Men’s skincare — how different is it from women’s skincare? Should it be different? Is men’s skin really different from women’s skin? Curious and want answers? We’ve got them!
Much of skincare, indeed, is universal and not bound by gender — if you have acne-prone skin, whether you’re male or female, you should be exfoliating regularly and keeping your pores clear. Whatever your skin type, you should be maintaining a healthy skin barrier and hydrating skin and locking that moisture in. You should be applying sunscreen.
There are differences between male and female skin, though, and that’s largely because of hormones. Men have more testosterone in their bodies, which contributes to two main differences: men’s skin is thicker than women’s, and it produces more sebum.
Men’s skin is, on average, 20-25% thicker than women’s skin and also tends to have much higher collagen density. That means that men generally show signs of aging later than women do — and also that men are less likely to show premature signs of aging. If that weren’t unfair enough, collagen content in men’s skin also tends to decrease at a steady rate, whereas collagen content drops drastically in women’s skin after menopause.
(Studies show that both men and women lose about 1% of collagen in skin every year after age 30, but, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, women lose about 30% of remaining collagen in their skin in the first five years after menopause.)
On the other hand, men have more sebaceous glands and more pores, and their higher levels of testosterone mean that their sebaceous glands tend to create more sebum, leading to oiler, shinier skin that’s more prone to impurities and acne. This also means that men are usually less likely to struggle with dry skin — to be clear, though, this doesn’t mean that all men have oilier, acne-prone skin or that men never have dry skin. It also doesn’t mean that all men have thick skin! It’s just that, on average, men tend to have oilier, acne-prone skin that is thicker than most women’s.
An additional concern to take into account is that men are more likely to shave regularly. Because shaving harshly exfoliates skin, removing the surface layer every time, regular shaving can stress skin more and weaken the natural skin barrier. That, in turn, can create more sensitized skin that’s prone to irritation.
So how should men go about caring for their skin? Here are a few practical ways you can approach your skin.
1. Double cleanse!
Because men’s sebaceous glands generally produce more sebum, the excess oil can build up, clogging pores and leading to acne. That means it’s important to control the amount of oil on skin, and one of the best ways is by double cleansing — using an oil-based cleanser first, then following it with a water-based cleanser.
It might sound counterintuitive to apply oil to oily skin, but oil attracts oil, which means that an oil-based cleanser (like Aromatica’s Natural Coconut Cleansing Oil) is best able to remove oil from skin and clean out pores while hydrating and soothing skin. Following up with a water-based cleanser (like Lagom’s Cellup Micro Foam Cleanser or Atoclassic’s Real Tonic Soothing Multi Cleanser) gets at water-based impurities like sweat and dirt, while also gently removing any remaining oil or residue from the oil-based cleanser.
(While we’re talking about cleansing, why do we keep stressing gentle cleansing? Didn’t we just say that men’s skin is generally thicker, so shouldn’t it be able to withstand more? And shouldn’t we recommend something strong to get at all that excess oil? Stronger and harsher cleansers aren’t always better, though, because they’re a quick way to damage your skin barrier and, consequently, irritate and harm your skin because they strip your skin and can cause irritation. Stripping your skin dry of all its natural oils is also an easy way to trigger even more sebum production because your skin will think it’s dry and kick sebum production into overdrive. )
2. Look for mild shaving products that won’t strip skin, and always shave with a sharp razor.
Look for a shaving cream that also moisturize and hydrates — and you should be using a shaving cream! Shaving creams not only help hydrate your facial hairs, making them easier to shave, but they also create a layer of protection over your skin. Selecting a gentle shaving cream will help prevent your skin from getting too irritated or sensitized.
We also can’t stress the importance of a sharp razor enough! A dull razor will increase irritation on skin, especially if you’re having to make multiple passes to get a clean shave, and, sometimes, a multi-razor might shave too closely to skin, also increasing irritation on skin. It’s essential to remember that there are no hard and fast rules to what kind of razor you should use — if you have frequent razor burn or ingrown hairs, you may want to switch to a single- or double-blade razor. The key is to pay attention to how your skin is responding.
3. Follow your shave with a toner and lotion with soothing and hydrating ingredients.
After shaving, skin often feels tight and dry, so it’s important to soothe and hydrate your newly-shaved skin. Avoid rich and heavy products that could irritate your skin, especially after it’s already been sensitized by shaving, and, instead, look for something light with hydrating and soothing ingredients like centella asiatica extract, royal jelly extract, or squalane.
We highly recommend the brand Be the Skin for men! Be the Skin has formulated several different lines that target different concerns, with each line having a toner, serum, and cream, and we suggest mixing and matching as your skin needs. The Botanical Pore line (blue) is great for controlling acne and helping minimize the visibility of pores, while the Botanical Nutrition line (green) has antibacterial properties that make it great for an after-shave routine. The Botanical Nutrition Power line (orange) contains royal jelly extract, which helps hydrate and nourish skin, and, finally, the Purifying White Waterful line (white) helps brighten skin.
The formulas are all soothing and hydrating, absorbing quickly into skin, and they have a very light, natural scent. Rather than using the toner, serum, and cream from the same line, we recommend mixing and matching to meet your skin’s needs! For example, you might want to use the Botanical Nutrition (green) toner, the Botanical Pore (blue) serum, and the Botanical Nutrition Power (orange) cream. Or you can start with the Botanical Pore (blue) toner and follow that with the Purifying White Waterful (white) serum and the Botanical Nutrition (green) cream. Feel free to combine the products as you want; there’s no right or wrong.
And always, men, always apply SPF! Skin takes a lot of damage from the sun, even when you’re indoors because UVA/UVB rays can affect you even through glass. SPF is an essential way to protect your skin and not only prevent premature signs of aging, but also maintain overall skin health, and we highly recommend making SPF a daily habit, applying as the last step in your morning routine and re-applying periodically throughout the day.