Men’s skincare problems, explained by an expert

Advice from a male dermatology provider on how to treat oily skin, acne, razor bumps and more.

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Jake Swanson, PA
Sep 15, 2021 · 5 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Hi, Jake Swanson here! I’m one of the medical providers at Curology, and I’d love to take a few minutes to go over some of the basics as they relate to men’s skincare. Yes, us guys need to take care of our skin too!

1. Oily skin

The human body is amazing—we have a built-in moisturizer in the form of oil that is secreted from the skin’s sebaceous glands. Although genetics play a big role in how oily or dry our skin is, other external factors like stress, diet, and the weather can play a role in how much oil gets pumped to our skin’s surface.

Topical products that can help with oiliness 

To keep it simple, choose an oil-absorbing or foaming cleanser for oily skin. Some of our favorites include:

  • The cleanser by Curology

  • Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser

  • Cerave Foaming Cleanser

  • Vanicream Free and Clear Liquid Cleanser

We all need sun protection, so opt for a sunscreen that is oil-free, like these: 

  • EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46

  • TIZO3 Facial Primer Tinted SPF 40

Lastly, zinc soap can be a great addition 2-3 times per week to help fight bacteria and fungus. Lather the bar soap in your hands, apply it to the face and leave it on for a minute or so before rinsing it off. If your skin doesn’t feel dry or “tight,” you may use the zinc soap more often, even every day.

  • Noble Formula 2% Pyrithione Zinc Original Emu Bar Soap 

Curology formulas and oiliness 

Your Curology formula may help minimize oiliness with ingredients like tretinoin, zinc pyrithione, and niacinamide. 

2. Acne 

Many of us think that acne has to involve large, red, angry blemishes that take on a life of their own. In reality, acne is a common skin condition that happens when pores get clogged. Types of acne include blackheads (open comedones), whiteheads (closed comedones), papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules. The bottom line: most of us will experience one form of acne or another throughout our lives. 

So what are some of the best ways to tackle acne? Let’s break it down by areas of the body.

Facial acne 

If you have facial acne, keep your skincare routine simple. Too often we think more products will help (they probably won’t), or scrubbing harder is necessary (it’s not). Start out with a gentle cleanser—here are a few non-comedogenic gentle cleansers that we love:

  • The Curology cleanser 

  • Vanicream Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser

  • Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser

You’ll also want to avoid common acne triggers, which may include pore-clogging ingredients in your hair, skin, and body care products. If simple washing and avoiding common acne triggers is not making enough of an impact, it may be time to introduce a prescription medication to your acne treatment. 

At Curology, we provide you with a simple, once-daily formula. It’s customized to your skin with a mix of three active ingredients of varying strengths, depending on your skin type, sensitivity, and past topical experience. A medical provider (like me!) walks you through the normal ups and downs of managing breakouts, and we can adjust the formula strength and make changes to the active ingredients as you move through your journey at Curology. 

Unlike an in-person medical office, Curology is 100% online (except for your skincare box, which is sent straight to your door). We make it easy to check in on a regular basis so that we can make any necessary changes and give you advice to achieve the clearest skin possible. 

Body acne

Because of the differences between the skin on your face and the skin on the rest of your body, treating body acne often requires specific products. But just like with facial acne, you should start out with a gentle, non-pore-clogging acne body wash. 

If non-comedogenic body washes are not resolving the breakouts, you may want to add in a product with salicylic acid. This can help exfoliate the skin and help prevent and treat blocked pores. Here are a few options for acne body washes with salicylic acid:

You can add our acne body wash to your Curology trial for no extra cost. If you want to skip salicylic acid, some excellent options for a gentle body wash include:

Do workouts lead to breakouts? 

Sweaty workouts don’t directly cause acne. That said, the moisture from sweat can create a perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive. Areas of friction, like where helmets or tight clothing might rub, may make acne breakouts more likely. When working out, wear loose-fitting and moisture-wicking clothes whenever possible. 

Shower after exercise, when possible. If not, one of the next best things is to splash water on your face and neck. And remember that vigorous scrubbing is generally a bad idea for acne-prone skin—be gentle!

3. Razor bumps 

It’s tough to get rid of bumps associated with shaving (Pseudofolliculitis Barbae (PFB) or ingrown hairs), but Curology medications contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients that may help prevent the bumps from forming. 

Shaving tools

If you find yourself breaking out quite a bit, you may want to examine your shaving practices and how they can affect your blemishes. Make sure to keep your razors clean and swap them out before they get dull. It can also help to let the shaving cream sit for a few minutes before starting to shave. Another tip: do a first pass "with the grain" and a second pass "against the grain."

Electric razors may help prevent bumps because they don’t give a super close shave. If you find that your skin is sensitive and easily irritated or prone to razor bumps, try one of these soothing shaving products:

  • Cremo Original Shave Cream

  • Frederick Benjamin Hydro-Glaze Cooling Aloe Shave Gel

So that’s what I know as one of Curology’s dermatology providers. Feel free to sound off in the comments if you have more questions, or reach out to your personal Curology provider. 

Curology Men's Acne Treatment Free Trial

If you’re not already a Curology member, you can get your first month of custom prescription skincare for free (just pay $4.95 to cover shipping and handling). Until next time…!

All my best,

Jake Swanson, PA-C

Jake Swanson Avatar

Jake Swanson, PA

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