A guy's guide to building a skin care routine — plus 10 derm-approved products


Caring for your skin doesn't have to be complicated — and yet, facing an array of cleansers, lotions, serums, and masks that all claim to be the best skin care products for men can feel overwhelming. To find out how to keep skin healthy and looking its best, Mic reached out to two experts: Dr. Kenneth Mark, a New York based dermatologist, and Dr. Erum Ilyas, a Pennsylvania based dermatologist.

To be clear, everyone's skin is different, but there are some traits and challenges that are more common among cisgender men. According to Dr. Ilyas, "Men’s skin tends to be a bit thicker and a bit more on the oily side compared to women because androgen stimulates sebum or oil production." Additionally, Dr. Mark points out that men who shave are at an increased risk of razor bumps.

With that said, the experts recommend exfoliation as a way to treat razor bumps and other skin conditions like acne, blackheads, and flaking; moisturizing the face and body to keep the skin's protective barrier strong; and, of course, applying sunscreen on a daily basis. Below, the doctors also provide the most up-to-date science behind choosing products to keep your skin looking and feeling its best.

So whether you're prone to dry skin and redness or oiliness and acne, below you'll find a selection of the best cleansers, moisturizers, serums, and more that your skin will love.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.


The cleanser for dry or sensitive skin

A drugstore standby that even dermatologists love, CeraVe's Hydrating Facial Cleanser is a great choice for those who are prone to dry skin and/or irritation. The fragrance-free face wash contains moisture-attracting hyaluronic acid and barrier-repairing ceramides, all packed into one gentle, creamy, non-stripping formula (just keep in mind that hyaluronic can actually dry out your skin if used incorrectly). It's even suitable for people with eczema-prone skin, and it comes in a big, 16-ounce bottle that will last you ages. For under $15, it really can't be beat.


The cleanser for oily or acne-prone skin

"Whether experiencing breakouts, razor bumps, clogged pores, or none of the above, exfoliation is always a critical aspect of any skin care regimen," says Dr. Mark, who recommends using a cleanser that contains 2% salicylic acid, like this classic Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash. Salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, works to dig deep into pores to remove dead skin and sebum, so it can help with everything from an over-oily T-zone to blackheads and whiteheads. To reduce redness and irritation, whether it's from shaving or acne, the formula contains skin-soothing aloe and chamomile, which also have moisturizing benefits.


The moisturizer for dry or sensitive skin

This moisturizer from DHC, a science-forward Japanese brand, contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, a carotenoid that's significantly more potent than vitamin C. Though this gel-cream feels super light going on, it boasts a powerful formula, with hyaluronic acid to help with hydration and collagen to encourage firmer, more hydrated skin.


The moisturizer for oily or acne-prone skin

First Aid Beauty's Skin Rescue Mattifying Gel is designed for people who have oily and/or acne-prone skin. The oil-free, noncomedogenic formula won't clog pores or aggravate breakouts, while the mattifying ingredients, like zinc PCA, help keep skin shine-free throughout the day. Like the DHC moisturizer, this is a gel-cream, so it's lightweight and non-greasy. Rounding out the formula are ceramides, which are essential for maintaining a strong protective barrier to keep your skin moisturized and protected.


The tried-and-true face serum

"For serums, I like ones that contain hyaluronic acid to help bind water, moisturize, and facilitate absorption of other products," Dr. Mark says. This La Roche-Posay Effaclar Pore-Refining Serum contains hyaluronic acid, as well as a host of exfoliating acids to slough away dead skin cells and keep pores clean. Remember what Dr. Mark said about exfoliating being essential? This serum does that while also helping to keep skin moisturized.


The budget face serum

In addition to hyaluronic acid, this Asutra face serum contains retinol, the vitamin A derivative that works to increase collagen production and promote cellular renewal. This not only helps keep pores clear, but it also helps promote a more even-looking complexion, as well as generally smoother skin. With retinol, you'll always want to apply it at night, as it can make your skin more photosensitive. This means it's also extra crucial to wear sunscreen every day (which you should be doing regardless, of course).


The body lotion

Dr. Ilyas says many of her patients gravitate towards the less-greasy feeling moisturizers, such as the affordable ones from Amlactin. Their fragrance-free daily body lotion contains lactic acid, an exfoliating ingredient that helps unclog pores and promote smoother skin, making it a great choice for anyone dealing with body acne, keratosis pilaris, dryness, or bumps. You can use it on your feet to soften your heels, too.


The facial sunscreen

“Any discussion of skin care must include minimizing sun damage with a zinc oxide-based sunscreen to block out the full UV spectrum (both A and B)," insists Dr. Mark. This derm-favorite sunscreen from EltaMD has an SPF of 40, with a formula that's sheer, lightweight, and won't leave behind a white residue or chalky feel. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which can help hydrate skin. With its oil-free, fragrance-free formula, it won't clog pores and it doesn't feel heavy or greasy, even on warm humid days. It's a great choice even if you have sensitive skin or are prone to acne.


The lip balm

When it comes to your skin care routine, don't overlook your lips. Not only will the Aquaphor Lip Protectant restore hydration to treat dry, chapped lips, but its SPF of 30 provides protection from the sun's damaging rays (lips are an area of the face that people all too often neglect to protect, even though they're especially susceptible to sun damage). Try to keep a tube of this on hand at all times, and re-apply frequently.


The sheet mask

Don't forget to incorporate a mask into your routine about once a week — your skin will thank you. This Burt's Bees Detoxifying Charcoal Sheet Mask contains a blend of purifying ingredients, like willow bark and charcoal, to deep-clean skin and de-clog pores. Glycerin and honey round out the formula to leave skin soothed and soft. Follow up with a generous slathering of moisturizer.


Dr. Kenneth Mark, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Clinical Assistant Professor at NYU Department of Dermatology.

Dr. Erum Ilyas, board-certified dermatologist with Montgomery Dermatology, LLC, and founder of sun-protective clothing line AmberNoon.