The Ultimate Men's Skincare Routine to Adopt Before Your Wedding

Scrub a few years off your face ahead of a photo-heavy day with our comprehensive guide to men's pre-wedding skincare.
Three essential skincare products for men
Photos, From Left to Right: Dr. Dennis Gross, Blu Atlas, Kiehl's
tres dean Associate Menswear Editor
by
Tres Dean
tres dean Associate Menswear Editor
Tres Dean
Associate Menswear Editor
  • Tres writes and edits articles for The Knot, with a specialty in menswear and suiting.
  • He brings over a decade of expertise in the field garnered as a writer, editor, copywriter, and trend specialist.
  • Before joining The Knot he covered menswear for publications including GQ, AskMen, Men’s Health, Sharp Magazine, Highsnobiety, and Spy.
Updated Jul 26, 2023
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Looking your best for a wedding (as a groom, groomsman, or guest) doesn't begin and end with your wardrobe. No, the secret weapon to show up turning heads is a good men's skincare routine. At any wedding you attend (including and especially your own) you're gonna be photographed left and right and be putting in face time with friends, family, and new acquaintances. What better excuse to scrub a few years off your mug? The best thing about developing a good skincare routine ahead of a wedding is that unlike a groomsman suit or a rental tux, it can stick around for months and even years after the big day. Don't think of a wedding skincare routine as something with a finish line so much as an opportunity to kickstart good habits that can last a lifetime.

How to Start a Men's Skincare Routine

The first step in putting together a great skincare routine is identifying your skin's needs. Almost every skincare routine will include the same building blocks (a daily cleanser, eye cream, moisturizer, etc.) but not every product is going to serve the same needs. Determine if your skin skews dry, oily, or neutral. From there you'll be able to pick the right products to suit your skin's needs.

Not to get too ahead of ourselves here but in actuality a great skincare routine is actually two great skincare routines: one for morning and one for night. Morning and daytime skincare regimens tend to be spareser compared to evening ones. A day routine will contain fewer steps and lighter products so that you aren't walking around in the sun with heavy residue on your face. Night routines will be a little more in-depth and include serums and thicker moisturizers that activate while your body is at rest.

When Should I Start a Wedding Skincare Routine?

There are a couple of factors you need to consider in putting together a great skincare routine for a wedding. The first is that no skincare product really works overnight, no matter what the packaging may tell you you. On average, mostskincare products take about 30 days to start showing demonstrable results. So, bare minimum, that's when you'll want to start trying a new routine.

However, the earlier you start the better. For one, the benefits of a good skincare routine accumulate over time. If you're a groom-to-be and the date is set for a year from now, get in a good year of work on your skin.

You'll also want as much time as possible to utilize trial-and-error. Sometimes a skincare product will disagree with you and require a quick pivot, or maybe you'll need some time to figure out just how to best incorporate volatile ingredients like retinol (more on that later) into your lineup. In short, the sooner you start your wedding skincare routine the better.

Men's Facial Routine Steps for All Skin Types

If you're looking for tips on how to build out a skincare routine or beef up the one you're already using, you've come to the right place. What follows are the steps you should be incorporating into your roster and some products that can help you get started on a good note.

Facial Cleanser

Kiehl's Facial Fuel and SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser for mens skincare
Photos, From Left to Right: Kiehl's, SkinCeuticals

This is where every great skincare routine begins. A good cleanser scrubs away any and all oil, dead skin cells, and other residue from your face and leaves it clean and clear for the rest of the products in your lineup to do their job well.

Level: Basic

When to do it: Every day, first thing in the morning and right before bed

What to use: A favorite all-around facial cleanser is Kiehls Facial Fuel, which is gentle and gel-based. If your skin is dry or particularly sensitive try SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser.

Eye Treatment

Murad's Dark circle corrector and Origins' brightening eye cream for mens skincare
Photos, From Left to Right: Murad, Origins

From dark circles to puffiness and wrinkles, your eyes are usually the first place age (and fatigue) starts showing itself. An under-eye treatment is essential in combating current symptoms but even more so preventing them from showing up down the line.

Level: Basic

When to do it: Once in the morning, once before bed.

What to use: If your primary target is dark circles, you'll love Murad's Vita-C treatment. To depuff or deal away with bags, give Origins GinZing eye cream a shot, which is powered by caffeine from coffee beans.

Serum

The Ordinary's Hyaluronic acid serum, Vichy's vitamin C serum, Youth to the people's retinal and niacinamide serum for mens skincare
Photos, From Left to Right: The Ordinary, Vichy, Youth to the People

Serum is a pretty broad term in skincare. Simply put, it's a lightweight product that you apply before moisturizing. Serums have high concentrations of active ingredients and get deep down into your skin to work their magic from there. The purposes of serums are vast and depend on the active ingredients. Vitamin C serums, for example, are great for brightening complexion while hyaluronic acid helps your skin retain moisture.

