Mastering Skincare for Men: Tackling Oily, Acne-Prone Skin with Confidence

Navigating skincare can seem daunting at first, especially for men who grapple with oily and acne-prone skin. Let’s make this nice and simple by breaking down what’s helpful, what’s not, and end with some practical recommendations.

Understanding Oily Skin in Men: Genetics, Products, and Practices

Oily skin, characterized by excessive sebum production, is often a genetic hand we’re dealt. The good news is that this doesn’t mean you’re at a dead end. Integrating specific ingredients, habits, and products into your routine can significantly mitigate oiliness, while certain habits can exacerbate it. The key is balance and understanding what works for you.

Debunking Myths: Diet, Hydration, and Acne

The internet is rife with myths about diet, hydration, and their effects on acne. Let’s set the record straight: while maintaining a healthy diet and staying hydrated is crucial for overall health, no direct link between specific foods and acne outbreaks has been scientifically proven. Or even has strong data for that matter. Yes, some individuals might find certain foods trigger their acne, but this is highly personal. As for hydration, drinking water is essential for your body’s health, but it doesn’t directly hydrate your skin. For that, a good skincare routine is indispensable.

Cleansing: Doing It Right

When you have oily skin, there is a strong temptation to nuke it with cleansers or max strength anti-acne products. Over-cleansing can strip your skin oils and hydration, leading to an overproduction of sebum — exactly what we’re trying to avoid.  Try opting for gentle, pH-balanced cleansers that clean without aggression. If you wash morning and evening, see how skipping a morning cleanse may work for your skin as well. If you are acne-prone and using max strength anti-acne products, consider trying them less frequently or using lighter versions. Lastly remember, hot water can be your skin’s enemy by causing you to over-cleanse.

Moisturizers: Balancing Hydration Without the Shine

The oil on your skin is composed of different fatty acids than the oil in many moisturizers. Your sebum is good at smoothing the skin, but it doesn’t do a great job of keeping water from evaporating from your skin. This is where moisturizing is particularly helpful. Moisturizing may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a critical step. The goal is to find a moisturizer that hydrates without adding to the shine and can slow the evaporation of water. 

A light gel moisturizer can be good to try for just adding in hydration, but it’s definitely worth trying a moisturizer that can help build a stronger skin barrier and keep water from evaporating. At Strive we use a certain type of dimethicone that is great with water retention, along with borage seed oil, and we combine that with several barrier supporting ingredients. For other brands, good ingredients to look for are petrolatum, shea butter, or lanolin.

Key Ingredients for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

Certain ingredients are your allies in managing oily, acne-prone skin:

  • Niacinamide supports the skin barrier and can calm sebum production.
  • Retinoids promote cell turnover, impact sebum production and, thus prevent clogged pores.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide kills bacteria and clears dead skin cells.
  • Salicylic Acid exfoliates and unclogs pores.

Incorporate these ingredients gradually and monitor how your skin responds. Always start with lower concentrations to minimize irritation. Try not to throw the kitchen sink at your problem immediately.

Product Recommendations

Here are some product recommendations to kickstart your routine:

  • Cleansers: Look for gentle, non-stripping formulas. Definitely try salicylic acid or Benzoyl peroxide formulas if you have more than mild acne.
  • Moisturizers: Seek out lightweight, non-comedogenic options that include niacinamide.
  • Treatments: Start with over-the-counter retinol or benzoyl peroxide, adjusting frequency as your skin adapts.

Strive Deep Hydrating Face Wash

Great for gentle cleansing and Niacinamide

Deep Hydrating Mens Face Wash on white backdrop

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash (Benzoyl Peroxide 10%)

Great for Acne that is more than mild

Panoxyl Face Wash

The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Great for Blackheads

Inkey List Salicylic Acid Cleanser

Strive Deep Miracle Facial Moisturizer

Lightweight with a Clinical dose of Niacinamide for Oil Control

Miracle Facial Moisturizer Mens Lotion on White Backdrop

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Invisible FInish Gel Moisturizer

Very Lightweight with some Niacinamide

Strive Apex Anti-aging Serum

Potent Retinaldehyde with anti-aging power

Apex Serum Container with White Background

Differin Adapalene Gel

Retinoid designed specifically for fighting Acne

Differin Adapalene Gel

Remember, skincare is highly personal. What works for one might not work for another. It’s all about finding the right balance and being patient and consistent with your routine. If in doubt, give us a shout via our socials and we are happy to help you come up with a brand agnostic tailored routine.

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.