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How to Build the Ultimate Face Care Routine for Men

David has been covering men's style and grooming topics for The Adult Man as a writer and photographer since 2020. We asked David to sum himself up in four sentences, and here it is. Serial learner. Aspiring wordsmith. Bourbon enthusiast. Jack of some trades. Read full bio.

Last Updated: Jun 12, 2024
15 min read
Key Takeaways

To build the ultimate face care routine, wash your face in the morning and evening. Use Citric Acid and a moisturizer with sunscreen in the morning, and apply a toner after washing in the evening. After the toner, optionally apply a retinol serum, and then a moisturizer. Lastly, use an  eye cream to help with dark, puffy eye circles.

At some point in every man’s life he’ll take a look in the mirror and wonder what the heck happened. The smooth skin and chiseled jawline have given way to dark eye circles, crow’s feet, and puffy, porous skin. 

You’ve probably heard of skin care routines and their benefits, but let’s say that you want to build the ultimate face care routine, on par with Christian Bale’s routine in American Psycho, minus the psychotic episodes and axes.

I’ve got you covered. In this article I’ll show you how to build out a comprehensive skin care routine so that your skin can glow like the full moon.

What You’ll Need to Build the Ultimate Face Care Routine

Before I get into the step-by-step process of Benjamin Button-ing your face, let’s take a quick look at the skin care products you’ll need to build the ultimate face care routine.

  • Face wash: a gentle face wash that won’t strip away excess oil is a necessary foundation to any skin care routine.
  • Moisturizer with SPF: a moisturizer with sunscreen is also necessary. The sun’s UV rays are extremely destructive to the elasticity and structure of the skin, but getting some sunscreen on your face every morning goes a long way in reducing and preventing the damage.
  • Toner: a toner helps set the correct pH balance for your skin, which primes it to make your moisturizers more effective.
  • Evening moisturizer: this moisturizer is intended for use after you wash at night. Since you’re likely on your way to bed, a moisturizer that’s formulated with sunscreen isn’t necessary.
  • Retinol serum: serums help to penetrate through several layers of the skin to clear our dirt and nourish the skin, and retinol is especially good at shrinking pores and erasing fine lines.
  • Eye cream: the dark circles under our eyes are typically the first areas to betray our aging, but a high-quality eye cream can help tighten those bags up.
  • Citric Acid serum: like retinol, Citric Acid is great for deeply nourishing your skin and helps to remove dark spots and balance your complexion. 
  • Exfoliating scrub: while serums are good at getting deep into the skin, an exfoliating scrub will help to clear away dirt and dead skin cells on the surface, which can help shrink pores.

The Ultimate Face Care Routine Step-by-Step

Now that you have the best face care products at your disposal, let’s walk through a step-by-step face care routine, beginning in the morning. These steps are in order, so you can follow them chronologically as you scroll. 

Morning Face Wash

While washing your face twice a day might seem excessive, if you’re set on beginning the ultimate face care routine for maximum skin impact, washing in the morning is a necessity. 

Splashing your face with water doesn’t count, nor does using hand soap. 

Why? Soap is soap, right?


Hand soap and even body wash are considerably more harsh than what the skin on your face can handle. The skin on your face is the most sensitive skin on your body, so using harsh hand soap will strip away healthy, moisturizing oils and remove protective barriers that keep you from looking like a pepperoni pizza.

Soap that’s meant for your face is typically referred to as a face wash or cleanser. These soaps will be gentle, won’t foam much, and are designed to clean away only the excess oil and dirt on your face.

I recommend the aptly named WASH from Tiege Hanley. Formulated with coconut oil, willow bark extract, and eucalyptus, WASH will gently clean your face without drying your skin. 

Tiege Hanley face wash

I like to rinse my face with warm water, and then rub a nickel-sized squirt of WASH between my hands to start the slight lather. I’ll then gently rub the soap over all areas of my face and the front of my neck, massaging in small circles. 

Tiege Hanley

Often hawked by YouTube superstar Aaron Marino, Tiege Hanley offers varying levels of skin care systems based on how much care and attention you're willing to give your face. Despite the hype, the brand lives up to their word with an uncomplicated skin care system that offers surprising value.

Sign Up Now Read Our Review

It can feel right to smash your hands into your face and scour it clean, but that can end up doing more damage than good. The idea is to wash lightly and briefly, and then rinse off with cool water. 

Pat your face dry rather than rubbing the towel across, as the rubbing motion can drag oil into pores and irritate sensitive skin. 

Next up, Citric Acid.

Citric Acid Serum

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Using a Citric Acid serum on your face is like sending your skin back a decade. Notable benefits include hydration, brightening, reduced redness and hyperpigmentation, and reduction of the appearance of under-eye circles. 

Serums penetrate deep through the layers of the skin to the hypodermis, the bottom layer that is mainly water-based. Most serums are water-based, meaning their molecules are smaller and capable of traveling down into your skin to nourish and clear dead skin cells from the inside out. 

This results in brighter, tighter skin with small pores. I’ve seen a noticeable difference between how my skin looks before and after applying Citric Acid serum in the morning. It’s basically giving your skin a shot of espresso. 

