What are the best moisturizers for men with dry skin?

Got dry skin? There are lots of moisturizers to choose from. See more personal hygiene pictures.
Got dry skin? There are lots of moisturizers to choose from. See more personal hygiene pictures.

Traditionally it wasn't considered "manly" to be concerned about dry skin. If it got so dry and flaky that you couldn't stand it anymore, you'd just find whatever lotion you could and slather it on. Even if you really wanted to find a product specifically to moisturize your dry skin, there weren't many of them available for men. Most facial moisturizers, for example, catered specifically to women -- the packaging, the appearance and the odor were all feminine. The product itself was also formulated specifically for women's skin.

But men's skin is different from women's skin. Male skin may be as much as 25 percent thicker than that of women [source: Baran]. It's higher in elastin and collagen, but it also tends to be oilier and have bigger pores. Male skin may be more sensitive to the sun and therefore more prone to skin cancer. There's also another key difference: Shaving can irritate and dry out a man's face. Add in factors like drying soaps, exposure to the elements and low humidity, and you might find yourself with some very dry skin. Not only is dry skin unattractive, it can also get uncomfortable and itchy (which can lead to infection if you scratch enough). Dry skin can even lead to wrinkles and other signs of aging.


Today, men are more concerned about taking care of their skin, and luckily manufacturers have realized this. With lots of moisturizers to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? There are moisturizers made just for men, but you don't necessarily have to go with one of these if you pay close attention to labels and ingredients. Next, we'll look at the types of moisturizers available for men with dry skin.



Types of Moisturizers for Men with Dry Skin

Before you hit the skincare aisle or check out the offerings at a department store counter (yes, those companies make products for men, too), consider what type of moisturizer you need. Does your skin seem to get red and irritated easily? Then you probably have sensitive skin. Do you tend to break out and have oily areas in addition to the dry ones? You may have combination or acne-prone skin. Do you regularly wear sunscreen? If not, you should, and you can get a moisturizer that does double duty. A note for your shopping list: Some moisturizers formulated specifically for men call themselves "hydrators" or "skin protectors."

Sensitive skin tends to react strongly to ingredients such as alcohol and perfumes (both of which can be found in many moisturizers). Seek out a moisturizer specifically formulated for sensitive skin. These tend to be made with gentler, natural ingredients such as licorice and chamomile extracts, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe is also a common ingredient in moisturizers for sensitive skin; it soothes and helps moisturize. These products may also contain persic oil, which is extracted from apricots, or grapeseed oil.


If you're concerned that a moisturizer may make your face break out or look shiny, try one labeled "noncomedogenic." This means that it won't clog your pores (which are larger in men and therefore more prone to acne). Also check out the label for phrases such as "water-based," "oil-free" or "lightweight." Believe it or not, a moisturizer doesn't have to contain oil at all. Ingredients such as lactic acid, glycerin and hyaluronic acid attract moisture to the skin without making it feel greasy. You can also just apply the moisturizer to the driest areas of your face.

On the other hand, very dry, flaky skin could really benefit from a product that keeps the existing moisture from evaporating from your skin. In this case, look for moisturizers that are labeled "heavy" or "healing." They will contain heavier ingredients like lanolin, vitamin E and petroleum. These types of moisturizers are also more likely to be thick creams versus the thinner, lightweight lotions.

No matter which moisturizer you choose, consider using one with a sunscreen. Ultraviolet rays (UV and UVB) dry out your skin and contribute to age spots and wrinkling. Moisturizers with sunscreen will usually have an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. If you're spending lots of time the sun, though, you'll need to apply a separate sunscreen with a higher SPF as well.

Many men may be hesitant to moisturize at all because they're worried about smelling "girly." Products made just for men tend to have more masculine scents. Because of this, some of these products can be more expensive just because their audience is narrow. They can also be very strong. There is an alternative: Many companies make moisturizers that have a neutral scent or are completely unscented. If you pay attention to the label, you can find a moisturizer that does the job inexpensively without leaving you smelling like roses ... unless that's your thing.


Lots More Information

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  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts & Your Skin." Revised 2004. (Dec. 23, 2010) http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/general_cosmeceutical.html
  • Ask Men. "Moisturizers For Men." AskMen.com. 2010. (Dec. 21, 2010)http://www.askmen.com/fashion/fashiontip_150/192_fashion_advice.html
  • Baran, Robert. "Textbook of Cosmetic Dermatology." Taylor & Francis. 2005. (Dec. 23, 2010)http://books.google.com/books?id=Fdel-qs6f_QC&lpg=PA489&ots=29MkaKTxUZ&dq=male%20skin%20care&pg=PA489#v=onepage&q=male%20skin%20care&f=false
  • Cleveland Clinic. "Understanding the Ingredients in Skin Care Products." June 12, 2007. (Dec. 21, 2010) http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/skin_care/hic_understanding_the_ingredients_in_skin_care_products.aspx
  • DeNoon, Daniel J. "Men's Skin More Sun-Sensitive." WebMD.com. 2007. (Dec. 23, 2010)http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/news/20070402/mens-skin-more-sun-sensitive
  • Jaret, Peter. "Lookin' Good: A Man's Guide." WebMD.com. 2010. (Dec. 23, 2010)http://men.webmd.com/guide/lookin-good
  • Mayo Clinic. "Dry Skin." Mayo Clinic. Nov. 5, 2010. (Dec. 21, 2010)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-skin/DS00560
  • Mayo Clinic. "Moisturizers 101: The basics of softer skin." Mayo Clinic. Dec. 16, 2008. (Dec. 23, 2010) http://mayoclinic.com/health/moisturizers/SN00042