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There’s a lot of buzz about how to create the best skincare routine these days, and all that noise might lead you to believe you have to embark on a 45-minute routine prior to bed each night. For most of us, thankfully, that’s definitely not the case. The majority of us don’t even need more than a few products to achieve the skin we want.

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To help us create the best skincare routine for our readers, we talked to dermatologist Dr. Steve Xu, head of the Geologie Medical Advisory Board. Dr. Xu has authored more than 70 papers on dermatology, and has consistently rated Geologie as one of the top men’s skincare brands in the world.

With input from Dr. Xu, we put together a guide to creating the best skincare routine possible, with just a few go-to ingredients. 

Geologie also has an exclusive offer running for SPY readers. Right now, you can save 80% on one of Geologie’s personalized custom regimen trial sets, which cost just $10 after the discount with code SPY80. This is a great deal, and a great way to get started on better skincare.

Buy: Geologie Personalized Skincare Trial Set Only $10 With Code SPY80


What Is The Best Skincare Routine for You?

Every skincare routine is going to vary, but there are certain bases everyone should hit when it comes to nutrients, active ingredients and protectants.

To help us narrow down what these are, we consulted with Dr. Xu, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology at Northwestern University.

Dr. Xu told SPY in a recent interview that the most important component to an effective skincare routine is actually not any particular ingredient, product or brand. Rather, it’s consistency. 

“As a dermatologist it’s really simple, the best skincare regimen is the one you’re going to do every day, that’s the number one thing. If you’re not going to do seven things, that’s useless,” said Dr. Xu.

Thankfully, you don’t have to do seven different things to give your skin the nutrients and protection it needs to battle all of the dirt, grime and irritants it encounters daily. According to Dr. Xu, you actually only need two core ingredients: sun protection and retinol. Adding additional products like face moisturizers and cleansers can increase the effectiveness of your skincare regimen, especially if you suffer from problems like acne, but Dr. Xu says the best skincare routine for most people is built around those two core skincare products.

Sun Protection

“90% of aging is really from the sun and ultraviolet radiation, so a good daily sunscreen is really really important. It matters more if you live in Hawaii or Southern California or the Keys, and it matters more if you’re lighter skinned like yourself, where you’re going to have more susceptibility to ultraviolet radiation,” said Dr. Xu.

He also emphasized that even if you don’t think you need it where you live, or the seasonality may not call for it, developing consistency is crucial.

“In the winter in Chicago it’s probably not as important, but habits matter, so using that sunscreen every single day as part of your regimen I think would be the number one thing to keep your skin looking healthy, young, reduce the risk of skin cancer, prevent wrinkles, etc.”

Key Ingredients and When to Apply:

Sunscreen contains ingredients that protect against UVA and UVB rays. Face sunscreen should be worn every day and reapplied if you’re swimming, sweating or spending lots of time in the sun.

Geologie Broad-Spectrum Face Sunscreen

Geologie face sunscreen, best skincare routine

Geologie face sunscreen, best skincare routine

Buy: Geologie Broad-Spectrum Face Sunscreen $40.00



“The second thing I’d recommend is a retinoid product, a vitamin A analog,” said Dr. Xu.

A retinoid is a catch-all term for vitamin A-based products that have been proven to benefit the skin in a variety of ways — including spurring higher skin cell turnover, boosting collagen, reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles and improving overall skin tone. Retinol is a type of retinoid, and a commonly used term to describe the entire category of ingredients.

According to Dr. Xu, retinoids “have been validated and proven with decades of research to be really helpful in promoting healthy skin turnover, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, it’s great for anti-acne, so it’s just sort of an amazing ingredient that’s been proven by science and medicine to be a good thing for your skin.”

Key Ingredients and When To Apply: 

The key ingredient in all retinoids is some derivative of vitamin A, and the name of the specific retinol can vary. You should apply a retinol at night and start by applying it once every other week or once a week, to see how your skin reacts. After that you can slowly build it up, as your tolerance grows and your potential for benefit. If you’re a regular retinol user, wearing sunscreen becomes even more important.

0.3% Retinol Night Cream

Geologie retinol night cream, best skincare routine

Geologie retinol night cream, best skincare routine

Buy: Geologie 0.3% Retinol Night Cream $55.00

He went on to say that if you’ve got a routine regimen that includes those two components, you’re more than most of the way there in terms of the best skincare routine for your skin.

“Those 2 things are 99% of the battle, everything else — antioxidants, niacinamide, cleansers — those are helpful for various different reasons, but just doing those two things covers your basics and gives you the most bang for your buck.”

While Dr. Xu didn’t specifically mention a cleanser as a must-have, we certainly consider it essential when building our own skincare routines. So it’s safe to say the best skincare routine for the average guy will also include some type of face cleanser or face wash. In addition, we also highly recommend using a face moisturizer for men, which can help with dryness and the early signs of aging.

And thanks to Geologie, there’s an easy way to get everything you need to build your own personal skincare routine. So if the idea of a one-and-done skincare solution appeals to you, read on to find out why recently named Geologie the best skincare subscription of the year.

Right now you can also save 80% on a Geologie personalized skincare regimen trial set, now just $10 with code SPY80

Buy: Geologie Personalized Skincare Trial Set Only $10 With Code SPY80


Geologie, best skincare routine

Geologie, best skincare routine

Get the Best Skincare Routine for You With 1 Purchase

We’ve talked about building a basic skincare routine, but what about your particular skincare needs? There’s no shortage of skincare problems for guys to worry about, from excess oil and wrinkles to chronic breakouts. With all of these personal factors, how can anyone build the perfect skincare regimen with one purchase?

