Skin Deep: The 411 Behind Great Skin

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Most people probably assume men don’t care about skincare. Deep down, I think you really do, (A-rod just released his own skincare line called hims!) but knowing how to build a skincare routine can be incredibly daunting. There are so many different types of products, so many treatments, how and when do you use them? It’s enough to make you give up before you even start. I’m going to give you the basics to help you start putting together your skincare foundation.

Mind you, not every skincare product will work for everyone.

Everyone’s skin is different, but when you find the right routine for your skin, and you follow it consistently (being consistent is key!) you’ll see a change in your face that will keep you going back for more. 

The first thing you should know is that the structural properties of facial skin differ between men and women. Men’s skin is approximately 25% thicker than women’s and it contains more collagen. Collagen is a protein in the body that builds skin, bones, hair, and muscles. In men’s skin, collagen decreases slowly over the years making aging less pronounced, but in women’s skin, collagen decreases quickly after menopause making aging more marked. (You guys got pretty lucky, I say!) Also, men’s skin has larger pores and produces more oil than women’s skin. Because of this, men are more apt to develop acne, but their skin doesn’t get as dry as women’s skin does. Due to the fact that men shave often, the strong exfoliation their skin receives from recurring hair removal can lead to younger-looking skin, but it can also bring about redness and razor bumps. Proper skin care and changing your razor often can take care of this problem and will reveal bright, youthful skin under the beard!


If you’ve never followed a skincare routine before, the next two steps are the absolute most important actions you should be taking daily to take care of your face. Oil, bacteria, and dirt build up throughout the course of the day so you want to wash all that gunky stuff off before bed at night. Your skin rests and rebuilds during the night so you want a clean canvas for it to be able to regenerate. On that note, change your pillowcases and sheets regularly. A grimy pillowcase will cause breakouts ruining any efforts you’ve made at attempting to create a skincare routine. 

men skincare
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  1. Cleanse: If you’re using the same soap on your face and body, STOP IMMEDIATELY! The soaps meant for the body are too harsh for the face because the skin on the rest of our bodies is very different from the skin on our faces. Soaps meant for the body will strip essential oils from your face leaving your skin feeling taut and dry. Instead, look for a cleanser that has salicylic acid in it (this will control oil and breakouts) and wash morning and night with warm water. (Steaming hot water will dry out your skin causing it to produce more oil.)
  2. Moisturize: Moisturizer is important for keeping the skin hydrated throughout the day. You can kill several birds with one stone if you use a moisturizer that already has SPF incorporated into it. If you are concerned about signs of aging, ingredients like antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and peptides will help combat lines, wrinkles, and dark spots you might already have, as well as prevent any that might be forming. (SPF can be applied separately, over, or mixed into your moisturizer if you find a moisturizer you love that doesn’t contain SPF. See below to find out why SPF is so vital to your skincare practice.)


If you’ve been following a routine for a while and you’re ready to add something new to what you’re already doing, eye creams and serums can give your skin an added boost if you feel you’re looking dull and/or tired. Seeing fine lines around your eyes? Developing rough or patchy texture in certain areas on your face? The active ingredients in eye creams and serums are meant to target particular concerns many moisturizers can’t.

men skincare

  1. Eye Cream: The delicate skin under your eyes shows all the ways you’ve been neglecting self-care. Late nights at the office cutting into your ZZZZ’s? Dark circles and puffy bags can be minimized with ingredients like caffeine and Vitamin C. Some eye creams even contain light-reflecting particles to illuminate the undereye area making darkness appear brighter. Fine lines and wrinkles in this area can be treated with eye creams containing peptides and retinol. Because the skin in this area is so thin, it’s important to stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and stop smoking! Allergies and colds will affect the severity of your dark circles and will create puffiness as well, so treating those conditions may help the appearance of your under eyes too.
  2. Serum: Serums are the superstar of your skincare routine. Whatever skincare issue plagues you…there’s a serum for that. You apply a serum before your moisturizer, just a few drops patted into the skin, and then layer your eye cream and moisturizer on top. It sounds like a lot, but your skin will drink it right up. Serums contain nutrients that allow your skin to remain hydrated throughout the day, fight aging, and regenerate while your sleep. Concerned about fine lines and wrinkles? Look for a serum with antioxidants, peptides, or Vitamin C. 