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Apply serums before moisturizers because moisturizers only penetrate your first layer or skin and act as a protective barrier. 

Moisturizers are both oil and water based, so they go as far as the epidermis and do a fancy thing called occlusion, which is the notion of locking in hydration by creating a protective seal over the skin. 

Thus, if you tried to apply a serum after your moisturizer the serum would never get down to the lower layers of skin, which means it would never do its job. 

Work from the bottom up, and nourish your skin deep down first, and then seal in those healthy serums with moisturizer. 

Tiege Hanley Super Serum 1

I like to apply a squirt of Citric Acid serum to my hand, spread the serum evenly between my hands, and then quickly apply it all over my face. 

I’ve had good results with Tiege Hanley’s SUPER SERUM, which is made with Citric Acid and hyaluronic acid

Moisturizer with SPF

Tiege Hanley AM Moisturizer

Now that your hypodermis and dermis have been given the equivalent of a vitality shot, it’s time to apply a moisturizer with sunscreen. The thought of slathering some sticky, stinky sunscreen across your visage in the morning is likely not appealing, but bear with me.

Moisturizers with SPF are typically quite thin and absorb quickly, which is quite opposite the typical sunscreen experience. A good morning moisturizer, like the “AM” from Tiege Hanley, will also smell nice and have you looking forward to applying it every morning.

Using a moisturizer with sunscreen is a necessity if you want to avoid saggy skin and wrinkles much longer than most. UV rays from the sun cause premature aging of skin, wrinkles, leathery skin, and dark spots. 

If you want your skin to look and feel like a brown Fruit Roll-Up when you’re older, don’t apply sunscreen daily. 

Tiege Hanley bathroom detail shot

Tiege Hanley’s AM moisturizer has an SPF 20 rating and protects you from those pesky UV rays while also sealing in the moisture on your face. 

It’s important to apply sunscreen even on cloudy days or days spent mostly inside, and since so many moisturizers are formulated with sunscreen it’s really no trouble to build it into your daily routine.

Similar to the Citric Acid serum, I’ll spread a nickel-sized dollop of AM between my hands, and then lightly massage the moisturizer onto my face. 

Boom. Your face is prepped to take on the day.

Tiege Hanley

Often hawked by YouTube superstar Aaron Marino, Tiege Hanley offers varying levels of skin care systems based on how much care and attention you're willing to give your face. Despite the hype, the brand lives up to their word with an uncomplicated skin care system that offers surprising value.

Sign Up Now Read Our Review

Evening Face Wash

Tiege Hanley rinsing off face wash

Another day in the books, it’s time to wash off the dirt and oil that your skin acquired throughout the day. 

This goes exactly the same as the morning face wash. Rinse with warm water, gently wash with a cleanser like WASH from Tiege Hanley, rinse with cool water, and pat your face dry. 

Removing excess oil and dirt from your face is the same in the morning and evening, so the same cleanser covers both scenarios. 


Bulk Homme the toner box closeup

Here is where our evening skin care session differs from the morning lineup. 

Right after washing your face and patting it dry, apply a toner. 

A toner is a water-based liquid that packs a serious punch. As I mentioned earlier, water-based liquids and moisturizers penetrate deep into the layers of skin and nourish the hypodermis, which is also water-based. 

So how does a toner differ from a serum? 

Mostly in function. While serums typically carry specific vitamins down to the base layers of skin, a toner balances and preps your skin to make serums and moisturizers more effective. 

Toners help to clean out the hypodermis of any dead skin cells, dirt or oil, which leaves more room for the serums to nourish your skin from the inside out.

I’m a big fan of THE TONER from Bulk Homme. Seems like a lot of these skin care brands like to make their branding very literal.

Bulk Homme the toner

All jokes aside, for skin care novices this is a useful naming system. If you don’t really know what a toner is in the first place, but the brand has decided to name their toner Alpine Flush, you’d probably be left wondering if the product was meant for a different bathroom activity.

Back to the point, THE TONER has a wonderful, fresh scent that will have you looking forward to applying it every evening. The application process is the same as I described for serums: put a little in your palm, spread it evenly between your hands, and then spread it on your face. 

It’s worth noting that THE TONER, or any toner for that matter, is much less viscous than serums and moisturizers. That means it’s much closer to the consistency of water than to toothpaste. 

I mention that as a word of warning when squeezing toner out of its container—if you don’t want half the container in your palm at the first squeeze, be gentle with it.

Alternatively, you can apply toner to your face by using small cotton rounds. Squeeze some toner onto the round, and then rub the round across your face. I typically avoid this due to the cotton round getting stuck in my stubble, but it’s worth knowing about if you want to touch your face as little as possible.


BULK HOMME’s THE TONER has been a real game changer in my skincare routine. If you’re trying to convince people you slept under the stars because there’s no other way your skin could be that dewy and glowing, THE TONER is a must. 

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Retinol Serum

Retinol serum is, in my opinion, another foundation to any successful face care routine. 

These serums have a form of Vitamin A that’s especially effective at stimulating skin cell renewal. As such, it’s frequently used to treat fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, and dark spots, since new cell production will begin to erase these unwanted signs of aging. 

