Note: This story was originally published in January of 2013, back when you had never heard of a Polar Vortex. Today, not only have you heard of a Polar Vortex, but you’ve probably been the victim of one this winter. That’s why you need to keep reading. After all, there’s a long way to go before spring.

Winter means skin brutality, especially for your face. And it’s winter now, so we’re going to talk about how to take care of that moneymaker of yours. And no, there’s absolutely nothing unmanly about making sure you have a clear, vital complexion. But that doesn’t mean you should adopt your girlfriend’s daily 10-step anti-aging, herbal-infused, citrus-scented, green-masked facial cleaning ritual. It’s really much simpler than that.

After all, imagine that you are about to approach a pretty girl at a bar / lounge / club. You’re well dressed, confident and ready to charm. But one small problem, you just stepped inside and the tolls of the cold, windy day have cracked your lips, made your cheeks red and irritable, and your nose blotchy and dry. Not a good look, no matter how smooth you are. So don’t handicap that charming personality of yours by not taking care of your style and your skin. From the dimple in your tie to the pimple on your face, remember that your entire appearance is sending a message. So in this post, we’ll cover the 3 essential steps to help you ensure that your face not only survives winter but your complexion stays as fresh as your Black Lapel custom suit.

 

Step 1: Identifying Your Skin Type  

The first step to properly caring for your skin is knowing your skin type. Caring for your face without knowing your skin type is the equivalent of shopping for pants without knowing your waist size. Everyone falls into five general skin types:

  1. Normal – Consider yourself one of the lucky few. This is the least problematic skin type. Skin is neither oily or flaky and is supple and smooth to the touch.
  2. Dry – Tight skin, often showing flakes of dead skin. Typically associated with small pores.
  3. Oily – Shiny skin, characterized by a layer of oil that can be associated with larger pores.
  4. Combination – The most common skin type where the skin is oily in the “T-zone” shown above and normal to dry in other areas.
  5. Sensitive – Reacts easily to products and irritations (both external and ingested), often turning red, itchy or developing a rash.

If you don’t know your skin type yet, here’s a quick questionnaire to help you figure it out. Knowing your skin type will help determine how you cleanse, moisturize and treat your skin. Easy enough. Moving on.

 

Step 2: Cleansing

“I’m fine using soap.”

No, you’re not. The problem with using ordinary soap to wash your face is that it dries your skin more than liquid cleansers. Dry skin not only looks bad, it can clog your pores and cause acne. A cleanser should remove accumulated dirt, excess oil and not contain harsh chemicals or detergents that strip away essential moisture. That moisture is what you need to protect you against the elements.

It’s all about balance. Choose cleansers that will balance out that your natural skin oils or lack thereof, and leave you refreshed. For example, if you’re someone with very oily skin you’ll want to use a lightweight cleanser that doesn’t leave your face feeling like a fat kid’s napkin at KFC.  If you’re someone with very sensitive skin, you’ll want to avoid cleansers with harsh chemicals that’ll cause irritation and breakout.

And once you choose a cleanser, is there a proper way to wash your face? Yes, here’s how:

  1. Splash warm water on your face. Warm water opens up your pores and helps you to clean deeper.
  2. Using chosen cleanser, lather your face using a gentle circular motion. Scrubbing harder does not equal being cleaner – it will only cause irritation.
  3. Remove the cleanser by rinsing with warm water. Never use hot water on the face as it dries out your skin.
  4. When finished, gently pat your face dry with a clean towel. Avoid rubbing your face as it promotes wrinkles.

Our Product Recommendations by Skin Type:

Normal: Kiehl’s Energizing Facial Fuel Face Wash

Oily: Nivea for Men Purifying Face Wash, Oil Control

Dry: Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser

Combination: Anthony Logistics For Men Glycolic Facial Cleanser

Sensitive: Zirh Mild Face Wash

 

Side Note: Exfoliation

If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, you can rotate in a scrub or exfoliating face wash once or twice a week. Exfoliating will help remove old dead skin and reveal younger, brighter skin. This shedding process not only keeps your skin looking anew, but also helps unclogs pores and reduce acne breakouts. Exfoliation also comes with the added bonus of raising hair follicles for a better shave. Not a bad return for a 3-minute investment a couple times a week.

Exfoliator Face Wash: Evolution Man Wash & Buff

Step 3: Moisturizing

Yes, men can moisturize. No, it doesn’t make you any less of a man. You should moisturize – especially during the winter – because your skin is prone to dryness…especially when those cold, bitter winds can make it feel like someone took a piece of sand paper and scrubbed your face with it. So aim to moisturize once or twice a day, especially right after you wash your face.

As with cleansers, make sure you consider your face type when choosing a moisturizing / face lotion.

We Recommend:

Normal: Neutrogena Men Triple Protect Face Lotion, SPF 20

Oily: Kyoku for Men Facial Moisturizer SPF 15

Dry: Clinique’s Maximum Hydrator

Combination: Menscience Advanced Face Lotion

Sensitive: Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20

There you have it – the 101 on basic winter facial skin care. Now you have more grooming wisdom to slow down the effects of time on your face or at least look your very best self. Who knows, maybe you’ll take us up on our advice and pick up a cleanser / moisturizer to use on the daily…and maybe a week later you end up at a bar where that cute brunette pivots over to you to drop a compliment about how nice your suit looks (since she’s not staring at that red spot on your forehead)…maybe she giggles, flirts and drops you her phone number as well. Whatever the implications, it will never hurt you to have better skin. You can thank us later for it. As for that receding hairline or untamed beard…we’ll save that for another time.

Got any favorite men’s skincare products you think we missed? Have a routine that just works? Tell us your skin type and share your know-how in the comments below!