Alex Penfold is the cofounder of Jaxon Lane, a company that creates Korean skin care products for men. Now a self-described skin care fanatic, Penfold grew up not taking care of his skin and had skin issues from his teenage years through young adulthood. He went from not wearing sunscreen so he could “get a little color” to employing a rigorous Korean-inspired five-step (sometimes ten-step) routine. Here, Penfold shares the products that helped him turn his skin around and made him realize that good habits lead to better skin. Today, the brand is launching a sunscreen and face wash.
How This Founder Went from Skin Care Newbie to Guru
Step 1: Face Wash
“Shake And Wake” Enzyme Powder Face Wash by Jaxon Lane
Every day for me begins and ends with having clean skin, just like brushing your teeth. I’ve tried everything from Cetaphil (gentle but doesn’t get the sunscreen and grime off at night), bar soaps and regular face washes (dries out the skin, which makes it produce more oil and cause breakouts), to scrubbing exfoliators (too harsh for breakouts and for daily use). I’m also on the road a lot, and it’s a pain to pack liquid face wash on flights. This is what led us to make a powder face wash that uses pineapple and papaya fruit enzymes to gently exfoliate and clean skin with vitamins B, C and E for an extra health boost. It’s super light and travel-friendly. Plus…I know I’m nerding out but… it’s pretty fun to watch as the powder transforms into a face wash by adding water. It’s like BOOM! Suds.
Step 2: Toner
AHA-BHA-PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner by Some By Mi
People cringe when I tell them that one of my go-to products is toner because they’re remembering the alcohol-based toners from the ‘90s that sting and dry out your skin. Today’s toners—especially Korean-made toners—are alcohol-free and packed with vitamins and plant extracts that are great for your skin. It’s the first step to hydrate and treat skin with great ingredients. I like this particular toner because it has a good concentration of niacinamide (vitamin B3), which is great for reducing acne, redness and inflammation. It also has plant extracts like tea tree water to soothe skin and hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin. I just splash a bit into the palm of my hands and pat it onto the skin after cleansing.
Step 3: Serum
Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum by Klairs
Step three for me is a serum, which is a more concentrated treatment that gets applied before a moisturizer. There are lots of different kinds of serums which help with different skin issues. Depending on how my skin is looking, I switch it up between hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, retinol and vitamin C (TMI, I know). One of my go-to serums is this vitamin C serum. I’m at an age where I’m getting fine lines and uneven dark patches from one too many sunburns in my 20s. When I’m jet-lagged, overworked or recovering from a night out, I find that my skin looks saggy and tired. Vitamin C is a great pick-me-up for the face. It can boost collagen production which helps skin look fuller. It also helps control melanin production which helps fade those dark sun spots.
Step 4: Sunscreen
"Rain or Shine" Daily Moisturizing Sunscreen (SPF 50+) by Jaxon Lane
The single most important part of a good skin care routine is daily sunscreen. Sure, it's nice to have a tan, but unprotected sun exposure is the single biggest cause of skin cancer—not to mention wrinkles and aging skin after your 30s. Most people don't know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and men are twice as likely to get skin cancer than women. My dad goes to the doctor to get skin cancers removed from his face and body several times a year, and comes out of each session with 14 stitches or a black eye. This is way too common, yet guys of our generation still haven't embraced daily sunscreen. This is why we set out to create a high-SPF sunscreen that is non-greasy and doesn't leave a white film, so it's easy to use every day, no excuses—rain or shine. It does double duty as a light moisturizer with great ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.
Step 5: Moisturizer
Ceramidin Cream by Dr. Jart
At night the last step in my routine is a good moisturizer. When it’s hot and humid out, I use a lighter moisturizer. In the winter when it’s cold and dry, I use this super rich moisturizer with ceramides. Ceramides are lipids (aka fat molecules) that are a natural part of our skin, and keep skin moisturized and protected from the elements. When you get older, your skin produces less lipids which makes it dry. The hallmark of a great Korean product is a cocktail of rich, natural ingredients in addition to the main active ingredients, and this moisturizer is no exception. It has probiotics and 18 plant extracts to help soothe skin and repair UV and environmental skin damage. It is perfect for days when you have dry, chapped or irritated skin.
Step 6: Sheet Mask
Bro Mask by Jaxon Lane
You guys still there? This is the last (but certainly not least) step. This is the product that started my skincare journey. Years ago, when I met my now wife and Jaxon Lane cofounder Jen Yu, she would keep these huge stashes of Korean masks in her bathroom. I found myself sneaking in there and trying these things on more often than I’d like to admit. This was back in the day when I wasn’t taking care of my skin, and I noticed a big difference from using these masks a few times a week. We realized there was a huge opportunity to bring the best-quality Korean masks to guys and make it approachable for someone who might not be super familiar with the idea. We make the Bro Mask with hydrogel, which sticks to skin way better than regular sheet masks. It is a two-piece mask, so guys with beards can skip the bottom half or use it to calm the neck after shaving. And it’s sized up for men’s faces. Nowadays I use it once a week and before big events like weddings.