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  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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The 8 best face serums for men, according to dermatology providers

Elevate your skincare routine beyond the basics with these expert-approved recommendations.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 10, 2023 • 9 min read
Medically reviewed by Kristen Jokela, NP-C
Man Prepares to Apply Facial Serum
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 10, 2023 • 9 min read
Medically reviewed by Kristen Jokela, NP-C
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.

Summary

  • Men may be more likely to experience certain skin conditions than women, including increased sebum production and facial wrinkles. Face serums aren’t 100% necessary for healthy skin, but if used correctly, these little bottles can be incredibly beneficial for mens’ skin.

  • Some serums are more effective when applied in the morning and some are more beneficial at night, so read the instructions on the bottle to figure out when to apply yours.

  • Recommended serums for men include Artnaturals Vitamin C Serum, Carrot & Stick The Repair Serum, and The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Anhydrous Solution.

  • Know your skin type! If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to a licensed dermatology provider like those at Curology.

  • Don’t worry if a face serum is marketed for women, as many are. The active ingredients are what matter, and serums can be effective across genders. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all in skincare. What works for one person may not necessarily have the same results for someone else. But it’s only natural to want the best, so our team of licensed dermatology providers reviews and assesses countless products on the market to offer a few recommendations. So here, you’ll find the products that hold up to our rigorous standards.

We get it: It’s easy to splash some water on your face and head out the door, forgoing a skincare routine entirely. Even if you do have a few products in your rotation, you may be skipping out on using face serum, assuming it’s an unnecessary step in your routine. 

It’s true that serums aren’t 100% necessary for healthy skin. But if used correctly, these little bottles can be incredibly beneficial for your skin. Here we’ll break down how men can benefit from using a face serum, recommend a few of our favorites, and give you some advice on how to effectively incorporate these skincare products into your routine.

Should men use face serum?

The world of face serums is vast—so it can be intimidating figuring out where, exactly to start. A face serum’s primary goal is to address a specific skin concern, and there are some that men may encounter more than women. While everyone’s skin is unique, men may be more likely to experience the following in their skin:¹

  • Less transepidermal water loss

  • Increased sebum production (to majority of the face, with the exception of the forehead)

  • Pigmentation

  • Skin thickness

  • Facial wrinkles

On the flip side, women may be more likely to get acne than men.² However, individual skin characteristics can vary depending on your environment, lifestyle, and genetic background.³ 

Having a beard may also lead to specific skin concerns. Facial hair can clog pores and cause acne without proper skincare because it can trap oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria on your skin. Plus, men can get ingrown hairs—aka razor bumps—from growing or trimming a beard.⁴

Curology-s Acne Body Wash and Gentle Cleanser

If you have facial hair, it’s important to wash your face with a gentle face wash like The Cleanser and avoid touching your face. To get extra help, you may also want to turn to a face serum.

Why men should use face serum 

Face serums typically provide a dose of concentrated active ingredients that target specific skincare concerns. If you’re trying to improve something specific about your skin, serum is an easy step you can add to your routine that may really pay off.

Some serums are more effective when applied in the morning and some are more beneficial at night, so choose one that best fits into your routine. Most of them only need to be applied once a day, although you can use some of them twice a day. Read the instructions on the bottle to figure out when to apply yours.

Face serums are generally lightweight, but depending on which one you choose, they can target some of the most common skincare concerns for men—namely, sebum overproduction, dark spots, and facial wrinkles.⁵

Best face serums for men

There are a wide variety of face serums on the market, but here are a few of our favorites for each skin concern.

For antiaging

Why we like it: This affordable serum contains Vitamin C (under the name sodium ascorbyl phosphate), which helps protect against UV-induced photodamage and boosts collagen production.⁶ 

Why we like it: Topical retinoids (including retinol) are one of the most effective treatments for aging skin.⁷ This product also contains squalane, a plant-based moisturizing oil we feature in our Rich Moisturizer.

For dry skin

Why we like it: This serum contains hyaluronic acid, a moisturizing powerhouse, along with plant-based peptides and vitamin B9. It’s formulated to provide hydration to all skin types.

Why we like it: Not only is hyaluronic acid featured in this face serum, but the formula is fragrance-free. 

For sensitive skin

Why we like it: Formulated with almond oil, which is used to smooth and improve skin tone,⁸ this concentrated dose of vitamin C may be beneficial if you have sensitive skin. This product is also hypoallergenic, which means it may not be as irritating as other serums.

Why we like it: This serum uses licorice extract, peptides, and antioxidants like flower extract and vitamin E to help visibly soothe irritation and redness. 

