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Recently, I slept over at a man’s house. Usually when this happens, I end up just passing out in his bed with my contacts in and a full face of makeup on, often ruining his pillow cases and probably doing some long-term damage to my ocular health. But this time, I happened to have the presence of mind to actually prepare for bed like a functional human adult. Unlike a functional human adult, however, I forgot to pack face wash. Upon asking my host if he had anything with which I could wash my face, I was offered a bar of Dove soap and baby wipes, at which point a disturbing question occurred to me: Has this man never washed his face?
Mind you, this man was not your typical 20-something aspiring musician sleeping on a mattress on the floor. This was a middle-aged hedge-fund-running man with a house in an affluent Connecticut neighborhood. This was a man who keeps a pack of spare toothbrushes for guests, one whose home contains six and a half bathrooms complete with six fully stocked showers and as many bidets. Was it possible that this seemingly hyper-competent adult man knew more about washing his asshole than his face?
Apparently, it’s quite possible. A recent survey from skincare company Tiege Hanley found that 63 percent of men said they don’t regularly use a designated facial cleanser to wash their face, while 33 percent of men admitted they don’t regularly wash their face at all.
“Yes, it’s a definite problem,” says Erin Jensen, PA-C, an expert in aesthetics medicine and founder of The Treatment Skincare Boutique. “For a lot of men, shampoo is their head-to-toe cleanser.”
Men, I don’t know how else to say this, but you need to wash your face. With face wash.
Why? Because “different cleansers have different purposes for different areas of the body,” says Jensen. Shampoo, which is designed to cut through oil on the scalp, is a much harsher cleanser than the pH of your face requires. Likewise, adds Jensen, “the cleanser you use to wash your underarms and private area should be different than what you use on your face as well.”
But don’t worry, we’ll stick with your face for now. Fortunately, says Jensen, “Facial cleansers are the easiest place for men to start opening up their skincare routine.”
The bad news is you have to wash your face. With a designated facial cleanser. Not shampoo. Not a bar of soap. Not baby wipes. Face wash. The good news is it’s easier than it sounds.
Even better news? I’ve already done the hardest part for you. While you were busy washing your face with the same bar of soap you use to clean god know what other parts of your body, I tapped a few skincare experts for their top recommendations for the best face washes for men. Go ahead and pick one out and start washing your face like an adult human. Your skin will thank you, and so will the next woman who sleeps over your place and forgets to bring her own face wash.
SkinCeuticals Soothing Cleanser
“I really like the SkinCeuticals line,” says Jensen. “A more elevated or medical cleanser is going to give you better results with less stripping of the face.”
This foaming cleanser works for all skin types and treats a variety of skincare concerns, from acne to blackheads to aging.
The Treatment Skin Boutique Antioxidant Cleanser
“Men tend to have oilier skin types so they can typically tolerate more abrasive ingredients, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide,” says Jensen. The Treatment Skin Boutique’s Antioxidant Cleanser features salicylic acid, which can help remove dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of aging skin while remaining gentle enough for everyday use.
“I think salicylic acid is a great ingredient because it’s simple,” says Jensen. “It deep-cleans the skin without overdrying.”
Avene Cleansing Foam
“Men tend to prefer foaming face washes, but these can often lead to irritation after shaving,” says Dr. Ted Lain, board-certified Dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer at Sanova Dermatology. “This formulation reduces oil content on the skin, but is soap-free, so it won’t overdo it.”
CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser
Another pick from Dr. Lain, this foaming cleanser is a new product from CeraVe designed for sensitive skin.
“This cleanser starts as a hydrating creamy cleanser but quickly foams to leave the skin feeling refreshed but not overly dry,” says Lain, who adds that he’s even used this product as a shaving lotion, applying it to just-damp skin. “It maintains its creaminess until more water is added.”
Brickell Men’s Face Wash
“This is an excellent cleanser and great for all skin types,” says New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green, M.D.
Formulated with aloe, green tea, vitamin C, activated charcoal and hyaluronic acid, this cleanser’s rich assortment of ingredients “work synergistically to cleanse, soothe and replenish the skin.”
Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser
“This cleanser packs a one-two punch combining the benefits of a cleanser and toner in one,” says Green.
This daily cleanser is formulated with natural anti-inflammatory ingredients like soothing aloe and chamomile, as well as witch hazel, “an astringent that also soothes and reduces inflammation.” The formula also includes oats, which “stimulate the production of collagen,” Green explains. “The oats bind to the skin, creating a shield against irritation while locking in natural moisture within the skin.”
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