The next few items aren’t necessarily required in your routine, but incorporating them may add supplemental benefits to the steps you are already taking to pamper your skin.

men skincare

  1. Toner: Toner used to be a skincare must-have, but recently skincare devotees are divided in their opinions about how important toner really is. For people who have oily skin, using toner on a cotton pad helps get rid of any last bits of dirt and bacteria hanging around after cleansing. New formulations now also offer added benefits like exfoliation with alpha-hydroxy acids or added moisture with aloe and Vitamin E. Personal choice, really, dictates whether or not you choose to incorporate one into your skincare routine.
  2. Masks: There are so many different types of masks. Choosing one is really based on what skincare concern you are trying to treat. Masking is mostly done once or twice per week when you have a little downtime to relax and let some gooey stuff sit on your face to work its magic. It’s important to follow mask directions closely as they contain active ingredients that may cause irritation if ignored. Masks containing clay and charcoal are popular for their ability to deep clean pores and lift away dead skin. If your skin looks dull and needs extra brightening, masks containing Vitamins C & E will perk you up in no time.  
  3. Retinol: When you need to get really serious about skincare, you start using retinol. It increases collagen and cell turnover uncovering plumper, more youthful skin. If you have sensitive skin or any skin condition like acne, allergies, or rosacea, it is advisable to consult with a dermatologist before trying a retinol product on your own. A dermatologist can prescribe the right retinoid for your skin type. While retinoids are suitable for most skin types, they can cause redness and irritation. Start off using them once a week until your skin feels comfortable and then, you can begin to use them every other day when your skin becomes accustomed to them.  

  It is important to note if you are using both Vitamin C and retinol products in your routine, they should not be applied at the same time as this will be irritating. It is best to use Vitamin C products in the morning and retinol products at night. Also, you must wear sunscreen when using retinoids as they make the skin more sensitive to sunlight.


To get more details on how a Husky Executive should develop a skincare routine and care for his skin on a daily basis, I spoke with Pamela Barrios, of Piel Wellness + Beauty Studio in Union City, NJ, right across the river from NYC. She gave me expert advice on what you should be doing to keep your skin looking its absolute best. 


What mistakes do Husky Executives make when attempting to take care of their skin?


The most common mistake I see Husky Executives making is using bar soap formulated for the body or other highly fragranced and/or toxic products with a high acidic PH level on the face. This dries out the skin.  So does showering with hot water which negates any skincare regimen men might be implementing. Skipping out on sunscreen or not using sunscreen daily. Sunscreen is a must, no matter where you are or what the weather is! All year round – rain or shine.  


Does a man really need skincare products targeted for men’s skin? 


Not necessarily.  Targeted skincare lines may remove some of the guesswork, but not all product lines are very good and some may be too harsh. I educate my male clients to look for anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial, products containing active ingredients to care for and soothe the unique attributes of their skin.   


Some of Pam’s favorite skincare ingredients:

White Oak Bark Extract (Quercus Alba) – A natural surfactant that acts as an antiseptic and astringent to help loosen dead cell material and clean out pores. 


Beta-glucan – Helps to protect aging skin from immune dysfunction. Beta-glucan can help hydrate the skin, improve firmness, skin color, and elasticity while also helping to diminish lines and wrinkles.


Yucca – Aids in keeping the skin clean, tight, and healthy. Improves the ability of the skin to expel toxins.


AzelamideInhibitor of 5-a reductase (type 1). A sebum-balancer for greasy skin, seborrheic skin, and dark spots.


Avocado Oil – An antibacterial that softens the skin, is healing and improves blood circulation. Packed with Essential Fatty Acids. Avocado Extract penetrates the skin deeply, providing many vitamins that help skin rejuvenation. It increases levels of collagen production, is an anti-oxidant, provides deep moisturization and relief for damaged skin. Contains Beta-Carotene, Potassium, and Lethicin.


Seabuckthorn – An outstanding source of rich vital nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, for a range of skin conditions from healing to age prevention.


Salicylic and Lactic Acids – Mildly keratolytic, they increase the exfoliation of dead cells. Salicylic Acid works by causing the cells of the epidermis to shed properly. This prevents the pores of the skin from getting clogged and being infected with bacteria. Also known to break down blackheads and whiteheads, as well as other types of acne. Antibacterial, improves skin texture.


