A Man’s Guide to Moisturizers: How to Choose the Right One for Your Skin Type

moisturizers for men guide

When it comes to choosing the right grooming tools, finding the right moisturizer for your skin type is just as important as using the right razor. Get it right and you’ll have softer, smoother skin, less redness, and fewer fine lines and wrinkles. Get it wrong and you’ll be walking around with a shiny face all day.

So, in a market that’s completely saturated with skincare products, how do you even know where to begin? Thankfully, it’s not really all that complicated. The key is to find a formula that works with your skin type and has active ingredients that support your personal skincare goals.

Read on for our tips on finding the best moisturizer for your skin type and how to incorporate it into your daily skincare regimen.

Why Every Man Needs to Moisturize

moisturizer for men

Have you ever thought about the damage that dragging a sharp razor across your face every day could be doing to your skin? Not to mention weather extremes, environmental pollution, lack of sleep, and stress. 

We get it… between work, your relationship, and your social life, you’ve got a lot on your plate. But unless you want your skin to look like a dried-up old boot, you need to moisturize. Hydrated skin will always look healthier and younger than dehydrated skin. It’s really that simple.

Plus, these days, a good moisturizer will do a lot more than just hydrate your skin. It will offer a layer of protection between your skin and the things you’re exposed to everyday, like sun, wind, heat, cold, pollution, and more. Think of moisturizer as a shield between your face and the damaging effects of your environment.

You can skip the after-shave, face scrub, and even eye cream when you’re in a hurry, but the best skincare routine for men will always include the right moisturizer. Ok, now that we’ve got that settled, let’s dive into how to find the right moisturizer for you!

Know Your Skin Type

men's skin care

Most men want to keep their skincare regimen as simple as possible, and that’s fine. But it’s also important to realize that skincare products aren’t one-size-fits-all. Knowing your skin type is the first step toward choosing the right moisturizer… or any other skincare product for that matter.

So how do you determine your skin type? Start your day out with a clean face and then assess the condition of your T-zone at the end of the day. (That’s your forehead and the area that runs in a straight line down to your chin).

  • If the T-zone is matte with no shine, you have dry skin. 
  • If the T-zone is shiny or greasy, your skin is oily. 
  • If the t-zone is somewhere in between, you have normal/combination skin.

It’s also important to know that your skin type can change a bit depending on the season. It might be drier in winter and oilier in summer. So, to keep it balanced, you may need to switch things up with a lightweight formula for summer and a richer one during the colder months.

Choosing the Right Moisturizer for Your Skin Type

Now that you know your skin type, here’s how to choose the right moisturizer to go with it.

Men with Normal/Combination Skin

If you have normal/combination skin, you want a medium-weight moisturizing lotion. It should provide a protective barrier between your skin and the elements, but still allow your skin to breathe. 

You don’t want anything too thick or heavy because it will make your face look shiny, but it still needs to hydrate the skin. Finding the right balance is key for your skin type because a formula that doesn’t provide enough hydration will actually trigger oil production and breakouts.

Men with Dry Skin

Some men deal with dry skin year-round, while others only suffer from flakes and dryness in the winter months. If you have dry skin, start by eliminating bar soap from your routine. It will strip your skin of any moisture and make it even drier. Go for a hydrating cleanser and body wash instead.

When choosing your moisturizer, look for a thicker formula that contains shea butter. It’s a triglyceride that coats and protects the skin to prevent moisture from evaporating. 

Your moisturizer should also contain humectants like hyaluronic acid, honey, glycerin, sodium lactate, and propylene glycol. Humectants are dry skin’s best friend because they draw moisture out of the air and attract it to the surface of the skin.

And finally, avoid putting anything with fragrance on your skin. Fragrance often contains alcohol and other irritants that will dry it out further and cause irritation to dry skin.

Men with Oily Skin

Yes, you still need a moisturizer, even if you have oily skin. You can have oily and dehydrated skin at the same time, so your goal with this skin type is the prevention of water loss. 

Don’t worry, you can avoid the shine by choosing a lightweight, oil-free lotion or gel. The best moisturizers for men with acne-prone skin include ingredients like glycerin and propylene glycol, which prevent water loss without clogging the pores or adding oil to the skin.

Men with Sensitive Skin

Does body wash leave you feeling itchy? Does aftershave leave your skin stinging and red? If so, you’ve got sensitive skin. Even the smallest amounts of chemicals and other irritants may cause a reaction in your skin.

Stay away from any skincare product that contains fragrance, which will likely trigger redness, stinging, and irritation. Even natural fragrances like lavender can cause irritation in some people with sensitive skin, so be aware of those ingredients and see how your skin reacts to them.

As a general rule, look from moisturizers with a short ingredients list. The more ingredients a product has, the more likely it is to cause irritation. Avoid heavier, oilier formulas if they trigger a negative reaction.

So, what should you look for instead? Natural ingredients with soothing and calming properties are best. We suggest green tea, chamomile, and aloe. Look for lightweight lotions that are labeled oil-free or matte-finish because they’ll be least likely to cause issues.

For Skin That’s Prone to Razor Burn

Any skin type can experience razor burn and irritation after shaving. If this is a problem for you, look for a moisturizer with calming and soothing ingredients. Camphor and aloe are fantastic for preventing razor bumps, redness, and folliculitis.