Geologie has a simple solution: customers take a short online quiz, and the brand’s technology then builds a customized skincare kit with Geologie’s dermatologist-backed products.

“Personalization is really really important, and helpful because no skin is the same,” said Dr. Xu. “Skin is so different, people have different susceptibilities in terms of oil production and sensitivity and dryness, and that changes with the environment.”

He described how a certain SPF might be necessary for someone with fair skin, but too oily for someone else. That’s why Geologie has dozens of different skincare routines, which takes the guesswork out of building the best skincare routine.

“Same thing with the retinoid at night. Some people are oil producers, and they need a higher percentage to get the benefit, and some are really sensitive so they would benefit from just the lowest percentage, or even none at all because they can’t tolerate it,” Dr. Xu told us.


How to Personalize Your Skincare With Geologie

1. Take Geologie’s Skincare Diagnostic Quiz

On Geologie’s website they have a skincare quiz that’ll help you narrow down the products you need, and eliminate the ones you don’t. It’s a few simple questions about your current routine, your usual complexion, and any potential issues you’re trying to address.

Geologie skincare diagnostic quiz

Geologie skincare diagnostic quiz

2. Get Your Personalized, Evidence-Based Results

After you take the quiz, Geologie will email you your diagnostic results. You’ll get a personalized 2-step morning and evening routine and a regimen number unique to you and your needs.

Geologie skincare regimen

Geologie skincare regimen

3. Receive Your Personalized Trial Set

Geologie offers trial sets of all of their products, so you can test the regimen they diagnose for you without committing to full-size products. If you’re not satisfied, you can easily pivot. If you are, you can purchase a 3-month supply easily via their website, and sign up for automatic restocks so you never run out.

Geologie skincare set

Geologie skincare set

As Dr. Xu explained, the best skincare routine is the one that you’ll consistently stick to, which is why simplicity is so important.

“For Geologie we try to make those distinctions and make them actually matter. So I’m not going to force you to answer 700 questions to then give you the same regimen. I think for us it was very evidence-based where every regimen we have there’s a logical, evidence-based reason for why you’re getting that, not because I just want to collect your data and never look at it again,” said Dr. Xu.

“When you have differences without distinction I think it’s, in some ways, dishonest. I think that we’ve done a really good job of doing personalization not for the sake of it but because it delivers results.”

Don’t forget! You can save 80% on one of Geologie’s personalized skincare trial sets, now just $10 with the code SPY80. This is a discount exclusive to SPY readers, so don’t miss out!

Buy: Geologie Personalized Skincare Trial Set Only $10 With Code SPY80


Geologie skincare routine, best skincare routine

Geologie skincare routine, best skincare routine

Geologie’s Best Products: Chosen By a Dermatologist

When asked for his favorite Geologie products, Dr. Xu went with their AM cream, PM cream and eye cream.

“I think if you just do our AM cream which has a great sunscreen, a very elegant cosmetic feel, and our PM cream that’s got a retinol in it that’s active and potent, that’s going to do so much of the heavy lifting. Just commit to those two things, once in the morning once at night just like brushing your teeth, and stick with it.”

Geologie Vital Morning Face Cream SPF10

Geologie morning face cream, best skincare routine

Geologie morning face cream, best skincare routine

Buy: Geologie Vital Morning Face Cream $22.50


Geologie 0.3% Retinol Night Cream

Geologie repairing night cream

Geologie repairing night cream

Buy: Geologie 0.3% Retinol Night Cream $55.00


Nourishing Anti-Wrinkle Under Eye Cream

Geologie eye cream, best skincare routine

Geologie eye cream, best skincare routine

Buy: Geologie Nourishing Eye Cream $29.00


Geologie Exfoliating Cleanser

Geologie exfoliating cleanser

Geologie exfoliating cleanser

Buy: Geologie Exfoliating Cleanser $7.50


Do I Even Need a Skincare Routine?

I asked Dr. Xu what he would say to skincare skeptics — all you men out there who have a bar of soap, a sink and a towel and think that’s all you need for your best skincare routine.

“You do you… And I think for a lot of guys, you may not care when you’re 20 but you will care in your 30’s, you’ll definitely care in your 40’s, and by the time you’re in your 50’s it’s kind of too late,” said Dr. Xu.

“I look at skincare like healthcare, out of so many guys it’s probably hard to find one that is like ‘exercise is not important’ or ‘getting enough sleep is not important’ or ‘having a good work/life balance is not important.’ And I think for me skincare is wellness, it is healthcare. It’s not necessarily about looking young forever or fixing wrinkles, but that this is a part of being healthy and taking care of oneself.”


Ready To Build Your Own Skincare Routine? Try Geologie

Now that you’ve learned how to build the best skincare routine for your face, all you have to do is head to Geologie and take the online quiz.

Of course, you can also order Geologie products a la carte. You can also spend hours researching the best retinoids, face washes and moisturizers with SPF on your own, but we don’t recommend it. Geologie is a subscription skincare brand for men with award-winning products, and if you’re a guy who’s looking to build a great skincare routine without the headache, you should definitely check them out.

Buy: Geologie Personalized Skincare Trial Set Only $10 With Code SPY80

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