Sensitive skin is a common condition that can affect people of all ages. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 50% of men have sensitive skin.  

There are a number of factors that can contribute to sensitive skin, including:

  • Genetics - sensitive skin can be inherited and can be more prevalent is some ethnicities and skin tones. 
  • Certain ingredients in skincare products, such as fragrance, alcohol or botanical extracts. 
  • Unprotected sun exposure.
  • Seasonal changes in temperature or drastic temperature change due to travel.
  • Stress 
  • Certain fabrics, such as wool and synthetics, chemicals in fabrics, or chemicals in detergent and fabric softeners
  • Food sensitivity, such as spicy foods and citrus fruits.
  • Medications, such as antibiotics and steroids.

The symptoms of sensitive skin can vary from person to person, but some of the most common symptoms include redness, itching, dryness, blotchiness, and acne. When your skin flares up, the best thing to do is to not do too much.  You want to let your skin recover on its own.  A less is more approach is best.  

By following a simple skincare routine, you can keep your skin healthy and looking its best.

  • Cleanse your face twice a day, morning and night. Look for a cleanser that is gentle, free from synthetic fragrances and non-comedogenic (which means it doesn’t contain ingredients that will clog your pores). A gentle face wash cleanses without stripping the skin of its natural oils which can cause dryness and skin irritation.
  • Apply a moisturizer to hydrate your skin morning and night. Look for a moisturizer that is oil-free and non-greasy.
  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days.  Either a mineral or non-mineral (what the industry calls “chemical”) SPF is good.  Pick the one that works best with your skin. 
  • Exfoliation is still essential for sensitive skin.  Look for a scrub with fine, pulverized, powder particles with clays.  Start with exfoliating once a week.  Use gentle light pressure and let the scrub particles do the hard work.  If you choose an exfoliant with alpha hydroxy acids or salicylic acids (beta hydroxy acids), start with a lower acid percentage and use once a week, and then, if needed, increase once your skin has adjusted. 

You can also add other steps to your skincare routine as needed, such as toner and serum. Again, look for gentle products with lower percentage of actives and build from there.  It is important to start with a solid simple routine and gradually add more steps as your skin adjusts. Remember, it typically takes between two to three weeks for your skin to adjust to a new product, so patience is key.  

Shaving for Sensitive Skin

Shaving can be a challenge for men, especially those with sensitive skin.  Here a few tips to help you minimize irritation:

  • First, take your time and enjoy this self-care ritual.
  • Shaving after shower is key. After a warm shower, the facial hair is softened and prepped for shave. If you can’t shower beforehand, then wash your face with tepid water and then apply a warm compress over the face for one to two minutes to soften the facial hair. 
  • Always use a sharp clean razor. A dull razor can lead to increased irritation. Before shaving, sanitize the razor blade by wiping it with alcohol.  
  • Use a shaving cream or gel that is designed for sensitive skin. A rich shaving cream provides cushion and minimizes razor irritation. If more glide is needed, you can try using a pre-shave oil before applying the shaving cream. 
  • For the first pass, always shave in the direction of the hair growth.
  • After shaving, apply a post shave elixir and or a moisturizer to help soothe your skin.

If you have any questions about men's skincare for sensitive skin, be sure to talk to a dermatologist or skincare specialist. They can help you create a personalized skincare routine that is right for you and recommend products to ensure your skin looks its best.