As a woman in her thirties, I add steps to my skincare routine the way celebrities get face tattoos—with little consideration before committing to them forever. Oh, this glycolic resurfacing serum infused with protein-rich African meerkat droppings will help those fine lines settling in around my eyes, you say? Wonderful! Add it to my medicine cabinet, stat.
However, I understand that, for plenty of men, any number of skincare steps feels like too many, and I get it—men’s skin is scientifically less susceptible to signs of aging, as testosterone helps retain collagen density, counteracting dryness and wrinkles. Meaning? Men’s skin looks better with less work.
But that doesn’t mean no work. If you think, for example, that Brad Pitt wakes up and his face just looks the way it does naturally at 56, I have news about Santa and the Tooth Fairy you’re not going to like.
So, let’s agree that a daily skincare routine is necessary as a baseline, and also that you want it to be as easy as possible. We can work with that.
Below, check out the three minimalist men’s skincare steps that even those most resistant to a robust routine can handle. Namely, a cleanser, a daytime moisturizer with SPF, and a night cream.
“Keep it simple here,” says Jeannel Astarita, founder of Just Ageless Body Sculpting and Beauty Lab. “Start with a gentle cleanser. Don’t use something so harsh that it strips the skin.”
As for when to use it? “If you have dry skin, a cleanser is often not needed in the morning,” says Astarita. “Just wash your face with water and pat dry with a towel. However, washing your face in the evening is crucial to remove sebum, soot, and sweat that has built up during the day.”
The tl;dr? Wash your face at least once a day with a cleanser at nighttime. And in the morning, too, if an infrequently-laundered pillowcase has left your face feeling less than fresh when you wake up.
Pssst, we’ve talked about exfoliating face wash before, and that’s still a great step to add when you’re ready to upgrade your skincare routine. In the meantime, using a washcloth with your gentle cleanser once a day is enough to create a clean canvas.
Once again, if you’re really into a multi-step skincare routine, you’ll probably split up your daytime moisturizer and your sunscreen into two different products.
But we’re not about that multi-step life, are we? The good news is this: you have a deluge of options when it comes to face lotions containing SPF, which means you have no excuse not to wear sun protection and have hydrated skin every day.
And yes, that’s even if the only sun you’re getting is on your ten-minute morning commute, running between classes, or peeking out your front window to see if your Grubhub delivery has arrived at lunch.
According to Astarita, “Your evening moisturizer is all about repair. Ideally you want a cream that combines antioxidants, peptides, retinoid, alpha or beta hydroxy acids, and hydration. Start with a low percentage retinoid, like SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream (available through authorized physicians, twice weekly and increase use as tolerated.”
This one’s easy. Wash off your day then equip your skin to fight the good fight, overnight.