Much of what we put on our bodies gets absorbed into our bodies, so when it comes to skincare products it’s important to use ones made with high quality ingredients. Just like you’d read a nutrition label to make sure your food is nutritious, you want to check skincare products’ ingredients too. Your skincare routine actually plays a huge role in the health and appearance of your skin -- in fact, your diet, lifestyle choices, and daily skincare habits make up about 80 percent of your skin’s general appearance versus stress levels, overall health and predispositions to certain skin conditions, which account for just 20 percent.
On top of that, men’s skin is unique. It’s thicker than women’s skin, and on average we have more pores. More pores means we produce more oil (aka sebum), which changes how skincare products work on our skin. We not only need to be careful about the safety and quality of the ingredients in our skincare, but intentional about using ingredients that are going to have the best chance of being effective for our skin.
Safe Clean Skin Care Ingredients
Below are 9 ingredients that are seriously helpful for guys’ skin when used regularly. Keep an eye out for them when making your next selection of skincare products.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Glycolic Acid
- Salicylic Acid
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Zinc Oxide
- Alpine Caribou Moss
1. Vitamin C
What does Vitamin C do for your skin?
There are more than a few answers, which is why it’s such a popular skincare ingredient and recommended by many dermatologists. As you’re probably aware, Vitamin C is found in most citrus fruits and many kinds of berries. Vitamin C is shown to be a powerful antioxidant that fends off free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage our cells. Free radicals can be caused by pollution in the air and exposure to the sun (hence why we include Vitamin C in our Hydrating Antioxidant SPF 50 Spray). When Vitamin C is applied directly to skin in a more concentrated form, like in a face serum, it can even out skin tone by fading dark spots. It can also help reduce the appearance of the signs of aging like wrinkles by promoting collagen production and speeding up skin recovery. Read more about the skin benefits of Vitamin C here.
2. Vitamin E
What does Vitamin E do for your skin?
To start, it’s another powerful antioxidant that fights against free radicals. Found in nuts, whole grains, and sunflower oil, Vitamin E has also been shown to strengthen your skin’s protective barrier, increase skin hydration, and reduce inflammation. With all of these benefits, we recommend using it on a daily basis. Vitamin E is actually in the majority of our products (truly, it’s in our body wash, all of our moisturizers, lip balms, beard oils, hand cream...). In our After Sun Cooling Spray, it works three-fold to relieve sunburns by moisturizing dry skin, calming swelling, and helping to repair damage from the sun’s radiation.
3. Glycolic Acid
What is Glycolic Acid and what does it do for your skin?
Glycolic Acid is an organic compound (specifically an Alpha Hydroxy Acid, or AHA) that is used to exfoliate skin. It’s a chemical exfoliant, meaning it breaks down the connective bonds between dead skin cells and dissolves them. (In contrast to chemical exfoliants, there are physical exfoliants. These are products that contain small particles or a textured surface, like a washcloth, that scrub away the dead skin and debris.) Some acids are drying for the skin, but Glycolic Acid tends to be less drying than other common acids, especially when used at low levels.
Glycolic Acid brings about a healthy complexion by removing the layer of dead skin cells that can make skin look dull and lead to breakouts, ingrown hairs and blackheads. Over time, using Glycolic Acid helps minimize pores, uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation and acne. It even stimulates collagen production, which allows the skin to keep its youthful structure and minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Glycolic Acid makes up 10% of the formula in our Anti-Everything Pads. (Now you can see why they’re called Anti-”Everything”!)
4. Salicylic Acid
What is Salicylic Acid and what does it do for your skin?
Salicylic Acid is another organic compound and chemical exfoliant, but this one is part of the Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) family. It’s derived from Willow Bark. As a chemical exfoliant, it dissolves dead skin cells and oxidized face oil to keep pores clear and acne-free. Salicylic Acid is oil-soluble, which is significant because it is able to penetrate into your skin’s lipid layers. Like Glycolic Acid, it has also been shown to stimulate your body’s collagen production, which helps fight against wrinkles when used regularly. And because it’s a powerful exfoliant, it can help even out your skin’s texture and tone. We use it alongside Glycolic Acid at a 0.5% level in our Anti-Everything Pads.
