Whether you favour a low-maintenance routine or something with several steps, the products you put on your face, body, feet and everywhere else in between really do matter. Not only does the right men’s skincare make you look your best, but it also makes you feel great, too, boosting everything from your confidence to your glow.
The most important thing to know before you buy anything for your skin is to actually know what’s right for it. Don’t reach for something just because it’s in vogue or because it comes with a hefty price tag. In fact, this is often where the major problem lies.
Consumers often assume that the more expensive a product is, the better it will be, and in a confusing and crowded skincare market where there is always a new product being touted for its miracle effects, we end up going around in some very unhelpful circles.
The reality is, a consistent approach to skincare that incorporates good quality ingredients is far more beneficial for your skin, especially if you want to keep it looking healthy in the long run.
To help you separate the holy grails from the hype, we’ve tested some of the best men’s skincare brands out there now so that you can find the right line-up to suit you.
From Malin + Goetz to Fenty, Dr Barbara Sturm and Acqua di Parma, these are the picks that we find ourselves going back to every damn time. Why? Because they really work.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Since its inception in Melbourne back in 1987, Aēsop has brought much-needed aesthetics to the world of grooming; from its eco stylish store fits to the strong, recognisable packaging. For a skincare brand, their bestselling product is, funnily enough, a hand wash (the topic du jour of the moment courtesy of our friend coronavirus).
Clean hands aside, Aēsop make really good things for your face, using mostly natural ingredients suited to all kinds of men. Suited to urbanites, the Parsley Seed Skincare collection (£105, Aesop.com) is packed with all sorts of potent antioxidants and vitamins bottled up in the form of a cleansing oil, facial toner, serum, eye cream, masque and facial treatment. Most of the other bits are assorted by note (the mandarin rind is lush) and there’s also a really nifty traveller set – aka the Adventurer Roll Up (£45, Aesop.com) – perfect for when it’s safe to start travelling again.
Dr Barbara Sturm
If you often trawl celebrity social media feeds, you’ve no doubt come across the now legendary Dr Barbara Sturm. In 2002, she rocketed into the limelight when her radical “blood plasma facial” (or “vampire facial”, as it was later dubbed) featured on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram, and soon after launched an impossible-to-get-hold-of wonder cream named “MC1”. Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Emma Stone, Hailey Bieber and more are now all loyal fans. In short, when it comes to this German skincare whizz, believe the A-List hype. Simple yet utterly luxurious, Sturm’s molecular-based creams, serums, and cleansers all aim to strengthen and soothe all skin types while delivering serious results.
Though there is a dedicated men’s skincare range, the entire line is predominantly unisex and applicable for different skin tones. The cleanser is a good place to start (£39.43, Drsturm.com), as are the anti-pollution drops (£89.59, Drsturm.com) – they’ll fight against blue light and technological pollution. We also rate the newly launched vitamin C serum (£89.59, Drsturm.com) and of course, the glow drops (£89.59, Drsturm.com) that will keep you skin looking radiant all day long.
L’Officine Universelle Buly 1803
Originally founded in 1803 on the rue Bonaparte in Paris, Buly 1803 was known in the olden days as a swanky perfume and scented-vinegar brand (its founder, Jean-Vincent Buly was even the inspiration for a Balzac character). After a “century of sleep,” per the brand’s website, the old beauty brand received a slight revamp from a husband-and-wife pair with a fragrance background, Ramdane Touhami (a former co-owner of the famed candle house Cire Trudon) and Victoire de Taillac.
For years it remained a nicely kept secret in Saint Germain, now swathes flock to its store for it Olivander’s-esque Harry Potter street cred – it’s a cute shop in other words. Must trys include the ionised cleansing water (£22.94, Buly1803.com) (matched to sensitive and oily skin types), the vide poche (£17.20, Buly1803.com), (an excellent eye-lifting serum for city slacker types) and lait nettoyant (£28.66, Buly1803.com), a face milk infused with argan oil to give your epidermis that extra dose of shine. The other major bonus is the packaging; so beautiful in fact that you won’t ever want to recycle it.
Acqua di Parma
It’s from Italy, so you know it’s good. The perfume house is synonymous with Italianate savoir-faire and refinement with goods oozing instant iconic status. As is the way in the land of the boot, every single product made for the luxe brand is the work of skilled master artisans who use the finest materials and the most traditional techniques handed down from one generation to the next to craft even the niftiest of details.
