The world of anti-aging skincare is no longer restricted to women. A growing market of men’s skincare brands now offers high-quality, effective age-fighting treatments formulated specially for men’s skin. This go-to guide offers essential information – including the best ingredients and top treatments – to help guys tackle the signs of aging skin.
Taking meticulous care of skin and hair isn’t always on the top of the average guy’s to-do list, but a growing number of beauty brands just for men are making it easier for guys to take control of their personal care regimens. However, navigating the ingredients, formula types and different treatment options can make skincare seem overwhelming – especially when it comes to targeting specific concerns like anti-aging. Before you toss in the towel and shrug off your aging skin as sophisticated or suave, read this guide to top anti-aging treatments for men. In addition to explaining the most effective ingredients, we explain the different types of anti-aging formulas and offer our top product picks.
Step 1: Identify age-fighting ingredients
When it comes to creating an age-fighting skincare strategy, understanding which ingredients to look for can make the difference between success and failure. As you browse product labels and packaging, you’ll see countless claims about “miracle” ingredients that are “proven” to reverse the signs of aging. Unfortunately, these claims aren’t closely regulated, so beauty companies often overstate the benefits in order to sell products. Such “proof” may be the result of company-sponsored clinical testing, which has the potential for bias. To date, unbiased clinical skincare research (testing that is not paid for by corporate interests) has limited data to back most ingredients, but there are a few that have stood up to science and are endorsed by top skincare experts. Here’s what to look for:
- Retinol. Countless studies spanning several decades have demonstrated the ability of retinol to visibly minimize the signs of aging, including lines, wrinkles, discoloration and loss of texture. How does it work? This vitamin-A derivative (also known retinyl palmitate) boosts the production of skin-tightening collagen, stimulates cell renewal and purifies pores. Since retinol can potentially irritate the skin, use products with lower concentrations at first. As your skin gets used to this active ingredient, you can gradually increase the concentration you apply for more dramatic results.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Derived from fruit and dairy, AHAs are natural exfoliators that safely dissolve dead skin, excess oil and other pore-clogging debris from the surface of skin. The result? Brighter skin, smaller pores and better skin tone. Common AHAs include glycolic acid, malic acid, citric acid and lactic acid.
- Hyaluronic acid. A sugar produced by the skin, hyaluronic acid is a natural lubricant that works wonders when it comes to boosting hydration in aging skin. Since the body naturally slows its production of hyaluronic acid as we age, the skin can become drier and more vulnerable to showing the signs of damage and aging. Thankfully, anti-aging serums and lotions contain a synthetic form of hyaluronic acid (also known as hyaluronan and sodium hyaluronate) that can boost your skin’s ability to retain much-needed moisture – for a complexion that’s softer and suppler.
- Vitamin C. Sun exposure is the most significant cause of aging skin. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can prevent and repair sun-induced damage. Look for vitamin C in anti-aging treatments. Keep in mind that this compound breaks down easily, so store vitamin C products in a tightly sealed container away from the sun.
- Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 (also known as ubiquinone) is a powerful antioxidant that plays a crucial role in energy production at the cellular level. It’s also a fighter of free radicals, which means that it helps the body reverse damage caused by environmental factors, including UV rays. In terms of anti-aging, this ingredient can help minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles while defending against future sun damage.
- Tea extract. Another source of antioxidant-power, certain tea extracts contain the ability to counteract inflammation and environmental damage for skin that’s more resilient to showing the signs of aging. Look for green, black and oolong tea extracts in anti-aging creams and serums, which offer beneficial compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Although these should be your go-to ingredients as you shop for anti-aging treatments, it’s still possible to experience desirable anti-aging results with other ingredients. Just realize that you may be taking a gamble when you purchase the latest, greatest age-fighting ingredient on the market. To optimize your regimen, consider sticking with the tried and true ingredients that have withstood the test of time and science.
Step 2: Understand your options
The next step in your fight against aging is to start shopping. But when you reach the anti-aging aisle, you may feel overwhelmed. From masks and moisturizers to serums and scrubs, countless products boast the ability to treat the signs of aging. For the typical guy who maintains a minimal skincare routine, it’s tough to know where to start.
Below, we define basic product types and how they work in delivering anti-aging results. Plus, since all guys have different anti-aging goals and preferences when it comes to how much time, money and effort they wish to spend on daily skincare, we also identify which formulas are essential – and which are optional to provide an extra punch – in an anti-aging regimen.
- Cleanser – daily essential: Unless you’re still stuck on bar soap, you’re probably familiar with the basic skincare cleanser. Most cleansers are designed to purify the skin while leaving behind natural, moisture-locking oils. Although you’ll see anti-aging cleansers, it shouldn’t be your first line of attack on aging. Dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD, tells O, The Oprah Magazine that since cleansers are only in contact with skin for a few seconds, there’s simply not enough time for active ingredients to penetrate the skin. So, although it can’t hurt to pick up an affordable cleanser that’s designed for mature skin, don’t empty your wallet for an overpriced anti-aging face wash. You can get more age-fighting bang for your skincare buck with other treatments listed below.
