Skin + Hair Basics

The Best Skin Care Routine for Men is Simple and Effective

The best skincare routine for men isn’t overly complicated, because a little goes a long way with these products. Here is the best men’s skincare regimen, hands down.

The Best Skin Care Routine for Men is Simple and Effective

Smart skincare doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, the best skin care routine for men proves that. It’s a basic skin regimen, and only takes a few products to maintain clear, healthy skin.  

Keep in mind that no two people should have the exact same skin care routine. That’s because we all have different skin types (like oily skin, acne-prone skin, dry or sensitive skin, etc), and it’s important to make sure your products and routine work with your skin, as opposed to aggravating any existing problems—or without causing new problems entirely.

With that in mind, there are many products that are specifically formulated for all skin types, usually by considering things like sensitivities and proneness to blemishes, with extremely hydrating and oil-free moisturizers (as well as a non-dehydrating cleanser). Oh, and one thing that is supremely universal: sun protection. Make sure your regimen has SPF in it, and that you lather that SPF on your face every single day. (More on that below.)

And again, some people’s skin care routines are long, ornate, and even intimidating. But don’t focus on those folks; an advanced regimen can certainly improve results, but only nominally compared to the basic routine. What matters is that you have a foundational skincare routine in the first place. And this basic skincare routine for men is just two or three steps. It promotes clear, healthy complexion and prevents everything from inflammation to dryness, as well as greasy skin and hyperpigmentation. Here is a look at that regimen, and how it alters (ever so slightly) from morning to midday to night.

Step 1: Cleanse

For morning and night, you’ll need a cleanser. And regardless of your skin type (dry, oily, or anything in between), it’s important to have a face wash that delivers nourishing properties to the skin as it simultaneously deep cleans the pores: A clay cleanser, for example, can be both gentle and hydrating on skin while also being adept at removing oil and grime from deep within pores. (This is why Cardon chose clay as a key ingredient in its cleanser.)

In the Morning 

When you wake up, you’ve got to wash your face right away. You’ve been sleeping on your pillows night after night, which have soaked up your sweat and oils, and thus they’re likely harboring lots of bacteria. (Bonus hygiene tip: Wash your pillowcases weekly, and your bed sheets every other week.) It’s important to “reset” the canvas for the products you’re about to apply before the day unfolds.

Before Bed

You’ve also got to wash away the entire day’s accumulation of oil, grime, sweat, and dirt before falling asleep. If not, you’ll layer all of these things onto your pillowcase and then press your also-dirty face into it for eight hours while you sleep. (Yes, we’re giving you the benefit of the doubt on the necessary 8 hours’ rest. It will also make a huge difference in your complexion as opposed to getting, say, 6 hours or less every night.) And when you cleanse before bed, you’ll again “reset the canvas” for the other products applied right after. Plus, with this p.m. reset, you’re likelier to wake with breakouts, enlarged pores, or that not-so-fresh feeling.Before Bed

CARDON Clay Cleanser Basic Skin Care

Step 2: Moisturize (Possibly with a Separate Cream for Day and Night)

Next you need to moisturize the skin, both morning and night. There is more purpose to using moisturizer than simply adding hydration. Moisturizer boosts the “barrier function” of the skin, in that it works as a “double epidermis”. (Try saying "double epidermis" ten times fast.) It does so in one way by protecting skin from environmental toxins, like pollution, that otherwise age our appearance and damage cells. In addition to that defense, the barrier boost also prevents excess water loss from beneath the skin. Simply put, moisturizer prevents bad stuff from getting in, and good stuff from getting out.

Look for moisturizers that feature nourishing ingredients, from plant extracts to vitamins. Each moisturizer’s formula will deliver something different to the skin based on which of these ingredients is used, and each brand should be able to articulate why they chose the ones they did. Take Cardon as an example, which uses cactus extract as a key ingredient in each of its products. This ingredient is known for its soothing, healing properties, and gives a moisturizer that much more muscle.

Your moisturizer should differ from morning to night. So, in theory, you should have two moisturizers on your sinkledge. (Though there is one possible exception.) Here is how they should differ.

Morning Moisturizer

If you keep two separate moisturizers, then the morning moisturizer really should include broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30 or greater. SPF gives you an invisibility cloak of sorts, at least from the omnipresent and oppressive UV rays that cause skin to age faster than otherwise normal. Pick a lightweight, water-based, fast-absorbing SPF moisturizer for daily use—like Cardon’s Daily SPF + Moisturizer—so that it doesn’t leave any greasy residue on the skin or cause excess sweating. This type of SPF moisturizer is good for all skin types, too. In particular, anyone dealing with oily skin will appreciate how it doesn’t aggravate the situation. More on SPF below.

CARDON Sunscreen Basic Skin Care

This morning moisturizer should be reapplied midday, too. For one, the barrier-boosting powers of the product will have started to wane, but also, SPF typically only wears for a couple hours. Assuming you ditch the office for a lunch break, that’s the perfect time for a second application, or a couple hours later to precede your commute home. Just wash your hands and splash some water on your face, then let it dry before reapplying.

Night Cream

You obviously don’t need SPF at bedtime, unless you live in Norway and it’s summer and you sleep with the blinds drawn like a crazy person. Also, at bedtime, you want something a little thicker and denser that will wear longer than a typical daytime option, and that promises to help repair the skin. This is important, the repairing bit. Because as you sleep, your body is healing and your cells are regenerating.

CARDON Night Cream Basic Skin Care

A night cream should also double down on preventing water loss by shielding skin from cold or dry air. We also suggest sleeping with a humidifier in cool, dry climates or seasons in order to prevent the air around you from drying your skin while you sleep. As a bonus, you’ll also wake up with less repugnant breath.


Here’s our dedicated ditty on sun protection. Obviously, it’s only necessary for daytime, but it’s also necessary all year round. That’s because the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays are active every day, and they mutate our skin cells and can lead to premature skin aging (that’s UVA rays) as well as skin cancer (that’s UVB rays). On top of that, UVA rays can also go through glass, meaning the sun can still age your skin prematurely and aggressively even if you’re sitting indoors or inside the car. Yes, it’s kind of like they’re stalking you.

The American Academy of Dermatology and the FDA both agree that SPF 30 is the best baseline coverage everyone should use. This is because SPF 30 provides 97% protection from the sun, whereas SPF 15 only offers 93% coverage. SPF 50 only moves things to 98%, which could make a huge difference for fair-skinned individuals, but will be nominal for most others. So, that biggest, surest coverage is SPF 30—again, every single day

And if you don’t use an SPF moisturizer by day, make sure to get a dedicated facial sunscreen to apply over the top of your morning moisturizer. (We still think it’s easier and more cost effective to just use an SPF 30 moisturizer every day…)

What Products Do Men Need for Skin Care?

Adding Nuance or Addressing Unique Skincare Concerns

Once you’ve mastered this basic skin care for men, you can then target the specifics of your own grooming needs. A more advanced skincare routine can include eye creams or gels for dark circles, fine lines, and puffy eyes; targeted treatments for acne or dark spots; face masks for deep cleansing or deep moisture; an anti-aging regimen that includes serums and retinol to help skin look firm, bright, and youthful; and much more. But don’t stress about that stuff now—focus on mastering the basics, and you can add complexities as you see fit and necessary.

Cardon Products Are