Product wise, freshness is the aim of the game: hints of lemon, grapefruit, mint, blood mandarin, patchouli with a dash of pepper and every else you’ll find on the Italian coast and in between – you get the sensory idea. If you are a traditional kind of bloke, go for classic Colonia; those who like a bit of zesty pepperiness should look no further than the Blu Mediterraneo range; and if you just want something that sorts out all your bits and bobs from face to hands, body and beard, AdP’s Barbiere selection is one to know.
Malin + Goetz
Unisex formulas, minimalist packaging suited to the very on trend contemporary home, and straightforward product messaging make Malin + Goetz a perfect skincare choice for quite literally everyone. Their gift sets, candles, fragrance and travel-size knick-knacks make wonderful presents for any occasion, but it’s their cult-esque body care lines that truly stand out from a men’s skincare perspective. Suited to all skin types, ingredients include everything from cannabis to rum, sage, peppermint (which gives your skin a wondrous tingle), jojoba, eucalyptus and leather.
Overall, the menu is pretty vast, catering to eyes, scalp, face, body and lips in the form of serums, creams, balms, oils, creams and enzyme masks, but whatever you’re in need of, you can’t go wrong with in their online store. This duo really know how to cater to you needs effectively and sustainably, and without costing the earth to boot.
Aman is known the world over for its top-notch spas and hotels (hello Amangiri and Aman Venice). Lockdown saw the closure of its much-loved retreats, and so to bring its comforts to the home of its loyal Amanites, the brand decided to launch an online shop earlier this year. Skincare is split into three categories: grounding, purifying and nourishing. To make it easier to decipher what you need, the entire collection is ordered by use, including hair, face, body and sets.
Everything on offer does what it says it does on the tin, combating dryness, restoring skin health and to our amazement, promoting an instant sense of calm post-use. The purifying palo sante salve (£85, Aman.com) is a real treat should you fancy a full scrub down in the shower, and for those who really need to chillax, the pulse point remedy (£40, Aman.com) will relax you during those more stressful hours of the day. The argan-infused hair and scalp oil (£65, Aman.com) is also excellent.
It says it right there on every bottle: Kiehl’s has been around since 1851. So, it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about making products that stand the test of time. Plus, as one of the original and best men’s skincare ranges, the American cosmetics brand caters to the needs of every single cuticle. Lauded by practically every dermatologist on the planet, they’ve practically got every skin type covered: dry, cracked, sensitive, razor skin, oily, and combination.
Kiehl’s facial fuel (£24.50, Kiehls.co.uk) is a bestseller for a reason. The energising moisture treatment is a great multi-purpose product designed for skin that tends towards oiliness, plus it has an SPF of 15. Those with tired eyes (and a love for avocado) will also dig the new Kiehl’s x Harrods collaboration (£39, Harrods.com). Enriched with the breakfast staple, the creamy formula gently nourishes and hydrates the sensitive eye area. The result? New eyes, basically.
When Rihanna dropped she was launching a skincare brand the world stopped. Then when she said it was gender neutral, we all went into a frenzy. And when the singer announced her line would cater to all skin tones and types, Instagram exploded with praise yet again. Let’s just say she is now the de facto queen of the beauty world. Every multitasking product from the Bajan superstar is easy to use and is designed to complement all skin types (even for the fellas).
Inspired by Rihanna’s global lifestyle, the entire line brings together ingredients from around the world and pairs them with skincare powerhouses, such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide – for clinically proven results. The packaging? Earth-conscious: think more recyclable materials and smart refillable packs that feel utterly luxurious. As a starter, go for the instant reset overnight recovery gel-cream (£36, Harveynichols.com) packed with hyaluronic acid, melon oil, antioxidants and essential vitamins. You’ll wake up looking like a new man.
If you are in search of real green cold-pressed beauty, look no further than Neighbourhood Botanicals. Made and bottled inside their London lab, the formula-led house makes everything they sell from scratch using no fillers and absolutely no hype ingredients either. Vegan and cruelty-free, it’s the UK’s first “carbon negative” brand, offsetting 2x the amount of carbon emitted to get their products from them to you. Heck, some of the items on offer even say no to beeswax because they are that committed to protecting the environment. Impressive, eh?
