Look after your boat race with the best creams for men, from just £8
Along with avoiding sunburn, oily foods and smoking, using one of the best face creams is the single most important thing a man can do to look after his skin. Not only will a decent one keep skin hydrated, preventing it from becoming dry, tight and itchy, it’ll also help bolster the skin’s naturally protective lipid barrier, which helps guard against environmental aggressors like adverse weather, moisture-robbing central heating and pollution. If it contains a sunscreen it’ll minimise sun induced skin damage, too.
The result if you use one regularly? Better-looking skin that will stay younger-looking for longer, since dry skin tends to age faster than well-hydrated stuff. If that sounds like a good return on investment you’d be right – it is. Which is why a face cream should be on any man’s selfcare shopping list.
As the name suggests, face creams are moisturising products with a creamy consistency. On the texture spectrum, they sit between serums, lotions and emulsions – which are generally lightweight and liquidy – and balms, which are thicker and richer. This positioning makes them suitable for most skin types, a cinch to apply and one of the most popular skincare products there is.
So, if you’re already using one and fancy a change, the following article might just provide you with some useful inspiration. And if you’ve never used one before, maybe now’s the time you started because, like Christmas and global warming, those fine lines and wrinkles tend to creep up on you without you even realising.
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How to choose the best face cream for you
How do I ensure a face cream suits my skin type?
As a rule of thumb, the thicker the cream the more suited it is to drier skin, but it’s always worth checking the label or product description to see whether a face cream is suitable for all skin types. If your skin is easily irritated opt for a cream that’s fragrance free and look for ones flagged as being suitable for sensitive skin.
What’s the best way to apply face cream?
Ideally, apply twice a day after cleansing, once in the morning and again at night just before bed, unless your cream includes sunscreen.
Apply a small amount (a blog the size of a penny is usually plenty) and massage it in thoroughly with your fingertips, taking the cream up to your hairline and down your neck. Most face creams will keep skin hydrated for 6-12 hours, with some promising 24-hour moisturisation.
Do I need to use more than one face cream?
Not always, but if you opt for one which features a built-in sunscreen it’s worth having a face cream without one in your arsenal for evening use too.
Do I need to use a cream especially made for men?
Men’s skin differs from women’s in a number of ways (it’s thicker, oilier, hairier and ages slightly differently for starters) but whilst some creams are especially formulated for men’s skin it’s always worth shopping beyond the men’s brands for the best products. If you find something that works for you, stick to it, whether it’s marketed at men, women or both.
How we test men’s face creams
Men’s face creams have one basic function: to hydrate skin so it feels soft, supple and comfortable. To test face cream, we apply morning and night to clean, freshly washed skin, applying approximately the same amount of each cream (a blob about the size of a £1 coin) to get a fair comparison.
Additional things we look for are texture (think creaminess, stickiness and overall viscosity), the smell and how quickly each cream is absorbed. Since most men are put off by creams that leave skin feeling greasy and looking shiny, ones that leave skin with a matt finish gain extra points.
The addition of anti-ageing ingredients, sunscreens and antioxidants that go beyond what’s required of a basic moisturiser gain bonus points, too, and overall value for money is taken into account.
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If you’re looking for a no-frills, great value, high-performance face cream, it’s hard to beat CeraVe’s Moisturising Cream. Developed by dermatologists and suitable for dry and very dry skins, it has a texture that’s creamy without being too light or overly thick (Goldilocks would probably describe it as ‘just right’). It’s also fragrance free and promises 24-hour hydration thanks to slow-release technology.
Like all CeraVe moisturisers, it aims to moisturise and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier with a mix of moisture-attracting hyaluronic acid and skin-friendly lipids called ceramides. Since it’s fragrance free and is so hydrating it’s perfect for dry, sensitive or eczema-prone skin and is unrivalled value for money given the whopping 454g tub it comes in. A great staple in any man’s skincare routine.
2. Nivea Men Sensitive Pro Menmalist Face Cream: Best no-frills face cream
Price: £8 for 75ml | Buy now from Amazon
Capitalising on the ‘skinimalism’ trend, which promotes the use of minimal skincare using products with as few ingredients as possible, Nivea Men’s Sensitive Pro Menmalist Face Cream is formulated with just ten ingredients.
A super-lightweight cream, it’s quickly absorbed and leaves skin with a matt finish (thanks to the addition of tapioca starch). Reducing ingredients to the max reduces the risk of it upsetting sensitive skin – re certainly had no problems when using it.
