Skin care for a man who does not really like lotiony things
June 17, 2014 7:29 AM   Subscribe

I am nearing 40, but my skin is in pretty good condition. My regimen to date: wash face in shower daily, and also wash with bar soap as needed. I'd like to make sure I take good care of my face in my coming fifth decade and beyond, perhaps with unguents, emollients, and tinctures! Do you have recommendations? Need not be overly manly, but preferably not particularly greasy.

I guess I'd say my skin is normal to oily. I have a beard, for what it's worth--I don't know whether my skin care regimen would encompass the skin under the beard or would just concentrate on my cheeks and forehead.

I have not been using any products to date, other than whatever soap was at hand. I don't wear sunscreen, generally, because I don't like the feel of lotions, etc. All the same, I don't tend to burn, or, to be honest, spend a lot of time in the sun if I can help it (though that may change, as I will have a back yard soon).

What do you recommend? Should I be looking for a cleanser and a moisturizer (presumably with some sun protection built in)? Or is the soap good enough for cleansing, since I don't commonly get pimples/blackheads, and I need only a moisturizer?

I don't care about using manly man products, though I'm happy to (I'm equally happy to use "girly" things); I just don't want anything that feels sticky (or really, noticeable at all after it's been applied). I'm ambivalent about price; I'm not shopping either for luxury or economy. I just want something that works and doesn't feel gross.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I am a big fan of origins skincare.

They are definitely non-sticky and have SPF built in.

The general skincare routine is: wash, cleanse with toner, serum, moisturize.
You can throw in eye cream if you have some lines around there.

But for you, if you don't really have problem skin then just wash and moisturize. I like this cleanser best.

Origins also has line for your glory years.

I am not a rep for origins. I just love their stuff!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:39 AM on June 17, 2014

Cerave, homeslice! You want Cerave. They are expensive for a drugstore brand but cheap compared to the emulsified mermaid placenta ointment or whatever it is they sell in department stores. They are full of good high-end ingredients aaaaaaaand, most importantly to ME, their lotions are TOTALLY UNNOTICEABLE once applied... not sticky, not greasy, not oily, just "huh, my skin feels somehow better now?"

All you need are one of their various cleaners and one of their moisturizers (I use the "AM" one with suncreen in it). Cleanser instead of bar soap in the shower, moisturizer immediately after shower. If you wanna get REALLY fancy, buy one of those pear-shaped exfoliating sponges (ala Buf-Puff) and use it once or twice a week.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:41 AM on June 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

I've been a fan of Aesop for the last couple of years. They're an Australian based company that just recently opened a store in the States (and their Newbury St store has some great staff) They're quite happy to talk you through what you're looking for and provide some recommendations, and will also give you samples to try out.

My usual regimen nowadays is: shower, and use bar soap applied to a loofah or exfoliating sponge on my torso and limbs, but leave the face alone. After the shower, it's shave, then apply their Fabulous Face cleanser to my face and then apply balancing toner. Then go.

None of their stuff feels greasy or lotiony. The face cleanser is a nice foaming thing that feels like shaving cream and rinses off well. A large bottle is ~$45-50 and lasts me about a year.
posted by bl1nk at 7:45 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

My husband has approximately the same requirements as you, including Ivory soap as his cleanser of choice. He loathes the feel of oily stuff, including greasy sunscreen.

I keep drugstore-brand facial cleanser (find the Clean&Clear and look either to the right or the left) in the shower for him to use instead of Ivory on his face. There's some drugstore brand Oil of Olay moisturizer for after (very lightly scented - no sunscreen because I dislike combos, more on this in a moment), which soaks in within 5 minutes. He is also just as likely to use the Suave cocoa butter lotion he uses on his hands and arms.

We went through a lot of sunscreens to find one he can tolerate. He's finally figured out that he can wear it to go out (yardwork, running errands, he works outside sometimes) and wash his face afterwards, and is satisfied with this. For yardwork with sweating we usually use a SPF50 stick for babies - very waxy but doesn't sweat off instantly. For other outings he likes the Neutrogena Ultra-sheer dry touch.