5. Hyaluronic Acid
What is Hyaluronic Acid and what does it do for your skin?
Despite having acid in its name, Hyaluronic Acid isn’t an exfoliant. Hyaluronic Acid is a naturally occurring molecule in the human body and its main function is to retain water to keep tissues and joints well lubricated and moist. However, the body's aging process and exposure to things like UV radiation from the sun, tobacco smoke and pollution decrease its levels in the skin, which is why it's important to continue to supplement this ingredient through skincare.
Hyaluronic Acid helps keep skin supple by hydrating your skin at levels deep below the surface. This can contribute to fewer visible wrinkles. Hyaluronic Acid is an extremely powerful molecule as it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. Studies have shown it’s highly effective when applied topically, like in our Wake Up Face Serum.
6. Zinc Oxide
What is Zinc Oxide and what percentage should be in my sunscreen?
You might recognize this ingredient from the back of your sunscreen bottle. Zinc Oxide is a mineral derivative that is used as an active ingredient in mineral sunscreens. It creates a reflective physical barrier on top of your skin, causing UV rays to bounce off. We recommend that all guys have a daily sunscreen routine, and a sunscreen made with Zinc Oxide is an excellent choice. Zinc Oxide should make up at least 10% of your sunscreen formula to block both kinds of UV rays. Try it in our 100% Mineral Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer with SPF 30.
Can I use Coconut Oil on my face and how do I apply it? What is Jojoba Oil?
Oils like Coconut Oil and Jojoba Oil are wonderful hydrators for the skin and have been shown to reduce inflammation and repair the skin barrier. Although oils can do wonders for your skin, you’ll want to know the recommendations for using each particular oil to maximize its benefits. For instance, Coconut Oil has comedogenic properties, meaning it can clog your pores if you apply it directly to your skin.
We like to use Jojoba Oil (from the Jojoba plant) in many of our products. Jojoba Oil is moisturizing, non-comedogenic (meaning it doesn’t clog pores), rarely irritating and even has high levels of Vitamin E. Jojoba Oil is particularly great for men because it helps regulate the skin’s sebum (oil) production. Jojoba Oil is so close in composition to sebum that your skin can’t tell the difference. Your skin won’t produce additional oil to stay hydrated, so your skin will stay moisturized without looking oily. We include Jojoba Oil in our Body Wash and our Face + Eye Cream.
If you have facial hair, we recommend using a beard oil that’s made with nourishing oils like Jojoba Oil. Even small doses of certain kinds of oils can have powerful hydrating effects for beards, mustaches and the skin underneath.
What does Aloe do for your skin?
The Aloe Vera plant has been used for thousands of years in holistic medicine. Most people are familiar with it in the form of a clear gel that comes from the innermost part of the leaf. Aloe Vera is commonly used to hydrate the skin, cool it down, and soothe irritation. It has antibacterial properties, making it an essential ingredient in our Aluminum-Free Deodorant. Aloe also has remarkable anti-inflammatory properties, making it particularly useful for relieving burns, rashes and sunburns. For that reason, we use it in our After Sun Cooling Spray.
9. Alpine Caribou Moss
What is Alpine Caribou Moss™ and what does it do for your skin?
Alpine Caribou Moss™ is a resilient, slow-growing lichen that lives in the Arctic Circle. It's a powerful anti-aging ingredient that’s chock full of antioxidants that fight off free radicals. It helps prevent visible signs of aging like sagging skin by guarding your skin from pollution and other stressors and increasing skin elasticity. We believe in its power so much that you’ll find this ingredient in most products Oars + Alps makes.
Try Them For Yourself
We use some of the most unique and powerful ingredients available to create clean formulations. Maximize your skin’s health by working Oars + Alps skincare products into your daily routine. Need help making one? Read The Guy’s Guide to Building a Skincare Routine.
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