Skin Nerd: Skincare for men 101 - cleanse, serum, SPF

Everyone has skin, and everyone should be using a cleanser, serum and SPF.
Skin Nerd: Skincare for men 101 - cleanse, serum, SPF
Neostrata Foaming Glycolic Wash.

"Your skin doesn’t know what gender it is attached to, and the same core ingredients will benefit men’s skin as women’s skin."
"Your skin doesn’t know what gender it is attached to, and the same core ingredients will benefit men’s skin as women’s skin."

I haven’t used much skincare outside of a moisturiser when my skin feels dry. I am a man and wasn’t aware that skincare could be for me until this year. My skin is usually fine, a bit dry with flakes at times, and in the winter it would be worse. What should I be starting with?

- Brendan, Fermoy

Skincare was a relatively gendered industry until the last few years when it has become clear to the masses that skin is skin and that it needs to be taken care of, regardless of your gender. As a facialist, I’ve been working with men’s skin throughout my career but now, through our Nerd Network online skincare community, we see more and more men wanting to take care of their skin health.

Thankfully, Brendan, as I’ve mentioned, your skin doesn’t know what gender it is attached to and the same core ingredients will benefit men’s skin as women’s skin. You’ve mentioned that your skin can become dry and flaky at times but usually doesn’t cause you much hassle. I’d suggest that it’s possible that your skin can veer towards dehydration and perhaps become unbalanced.

The cornerstone of a basic skincare routine is your cleanser. Plenty of hoomans who have not forayed into skincare opt for a soap, shower gel or any old wash they find when it comes to cleansing. Soaps can be quite stripping of the skin’s natural oils, shower gel is often over-fragranced and can exacerbate skin dehydration or irritation and any old wash simply may not suit your particular skin.

For skin that can easily become dry or dehydrated, I’d recommend a nourishing cleanser that can assist the skin in retaining its own moisture, like my very own Skingredients PreProbiotic Cleanse (€25, & selected stockists).

It contains a hydrating and mildly exfoliating ingredient called PHA (polyhydroxy acid) plus a prebiotic-probiotic complex to nurture your skin’s own balance. Alternatively, the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (€10, selected stockists) contains ceramides, the fats that naturally help the skin to lock in hydration, and hyaluronic acid, a hydrator.

Moisturisers are great for instant comfort and upper-level hydration, but many do not have a small enough molecule size (or results-driven ingredients) to bring about skin health. What I recommend would be to try a vitamin A serum.

Vitamin A in the form of retinyl palmitate protects the skin, helps to regulate sebum (oil), can help to strengthen the skin and can improve the appearance of lines, wrinkles and open pores. It’s an all-rounder, nearly a show-off.

Using a vitamin A serum like Environ SkinEssentiA Vita-Antioxidant AVST 1 (€57, & selected salons) or Skingredients Skin Protein (€42, & selected stockists) AM and PM will help your skin to hydrate itself while improving the general health and appearance of your skin.

If you still feel you need a moisturiser, you’d apply this after your vitamin A serum.

One absolute non-negotiable is an SPF. Your skin needs protection from UVA and UVB rays everyday – UVA rays, unlike UVB rays, reach us year-round and can cause the skin to age faster. Many who find that their skin becomes irritated easily enjoy a mineral SPF, such as the Avène Mineral Fluid SPF50+ (€20.99, selected pharmacies). Wear it daily, and apply half a teaspoon to your face, neck and ears.

There are obviously tonnes of steps you can add, but in my opinion, you can start out with a cleanser, serum and an SPF and work from there. Best of luck on your new skin journey!

The Nerdie Pick

Neostrata Foaming Glycolic Wash.
Neostrata Foaming Glycolic Wash.

Neostrata Foaming Glycolic Wash (€30, & selected pharmacies)

If you are an exfoliating expert who is looking to step it up, Neostrata’s Foaming Glycolic Wash with 18% glycolic acid and 2% polyhydroxy acid could be for you. This has been a mainstay in the Nerd Network, beloved by Nerds, Nerdettes and Nerd Networkers alike and it is particularly great for those looking to tackle dullness, sluggishness in the skin and the appearance of lines, wrinkles and pigment.

It is definitely not for sensitive skin, and I would not recommend it for those who are very spot-prone as glycolic can exacerbate this in some. But if it’s for you, you will love using it once every 2 or 3 nights.

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