For many men, skin care is an after thought at best, and it usually comes down to using whatever facial moisturizer their partner or housemate has on hand when they are experiencing dryness or discomfort. While this may be an okay short-term solution, the skin differences between men and women mean that men’s skin care needs are different as well.
Structurally, there are differences in skin thickness, collagen density, texture, and hydration.
The skin differences between men and women comes down to hormones. Women are generally high in estrogen and progesterone, and low in testosterone. Men, on the other hand, are high in testosterone. High testosterone levels mean that men have naturally thicker, oilier skin than women.
Men’s skin is generally thicker than women’s skin. This thickness means that men can retain moisture more easily than women. However, it also means that it takes longer to exfoliate and renew. Because women’s skin is thinner, it is typically softer and more delicate in comparison.
Men are also prone to different kinds of irritation due to facial hair growth and shaving. Frequent shaving can lead to razor burn, ingrown hairs, small cuts and abrasions, and general irritation of the skin. Shaving also contributes to the presence of scar tissue, which causes areas of men’s facial skin to be tougher.
As men generally have oilier skin than women, they typically require less topical facial moisturizer in men’s skin care.
Men have a higher collagen density (ratio of collagen to skin thickness) than women regardless of age. Women also experience a more rapid loss of collagen after going through menopause before eventually evening out.
Superficially, the texture of a man’s skin is rougher and thicker as sebum production escalates after puberty.
Both men and women typically practice some form of cleansing. In reflecting the structural differences, however, men typically will use little or no moisturizer or protection for their skin except for some form of aftershave or balm after shaving. Women typically include makeup removal as part of their cleansing process and use of moisturizers to hydrate and protect their skin.
Both men and women have a lipid barrier that protects the skin from bacteria and holds in moisture. While the lipid barrier of female skin is less dense and more acidic than male skin, the function is the same, and its proper maintenance is of similar importance to the skin’s overall health.
Skin Care Tips for Both Sexes
In order to keep the skin healthy and functioning properly, it’s important for both men and women to cleanse the surface of the skin, and also exfoliate to remove the top layer of dead skin cells and excess sebum. Exfoliating is especially important for men who have excessively oily skin.
As men generally have oilier skin than women, they require less topical facial moisturizer. The best moisturizer for oily skin is one that is creamy, non-greasy, and rich in natural oils, vitamins, and nutrients.
While the lipid barrier of female skin is less dense and more acidic than male skin, the function is the same, and its proper maintenance is of similar importance to the skin’s overall health.
Finally, both male and female skin can benefit from the application of a toner or humectant. This helps to firm, tone, and protect the skin so that bacteria and impurities are kept out of the pores. Natural ingredients like aloe vera are a better choice than those that contain harsh, drying ingredients like alcohol which will do more harm than good. Moisturizers for both men and women should be applied after gently exfoliating. Exfoliation helps the skin better absorb moisture and nutrients from facial moisturizers.