A man’s skin is a lot different than a woman’s skin. Some of those differences include thickness, collagen density, texture, and hydration. Structural differences aside, there is also a major biochemical difference between men and women that’s closely linked to acne—hormones. And, as you probably already know, hormones are different in men and women, so you can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to treating hormonal acne.

How, exactly, do hormones affect our skin? When certain hormones fluctuate, it causes skin inflammation, increased sebum production, clogged skin cells and a more hospitable environment for acne-producing bacteria. This basically spells disaster for your face.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Many prescription acne medications take their aim at hormonal acne, which varies greatly between men and women.
  2. It helps to have a skin care routine that takes into account your body’s hormones to ensure that you wind up with a treatment that works.
  3. From the onset of puberty, men’s testosterone levels surge and lead to greater levels of sebum production, a likely culprit for the greater severity of acne in men.
  4. Given the hormonal differences between men and women, skin care products that are specially formulated for men’s skin may be more effective for guys.

    Testosterone’s Influence

    One of the main hormones that plays a role in acne is testosterone. Testosterone is a biological androgen that plays a part in the development of many things we consider typically masculine, such as facial hair, muscular growth, strength and aggression. One of the side effects of high testosterone is increased sebum production. Certain prescription acne treatments with isotretinoin aim to suppress production of testosterone in order to decrease sebum production and prevent acne.

    This seems like a logical approach, but you have to consider the tradeoff. Testosterone, by and large, is good for us. When you lower your body’s testosterone levels, you risk a range of serious issues, including reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of muscle and even mental health issues like depression. These hormonal acne treatments can be linked to some serious side effects. 

    Because there are other acne treatments out there that cause little to no side effects, testosterone-minimizing drugs aren’t always a great option for treating male acne.

    Man washing his face with an exfoliating scrub

    An Uncomplicated Solution for Men

    If you’ve deemed these kinds of acne treatments no-gos, don’t fret. There are plenty of milder, yet very effective acne treatments for men that will help get rid of acne without affecting the body’s hormone levels. Keep in mind that a good majority of acne cases aren’t actually hormonal, and clear skin has a lot more to do with lifestyle factors and grooming habits than it does with what’s going on in your body’s hormone department.

    In such cases, it’s all about developing good skin care habits—cleansing daily, exfoliating a few times a week and moisturizing the skin—all of which keep oil production under control and help to quell acne. Naturally, these products will also significantly lower your likelihood of breaking out simply because they clear the pores of any environmental stressors that can clog pores and lead to flare-ups. A good skin care routine really does go a long way.

    Happy man holding a towel applying face moisturizer

    Look for These Ingredients

    When choosing your men’s skin care products, eagle-eye the ingredients list like a skin pro. When you know what to look for, skin care feels much less complicated and you’ll get better results with less experimentation. (If you really want to simplify it, skip all the research and subscribe to our Acne System.)

    Salicylic Acid

    Salicylic acid is one of the most popular ingredients in acne cleansers, creams and spot treatments. The acid, found naturally in Salix Alba Bark Extract and other sources, sloughs off dead skin cells, preventing them from clogging pores and causing blemishes. Salicylic acid can also reduce sebum production, which is another way it helps prevent the formation of acne and also combats the effects of excess androgens.

    Botanical Extracts

    Botanical extracts sound flowery, but they’re actually pretty hard workers when it comes to skin, so don’t overlook them. We use all sorts of impressive extracts in our acne-fighting formulas, including Plantain Extract, Calendula Extract, Apricot Extract, Alfalfa Extract, and more. These ingredients provide the skin with the much-needed nutrients it requires to thrive.

    Non-Comedogenic Oils

    Finally, be sure to purchase men’s skin care products that contain non-comedogenic oils, or those oils that won’t clog pores. Oil is important for healthy skin—even for people who tend to produce excess oil—but the wrong kinds can get stuck in the pores, causing inflammation and blemishes. Our products contain Hawaiian KuKui Nut Oil to deeply absorb into the skin, providing deep hydration without the greasy feeling of some oils.