Men's Skincare: A Complete Guide to Creating Your Skincare Routine

Just hearing the words “10-step Korean skincare routine” makes us exhausted. The regular working person doesn’t have the time to dedicate hours every day to get dat glow.

So let’s uncomplicated things: A man’s skincare routine should have, at minimum, four steps or products: cleanser, treatment, moisturizer, and sunscreen. These four are your foundations, but we’ve listed all the steps you might want to add down below, and it’s up to you to decide what you feel your skin needs.

ALSO READ: Get That Glow Up, Bro: A Beginner's Guide to Men's Skincare


Cleanser

Frequency: Day and Night

Your skin needs a clean slate before you start your routine. Wash your face twice a day to get rid of the oil and grime it’s accumulated. When it comes to cleansers, gentle is the way to go. Harsh ingredients can irritate the skin, which will only make it more susceptible to acne breakouts.

Note: You might have heard the phrase “double cleansing,” which is when you cleanse your face first with an oil cleanser and then with a water-based cleanser. This type of cleansing is generally used by women to break down makeup. As such, it’s not necessary for a men’s skincare routine, but you can try it out all the same.

Esquire’s Top Picks Based on Skin Type

Oily and combination skin: Go for gentle foaming cleansers with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or other gentle ingredients.

We recommend: Senka Perfect Whip Face Wash

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P129 on SHOPEE

Dry skin: Get creamy cleansers to hydrate the skin.

We recommend: Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser

P1,350 on BeautyMNL

Sensitive skin: Go for oil cleansers or cleansers with oat, aloe vera, or other gentle ingredients.

We recommend: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

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P538 on LAZADA


Toner

Frequency: Day and Night

Long gone are the days of witch hazel and Eskinol. Toners today are geared toward exfoliating as gently as possible. Toners are meant to remove leftover dirt, even out your skin tone, and add a “booster shot” to your skincare routine. This is an optional step and if used, doesn’t need to be applied every day.

Tip: If it smells like alcohol, run. Harsh ingredients will make your skin inflamed.  

Esquire’s Top Picks Based on Ingredients

Alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHA/BHA): This ingredient removes dead skin cells and brightens skin in general.

We recommend: Face Republic AHA/BHA Toner

P499 on ZALORA

Hyaluronic acid: In toners, this ingredient boosts hydration and gets rid of impurities.

We recommend: Dear, Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner

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P1,150 on ALTHEA

Glycolic acid: This ingredient gently exfoliates your skin to give it a more even look.

We recommend: The Ordinary Glycol Acid 7% Toning Solution

P699 on SHOPEE


Serum

Frequency: Day and Night

Serums are concocted to deliver a high concentration of active ingredients to your skin. They’re lightweight in consistency but heavy in terms of impact. If you’re dealing with acne or hyperpigmentation, serums are the center of your skincare routine from which everything else revolves around. With all the products your skin is absorbing, consider the serum as the biggest meal.

Note: If your skin isn’t dealing with any major issues, like acne or wrinkles, then serums are optional. You can user more than one serum at once, but be sure the ingredients won't blash.

Esquire’s Top Picks Based on Ingredients

Vitamin C: This ingredient brightens your skin and helps reduce hyperpigmentation.

We recommend: Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop

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P1,200 on ALTHEA

Hyaluronic acid: Don’t be fooled by the word “acid.” Hyaluronic acid is used for hydration and moisture retention, and with the right moisturizer, it won't dry your skin. 

We recommend: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum 

P520 on SEPHORA

Niacinamide: If you’re dealing with breakouts, niacinamide can treat acne and hyperpigmentation caused by acne.

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We recommend: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum

P810 on SEPHORA


Eye Cream

Frequency: Day and Night

The older you get, the more you regret those long sleepless nights. Because sooner or later, that lack of sleep will catch up to you in the form of horrid eyebags. The eye cream step isn’t necessary unless you happen to suffer from bad eyebags.

Note: The skin around your eyes is the most sensitive part of your face. Never apply too much eye cream and immediately stop the use of a product if it gives you irritation.