For Anti-Aging

Fine lines and wrinkles are inevitable for most of us, but the right ingredients can make them less visible and hold them off for as long as possible. 

Start by choosing a moisturizer that contains retinol, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines. MSM and DMAE are also good choices. These natural anti-aging compounds can help tighten and tone the skin.

Many people don’t know that it can take up to 15 years for the effects of sun damage (aka fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots) to show up on your skin. While you can’t turn back the hands of time, the way that you take care of your skin now can make a big difference in how it looks as you age. 

Choose a moisturizer with built-in, broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher to prevent sun damage and premature aging. And, be sure to reapply if you sweat or shower during the day.

Types of Moisturizers

morning skin care routine

When you’re shopping for a new moisturizer, knowing the different types and what type they typically do can be extremely helpful.

  • Lotions: Lotions are usually lightweight, water-based formulas that absorb into the skin easily.
  • Creams: Creams are heavy, thick, and often contain oil.
  • Ointments and Balms: Ointments and balms are oil-based, thick formulas that are usually used to spot-treat specific issues, such as razor burn, rashes, or irritation. 
  • Gels: Gel-based moisturizers are very lightweight, almost watery. They absorb quickly and are generally oil-free.
  • Anti-aging: Just about any type of moisturizer can contain anti-aging ingredients, so be sure to read the label to ensure the product is suitable for your skin type.
  • Energizing: You may also come across moisturizers labeled as “energizing” in your search. These products are your secret weapon for waking up tired skin, such as when you’ve had a late night or you’re not feeling well.

Beneficial Ingredients to Look for in a Moisturizer for Men

When you’re shopping for a moisturizer, don’t get hung up on brand names. Ingredients and formulation are much more important. When it comes to choosing any skincare product, you want natural ingredients. No preservatives, chemicals, or heavy fragrances.

Here are some beneficial ingredients to look for in a high-quality moisturizer for men:


Antioxidants are key for repairing and preventing environmental damage. They fight the breakdown of the skin’s tissues, which leads to fine lines and wrinkles over time. The best antioxidants to look for are vitamin C, vitamin A, green tea, and fruit extracts.


You’ll notice that we talk about retinol a lot in this article. That’s because it’s a powerhouse for anti-aging. It exfoliates the skin and removes dead skin cells to reveal the young, healthy skin underneath. It also boosts collagen production in the skin to fight fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.  

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids are botanical exfoliators that remove dead skin cells and unclog the pores. They’re a must for acne-prone skin and preventing premature aging.

What to Avoid in Your Moisturizer

Every skin type should avoid alcohol in their moisturizer. Although alcohol used to be touted as the best ingredient for fighting breakouts, we now know it can be extremely harmful to the skin. Alcohol is much too harsh and irritating and can actually trigger breakouts and make acne worse. You’re much better off using gentle exfoliators and keeping the skin clean (not stripped) and hydrated.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Moisturizer

skin care routine

Start with a clean face.

Your moisturizer won’t be able to penetrate your skin if it’s clogged up with dirt and oil. So, start by cleansing your face every morning and evening with a cleanser that’s formulated for your skin type.

For daily use, choose a mild, foaming cleanser or face wash. A hydrating formula is great for winter, while a salicylic acid face wash can do wonders in the heat of summer, especially if your skin is oily or acne-prone.

If you’re going to shave, do that right after you cleanse, and then apply your moisturizer. If you shower after your workout, be sure to reapply your moisturizer. You really can’t overdo it with moisturizer, as long as your using one that’s appropriate for your skin type.

Exfoliate, but don’t overdo it.

Exfoliating is important for keeping pores clear, removing dead skin cells, and preventing breakouts. Once or twice a week with a scrub or exfoliating face mask is plenty. Any more than that will only stimulate oil production and cause irritation. Exfoliating regularly will also help your moisturizer work better, just be careful not to overdo it.

Give your skin some extra TLC at night.

It’s true that the body heals and renews at night, and that includes the skin. Using a hydrating moisturizer at night will help you wake up with fresher-looking skin in the morning. It will seal in moisture and help the skin barrier repair itself.

You might want to experiment with a richer moisturizer at night than the one you use during the day. Nighttime is also the perfect time to incorporate anti-aging ingredients like retinol, glycolic acid, and peptides into your routine.

Take special care of the skin around your eyes.

The skin around the eyes is extremely delicate, and it’s usually the first place that shows the signs of aging. On top of that, repetitive motions like squinting and rubbing or tugging at the eyes can also contribute to wrinkles.

Take extra care of this sensitive area by applying an eye cream that contains hyaluronic acid and/or retinol each day. Be sure to tap it into the skin gently, don’t rub or tug!

Don’t forget about the skin on your body and hands.

The sun, wind, and harsh cleansers can take a toll on your hands and body too. Using a good all-over body moisturizer will help replenish moisture in these areas, keep skin soft, and help make wrinkles less visible. 

The best time to apply body moisturizer is right after your shower when your skin is already hydrated. This will seal in moisture. Pay special attention to areas like the hands, feet, elbows, and knees. These areas might need a richer moisturizer to combat dryness and keep them soft.

Wrapping Things Up

There are tons of moisturizers for men to choose from. It may take some experimenting to find the one that works best for you, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Skin that’s been properly hydrated will look better now and over time. Moisturizing is just as essential in your daily routine as washing your face and shaving.