Given its emphasis on simplicity we were a bit surprised to see a fragrance in there (it’s slightly vanillary) but it gets bonus points for featuring 98% natural origin ingredients, a fully recyclable tube and a box made of 90% recycled material.
A decent attempt by Nivea to appeal to a more trend-conscious (not to mention eco-conscious) customer, it’s a great everyday face cream and good value for money, too.
3. The Grey 3-in-1 Face Cream: Best premium face cream
Price: £75 for 50ml | Buy now from Farfetch
The price tag might seem hefty, but when it comes to cult men’s brand The Grey’s 3-in-1 Face Cream, you’re paying for the ingredients, which read like a bucket list of anti-ageing essentials. As well as wrinkle-busting retinol and vitamin C and a super-effective version of hyaluronic acid, there’s Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, included to help reduce the depth of wrinkles; olive oil derived squalane, a great natural emollient; and algae extract and Coenzyme Q10, which purport to minimise the damaging effects of pollution, stress and sun damage. And that’s just the stand-out ingredients.
The 3-in-1 bit refers to this premium face cream’s chief objectives to nourish, protect and rejuvenate. As you might expect from a premium product the packaging is sleek and chic, with an emphasis on understated minimalism. If you like to splash out on your skincare this is the face cream for you.
4. Aesop Elemental Facial Barrier Cream: Best face cream for winter
Price: £45 for 60ml | Buy now from Look Fantastic
Few things play havoc with the skin more than harsh winter weather. Add to that moisture-robbing central heating and you’ve a recipe for a mush like a mummy.
What you need is a barrier cream, such as this one from Aesop. A heavy-duty all-weather warrior, it’s specifically designed to help skin survive harsh environmental conditions and features moisturising shea butter, anti-inflammatory bisabolol and antioxidant Copper PCA to help provide a shield against environmental assaults.
It’s richer and thicker than the other creams here so is perfect for autumn/winter, for anyone with very dry skin or for guys who spend a lot of time outdoors and whose face needs extra protection from the elements. We loved the texture and the herbaceous, slightly woody smell and even the smallest amount kept skin supple all day long.
5. Khiel’s Ultra Facial Cream: Best cream for all skin types
Price: £29 for 50ml | Buy now from Kiehl’s
When a product is a company’s number one best seller you know it’s doing something right. Ultra-lightweight, quickly absorbed and fragrance free, Khiel’s Ultra Facial Cream is one of those products you’ll wonder how you lived without once you’ve actually been using it for a while.
Olive oil-derived squalane and glycoproteins are in there to help protect skin’s natural barrier function (that is, to minimise moisture loss), while a raft of plant oils (avocado, almond and apricot kernel amongst them) help keep skin conditioned.
We were especially impressed how soft and supple it made skin feel, without feeling greasy, and it’s been formulated for all skin types – including sensitive ones – so takes the guesswork out of finding just the right face cream for you. As a bonus, you can also buy 50-150ml sized refill pouches to cut back on single use plastic consumption.
6. Auden Age Defence Face Cream SPF30: Best anti-ageing face cream
Price: £45 for 30ml | Buy now from AudenFinding the perfect anti-ageing cream is a bit like finding the perfect Pet Shop Boys album – there’s always a little something that lets it down. Not so with this anti-ageing cream from British men’s skincare brand Auden.
Although it’s pricey – it’s the smallest size of all the creams here – it’s meant to do an awful lot for the money, helping shield skin from stress, pollution and the harmful effects of the sun. In total, it features 22 active ingredients designed to improve the condition, appearance and strength of skin.
We loved the texture (lightweight, non-greasy and quickly absorbed), pump dispenser (two pumps easily covered our entire face) and the barely-there fragrance. A harder working multitasker you’ll be hard pressed to find.
7. Nivea Men Anti-Age Hyaluron Face Moisturising Cream SPF15: Best-value multi-tasking face cream
Price: £6 for 50ml | Buy now from Amazon
Anti-ageing face creams are often some of the most expensive creams you can buy (for a comprehensive roundup see our best anti-ageing creams for men piece) but if you don’t want to spend upwards of fifty quid, this value-for-money wrinkle buster from Nivea is a good alternative.
Featuring one the skincare industry’s go-to anti-ageing ingredients – hyaluronic acid – it lessens the appearance of wrinkles while ever so slightly firming skin and as an important bonus also includes an SPF15 sunscreen to guard against future sun induced skin ageing. Perfectly for the cost of living crisis, it’s hard to find a cheaper multi-function face cream.