Level: Advanced - start experimenting with serums only once you're sure of your skin's needs.

When to do it: Depends on the serum, but I usually do them at night.

What to use: The serum you use really comes down to what you're aiming to get out of it. If you're trying to lock in moisture give The Ordinary's hyaluronic acid serum a go. Looking to brighten and even out your complexion? Vichy's LiftActiv Vitamin C serum is what you need. And if you're ready to give retinol and all of its anti-aging benefits a go, dip your toe in with Youth to the People's Retinal+Niacinamide Serum.

Exfoliator

Dr. Dennis Gross' daily peel and jack black's face buff scrub for mens skincare
Photos, From Left to Right: Dr. Dennis Gross, Jack Black

Exfoliating is a key step in younger, fresher-looking skin. It sloughs away dead cells and buildup, letting new ones shine through and priming your skin for treatment. There are a few different ways to exfoliate, so the frequency with which you do it should be determined by what you're using to get the job done.

Level: Intermediate

When to do it: If you've never exfoliated before, you're going to want to start by doing it once or twice a week, probably in the evening.

What to use: Those new to exfoliating should go with a twice-weekly face scrub like Jack Black's Face Buff. If you're ready to try a chemical-based peel that can be used daily, the gold standard is Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads, which work in a system made of two face wipes to lift new skin to the surface.

Moisturizer

Jack Black's double duty face moisturizer, blu atlas's face moisturizer, and rugged & dapper's face moisturizer for mens skincare
Photos, From Left to Right: Jack Black, Blu Atlas, Rugged & Dapper

Moisturizer doesn't just lock moisture into your skin and keep it healthy and happy throughout the day–it also locks in all of the other products in your lineup, helping them get their work done. If possible, use a moisturizer with SPF, regardless of the weather. UV rays wreck your skin in the long term more than any other external factor.

Level: Beginner

When to do it: In the morning after your full skincare routine

What to use: You can get all the benefits of a daily moisturizer plus SPF protection from Jack Black's Double-Duty Moisturizer, which comes with a daily SPF of 20. If your skin skews a little bit oily, the ultra-lightweight moisturizer from Blu Atlas is sure to give you what you need without clogging pores or feeling too heavy on your face. And for guys with dry skin, Rugged and Dapper's Age + Damage Defense moisturizer is the perfect addition to your lineup.

Night Cream

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery cream and Dr. Dennis gross' wrinkle cream for mens skincare
Photos, From Left to Right: Kiehl's, Dr. Dennis Gross

Night cream is a heavy-duty moisturizer that does its work deep in your skin while you sleep. It's also packed with regenerative ingredients like, for example, retinol (a powerful anti-aging ingredient). A great night cream is what takes a skincare regimen to the next level.

Level: Intermediate

When to do it: At night after your full skincare routine

What to use: Dr. Dennis Gross makes a top-of-the-line night cream with both retinol and ferulic acid that's safe for nightly use and comes with all kinds of anti-aging magic. If that isn't quite your speed, Kiehl's Midnight Oil is another great pick. It's chock full of botanicals and antioxidants that will have you waking up looking rested as hell (even if you pulled a late night putting together your wedding's seating chart or sampling custom cocktails for the open bar).

Answering Your Men's Skincare Routine Questions

The world of men's skincare is a big one. Whether you're brand new to this or looking to tweak or retool an established routine, it's totally natural to have questions–and hey, that's what I'm here for! Here are some of the more common men's skincare questions and some answers that are hopefully helpful in establishing your men's skincare routine.

In what order should I use my skincare products?

Start with a facial cleanser. Exfoliate after you've done that, and then work in your eye treatments and specialty serums. If it's the morning, use your daily moisturizer to finish it all off. If it's the end of the day, it's time for night cream.

How do I know if my skincare routine is working?

This is a bit of a tough question to answer. If you're using your routine to combat specific issues like acne or dry skin, you'll know it's working when you start to see them resolved or diminished over time. But the real long-term goal of a skincare routine is preventative maintenance. You'll know your routine is working if over time your skin not only looks better but also pointedly doesn't start to look worse.

How do I know when I should add a new step or product to my regimen?

Sometimes even the most well-curated regimen needs a boost. If you start to notice new signs of aging like new lines, spotty complexion, or wrinkles where you didn't have them before, try adding new steps to your lineup. Additionally, if new issues arise like oiliness, under-eye bags, or acne, add the appropriate treatments.

Do expensive skincare products work better?

It depends! Sometimes you're getting what you pay for with more expensive products and they're worth every penny. But there are plenty of cheaper, more accessible products that do their job just as well as any high-end product on the market. My go-to face wash for years has been Kiehl's Facial Fuel, which I can pick up for a manageable $25 or so. You'd also be shocked by how many people with great skin swear by Cetaphil moisturizer, which is available everywhere from Target to CVS and will set you back as little as $10 depending on the size of the bottle.

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