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That being said, retinol serum should be used even if you’re not seeing fine lines and wrinkles. Seeing as human evolution has brought us to the point where we begin the slow descent into decrepitness in our 20s, anything that keeps this unstoppable tide at bay is warranted.

Use retinol only in the evening when you’ll no longer have direct sun exposure. Retinol stimulates cell renewal, and these new cells are more thin and delicate which puts them at risk of damage from UV exposure

Retinol gets applied the same as Citric Acid serum with one notable exception: drop a bit in your palm, spread it evenly between your hands, and spread it everywhere besides your under eyes and eyelids. 

This is a divisive point in the skin care community. Dermatologists see no issue with using retinol around your eyes, and you’re welcome to try, but many retinol users have had bad results. The skin around your eyes is some of the thinnest on the human body, and since retinol is quite strong, your eyelids and under eyes can become dried out and irritated.  

This doesn’t happen for everyone, but since we’ll be using an eye cream in the next step, applying retinol to your eye areas isn’t completely necessary. 

Eye Cream

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Since the skin around your eyes is so thin, it can quickly become discolored, wrinkled, or puffy. Given that no one likes baggage in the emotional or physical sense, using an eye cream is an important step to fixing and preventing dark under eyes.

There’s a host of reasons we get dark eye circles, from allergies and age to genetics and lack of sleep. Whatever the reason, using an eye cream once daily can go a long way in lightening and tightening this skin to the days of your youth. 

As luck would have it, Tiege Hanley has an effective eye cream titled, EYES. This eye cream is formulated with caffeine to increase the skin’s circulation where applied, and this results in stronger, more elastic skin.

Tiege Hanley Eye Cream 1

To apply, put a single pump of EYES into your palm. With your finger, dab a small amount under your eyes and rub from corner to corner—that’s it!

For best results, use an eye cream in the morning and evening after any toners and serums, but before your moisturizer. 

Evening Moisturizer

Tiege Hanley PM Moisturizer

With all the deep skin treatments taken care of, you can finish out the evening skin care routine by applying a protective moisture barrier in the form of a moisturizer. 

Unlike the morning moisturizer, this one doesn’t need to have an SPF inclusion. I particularly like Tiege Hanley’s PM moisturizer, which is formulated with niacinamide and aloe to soothe the skin and shrink pores. 

Exfoliate Twice Per Week

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To give an extra boost to your cleansing process, it’s important to use an exfoliating scrub several times a week. Start with twice per week, and maybe work your way up to three, but I don’t recommend any more than that. 

If you have sensitive skin, stick to once per week.

An exfoliating scrub helps to clear away deeply lodged dirt, dead skin cells, and whatever other gunk might be on your face. Since this is an intensive wash in an area with sensitive skin, you should never exfoliate on a daily basis. 

Over exfoliating can strip the skin of its natural oils, which will cause your skin and its sebaceous glands to overproduce oils to compensate, and this will often lead to breakouts and oily skin.

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Even worse, you’d then have to read our guide on oily skin, which goes into all kinds of detail about the oily habits of our sebaceous glands. 

So, where does exfoliating fit into the ultimate face care routine?

Wash as you normally would, rinse, and then wash again with the exfoliating scrub. 

Many exfoliators are marketed to be a one stop shop of cleanser and exfoliant, and they can be. However, since your pores will be getting a deep clean via exfoliation, it’s best practice to make sure your skin is clean so that excess oil or dirt doesn’t get pushed into newly cleaned pores by the exfoliating process. 

I typically exfoliate in the evening, but you’re more than welcome to do it in the morning instead.

Tiege Hanley exfoliating scrub

Believe it or not, Tiege Hanley also provides an exfoliating scrub, called SCRUB. This exfoliator is formulated with cucumber, citric acid, and niacinamide to help soothe your skin as bacteria and dirt gets scrubbed off. 

Get Washin’

While this may seem like a gargantuan number of steps, after a few times through the complete routine it becomes habitual. This habit only gains momentum when you start to see your pores shrink, skin tighten, and under eyes lighten.

For those who like it simple, Tiege Hanley also offers several monthly subscription boxes that deliver a tailored face care routine to your doorstep. 

Tiege Hanley

Often hawked by YouTube superstar Aaron Marino, Tiege Hanley offers varying levels of skin care systems based on how much care and attention you're willing to give your face. Despite the hype, the brand lives up to their word with an uncomplicated skin care system that offers surprising value.

Sign Up Now Read Our Review

I use this exact face care routine and get compliments on my skin frequently. And not just from my wife, who’s kind of obligated to say them.

If you’re interested in reducing the signs of premature aging or preventing them, this skin care routine is guaranteed to give results.

Know someone who would benefit from this ultimate skin care routine? Share it with them!


How can a man get glowing skin?

A man can get glowing skin by washing and moisturizing every day. Using Citric Acid serums and retinol, plus the use of exfoliants also helps.

What is retinol?

Retinol is a type of Vitamin A that is often formulated into a serum that can be applied to your face.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a type of Vitamin B-3 that encourages protein growth in the skin, which helps to shrink pores, make your skin more elastic, and protect your skin from environmental damage.