingredients list is very green thanks to veggie antioxidant extracts like kale, spinach and broccoli.
Topping this salad are moisturising hyaluronic acid and reparative niacinamide.
There is also blueberry, carrot, cranberry and lots of other soothing, free-radical fighting food extracts in the mix.
Clinique is a nice brand but there is nothing exotic or even relatively rare in this formula.
What justifies selling it at over €1 per ml?
Kiehl’s Facial Fuel for Men SPF20, €25
I think it is a safe bet that ‘tired face’ is the number one concern men express to skincare brands because products that target them are so often described like carbohydrate or caffeine-rich drinks.
It is difficult to define what these descriptions mean because while a sugar or caffeine rush is a reliable result of drinking those drinks, there is no ingredient that makes skin look buzzed, so to speak.
Caffeine is a skincare ingredient but not a great one, it has some antioxidant properties but can also be sensitising.
It certainly does not depuff or awaken skin like coffee stimulates the brain.
Further, a zingy, enlivening scent does nothing to help skin, even when the perfume is natural.
Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Eye Serum, €67 at SpaceNK, mrporter.com
Aesop’s unisex products look chic in your bathroom and they are high in natural ingredients.
The reason I don’t recommend them often is the brand’s ingredient choices.
This eye cream, for example, is high in witch-hazel, an astringent the eye area doesn’t need, and in lavender, a natural perfume that is soothing to the nose but not to skin.
The eponymous parsley is comforting but scarcely in the mix.
Novexpert Expert Anti-Aging Eye Contour, €40 at pharmacies nationwide and at cosmeticsonline.ie
Novexpert uses some fantastic ingredients in its products and this cream is a strong case in point.
It has tea, pomegranate, algae, milk thistle and a host of other stellar ingredient that are undermined by the perfume in the mix.
Kiehl’s Age Defender Eye Repair, €39 at arnotts.ie
Jars don’t keep beneficial (and pricey) antioxidants potent and stable as long as tube or pump-bottle packaging, but I imagine any man would empty this jar quickly.
This cream does contain some comforting, reparative antioxidants, as well as some fine line-plumping plant fats.
It won’t do much for dark circles physically but does contain some light-deflecting minerals that make skin look brighter in the short term.
No7 Men Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Eye Cream, €23
Denatured alcohol is also a terrible addition to an eye cream.
This cream is higher is shea butter, it’s true, but alcohol is still very prevalent and needn’t be in there at all.
It’s a drying, sensitising irritant and your eyes deserve better.
It’s a real shame because there are some great antioxidants in the mix too, just in smaller concentrations.
Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser, €25
You have to wash your face twice a day so cleanser is the only true skincare essential.
The ideal formula leaves skin clean and comfortable without causing any redness.
Use warm (temperature extremes don’t help skin) water and avoid scratchy flannels or sponges.
This is another one with a lot of irritating fragrance.
Nivea Men Sensitive Face Wash with 0% Alcohol, €5.79 at Boots
Alcohol isn’t widely used in cleansers, it is more frequently added to creams to make their textures thin and quick to absorb.
I’m not sure Nivea needs to highlight that this wash is non-alcoholic.
It is a great cleanser, though, gentle and comforting.
Most men don’t wear makeup so a light cleanser is something they can well afford.
Blackheads, which can be more obvious because of men’s naturally larger pores, are better treated with a salicylic acid product than a vigorous wash or scrub.
No7 Men Energising Face Wash, €11
More energising at the bathroom sink, this time from No7, though I can’t find the energy source on the ingredients list.
This is quite a basic, coconut and sodium laureth sulphate-based cleanser with no great antioxidant boost save for a teenytiny amount of Vitamin E.
It is perfumed, so not ideal for use around the eyes.
Clinique for Men Super Energizer Anti-Fatigue Exfoliating Powder Cleanser, €31
This cleanser is a nice — if slightly messy — choice for oily and combination skin.
It can be used as a cleanser or gentle, sugar-based scrub. It is irritant-free and oil absorbant.
Its powder is made to be mixed with water to form a pasty wash that foams up on skin.
This is more a novelty than a route to getting extra clean but novelties are fun when a product does what it says on the bottle.
It is hard not to lose a little powder in the dispensation, however, which can be viewed as a waste of money.