Men’s vs. Women’s Skin-Care Products: Is There Really a Difference?
It’s clear that there is a distinctly different market for men’s and women’s skin-care products, but when you really get down to it, is there much of a difference? If you asked any of our female beauty editors to trade skin-care routines with their boyfriends or husbands, most would laugh at the idea (myself included!), and that’s not just because of personal preference. Contrary to what you might initially think, the answer is, yes, there are some pretty big differences between skin-care products for men versus skin-care products for women.
Aside from the most obvious contrasts — like the packaging, fragrance and names — Dr. Ted Lain, MD, board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology, explains the separations go much deeper than that and it’s because the skin is drastically different in males than females.
“Men's skin has many attributes that allow it to age differently than women's skin,” he says. “First, men's skin is 25% thicker due to higher collagen content. Second, the oil glands in men are more active, allowing for greater innate moisturization over the adult years. The aging process is more gradual from a young age in men, whereas women's skin maintains thickness and moisture content consistently until menopause, when decreasing estrogen levels cause dramatic changes.”
But what does this all mean when it comes to the products we buy? The different skin needs of men and women are typically addressed by the corresponding products, which is why trading routines may not be the best idea. “Because of the gradual decline in collagen levels starting at a young age, men should consider using retinoids to instigate collagen production earlier than women,” explains Dr. Lain. “Women's products also focus more on moisturization than men's, in an attempt to compensate for their lower sebum production.” And because women are more likely to experience adult acne from hormonal changes, many women’s products often account for that by including exfoliants, calming and acne-fighting ingredients in the formulations.
The key takeaway? Although some products are, in fact, unisex, depending on your skin’s specific needs, you should always pay attention to who the product is intended for and what ingredients are in it.