He uses the facial cleanser in his beard, to get the sunscreen off that invariably gets into it.

I don't like combo moisturizers with sunscreen because sunscreen keeps the moisturizer from soaking in and moisturizer makes the sunscreen greasier. I moisturize, wait 10-15 minutes, then sunscreen.

After learning about the Beginner's skincare routine at /r/skincareaddiction, we both started using Stridex pads two and then three nights a week, for chemical exfoliation*. It has done a remarkable job on him (he was starting to look leathery, especially on his forehead) and me both.

*I used to use scrubs, but many of them use tiny plastic balls that are trashing water treatment plants. This is in lieu and works better anyway.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:49 AM on June 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

Think about a lotion like this- you definitely want something with SPF; skin cancer is no joke! Particularly for the poor nose, pushed out with nothing to give it shade.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:49 AM on June 17, 2014

If youre using a crappy drug store Mach 3 + barbasol, upgrade your shaving routine with a brush and a high quality shaving soap. And a quality safety razor to go with it.

Whole foods also sells glycerin soap, which is good for the skin and not overly oily.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:57 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had problems with oily skin my whole life, so I really feel ya on the "not greasy" requirement. I'm a fan of Cetaphil stuff: it's not stupid-expensive, it's available in drugstores/Target, it's unscented and it doesn't make my face yucky.

Daily moisturizer with SPF 15
Regular moisturizer for knees, elbows, etc. that don't really need sunscreen
posted by workerant at 7:59 AM on June 17, 2014

I guess I'd say my skin is normal to oily. I have a beard, for what it's worth--I don't know whether my skin care regimen would encompass the skin under the beard or would just concentrate on my cheeks and forehead.

Sorry, missed that youre a beard man. But so am I, and just shaving my neck/cheekline where I can't grow a straight beard edge to save my life the better shaving soap makes a noticeable difference from generics.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:59 AM on June 17, 2014

Should I be looking for a cleanser and a moisturizer (presumably with some sun protection built in)? Or is the soap good enough for cleansing, since I don't commonly get pimples/blackheads, and I need only a moisturizer?

I know a lot of people that enjoy great success with basic soap for cleansing. That really doesn't cut it for me - my skin is a little sensitive and most products designed for the body are slightly too harsh for my face. So, YMMV, but I recommend a gentler facial wash plus a light moisturizer.

I swear by Lush's Fresh Farmacy soap, and like Coalface on the rare occasion that I get pimply. At night I use their Celestial moisturizer - it soaks right in and is neither oily nor sticky. The smell is nice and goes away quickly. In the morning I use this Neutrogena moisturizer with SPF - I buy it at CVS. I know some people hate Lush, but as long as you're prepared for the sensory overload (so many smells in such a small store!) I think it is OK.

I think skincare is important. You definitely want to protect yourself from sun damage - hence the SPF moisturizer for daytime use - and I think gentler products are good for keeping it generally happy and youthful looking.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 8:03 AM on June 17, 2014

These people know their stuff. There is such a wide variety of skin types and needs and regimens over there that you should be able to find helpful info among that huge aggregate of experience. I've found it incredibly helpful. I will say, though, that if you have a system that works, there is something to be said for not messing with it too much.

But if you want to shake things up, I've found the recommendations of chemical exfoliation (AHA or BHA), low-key basic oil cleansing, physical sunscreen and Paula's Choice products to be pretty excellent. I have also loved Clarins products for years, as they are one of the few companies with products which do not break me out. For instance, Cetaphil and Cerave, which everyone recommends like there is no tomorrow, both make my skin freak out.

Everyone has very different experiences. So if you are going to change your skincare ways, I recommend changing/adding one product at a time, so you see what your skin is reacting to, and avoid it if necessary.

Oh, and lastly, Retin A seems to be legitimately effective at maintaining collagen production. You do have to be religious about sunscreen when using it though, and since I am terrible about it, I do without.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 8:07 AM on June 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

You should check out Paula's Choice products. They're free of fragrances and other irritants, and some of the moisturisers have a gel texture instead of a lotion texture. Their toners are also excellent if you only need a light moisturiser. There's a men's line, but because the products are fragrance-free, you could use any of them.

