When you go shopping for skincare, you’ve probably noticed this: there’s an implicit bias that everything is for women, unless labelled otherwise and perhaps enclosed in some kind of ‘tough guy’ packaging. The thing is, is there really a difference, or are men paying the equivalent of a ‘pink tax’ when it comes to men’s skin care?
It’s true that men have slightly different needs, especially in the facial hair department - but if your man keeps nicking your moisturiser, or if you’re a man that keeps nicking your partner moisturiser, this post will help decode what makes men’s skin different and what products you really need to be reaching for!
What Makes Men’s Skin Different from Women’s Skin?
There are some noticeable differences between women’s skin and men’s skin, and all of these differences come down to one thing: hormones, specifically, testosterone. Both men and women actually produce this androgen, but naturally, men have much higher levels of it.
These higher levels of testosterone are responsible for the visible (and not so visible) differences between men and women’s skin. Let’s demystify exactly how this hormone impacts men’s skin and how that should be accounted for in a men’s skincare routine.
Testosterone Makes Men’s Skin Thicker
It’s true that our natural hormones make skin different between men and women. Testosterone impacts the epidermis - the uppermost layer of skin - in a super-specific way. On average, most men have an epidermis that’s 25% thicker than women, and it can be directly attributed to higher levels of testosterone.
Men’s Skin Tends to be Oilier
Testosterone also impacts sebum production as well. Sebum is actually a crucial part of our skin’s makeup and function. It helps to ensure that skin is conditioned and smoothed, however, as most of us with oily skin know, an elevated level of sebum production can be uncomfortable and kind of annoying! On average, men tend to have oilier skin than women, which makes clay masks and exfoliators a common addition to men’s skincare kits.
Eve Lom Rescue Mask | $114
Try a sample for just $19.95!
This clay mask is perfect for mattifying shine-prone skin - no matter your gender.
Testosterone Makes Men’s Skin More Sensitive
However, that’s not the only impact that testosterone has on men’s skin. Ironically, men have skin that’s more prone to irritation - studies have found that testosterone has a negative effect on the skin barrier (aka acid mantle) function, which leaves men’s skin more sensitive than women’s skin!
Men Have More Collagen in Their Skin
This point actually ties back to the first point of men having literally thicker skin - it’s because men have a higher collagen density than women! If you compare the average collagen levels between a man and a woman of the same age, the woman has much lower collagen density - on average, she has the same collagen density as a man 15 years older than her.
I know what you’re thinking now, though - doesn’t that mean a lot of men should look younger than they really are? Well, naturally higher collagen levels can only do so much, especially when compared to lifestyle factors like sun exposure and smoking. On average, most men haven’t taken steps to preserve the higher collagen levels that they’re naturally blessed with - however, it’s never too late to start!
Sisley Night Cream with Collagen & Woodmallow | $255
Deeply moisturise and soothe with this enriched night cream from Sisley.
Facial Hair Makes a Difference
Another thing that makes a difference from men’s skin to women’s skin is facial hair. Both options - clean-shaven or a beard - impact how men’s skin looks and acts. Shaving regularly exfoliates the skin, something that helps keep breakouts at bay.
A beard takes a little more maintenance with regular washing and sometimes a beard oil to keep the hairs and skin underneath moisturised, avoiding dryness and flakiness. However, there’s one drawback to having a beard if you’re a skincare enthusiast! In most cases, skincare products just can’t reach the skin underneath a beard - and that’s something to consider before shelling out cash for skincare.
Dr Irena Eris Platinum Men Beard Oil | $81
Formulated with a rich blend of natural oils to soothe and moisturise.
Do Men Need Separate Skincare?
When it comes to men’s skincare products, here’s the bottom line: when it comes to anything like breakouts, hyperpigmentation, anti-aging - in short, anything that doesn’t have to do with facial hair - a special men’s product might not always be necessary.
There’s nothing that makes active ingredients work differently on men’s skin than women’s skin! So, guys - if your partner has a favourite moisturiser or serum that you’ve been sneaking on the down-low, it’s probably time to just buy a bottle for yourself (and maybe a new one for your partner too).
If you (or maybe someone you know, hint hint) needs to create a skincare routine, try our skin quiz! You’ll get totally custom results for your skin type and concerns (regardless of gender) to help reach your skin goals!