Packaging is a little more on the feminine side, but don’t let that put you off. The body cream, body oil and hand sanitisers are easily unisex, and even the plant-based lube (free from petrochemicals and silicones) will keep even the most intimate parts of your skin happy. Must purchase? The facial oil (£28, Neighbourhoodbotanicals.com). It’s great for men of all ages, but is particularly good for blokes that seek a soothing antibacterial oil post a very close shave. In other words, say adios to razor burn.
Ren is one of those skincare brands that believes there is nothing better than feeling happy in your own skin, and we wholeheartedly agree. Being “clean” is at the heart of the company’s ethos, where sustainable ingredients sourced from accredited spots the world over are packaged into planet-friendly capsules from their gaff to yours. The products on offer caters to all skin types, are cruelty free and champions a “clean to planet” lifestyle (they even pledge to be totally zero waste by the end of this year, too).
Scrubs and balms, products for hair, body, face, arms, legs – you name it, they’ve got it covered, but perhaps the best thing they’ve got is their ever calm comforting rescue mask (£34, Renskincare.com). Designed to blast over-sensitive skin with an injection of calm, the potion helps to instantly alleviate the tell-tell signs of an especially aggravated hide. The result? Skin that feels smooth, with even tone and a luminous, healthy complexion.
The undercurrent of Pietro Simone’s skincare technology is an undying passion for fresh skin. No, really, he takes it very seriously. His line uses an Italian Bella Complex co-created alongside some science whizzes back in his home country of Italy, which is dubbed “a scientific elixir” of five regionally-sourced Italian ingredients proven to protect against oxidative stress, photo-damage, protein glycation and anti-ageing.
Perhaps the geekiest part is that Simone’s products are more geared towards re-training the skin, so that it functions more efficiently, by encouraging collagen production to give the skin a more youthful appearance and natural feel. The eye cream is excellent (£110, Pietrosimone.com). In fact, after a day of using it, you’ll notice smoother, calmer and brighter skin around the eye almost instantly. Another bonus is that for a luxe product, it’s fairly well priced, too, with some products hovering around the £50 mark.
If you really, really want to break the bank, here’s the brand to do it with. La Prairie’s roots go back to 1931, when Professor Paul Niehans began treating patients using cellular therapy in the Swiss countryside at the top-notch Clinique La Prairie. Today, the elite brand expands on his groundbreaking scientific work to create anti-aging products that straddle the line between cosmeceutical and luxury skincare – some cost upwards of £1,000 per credit card swipe.
Concoctions are made under the ethos of “the path to rejuvenation”, with sublime formulations that mix some seriously eye-raising ingredients – rich caviar, rare platinum and opulent gold, to name just a few. Though pricey, the men’s range is thankfully not so off the charts (cleansers start from £74), and our ultimate pick is the extrait of skin caviar firming complex (£160, Laprairie.com). Concentrated firming agents help restore vitality and elasticity leaving a silky veil on your skin’s surface. Just lush, and very much worth the splurge – one to add to your birthday list.
Hawkins & Brimble
Ticking the majority of "ethically responsible" boxes by being free of parabens, colourants, SLS/SLES, mineral oils and animal testing, this British brand of naturally derived grooming solutions offers some pretty planet-friendly skin potions. The body and face wash is great, but what you really want to take a punt on is the quick-absorbing daily energising moisturiser (£15, Hawkinsandbrimble.co.uk). Inside the bottle lurks nourishing avena sativa kernel oil and oatmeal extract along with vitamin E and fortifying omega 3 and 6, to help restore pH balance and boost the skin’s defence against the dregs of life-induced dullness. In short, it gets top marks, plus as a business that genuinely operates on sustainable lines, it is one worth investing in.
The verdict: Skincare brands for men
Yes, it is on the pricier side, but if you really want to see long term results, Dr Barbara Sturm’s all-inclusive lines that reach men of all ages, skin types and tones, really is worth your hard-earned bucks. That said, Rihanna also has you well covered should you be on the lookout for something not so expensive with Fenty, and Kiehl’s literally has you covered come every little skin snag you are likely to encounter until the grave.
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For more skincare favourites, check out our review of the best men’s moisturisers for every skin type
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