Two general changes that you should definitely make are switching from bar soap to a cleanser and starting to use moisturiser with SPF.
posted by neushoorn at 8:09 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I hatehatehate the sensation of lotions, creams, ointments and what I can only describe as 'scuzzy' soaps. I'm also a sufferer of various dermatological conditions.

Surprise: Dove Sensitive is actually great. Unscented, moisturising, without being gross. Never in my life would I have considered using dove until my dermatologist suggested it. Add another vote for Cerave. It's great! Expensive, but great. I don't think you need it unless you have perpetually dry skin though, you're better off with sunscreen (I know!). I think cerave has one. Also pricey, so I just tolerate regular stuff when I have to.

I also stick to a plain stainless safety razor without any kind of "moisturising strip" and use my preferred soap/badger brush.

You're a person who wants to keep it simple, and there's no reason you can't.
posted by Violet Femme at 8:41 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great stuff ! Just to add some more details--

I already use a safety razor. I had been using the Neutrogena shave cream, but I recently switched to some aerosol shaving gel (since I shave so little of my face, it seemed like a worthwhile product to scrimp on; I'm guessing the four-pack from Costco will cover me for two years or more).

My wife uses Cerave already and she is very smooth and soft. She also uses La Roche-Posay (including their Anthelios daily sunscreen) and likes Rhonda Allison for her other skin care needs. To the extent I use her Cerave, I guess I'd use her La Roche-Posay for sun protection?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:11 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anthelios is great for use on your face and neck, but check with your wife before slathering it everywhere since it can be hard to source and a little expensive ;)
posted by zepheria at 9:49 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

For toning, especially in summer, I love witch hazel.

Something else to consider for a facial lotion for skin past 40 is Sibu Facial Cream with Sea Buckthorn oil.

They also make a body cream. You should pay attention to your arms and backs of your hands, especially if you wear short sleeves and drive. Sea buckthorn oil gets excellent reviews on Make-up Alley, but the straight oil is a bit messy so I like it better in lotions. Also good if you happen to get a sunburn (or sun damage from working in the yard).
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

When it comes to taking care of ye olde face skin, sometimes you can't beat a face mask.

I know it seems ridiculous (GIF), but darn it if they don't work when used every once in a while.

This stuff is the bomb. Slather it on your face, wait about 10 minutes while looking like Lucille Bluth or the Grinch (or sit in front of a fan, which will cut it down to just a few minutes), then take a shower and rinse it off. It washes off fairly easily so you wouldn't have to worry about getting it in your beard or in your hair.

It's a fairly neutral minty smell (with a bit of sulfur in there too unfortunately, but sulfur is great for the skin), but it does wonders for the complexion of my skin and how oily my face gets.

I swear by their face scrub also. Again, light minty scent, awesome exfoliant without being harsh to to the point that your face hurts or you get razor burn-like irritation. Cuts the oil and leaves your skin feeling soft and in nice shape. Uses walnut shells, so no microbeads.
posted by Old Man McKay at 11:15 AM on June 17, 2014

Sunscreen with great UVA protection, every day. All the rest of the potions are essentially a skincare hobby.
posted by the jam at 11:38 AM on June 17, 2014

Beware that many skin care products marketed to men smell like Axe body spray or similar low-grade men's cologne. I much prefer lines designed for women or that are clearly marked as unscented. You may want to check out First Aid Beauty. They use high-quality ingredients, are reasonably priced when compared to competitors, and my other half who used to wash his face with Irish Spring soap, has happily transitioned to using these products (much to the delight of his skin).
posted by quince at 2:01 PM on June 17, 2014

Cetaphil is awesome: not at all greasy, created by dermatologists, and fragrance free. Costco discounts large tubs of it every few months.
posted by ravioli at 7:41 PM on June 17, 2014

I just wanted to follow up... earlier I had recommended Origins but I now rescind that recommendation. Following fleecircus' comment recommendations has improved my skin dramatically.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:39 AM on July 8, 2014

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