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Skincare, for Men

By Renée Batchelor

Pictured here (from left): ClarinsMen Super Moisture Gel, S$68; Professional Peeling System Up, S$78, from Ksisters.sg; By Ecom Heartleaf Blackhead Cleaner, S$38, from Ksisters.sg.
Bianca Husodo
Pictured here (from left): ClarinsMen Super Moisture Gel, S$68; Professional Peeling System Up, S$78, from Ksisters.sg; By Ecom Heartleaf Blackhead Cleaner, S$38, from Ksisters.sg.

It used to be in the past that a man’s skincare routine — if it existed — would not be a thing of note. But today, with everyone from John Mayer to Pharrell Williams proudly sharing the skincare products they use, it’s no longer considered solely a woman’s prerogative to care for their skin. “Male skin is, on average, approximately 20 per cent thicker than female skin. It contains more collagen and has a tighter, firmer appearance. Men have more active sebaceous glands, and therefore more pores, than women. Both their sebaceous glands and their pores are larger than those of women, and so sebum production is double that of women. Thus, male skin is oilier and shinier than female skin,” says Dr Karen Soh, the medical director of Privé Clinic.

“As a result, its pH is lower than that of female skin and it is prone to impurities and acne. Hence, moisturisers, anti-ageing products and clinical treatments for men should be light in texture and more forgiving. Rich and greasy products may not be well tolerated by skin sensitised by shaving,” adds Dr Soh. While men’s skin has physiological difference to women’s skin — it is thicker and undergoes daily exfoliation, thanks to shaving — a lot of men’s skincare products are largely developed based on a preference for scents, lighter textures and even simpler packaging.

In-Clinic Treatments

According to Dr Soh, most of her male patients in Singapore worry about oily skin and this is a problem that can actually affect the skin texture with age. “Men with acne and predominantly oily skin typically have larger pores as well. Skin architecture is also weakened, and this is why acne scars, enlarged pores and skin laxity becomes more visible with age,” says Dr Soh.

Dr Soh recommends topical cream treatments like vitamin A that also help increase cell turnover and reduce blackheads and whiteheads. For those who want an in-clinic treatment to help with acne, Dr Soh recommends the Fotona 4D Laser. “It has the ability to penetrate into the deeper, medial and superficial connective structures of the skin, enabling significant collagen remodelling and to treat the overactive sebaceous glands. This treatment can help to reduce the risk of new acne inflammation,” says Dr Soh.

Dr Soh also notes that more men are looking to combat pigmentation as well, which could be the result of being exposed to skin-ageing UV rays on a daily basis. Dr Soh recommends the skin-brightening Pico laser treatment at her clinic. “Pico laser refers to a type of laser that works in “pico-seconds” (one trillionth of a second). When the laser light is being absorbed by the pigmented lesions, the light will vibrate, fragmenting the particles into really thin ‘dust’. The melanin and pigment particles are broken down in pico-seconds. This extreme speed in turn means that the skin takes a lesser time to heat up, thus reducing the risk of hyper-pigmentation,” says Dr Soh. She recommends combining the Pico laser with vitamin C Facetherapy to brighten the skin.

The other treatments that are popular among male patients in Dr Soh’s clinic are Ultherapy, Thermage and Rejuran Healers. Dr Soh also recommends a new treatment called Profhilo that contains one of the highest hyaluronic acid concentrations in the market, and will intensely boost skin hydration levels. “Clinical studies have also shown that Profhilo improves skin laxity, wrinkles, skin texture and skin tightening. With little to no downtime, Ultherapy and Thermage utilises focused ultrasound energy and patented radio frequency energy respectively to plump, lift and tighten the skin. For patients who can afford the downtime, to achieve that ‘flawless’ skin look, Rejuran Healer has proven to be an effective skin-healing treatment with optimal results after three sessions,” says Dr Soh.


When it comes to facials, treatments that have been specially developed for men not only use different products but different techniques as well. At the Clarins Skin Spa, the Energizing Facial for Men helps with concerns like ageing, tired skin, dehydration and lines. The brand also uses professional products — which have higher concentration for greater efficacy — exclusively for all Clarins Skin Spa treatments. Sylvia Lim, the trainer at the Clarins Skin Spa says, “The facial helps to firm, while energising and hydrating the skin, and eases tired muscles around the shoulders.”

The therapists, who have been specially trained to apply a particular weight of pressure for different areas of the face and body, use different touches for men. “The pressure applied during the massage will be firmer as men’s skin and muscles are thicker as compared to women,” says Lim.

At Home

As to the concerns that most men have, Lim says that they are commonly looking for cleansing and hydration products. “Lightweight, non-oily, gel texture products are good and most suitable for this climate. I’d recommend a simple and easy-to-use skin regimen for men who are new to skincare.

Key steps include basic cleansing and toning, followed by moisturiser to hydrate and protect the skin,” says Lim. “Men also have more hair, and products that help to calm and soothe the skin will be ideal after shaving to comfort any irritation,” says Lim, who recommends the ClarinsMen Active Face Wash, Fresh Moisture Toner and either the Super Moisture Gel or Super Moisture Balm depending on one’s preference of texture.

From left: Clensure Professional Peeling System Up, S$78, from Ksisters.sg; ClarinsMen Super Moisture Gel, S$68; By Ecom Heartleaf Blackhead Cleaner, S$38, from Ksisters.sg.
From left: Clensure Professional Peeling System Up, S$78, from Ksisters.sg; ClarinsMen Super Moisture Gel, S$68; By Ecom Heartleaf Blackhead Cleaner, S$38, from Ksisters.sg.

Dr Soh’s four key steps would be to cleanse, scrub, balance and hydrate. On the scrubbing step she says, “Use a men’s face scrub three to four times a week, depending on your skin type. Exfoliation will help remove dead skin cells and any deep-down impurities within the pores. Ideally, scrub before you shave to help loosen up whiskers and elevate them further above the skin, allowing for a closer shave.”

Tools to exfoliate can also be helpful for those with clogged pores and blackheads. The Clensure Professional Peeling System Up — an ultrasonic peeling device — can be used with an exfoliating product like the By Ecom Heartleaf Blackhead Cleanser or with water or toner to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. Simply moisten the skin and gently run the blade against the skin, moving from the sides of the face inwards to remove dirt and sebum that you likely have missed in the cleansing step.

Lastly, sun protection is also important for men, especially in a sunny climate. “Most men don’t like the feel of sunscreen because wearing a cream is just not something they are used to. But we’ve come a long way and today there are new, lighter weight versions, spray formulas, natural sunscreens that won’t leave your skin chalky, and even quick-drying gels that go on clear ... not to mention oral sunblocks such as Crystal Tomato and Heliocare,” says Dr Soh.