Esquire’s Top Picks Based on Product Type

For brightening: Supergoop! Origins Bright-Eyed 100% Mineral Eye Cream

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P2,400 on SEPHORA

For wrinkles: L’Oreal Revitalift Laser Triple Action Eye Cream

P1,089 on L’Oreal Paris PH

For dark circles: Olay Ultimate Eye Cream

P1,089 on WATSONS

Spot Treatment

Frequency: Day and Night (at the beginning)

Most spot treatments have strong ingredients, so it’s best to save spot treatment for your nighttime skin routine unless you want to walk around with light inflammation. If your skin feels more resilient, you can start applying spot treatment twice a day to get rid of your zits faster.

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Esquire’s Top Picks Based on Ingredients

Benzoyl peroxide: This is a classic ingredient proven to kill acne-causing bacteria.

We recommend: Benzac Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5%-5%

P439 on LAZADA

Salicylic acid: Best used for clogged pores, salicylic acid can also treat inflamed bumps before they turn into pimples. 

We recommend: The Inkey List Succinic Acid Blemish Treatment

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P545 on SEPHORA

Adapelene: Adapalene is a topical retinoid that does wonders for acne, but can’t be mixed with other retinoid products.

We recommend: Differin (prescription required)


Retinol

Frequency: Night

We know we said that there’s no magic product to fix all of your skin issues overnight. But retinol is the next closest thing. Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, meaning that it’s a type of retinoid. All retinoids encourage your body to produce more collagen and treat acne, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles. Retinol is the most common and available type of retinoid that’s often found in skincare products, as other derivatives require prescriptions. Even the smallest amount of retinol can cause irritation, so it’s advised to apply retinol minimally in the first few weeks then gradually increase use over time.

Note: Never apply more than one type of retinoid at a time. Your face will become a war zone.

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Esquire’s Top Picks

For beginners: Good Molecules Gentle Retinol Cream

P849 on SHOPEE

For mid-level users: Cerave Resurfacing Retinol Serum

P1,549 on SHOPEE

For advanced users: Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Moisturizer 

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P1,999 on WATSONS


Moisturizer

Frequency: Twice a day (day and night routine)

Some would say that moisturizer is the most important part of your skincare routine. Moisturizer works on two fronts: hydrating your skin and trapping all the products you just used underneath its layer of protection. That said, a skincare routine without moisturizer is like a table with only three legs. No matter how oily your skin is, moisturizer is non-negotiable.

Esquire’s Top Picks Based on Skin Type

Oily skin: Cream or gel-based products are best as oily skin will keep you hydrated on its own.

We recommend: Illiyoon Ceramide Ato Concentrate Cream 

P645 on BeautyMNL

Dry skin: Cream-based products are more suited for dry skin that needs as much moisture as it can get.

We recommend: Cerave Moisturizing Cream

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P1,999 on WATSONS

Sensitive/acne-prone skin: Non-comedogenic acne products with added active ingredients will give your moisturizer an added boost.

We recommend: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

P440 on ZALORA


Sunscreen

Frequency: Once a day (day routine)

To our great dismay, there are skincare guides out there that claim that sunscreen is only optional. We couldn’t disagree more. In the Philippines, we should be living and breathing by sunscreen. There’s a reason why some Asian grandmothers look like they’re 50 when they’re pushing 70. Their secret is sunscreen. If you haven’t started using sunscreen, start now. You’ll thank us in 10 years. Not only is sunscreen good for aging and wrinkles, but it also prevents sun spots, sun damage, and skin cancer. Some sunscreens also double as moisturizers, so you can hit two birds with one stone.

Note: SPF 30 is the minimum SPF you need every day.

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Esquire’s Top Picks for Skin Type

Oily skin: Like most products for oily skin, your sunscreen should be lightweight.

We recommend: Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel SPF 50+

P532 on SALORA

Dry skin: Heavy sunscreens will be needed to encourage hydration for dry skin.   

We recommend: Cetaphil Daily Oil Free Facial Moisturizer with SPF 35 

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P990 on BeautyMNL

Sensitive skin/Acne-prone skin: With all the products you’ve used, a gentle sunscreen will be best to end your skincare routine. 

We recommend: Joseon Relief Sun: Rice + Probiotics SPF 50+

P624 on LAZADA

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