Assembling your ideal line-up of men’s skincare may seem easy, but it often isn’t. As the world of lotions and potions grows ever larger, so too does the potential for a bogus and benign rotation. Nice smells doesn’t equate to nasty-free. A gilded jar doesn’t always house the superior formula. And, the sheer volume of stuff can be overwhelming to even the most scientific of SPF users.
Rather than drown in the new wave of lovely men’s skincare launches, we want you to surf it. Which is why esquire‘s style team has tried and tested the great – and the not so great – to keep your bathroom in good nick. If it impressed – as in, really impressed – you’ll find it here.
The Ultimate Men’s Skincare Shortlist
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The oily-skin moisturizer
Effaclar Duo [+] Face Moisturizer
It can be tempting to fight breakout-prone skin with only the biggest guns, but stripping an oily complexion with harsh products that promise Total! OIL! Elimination! will only make the matter worse in the long run.
Don’t be afraid of moisturiser: just ensure you’re using a the right one, which is this French pharmacy stalwart. Non pore-clogging and gel-like in texture, it’ll hydrate and allow the skin to heal.
The science-backed cream
The Rich Cream
The world of investment-level skincare can be generally sliced in two: there are the show-off bottles that look great on your shelf, and the ones that cost triple figures because they contain genuinely innovative science.
Augustinus Bader’s signature cream falls firmly into the latter category: originally formulated to help heal burn wounds, this raved-about cream balances oil production, brightens skin, and hydrates from day to night.
The blackhead melter
Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Getting rid of blackheads is easier than you think. In fact, all it takes is a few swift swipes of this truly cult pore exfoliator, which contains a proper dose of salicylic acid to melt the oil that comprises those pesky spots.
The retinol serum
Crystal Retinal 1 Serum
When it comes to reversing the signs of aging, retinol reigns supreme: but this active ingredient comes at a cost. You need to choose your fighter wisely, as so many formulas are either too weak to make a difference, or so strong they’ll melt your face off.
Enter Medik8: every grooming editor’s favorite name. Work through a bottle of the brand’s beginner-friendly Crystal Retinal 1, then progress to the incrementally stronger iterations: 3, 6, and 10. No more than two evenings a week to begin with, please.
The everyday cleanser
Hydrating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid
This look like something you’ll keep firmly at the back of the bathroom cabinet, but don’t might judge a skincare product by its bottle. Cerave’s Hydrating Cleanser is the kind of thing that makes a dermatologist go gooey-eyed: affordable, faff-free, and undeniably functional.
The SPF moisturizer
Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30
You need to moisturise. And you need to protect your skin from the sun (or pay the price in the years that follow). But playing by the skincare rules doesn’t have to mean slavishly applying product after product: this SPF moisturizer from Kiehl’s does it all, and suits all skin types.
The moisturizer for everyone
In Two Minds Facial Hydrator
More social outings means more pubs, which means more pints, which means fewer glasses of water, which results in the same dry old thirsty face. It’s like lockdown never happened. Get ahead of the hangover (and the really quite gross dehydration) with Aesop’s intense hydrator. It also evens out your complexion.
The sun spot treatment
Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres
A backhand sting from a skincare product isn’t always a good sign. In fact, you should avoid it entirely. But there’s something strangely satisfying about the after-burn of the cruel mistress that is vitamin C: an essential that evens out your skin and protects it from bad things called free radicals. The sting is totally normal too FYI.
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