How Different is Men & Women’s Skin Really?

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When you shop for skincare, do you wonder if perhaps the only differences between men’s and women’s products are the color of the bottle—and the price? If so, you’re not the only one.

The debate over whether or not men and women actually need different skin care formulas—or if it’s all a matter of marketing—has recently become a hot topic. The internet is aflutter with articles and videos by women who are suspicious about the so-called “pink tax” (when women’s products carry a higher price tag than male-focused equivalents) and put men’s skin and hair products to the test to see how they performed compared to women-specific versions.

For example, Buzzfeed’s Ladylike video bloggers documented their week-long trial swapping out their usual products for men’s drugstore versions of shampoo, deodorant, razors, etc., saving an average of $28. The verdict? For the most part, they felt the men’s products worked just as well, although they generally preferred the lighter scents and wider selection available with “women’s” products.

Chief factors differentiating many products as specifically “for men” are packaging, descriptions, and scents—not the ingredients.

While the experiment shown in this video is more fun than scientific, it begs the question:

are men and women’s skin different after all? And, if the answer is “yes,” then how do we know if skincare products are attuned to these differences?

Here’s what you need to know about male vs. female skin and how best to take care of it

The fact is that men and women do have some gender-specific skin characteristics. Hormonal differences are mainly to blame. With higher levels of androgens such as testosterone, men’s skin tends to be about 25% thicker on average. Other key differences:

  • Men have higher collagen density in the skin. For every square inch of skin, men will have more collagen fibers.
  • Men’s skin ages more gradually. Without dramatic hormone fluctuations (i.e., menopause), men do not experience the rapid acceleration in skin aging later in life that women often do.
  • Men tend to have rougher, oilier skin. Sebaceous glands are more active, secreting oily sebum at a higher rate. This is why men often have more problems with acne.
  • Men sweat more, and their sweat is more acidic. The higher lactic acid content of male sweat is thought to help hydrate the skin and offset issues related to dry skin.

It would be logical to assume that men’s skin care products would account for these differences, but that is not necessarily the case, at least when it comes to over-the-counter products. When Stylecaster author Perrie Samotin tried out a variety of premium men’s skincare products, she made an illuminating observation: the chief factors differentiating these products as specifically “for men” are the packaging, descriptions, and scents—not the ingredients.

Does this mean that all skincare products work the same? Absolutely not! There really is a tremendous variety in formula, potency, and quality among skincare options.

The fact is that every one of us, male or female, has unique skincare needs and concerns. What works for your friend, spouse, or favorite celebrity may not work for you. Instead of wondering whether a product is money well spent or just another example of the “pink tax,” talk to a professional. A board certified plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or physician-supervised, licensed aesthetician will have the knowledge and experience to guide you towards safe, effective products that will work best for your skin type. The fact that they have access to medical-grade products with greater concentrations of active ingredients will also help you see real results!

Have any questions? Give us a shout! Our Hampton roads skincare team has years of experience designing personalized skincare plans for both men and women. We’d love to help you out!