Polyhydroxy Acids – Polyhydroxylated acids are similar to AHA and BHA. They can help flush dead skin cells, leaving the skin lighter and more even. This acid is also slightly milder than the other two, and may work well on sensitive skin. 


  1. How much SPF is optimal in a moisturizer and why is it so important? 


SPF 30 is optimal. When SPF is over 50, the efficacy is questionable.  It is mistakenly believed that the higher the SPF, the greater the sun protection. False! Sun Protection Factor (SPF) indicates how much protection you will have based on your skin type and the amount of time of expected in the sun. I’ll give you an example. If you are fair-skinned and will be in the sun for two hours, you should use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30. After two hours, you would have to reapply. Improper use of SPF or lack of protection against UVA & UVB rays can make you vulnerable to a variety of skin issues such as premature aging, pigmentation and most importantly, cancer *Statistically, males are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer.  


  1. Do you recommend a different moisturizer for day & night?  


Ideally, yes. Why? During the day, the skin is exposed to environmental stressors, like UV rays and pollution. In addition, males secrete more oil, making a lighter moisturizer favorable.  At night, we want to take advantage of the skin’s regenerative cycle by nourishing it with a heavier moisturizer containing active ingredients. 


  1. Is an eye cream necessary if a Husky Executives uses moisturizer with antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and peptides in it? 


Technically, you can get away with just using a facial moisturizer with antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and peptides around your eyes.  But, if you want to tackle dark circles, puffy eyes, and wrinkles, you’ll have to use an eye cream.  An eye cream will treat and target these concerns with other concentrated ingredients.


  1. What can be done about razor bumps?


Exfoliate in between shaving! Removing excess dead skin is the first step to controlling razor bumps. Next is the shaving technique. The wrong technique is the number one culprit for bumps and ingrown hairs.  Preparing the skin with a pre-shave, using clean, sharp blades and shaving gels/oils, will reduce friction and can cut down on the incidence of razor burns. 


  • If a Husky Executive is looking for a basic, no-fuss skincare routine, what steps do you recommend he take? 


Cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, and protect with an SPF.  Your moisturizer can double as an SPF. 


  1. If a Husky Executive wants to add one extra to his skincare routine, what do you recommend he add?  


I recommend he add a product containing the ingredient, niacinamide. Niacinamide is a great protector for the skin. It will address the three key attributes that make men’s skin different than women’s – increased skin thickness, the influence of testosterone, and hair growth. Niacinamide offers the following benefits: it reduces excessive oil, brightens skin tone, smooths skin’s surface, is an anti-inflammatory, increases oxygenation, and protects skin from toxins and blue light. 


  1. What facial treatments do you recommend to treat men’s skin? 


I recommend treatments that are both hydrating and deep pore cleansing to keep skin supple and pores free from dirt and bacteria.


  1. What can a Husky Executive expect when he comes to Piel for a facial? 


A Husky Executive can expect to discover a private space where he can relax while achieving a results-oriented treatment.  At PIEL, skin care treatments are always personalized for your unique needs so you can achieve your desired results without compromise and confusing menus.  We put in work first by deep cleansing and restoring the skin and then we zen out.  No detail is overlooked.  Beards are softened, bushy eyebrows are trimmed, lips are exfoliated and hydrated, hands are pampered, and scalp, neck, and upper shoulders are massaged. 


Interested in making an appointment with Pam at Piel? Check out her website at         Piel Wellness + Beauty Studio


Looking to expand your skincare routine? Good ole’ bar soap and water not cutting it anymore? These shopping links will help you get started on your skincare journey.



Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash

Paula’s Choice HYDRALIGHT Gentle Gel Cleanser



COOLA Organic Mineral Sun Silk Creme Sunscreen

Mario Badescu Oil Free Moisturizer


Eye Cream:

Peter Thomas Roth Instant FIRMx Eye Temporary Eye Tightener

SELF/ish Eye Cream for Men



Caldera + Lab The Good Face Serum

Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum



Thayers Alcohol-Free Unscented Witch Hazel Facial Toner with Aloe Vera

Youth To The People Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner



Indie Lee I-Waken Resurfacing Mask

Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub



Geologie Repairing Night Cream: Sensitive with .05% Retinol (Sensitive Strength)

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer



First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Niacinamide Dark Spot Serum

Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF


Interested in A-Rods line of skincare? 

Hims – Full skincare line delivered directly to your door. The line even includes a concealer stick if you’re feeling extra adventurous!