Since November is Men’s Health Awareness Month or Movember I thought it was time to try to answer the question: do men and women really have different skin?
There are skincare lines made just for men and even spas that cater to a mostly male clientele. Now is this a necessity or simply a marketing choice? If you’re a man or if you want to buy a skincare gift for a man in your life do you need to purchase the gift from a skincare line that markets to men? I have to say that spas and skincare lines that promote their products or services just to men are simply using a marketing strategy because when it comes down to it while there are differences between men and women skin that doesn’t mean that if you are a man you need to seek out a skincare line that is supposedly formulated just to your skin. What is interesting, in my opinion, in the how the whole field for men’s make-up, cosmetic procedures, and spa services has grown and continues to grow. More and more men are realizing the importance of caring for their skin on a daily basis and are embracing cosmetic procedures and services normally just done on women in order to look and feel their best.
The Nitty-Gritty: How Men and Women’s Skin Differs
Besides having facial hair, there are structural differences between a man’s skin and a woman’s. Androgen (testosterone) stimulation causes an increase in skin thickness, which accounts for why a man’s skin is about 25% thicker than a woman’s. In addition to being thicker, a man’s skin texture is tougher. …
Regardless of age, men also have a higher collagen density than women. Because collagen content is directly related to the signs of skin aging, it has been said a woman’s skin is about 15 years older than a man’s of the same age. However, men are less sun savvy than women, meaning they don’t use sunscreens, and could contribute to why the “15 year” skin age difference is not readily noticed. UV damage from the sun can add years to a man’s skin and negate the benefit of slowed intrinsic aging.
Loss of Collagen
The physical signs of aging in adults, such as wrinkles and laxity to the tissue, are closely related to the collagen content of the skin. Both men and women lose about one percent of their collagen per year after their 30th birthday. For women, however, this escalates significantly in the first five years after menopause then slows down to a loss of two percent per year.
From a superficial perspective, the texture of a man’s skin is very different than a woman’s. The texture (on a man) is rougher, and the Stratum Corneum is thicker. There is also a difference in the composition of sebum and its production. After puberty, sebum production is greater in males than in females, which is attributed to androgen secretions and accounts for why men have longer lasting acne. The cells in a man’s sebaceous glands have more positive receptors for androgens, which explains why they produce more sebum. Interestingly, redness, proliferation of the sebaceous glands and swelling of the skin on the nose, (a condition known as rhinophyma that is found in extreme cases of rosacea) is only seen in males. It is unknown if this condition is controlled by androgens in a similar capacity as sebum production.
Do Men and Women Need Different Skincare Products?
So now that we’ve established that there are indeed differences in men and women’s skin do men and women really need difference skincare products? I would answer that question with a resounding no. Discovery Fit and Health agrees:
On a biological level, yes, men’s and women’s skin differ. The male of our species tends to boast a thicker epidural layer with larger pores that clog with dirt and oil more easily. Men also lose collagen, a skin-strengthening protein, at a slower rate than women. There’s also the whole issue of facial hair, as men usually have to factor in shaving their face regularly, which can further scrape and damage skin.
Differences in actual cleansers, however, generally amount more to marketing. Women’s skin care products have long dominated the market, and cleansers aimed at men generally revolve around looking and smelling more masculine: more spice, less fruit, more dark or clinical color schemes on the labeling. Top that off with a no-nonsense name like “MenScience Daily Face Wash,” and you have a real chance at scoring a slice of the $19.7 billion men’s grooming industry. Underneath all of this, there’s very little difference between most male facial cleansers and their female or unisex counterparts.
The real factors that determine which cleanser is right for you have more to do with your individual skin type, be it normal, dry, oily, combination or sensitive. Beyond that, consider the ingredients in your cleanser product as well as its role in your overall skin care regiment.
When it comes down to caring for their skin men need to do the same things women do – determine their skincare issues, figure out what skin conditions they need or want to to treat, and look for products with the right ingredients in order to treat and keep their skin in its best shape. If you like a certain product from a skincare line aimed at men then by all means use it, but there is no need to seek out skincare products targeted at men.
Make-up, Spa, and Cosmetic Services for Men
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post what I see as a very interesting phenomena is the increased use of make-up by men and the number of men who receive spa services and undergo cosmetic procedures. The rise in the use of make-up by men is actually a world-wide occurrence spanning Asia, Europe, and the US. Famous and influential fashion designers such as Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford have created their own beauty lines just for men. All over the world men are embracing spa services that were once thought to be just for women (read about how Brazilian men as well as UK men are adopting this trend). And finally in the US cosmetic procedures performed by doctors are on the rise for men.
Bottom Line: If Movember is supposed to raise awareness about men’s health perhaps it can help raise some awareness about men’s skincare as well. Don’t fall for slick packaging and seductive advertising, men don’t need different skincare products than women. You just need to find the right products for your skin. Remember to use your sunscreen daily, and if you feel that a little concealer and bronzer would help you look your best by all means start using them.
Sources and Further Reading:
- Is Men’s Skin Really Different From Women’s? – Details
- Allure Man: Moisturizers Even a Guy Will Use
- Allure Man: Adventures in Clarisonic Land
- The Spa Man – a UK website devoted to spa culture and skincare aimed exclusively at men
- ManFace - another UK blog devoted to men’s beauty and grooming
- For a myriad of topics connected to male spa customers and men’s skin check out the August, 2013 issue of LNE&Spa
- Tom Ford for Men: Skincare and Grooming – Ask Men
Image Golconde by Rene Magritte (from http://www.masterworksfinearts.com)