Men’s Skincare 101

Mens Skincare 101 written on chalkboard

So you’re brand new to skincare and have no idea where to start or if this is even for you. You’ve come to the right place.

Today you will learn:

  1. How Men’s skin is different
  2. What the heck skin types are
  3. The what and why of a good skincare routine
  4. Common skincare No Nos that most men have done or still do

How is men’s skin and skincare different?

Sure, you can use your mom’s, sister’s, or girlfriend’s products. It’s infinitely better than doing nothing. But that stuff plain isn’t designed for the unique needs and skin structure of men. You are doing that handsome face a disservice by not catering to its needs.

Physiological differences

Men’s skin is about 25% thicker, produces more collagen, produces double the sebum(oil), has more and larger hair follicles, and we sweat 30-40% more than women1. Mmmmm, more oil, sweat and hair.

Increased oil production often means larger pores and being more acne prone. More sweat encourages skin cells to remain on the skin instead of shedding, resulting in more dull, dead skin and clogged pores covering that sweet mug of yours. Structural differences also mean that men’s skin tends to be less sensitive and able to handle stronger ingredients.

mens grooming shaving beard with an axe

Lifestyle differences

Look, men more likely to hold jobs that subject our skin to the elements and harsh environmental conditions, and more likely to engage in hobbies or activities that beat the crap out of our skin. Hello sweaty Jiu Jitsu GI grinding against your face. Oh, and WE SHAVE OUR FACES.

We are talking loads more irritation to our face on the reg. Bumps, knicks, redness, hyperpigmentation (dark marks) and inflammation all need to be taken care of. Women’s facial products simply do not focus on this sort of regular irritation.

In total, men need stronger products that are more focused on reducing irritation, inflammation, hyperpigmentation and regulating oil production.

Check out the skinny of how our ingredients address all these differences here.

What are skin types?

There are 5 different skin types: Normal, Dry, Oily, Combination and Sensitive.

Which skin type you have may affect what products you use, the frequency you use products, the amount of product you use and other daily habits.  While most men fall under the oily or combination camp, we will cover how to find your skin type and then share some best practices for your unique skin.

Normal – Balanced skin that is clear and has barely visible pores.

Despite the name, normal skin is less common than you’d think.

You hit the genetic lottery here and don’t need fight issues associated with other skin types. Just take good care of your skin, treat problems as they arise and stay healthy.

Dry – Rough, flaky, or tight. Dull appearance. Feels dry in the morning.

Dry skin typically has tiny pores and doesn’t produce as much oil as other skin types. This means your skin experiences water loss more easily and needs more ingredients that attract and lock-in moisture.

Skin tips:

  • Wash your face with warm water. Hot water strips out too much of your skin’s natural oils, hydration, and dries out your skin even more.
  • If you are dealing with severely dry skin, try adding some petroleum jelly after your nighttime routine.
  • Use your moisturizer mid-day to keep your skin well hydrated and protected until bedtime.
  • Avoid harsh cleansers (Bar Soap,3-1’s, cheap cleansers) that strip out your skins natural oils and doesn’t replenish them.

Oily – Shiny or greasy by mid-day. May have enlarged pores and be more acne prone.

Most men land in the oily skin category. The positive of oily skin is that fine lines may be less apparent, the negative is that your face might sometimes look like your napkin after eating a slice of pepperoni pizza.

Skin tips:

  • Do not over cleanse or try to completely dry out your face. This makes your skin compensate with more oil production.
  • Use products with Niacinamide to regulate your oil production and minimize pore size.
  • Use products with hydrating ingredients (Hyaluronic Acid, Snow Mushroom Extract, Glycerin) so your skin won’t compensate for dehydration with more oil production.

Combination – Dry or Normal in some areas. Oily in others such as the T-zone(Forehead/Nose/Chin)

The best of both worlds! Maybe. This is another common camp for men and it can be a pain to deal with because you will find yourself with dry cheeks, but frequently wiping away your nose and forehead shine.

Skin tips:

  • Top up dry spots with moisturizer mid-day and leave the oily spots be until your PM routine.
  • Use products with Niacinamide to regulate your oil production.
  • Blot away excess oil with blotting paper or tissue.

Sensitive – Easily red, irritated, itchy or inflamed.

This is really more of a skin condtion than skin type. Sensitive skin isn’t all that common for men and often times guys who think they have sensitive skin just have very dry skin with a skin barrier that needs restoring.

  • Avoid products with fragrance and colorants
  • Ease up on exfoliation frequency and scrub more gently
  • Apply anti-aging serums after your moisturizer

No matter your skin type, Strive’s products have been meticulously crafted, tested, and found to be suitable for all skin types. No matter your skin type, wear your SPF to protect your skin.

The What and the Why

Now for the fun part. Your routine should only take 2-3 minutes per day. Most men find that they end up loving ritual, as it makes them feel relaxed at night and ready to crush their day in the morning.  Besides, it feels amazing to take care of yourself.  As the adage goes, when you look good, you feel good, and you perform well.

The most essential routine to care for your skin:
1. Wash your face with a well formulated face wash AM/PM
2. Moisturize your skin after washing your face
3. Wear face sunscreen when going outside or if you work within 5 feet of window (Even on cloudy days)

To take it up a notch and fight father time:
1. Add in an exfoliant to better prevent acne and have a brighter complexion.
2. Add in an anti-aging serum with Retinol and/or Vitamin C to promote collagen generation and fight lines/wrinkles.

