Most advertising for acne care products is directed towards women, but men need to address their unique skin issues and needs. There are anatomical and physiological differences between male and female skin, and these distinctions necessitate a radical difference in home care for the modern man.
Aside from the obvious, which is that men have more hair follicles, male skin has a thicker top layer (stratum corneum) that is oilier, more acidic and more sensitive than female skin. More hair follicles means more sweat and oil production, but interestingly male follicles are anatomically too small to keep up with this increased oil production, and this is why men get more acne than women do.
Add in increasing levels of testosterone beginning in the teen years until it becomes more balanced in their early 20s, and it becomes clear why men need their own acne care regimen.
Step #1: Cleanse
The best acne cleansers for men is something they can shave with, like a foaming gel cleanser, but most men really prefer a granular scrub like Daily Scrub (my husband keep stealing mine out of the shower, and my female clients tell me the same about their husbands).
Step #2: Exfoliate
Home exfoliation will reduce the signs of male acne by increasing cell turnover and removing dead skin cells while clearing clogged pores and preventing ingrown hairs from shaving. An exfoliating serum with mandelic acid is an especially good choice for men susceptible to razor bumps.
Step #3: Treat Acne
For treating and preventing both inflamed and non-inflamed acne, the best products are gel-based benzoyl peroxide overnight treatments. But remember, benzoyl peroxide is also a bleaching agent, so avoid facial hair unless you want it to turn blonde, and use white towels and pillowcases to avoid bleaching linens.
Step #4: Apply Sunscreen
Men have resisted the idea of using sunscreen, and this really needs to change because men have a higher rate of skin cancer. This could be due to more outdoor activities, more driving (male skin cancers are predominately located on the left side of the body) or some genetic predisposition. Men really need to be diligent about finding an acne-safe sunscreen they feel comfortable applying daily.
It can be difficult for men to find a light sunscreen that doesn’t clog male skin and feels comfortable with their increased oil production. Products that contain some physical protection are best for men–micronized titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are extremely lightweight, contain no pore-clogging ingredients, and won’t leave a tell-tale white veil or oily sheen on the skin.