- Scrub – occasional essential: Over time – even with dedicated daily cleansing – dirt, dead skin and other impurities accumulate on the surface of skin. Not only does this build-up lead to a dull, uneven complexion, it also diminishes the results of your daily skincare regimen by acting as a barrier that prevents active ingredients from penetrating the skin. What gets rid of this unwanted layer? The skin naturally sheds old cells, so over time, it can naturally eliminate some of the buildup. Unfortunately, skin renewal slows as we age, making it necessary to scour away, or exfoliate, this layer by replacing your usual cleanser with a topical facial scrub a few times per week. The scrub contains special ingredients that either dissolve (i.e. retinol or alpha hydroxy acids) or physically dislodge (i.e. salt or sugar) the debris from the surface of skin, revealing healthier, brighter skin beneath. An essential skincare step, this is the quickest and most effective way to brighten your complexion while improving the overall results your daily regimen.
- Toner – daily extra: Another optional step, a toner is a clarifying liquid that removes any dirt, oils or dead skin cells left behind after cleansing. By further polishing pores, a toner may enable your other skincare treatments to penetrate the skin more quickly and effectively for better results. In addition, using an anti-aging toner is a convenient way to layer your freshly cleansed skin with age-fighting ingredients including retinoids and antioxidants.
- Moisturizer – daily essential: A daily moisturizer is a necessary skincare step for all ages – but especially important for aging complexions. Not only is well-hydrated skin more resilient to damage, it also shows fewer signs of aging. So a daily moisturizer is an easy, quick step in brightening the appearance of your complexion. When it comes to anti-aging, there are lots of moisturizers formulated with anti-aging ingredients along with special lotions to use during the day and at night. During the day, look for a lightweight anti-aging moisturizer with SPF. Before bed, consider applying a night-time treatment that contains higher concentrations of age-fighting ingredients that have all night to penetrate and repair your skin. While moisturizers are a great way to simultaneously hydrate skin and treat the signs of aging, keep in mind that most moisturizers contain larger molecules that are only designed to penetrate the upper layers of skin. To deliver anti-aging action to deeper layers, you’ll also need to use a serum (see below).
- Serum – daily extra: Serums are specially formulated liquid or gels that are designed to deliver tiny micro-nutrients to the deepest layers of skin in order to target a particular skincare concern, such as aging or acne. Serums are less effective hydrators, so they shouldn’t replace your daily moisturizer. However, this extra step delivers a much higher concentration of active, anti-aging ingredients, boosting the overall results of your regimen. Serums may cause irritation on sensitive skin types and are best applied immediately after cleansing.
- Mask – extra: A facial mask is a unique topical treatment that’s designed to blanket pores for an extended period of time so that active ingredients have time to either penetrate the skin or draw out impurities, depending on the targeted concern. The application time can vary, but ranges from 10 minutes to overnight. Look for anti-aging masks that contain high concentrations of ingredients to both fight aging and soothe the skin. As an alternative, many day spas offer professional anti-aging masks (even for men!) that can deliver dramatic results.
Step 3: Pick your products
Now that you understand the options when it comes to daily skincare treatments, you’re one step closer to becoming your own anti-aging expert. Next? It’s time to shop. But before you groan – we’re here to make the purchasing process quick, easy and less of a gamble with our top product picks.
- Cleanser: As mentioned earlier, cleansing isn’t the best way to infuse your skin with anti-aging ingredients. However, an effective age-fighting regimen depends on a fresh, clean complexion. Formulated for aging skin, Billy Jealousy LiquidSand Exfoliating Facial Cleanser is a multi-tasking cleanser that gently exfoliates with retinol and lactic acid as it purifies pores, leaving behind a fresh skin slate that can better absorb the ingredients in your other daily formulas.
- Moisturizer. Healthy moisture is an easy way to mask the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while creating an essential layer of defense against outside impurities. During the day, lather on a lightweight face lotion like Lab Series Daily Moisture Defense Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 15 that combines SPF protection to defend skin against future damage with anti-aging antioxidants.
Before bed, apply a heavy anti-aging night cream like Paula's Choice PC4Men Nighttime Repair, which boasts a powerful blend of age-fighting ingredients including retinol and green tea to minimize lines, wrinkles and discoloration as you sleep.
- Serum: Even if you’re a minimalist when it comes to daily skincare, adding an anti-aging serum to your regimen is a worthwhile step in the fight against aging. Uniquely formulated for men, Anthony Logistics Anti Aging Vitamin C Serum contains a complex of micro-nutrients including vitamin C, cucumber, hyaluronic acid and grapeseed extract, to bring age-fighting action to the deepest layers of skin.
- Toner: A toner isn’t for everybody, but if you struggle with excess oil or dull skin consider applying Anthony Logistics Alcohol-Free Toner immediately after cleansing. Formulated with aloe vera and calendula to soothe and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture, this daily toner helps you achieve a brighter, more balanced complexion.
- Scrub: Regular exfoliation is essential for maintaining bright, healthy skin at any age – but is especially crucial for aging skin. Swap your normal cleanser with Anthony Logistics Action Face Scrub a few times a week to keep your skin in top shape. In addition to removing dead skin, this scrub boasts special anti-aging ingredients including vitamin A to smooth out wrinkles, plus a blend of lettuce leaf and cucumber to comfort and soothe.
Take action against aging
Even the most rugged of men have an underlying desire for a youthful appearance. But the prevention and treatment of aging skin demands more than a basic bar of soap, and success depends on the quality of your skincare regimen. Using this guide, you can be your own anti-aging warrior and build an arsenal of the best, most effective ingredients and products.
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