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According to Allied Market Research, the men's personal care market is expected to be generate $166 billion by 2022. Even though the sales and number of products are growing rapidly, some men barely know where to start when it comes to building a skin care routine.
In order to break down some of the mystery surrounding men's skin care products, we asked dermatologists to find out what guys should be looking for when choosing the best formulas for their skin.
According to Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology, there are some key differences between men's and women's skin to keep in mind.
"There are some notable differences between men and women's skin, such as thicker skin (approximately 20% on average being thicker than women's dermis, which is the middle layer of the skin), more oil production by about four times, slow wound healing (due to higher androgen production) and more potential for transepidermal water loss which affects the skin barrier," she told us.
Despite these differences, Levin thinks it's best to keep the routine as simple as possible and pick products based on your skin type, regardless of gender.
New York-based dermatologist Dr. Hadley King recommends starting with light, low-maintenance formulas if you're a skin care beginner.
"I tend to recommend lighter formulations for men, such as gel or water-based moisturizers; fragrance-free formulations and streamlined routines. Not too many steps or layers!" Hadley said.
So what about products that are specifically marketed toward men? New York-based dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner says the ingredients are mostly the same as those available for women.
"The main difference in these products are the textures, fragrances and packaging," Zeichner said. "For example, a moisturizer may be effective, but if it comes in a pink bottle with a floral fragrance, a man may not use it."
If you're looking to start with the basics, all three dermatologists recommend beginning with a simple cleanser and moisturizer. Here are their picks for the best guy-friendly formulas.
To shop men's skin care products by category, click on each link below:
Facial cleansers for men
According to Zeichner, this shower-staple is a surprisingly effective facial cleanser.
"This cleansing bar is one of my all-time favorites for everyone, especially for men. It's mild enough for use on the face, but powerful enough for use on the body. If you only use one cleanser, this could be it," he told us.
Zeichner says men tend to prefer "one-stop shopping" when it comes to facial cleansers, which is why he also recommends Dove's foaming body wash that's gentle enough for your face.
Levin finds that men typically prefer foaming cleansers, so she often recommends this gentle daily formula from EltaMD.
"It's super lightweight and gentle but has an enzyme and amino acid cleanser to remove oil, dirt, and pollution from the skin. It also has bromelain — an enzyme found in pineapples — that helps with inflammation and redness," she explained.
If you're dealing with acne-prone skin, especially in the beard area, Levin recommends this CeraVe cleanser. It includes 4% benzoyl peroxide, which is an effective antibacterial agent.
Some acne-prone skin responds better to salicylic acid, says Levin. She suggests going with this La Roche-Posay cleanser if benzoyl peroxide doesn't work for you.
If you're looking for a deeper chemical exfoliation in your routine, Levin loves this foaming cleanser by NeoStrata. It contains 18% glycolic acid to help clear away dead skin cells and support cell renewal.
Facial moisturizers for men
This affordable moisturizer includes sun protection thanks to the inclusion of SPF 30, and Zeichner says it's a perfect post-shaving lotion.
"This is a great-feeling moisturizer to use in the morning and can double up as an aftershave," he pointed out. "It contains a soy complex that will brighten uneven skin tone and provides broad-spectrum UV protection."
You won't experience any excess shine with this formula, which is made with popular moisturizing ingredients. Levin describes it as "a very lightweight moisturizer with glycerin and squalene to moisturize, but absorbs quickly with a matte appearance."
Have sensitive skin? This Elta MD formula could be a good option.
"Elta AM Lotion is a very popular oil-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer in my male patients," explains Levin. "It also has vitamin C for brightening, willow bark (which is the natural source of salicylic acid) to lightly exfoliate, and niacinamide as an anti-inflammatory and to improve redness."
If you're looking for some preventative anti-aging ingredients in your moisturizer, King recommends this hydrating formula by Schaf.
"The Schaf Moisturizer hydrates and locks in that moisture with hyaluronic acid and a blend of hemp seed, avocado, grape seed and pumpkin seed oils," she said. "It also contains antioxidants and anti-aging peptides, as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties."
Zeichner recommends this no-frills moisturizer by Vaseline to men who want a lotion for both face and body.
"This light lotion is easy to spread, even in areas where you have hair. It effectively protects and moisturizes the skin without leaving you feeling heavy or greasy," he said.
Suitable for both face and body, King loves that this moisturizing formula includes ingredients like glycerin, glyceryl stearate, sweet almond oil and vitamin E.
Those looking for a moisturizer with SPF should check out this lightweight lotion by CeraVe.
"It contains hyaluronic acid, which is a powerful humectant for hydrating the skin, as well as ceramides to lock in that moisture and restore and protect the skin barrier," King explained.
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