For oily or acne-prone skin

Why we like it: Salicylic acid is one of the only FDA-approved active ingredients to treat acne, and this serum uses the maximum percentage approved for over-the-counter use (2%).⁹ To minimize the risk of irritation and seal in moisture, this product also incorporates squalane.

Why we like it: Niacinamide is a key ingredient in this serum from The Ordinary, which may lower sebum excretion in some people, limiting oiliness and related inflammatory acne.¹⁰

Tips for men applying face serum

It should only take a minute to apply your face serum. However, here are a few guidelines to follow to get the most out of your product:

  • Avoid touching your face or beard throughout the day. Doing so can spread bacteria and dirt from your hands to your face, which can lead to breakouts.¹¹

  • Before applying your serum, wash your face with a facial cleanser like The Cleanser—not soap or shampoo, which can irritate your skin. The Cleanser is formulated to wash away dirt and excess oil for all skin types, without stripping skin or clogging pores. Applying serum on a clean face can help your skin absorb the product more effectively.

  • Follow your serum with a moisturizer like The Moisturizer, which comes in a lightweight, buildable formula and can be layered on as many times as you want.

  • Know your skin type! Since we know that serums are meant to target specific skin concerns, the first step on your journey toward an effective product is to understand what your skin needs. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to a licensed dermatology provider like those at Curology (you can do it here)*.

And last, don’t worry if a face serum is marketed for women, as many are. The active ingredients are what matter, and serums can be effective across genders.

Curology is here to help

If you’ve never dabbled with face serums before, you may want to consider giving them a try. They’re not often listed in basic men’s skincare routines, but these products are full of powerful ingredients that can help address specific skin concerns.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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It can be difficult to identify your skin type and to determine which ingredients (and products) will be effective for your skin. That’s where Curology comes in. When you sign up, you’ll be matched with a medical provider who is licensed in your state. You’ll get the chance to ask questions you have, and your provider will complete your treatment plan within a few days after signing up. 

To get started, claim your offer* today!

FAQs

What is the best anti-aging serum for men 2023?

Artnaturals Vitamin C Serum: This affordable serum contains Vitamin C (under the name sodium ascorbyl phosphate), which helps protect against UV-induced photodamage and boosts collagen production.

The Inkey List Retinol Serum: Topical retinoids (including retinol) are one of the most effective treatments for aging skin. This product also contains squalane, a plant-based moisturizing oil we feature in our Rich Moisturizer.

Do men need vitamin C serum?

Vitamin C can provide a plethora of skincare benefits for men and women, including protecting against UV-induced photodamage and boosting collagen production. We recommend Artnaturals Vitamin C Serum and Eb5 Unscented eb5 Vitamin C Serum Concentrate if you’re interested in testing out this ingredient.

Do you put serum or moisturizer first?

In general, apply serum first. First, wash your face with a gentle cleanser, like Curology’s The Cleanser, then apply a serum, followed by a moisturizer.

Should men use face serum?

Face serums typically provide a dose of concentrated active ingredients that target specific skincare concerns. If you’re trying to improve something specific about your skin, serum is an easy step you can add to your routine that may really pay off.

How often should men use face serum?

Some serums are more effective when applied in the morning and some are more beneficial at night, so choose one that best fits into your routine. Most of them only need to be applied once a day, although you can use some of them twice a day. Read the instructions on the bottle to figure out when to apply yours.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Rahrovan, S., et al. Male versus female skin: What dermatologists and cosmeticians should know. Int J Womens Dermatol. (September 2018).

  2. Skroza, N., et al. Adult Acne Versus Adolescent Acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (January 2018).

  3. Rahrovan, S., et al. Male versus female skin: What dermatologists and cosmeticians should know. Int J Womens Dermatol. Ibid.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. DIY TREATMENT FOR 5 COMMON BEARD PROBLEMS. (2020, November 9).

  5. Rahrovan, S., et al. Male versus female skin: What dermatologists and cosmeticians should know. Int J Womens Dermatol. Ibid.

  6. Pullar, J.M., et al. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. (August 2017).

  7. Mukherjee, S., et al. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clin Interv Aging. (December 2006).

  8. Ahmad, Z. The uses and properties of almond oil. Complement Ther Clin Pract. (February 2010).

  9. Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2023, June 7).

  10. Draelos, Z.D., et al. The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production. J Cosmet Laser Ther. (June 2006).

  11. American Academy of Dermatology Association. DIY TREATMENT FOR 5 COMMON BEARD PROBLEMS. Ibid.

Kristen Jokela is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She obtained her Master of Science in Nursing at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Kristen Jokela, NP-C

Kristen Jokela, NP-C

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