After the runaway success of Rio Viera-Newton’s Google doc, I became fascinated with skin care and skin routines. What secret sauces were all these low-key obsessives among us slathering on every morning? How did they all solve their acne and black spots and dark under-eyes? It also led me to think: What’s the deal for men with great skin? To demystify and destigmatize skin care for the other half, we’ve talked to four men with glowing skin — one who used to double-cleanse while on tour with the U.S. army in Iraq — about their extensive routines.
Richard Chai, fashion designer
My dermatologist probably wouldn’t be happy with my routine, but it’s really simple. I find that with my skin, less is more. I know that this will be kind of shocking, but I don’t use cleansers. I find that it dries my skin out even more in certain places, and then I need more moisturizers and my skin gets all uneven. I grew up with mothers and grandmothers with flawless skin, so I think part of it is genetics. If I just shower in the morning, the shampoo I use is natural, and when it washes into my face I call that my cleanser. Recently, I’ve been using this stuff from a brand called Jason, and it’s a bodywash shampoo. It’s an all-in-one for guys, and it has a really good foresty smell.
I spray organic rose water as a toner. It has all these antioxidants, and it’s good for inflammation and evening out my skin. I started using it a million years ago when I went to Morocco, and they all use rose water there. The brand I use it called Alteya Organics. It’s just literally a spray, and I just spray it on my face. It works great.
I learned that exfoliating is really important, and my dermatologist, Dr. Colbert, has a facial disc that you just put on your face and let it sit. I do that twice a week, and it takes off the dead layer of skin.
My father is a doctor of chemical engineering, and he’s always trying different things, so he started making this oil serum. It’s all organic essential oils with jojoba, coconut, and other stuff that I can’t remember, and I’ve been using it for a month, and I swear by it. He’s just been giving it to family and friends to test out, and people who haven’t seen me in a while are like, ‘What have you done with your skin?’ That’s essentially the moisturizer I use, but it’s not for sale. Otherwise, sunblock is really important. I like the one from HydroPeptide that doesn’t feel like you’re covered in white oxides, and it completely blocks out the sun. I like getting tan, but for nice skin, sunblock really helps. I use that in the summer and less in the fall and winter.
David Yi, founder and editor-in-chief, Very Good Light
I’m intense in my skin care and I have nine steps, as any good Korean would have. Overall, it takes me all of eight minutes. So I start with an oil cleanser, which might seam weird, but oil strips away oil. At night, the oil strips away any makeup or daily residue, and in the morning, it clears away the extra sebum that you’ve produced overnight. These days, I’m using a green-tea cleansing balm from the brand Farmacy.
I then use a foam cleanser, and this is a standard way for Koreans to cleanse their face. It’s called double-cleansing. For that, I use my favorite cleanser by Cetaphil cleanser. It’s the standard. Maybe it’s boring to some people, but it totally works. It’s very gentle, dermatologist-recommended, and it’s definitely something that’s just really great for sensitive skin. It’s good for getting away any impurities without being too overdrying. That’s something that I love using twice a day after my oil cleanse.
I’m also using an AHA/BHA exfoliator mask from the brand Herbivore. It’s called a Blue Tansy, and it’s really good. I’ll leave it on for about 20 minutes. This is awesome for anyone who’s looking to treat or prevent blackheads, blemishes, or acne because it gets deep into your pores. To me, it’s a little more effective than a physical exfoliator. Those don’t get rid of all your dead skin cells like a chemical AHA/BHA will. This one has papaya enzymes that I like.
Immediately after that I’ll use a toner. A toner is really important because it replenishes your skin and brings it back to its natural pH balance, which is around 4.5 to 5.5. Water alkalizes your skin, so after cleansing you’ll have a very high pH, around eight or nine. Using a toner brings it back to its normal pH level and also preps your skin for the moisturizer. The way I describe it is, your skin is a dry sponge and nothing absorbs if you just drip, drip, drip water on top of it. You have to drench it with water from the top layer to the bottom, and that’s when it can actually soak in a lot of moisture and water. Toner allows your pores to open up and soak in the moisturizer. I’d say the toner is actually the most important part of my skin-care regimen. I’ll put it on maybe three to four times in one sitting. Korean women do this seven times. I splash it on, splash it on again, and splash it on again. The trick for this is not to use any alcohol in your toner. That will dry your skin. A lot of alcohol is used in toners to create a longer shelf life, but it’s not really good for your skin. It’s not good for moisturizing or getting rid of dead skin cells. It’s not conducive to any skin-care regimen in 2017. I use Huxley toner, and that’s one of my favorite product lines. It’s from South Korea.
Next, I will definitely treat the skin with an essence, and the essence that I’m using right now is one from Skin, Inc., and it’s a vitamin-C essence that I really love. I feel like it’s just very nourishing to the skin, and essence rejuvenates the skin from whatever it doesn’t replenish or what it doesn’t naturally receive. Vitamin C is brightening and very, very conducive to sunspots or aging spots or darkening spots on your face. It really helps to replenish that and give you that even skin tone.
After my essence, I go into my eye cream. I’m using a goats’-milk stick from Kate Somerville. I blot it under my eye and put it under my eyebrow, and then I use my ring finger to dab the product in.