Walk into any beauty retailer and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by products marketed to women. Pastel colors and floral scents bombard the senses as marketers try and create a lady’s fantasy playland. Most men avoid these stores like the plague. A panic creeps in as they approach. My husband’s personal move is to walk me up to the door of Sephora then bolt to the Apple store. If a man is brave enough to enter a beauty retailer, he usually spends a great amount of time wandering around until he finds a tiny section called “men’s grooming,” with maybe one or two lines almost entirely dedicated to shaving.
As a makeup artist, I have had the chance to work on men’s skin in a variety of settings. Film and photo shoots demand that men’s skin be prepped in much the same way a woman’s is. There are products out there to treat the various maladies that affect us all—uneven texture, redness, lines, dryness and oiliness, and that’s just to name a few. However, there are some differences—Chris Hamrock, a stylist and barber at Haus Hair Society, breaks it down:
“Men generally have some different struggles then women. Shaving and maintaining facial hair, naturally thicker skin, possibly dealing with more sun exposure as statistically more men work outside and in more industries that involve oil, dirt and grease covering your hands and body. Men deserve to have a better products marketed towards them to not only help us look better, but also to help us stay healthy.”
On that note, men of the world unite and show the cosmetics industry that you too are a valuable consumer who needs more than just an aftershave. This guide is meant to help you gentlemen get out there to conquer the overwhelming world of skin and makeup.
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1. Pores and Textured Skin
The number one thing men ask me about when I am working on them is how to conceal and treat pores. Men’s skin being a bit more coarse in nature than women’s can often lead to highly visible craters particularly on the nose and cheek area. My favorite products to magically make these pores vanish into thin air are Benefit Cosmetics Porefessional and Dr. Brandt’s Pores No More. Both are top selling products with women, but because they are sold as a makeup base primer, they go unnoticed by most men. These products rely on silicones to fill in the gaps in the skin to make it as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Porefessional and Pores No More are equally effective, but some clients will prefer the slip of Porefessional or the creaminess of Pores No More. They both contain ingredients like vitamin E and tea tree oil to help soothe skin and control oiliness as the day goes on, but it is important to note these products while they produce magical results do not treat pore size or texture.
Treatments that I recommend to my male clients are charcoal and clay based masks paired with a good cleansing routine. If you are on any format of social media you have probably seen the peel off masks that appear to remove all unsightly impurities from the face. It is important to research these products before investing in them as many are unregulated by the FDA and contain ingredients unsafe to the skin such as glue. My go tos in the peel off category are Boscia’s Luminizing Mask and First Aid Beauty’s Purifying Mask. Boscia’s mask uses activated charcoal balanced with natural anti-inflammatory ingredients such as rosemary leaf extract to pull out unsightly blackheads and white heads. FAB’s mask relies on red clay to soak up oils and impurities while lifting out the nastiness that fills our skin beneath the surface. I am also a big fan of two more traditional creamy mask formulas —Epicuren’s Volcanic Clay Purifying Mask and Algenist’s Clarifying Pore Corrector mask. Both use a powerful blend of clays and oils to not only refine and detoxify our skin, but they also have hydrating oils that balance out our skin’s hydration levels. These products are also fantastic as spot treatments for ingrown hairs from shaving—leave on overnight and say goodbye to that red inflamed follicle. Before using any of these masks, it is important that you thoroughly cleanse your face with a product like Lush’s Kalamazoo Creamy Beard and Facial Wash (great for shaving, too) or if you prefer a lighter gel based cleanser, Eminence’s Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser is a great option. Both cleansers contain anti bacterial ingredients like yogurt, salicylic acid and tea tree oil that help prevent and treat acne and congestion. For an extra deep clean that will also prep your beard for shaving, try either Clarisonic’s Mia 2 or Remington’s Verso mechanical cleansers. These machines through vibrations and circular movements lift the hairs on the beard up and open the pores for a deeper shave and a more intense clean.
2. Redness and Dehydration
On film sets and photo shoots these are common issues that I have to correct and work with. Men often show up to shoots with skin that hasn’t been hydrated in days that has been stripped of all natural hydration via shaving and long workdays.
Amazing products for instant rehydrating and plumping results that no man would ever think to put on his skin are NARS’ tinted moisturizer and creamy concealer. Both contain a mixture of flesh tones and corrective colors that give a subtle and natural effect on the skin without looking “made up.” They both adhere deeply and smoothly never sticking in pores or fine lines. They can add the appearance of a good night of sleep and hide a day spent in the sun.
If there is more intense redness, I will apply a color correcting primer underneath my favorite being Dermablend’s anti redness primer. The light green tint in this creamy soothing balm gives the skin a fresh hydrated look while cancelling out red tones. The product is user friendly and settles well into the skin and sometimes does not require foundation or concealer over it.
Treating redness and dehydration is important to overall health of the skin. Even if we don’t have a vain bone in our body, we need to be aware of the sun’s potential damage as well as the unhealthy habits we have such as smoking that can lead to inflammation of the skin. A cream that most men would never guess by the packaging would help them out with this greatly is It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream. The brand is celebrated as a woman run company that markets primarily to women with issues such as rosacea and eczema. However, their top selling doctor created cream can help calm down irritated skin on anyone. It has soothing peptides and a high amount of colloidal oatmeal, a well-known soothing agent for a variety of skin concerns. This is great as a daily treatment but also can help heal sunburn, tattoos and ingrown hairs to name a few. For SPF, there are a wealth of fantastic products on the market, but my go to’s are Algenist’s SPF 50 for it’s clean fresh feel and highly effective UVA/UVB sunscreen, or +hydrate+lotion+sunscreen+with+broad+spectrum+spf+70.do">Aveeno’s higher SPF’s for long days of sun exposure. Lastly, natural oils are a wonderful way to make the skin bounce back from a harsh day of activity. My current beloved product for this is Honest Beauty’s Everything Organic facial oil —don’t let the girly fragrance scare you—the blends of sunflower seed, citrus, avocado and other oils will calm your skin and even balance oil production throughout the day by restoring your skin’s moisture barrier.
3. Wrinkles and Anti Aging
It is not just ladies who worry about crows feet, frown lines and forehead 11’s. Men often ask what on earth they can do to prevent and treat these less than appealing signs of aging. This is an area where men and women’s skin is virtually the same. Botox, fillers and retinols are all effective options for a stronger medical grade result, but rest assured, guys—there are some at home remedies that may appear to be for the ladies but will help you undo your furrowed brow and stressed eyes. I find that men prefer instant results and they have to look no further than Dr. Brandt’s Needles No More that has a topical blend that mimics the results of Botox. This product helps treat wrinkles by freezing the muscles in place. Other instant wonder workers are Eminence’s Hibiscus line filler that is an all-natural and organic version of this kind of product. Eye creams that I find deliver the most instant and powerful results are Algenist’s Complete Renewal Eye Balm and the ultra girly Dermdoctor’s Wrinkle Revenge. Both use a blend of peptides and caffeine to multi task at treating wrinkles, bags and dark circles. If you have particularly aggressive dark circles, try Epicuren’s Eye Alive Serum that through botanical ingredients makes your eyes appear to have a full night of sleep.
Beth Martinez is an Los Angeles-based make up artist and writer whose other passions include vegan food, her 19 pound cat Cheeto and collecting far too many records.