Shirtless Man in sunglasses Applying Sunsccraeen outside

Wash – Dead skin cells, bacteria, pollutants, and dirt. These lovely things build up on your skin throughout the day and if left unchecked, may damage your skin, clog your pores and prevent your products from being absorbed by your skin. In an ideal world, you are doing this in the morning as well to wipe off the overnight buildup of sweat, bacteria and more.

Moisturize – This helps keep your skin balanced, hydrated, prevents numerous skin conditions, improves your complexion, and can protect your skin from free radicals (molecules that damage your skin). Thus, you will look better, feel better and age much more gracefully, if you moisturize regularly.

SPF –  Did you know that UV exposure is responsible for up to 90% of visible signs of aging?  That’s a whole lot of percent. Fine lines, wrinkles, sunspots, uneven skin tone and yes cancer, are all consequences of sun exposure without protection. It cannot be overstated how important wearing sun protection is for your appearance and the health of your skin.  And don’t forget to reapply every 2 hours if you are out in the sun. There’s no need fear the sun and avoid it at all costs or anything, just protect yourself consistently for a lifetime of healthy skin. Expect SPF protection from Strive in 2022, but check out our recommendations in the meantime.

Exfoliate – Remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, prevent acne, even out your skin tone, freshen appearance and help your skincare products work better. These are some of the many benefits of exfoliating your skin. Historically, this is overdone by many in terms of frequency and intensity. You only need exfoliate 1-3 times a week, gently for 15-30 seconds.  Going in hard will just irritate and dry your skin.

Serum – Serums are designed to treat skin specific conditions such as aging, dehydration, acne and more. These will greatly differ from one brand or product to another, but they are typically lighter than moisturizers and use more active ingredients. Our Apex Serum is designed around fighting signs of aging, brightening appearance, and firming out your skin.

Common No nos

This one warrants its own post, but let’s go over the big ones that most men have been guilty of at one point or another.


Bar of Soap/Body Wash

Harsh Exfoliation

No sunscreen on a cloudy day9 in 1 Cleaning Product BottleCommon No nos

3-1s/Bar of Soap/Body Wash: it’s super tempting I know. A wash that works for your hair, body, face, dog, carpet and tires. The reality is that these products are too harsh for your face. They disrupt your skin barrier, overly dry your face while stripping out too much of your skins natural oils and then they don’t replenish the nutrients your skin needs.

Harsh Exfoliation: I think most of us have used that one apricot scrub with walnut shells or heavy drugstore exfoliant say on point or another. We start to think that’s how a scrub should feel. Gentlemen, these are much too harsh and can wreak havoc on your skin.

Lack of Sunscreen: If you missed it, 90% of visible aging is due to UV exposure. If you are only wearing it on occasion when you are tanning at the beach, you are prematurely aging yourself. You know who doesn’t care about clouds? UV Rays. You know who mostly doesn’t care about windows? UV Rays. They are like the honey badger, they just don’t care.  It literally takes 10 seconds. Just throw on some sunscreen before you go out during the day. You will be thankful in your 30s and onward that you don’t look like a Louis Vutton bag.

Summary: Men’s unique skin structure and daily activities (shaving, sports, hard labor) mean we often need products more focused on reducing irritation, inflammation and regulating oil production. The skin types are Normal, Dry, Oily, Sensitive and Combination. Your skin type will affect things such as the frequency at which you use products, how much of a product you will use, and some daily habits.

The most essential routine to care for your skin:
1. Wash your face with a well formulated face wash AM/PM
2. Moisturize your skin after washing your face
3. Wear face sunscreen when going outside or if you work within 5 feet of window (Even on cloudy days)

Your next step up is:
1. Add in an exfoliant to better prevent acne and have a brighter complexion.
2. Add in an anti-aging serum with Retinol and/or Vitamin C to promote collagen generation and fight lines/wrinkles.

Avoid using these products on your face: 3-1 Cleaners, Body Wash, Bars of Soap. These are all too harsh for your skin and can lead to irritation.

That’s skincare 101 in the books Strive Nation.  Skincare is actually quite simple, but it’s easy to have many questions around details or your specific routine. What are some burning questions you have related to skincare?

Ramos-e-Silva et al., ‘Anti-aging cosmetics: Facts and controversies’. Clin Dermatol. 2013 Nov-Dec; 31(6): 750-8.

Giacomoni PU, Mammone T, Teri M. Gender-linked differences in human skin. J Dermatol Sci. 2009 Sep;55(3):144-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2009.06.001. Epub 2009 Jul 1. PMID: 19574028.

Sudel KM, Venzke K, Mielke H, Breitenbach U, Mundt C, Jaspers S, Koop U, Sauermann K, Knussman-Hartig E, Moll I, Gercken G, Young AR, Stab F, Wenck H, Gallinat S. Novel aspects of intrinsic and extrinsic aging of human skin: beneficial effects of soy extract. Photochem Photobiol 2005;81(3):581–587.


Angel is the Founder and Lead chemist of Strive. He is a graduate of the Institute of Personal Care Science and a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. Fan of PB&Js, the gym, video games, piano & UFC.

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