The Ultimate Beauty Basics for Men

The Ultimate Beauty Basics for Men

Su Shan Leong

From Skin Care to No-Makeup Makeup

As Men’s Fashion Month kicks off, the runway is not only bringing attention to the clothes of the season, but the assemblage of immaculately-groomed faces modeling them. Make no mistake, a surplus of blessed genetics are at play (models, right?!), but there are other factors behind their glowing complexions and sculpted features. The fact is radiant, healthy-looking skin and natural-looking makeup—which many individuals across the gender spectrum aspire to as a base step for presenting themselves to the world—requires diligence and a stable of basic products and techniques. Here, a quick and dirty guide to a few beauty basics for men, from skincare to perfecting the no-makeup makeup look.

Cleanse, Moisturize—Repeat

For cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat Ron Robinson, skin care is the most essential component of a men’s grooming routine in that it promotes a healthy-looking complexion and lays the groundwork for a clean, smooth shave. Of course, it all begins with a solid facial cleanser that’s tailored to your needs. “If you are acne or ingrown hair prone, use a facial cleanser that is geared to help with those concerns,” instructs Robinson, adding that washing your face also helps prime and soften facial hair before shaving. As for how often, twice daily is the rule of thumb—especially in this time. “Given that we are wearing masks these days, cleansing morning and night is recommended to remove the build up of sweat, oil, and dirt.” The next step is to apply moisturizer to lock in hydration and shield the skin with a nourishing, protective layer. Backstage at the Dior Men, makeup artist Peter Philips will always supercharge and plumped skin with Dior Capture Crème moisturizer, and add drops of Capture Total serum to extra thirsty dry patches. While Philips, and other skin-care industry leaders such as Rihanna and Pharrell, underline that skin-care products can be gender neutral, there are differences in skin needs. One example is how vigorously and often you should exfoliate. “Men have thicker skin, so they can tolerate more exfoliation than women,” says Robinson. “But they too should not overdo it.” In that vein, two to three times a week is plenty, whether opting for a gentle physical or chemical exfoliator.

Protect Skin and Target Your Needs

If you want to take brightening to the next level for clearer, more youthful-looking skin, vitamin C is the hero of ingredients, insists Robinson. “For men that are concerned with texture, tone, or even fine lines, they should include a vitamin C serum in their routine as it can help improve skin texture, even out skin tone, firm and lessen the look of wrinkles, and help them get a smoother, closer shave too,” he explains. After a layer of vitamin C serum (which can make skin more vulnerable to light exposure), and generally, apply a daily broad-spectrum UVA/UVB coverage to protect your complexion from the sun damage. “Even during the winter months!” emphasizes Robinson. Lastly, another fruitful step to take is using a weekly tailored mask treatment, such as the Soft Moisture Mask or Kiehl’s new Ultra Facial Overnight Rehydrating Mask, which allows a targeted set of ingredients to penetrate the skin deeper and faster for both instant results and healthier skin over time. “Once you start taking care of your skin—cleansing, hydrating, moisturizing, and exfoliating and masking from time to time—it will help you, [especially] if the next step is makeup,” says Philips.

Keep Facial Hair Groomed and Razor Burn-Free

“In men’s grooming, we use the beard and mustache as a cosmetic element to camouflage and add more strength to features to of the face,” explains Philips. As such, keeping facial hair clean with regular washing, manicured with diligent trimming and shaping, and soft with the right oils, balms, or conditioners to suit your hair type is optimal. “Shorter beards benefit more from beard balm for perfect styling, while longer and thicker beards may benefit more from beard oil to keep it well-conditioned,” says New York–based celebrity groomer Barry White of identifying the best facial hair care.

New York-based esthetician and Dior skin care expert Sean Garrette emphasizes that one of the most common concerns for men is razor burn, which he recommends treating with exfoliating ingredients. “BHAs (Salicylic Acid) and AHAs (glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acid) are great at exfoliating the dead skin that’s trapping the hair in the follicle,” explains Garrette, adding that salicylic acid can be especially beneficial in treating ingrown hairs because it exfoliates inside the pore and on the surface of the skin.” He also notes that shaving products can have drying ingredients that can strip the skin, and it’s important to counteract their effects with hydration. “Look for serums with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to help replenish the skin and nourish the skin barrier,” says Garrette. “Sulfur is also an incredible ingredient, and helps reduces acne, kills bacteria on the surface of the skin, and helps calm inflammation associated with razor bumps and breakouts.”

Across the gender spectrum, full, brushed-up brows offer a more youthful look and can help bring balance to the face, so consider enhancing your arches with a pencil, like Philips’s go-to the Diorshow Kabuki Brow Styler, and a lightweight transparent or tinted brow gel, to add fullness and definition. For fuller and darker lashes, you can tint your fringe, curl your lashes, and brush mascara onto the roots, says Philips.

Enhance Your Complexion

When it comes to makeup, it’s all about identifying your desired results and doing what works for you. “Do you want people to know you’re wearing makeup, or keep it discreet and make people think you woke up like that?” poses Philips. “Find the right products to deliver on your expectations and go slow!” It should be a gradual experience: “First you crawl, then you walk, then you run—it’s the same with makeup!” he adds. In terms of achieving natural-looking coverage with concealer and/or foundation, Philips recommends starting with a lightweight, buildable product, such as Dior’s Face and Body foundation, so that you can control the intensity as you apply and blend it with your fingers or a tool, such as a brush or Beautyblender sponge. Of course, finding a pitch-perfect shade match is ideal, particularly for those with a beard or mustache. “If you have facial hair, you need to match a shade close to your natural skin tone because it will show between your beard hairs,” says Philips. 

After building your canvas, you can further enhance your complexion by shading and highlighting. A swipe of tawny bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks will add warmth and definition to the face, while blending a fresh highlighter on the highs of the temples will attract light for a lit-from-within effect. Last up? After exfoliating with a lip scrub to supply moisture and buff away flakes, Philips suggests applying a rich, clear lip balm like Dior’s “not too shiny, not too matte” Rouge Satin balm for a “little touch of glow.” And remember to keep up your skin-care regimen for both a smooth canvas and cumulative results, because as Philips puts it: “Makeup is just a cover up if you don’t do the whole routine.”

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