Everything you need to know about caring for men's skin

We compare the differences between men and women’s skin and ask the question, can men use women’s skincare products?

Gone are the days when men splashed a bit of cold water over their face and declared their grooming ‘done’.

Men today are well aware that they need to care for their skin just as much as women do.

In fact, anyone who enjoyed the second season of Married At First Sight New Zealand will recall that groom Dave McLelland had a more elaborate skin care routine than his wife Julie.

Kiwi beauty editor Tracy Davis wholeheartedly approves of the shift in awareness.

“The cliché stereotype of who a typical groomed guy is has long gone and men of all ages, walks of life and vocations are more confident in seeking out their own grooming options.

“At the very least most guys have a grasp on the basics of looking after their skin - washing their face with a cleansing product and using sunscreen.

“But I know there has been a significant increase in guys seeking professional hair removal options, for example. From lasering their backs to the classic waxing combo of nose, ears and even brows, they want excess hair gone.

“Another example is the opening of the first men’s skin clinic in Auckland a couple of years ago where guys can sip on a complimentary whiskey, beer or sparkling water in a masculine waiting room prior to having their blackheads extracted, rough skin resurfaced or rosacea calmed.

“Along with a surge in skincare ranges specifically created for men from mass market brands through to boutique brands, I’ve noticed skincare brands in general are going for a pared-back look and feel with formulas that lack any overtly feminine fragrance. This gives them more of a unisex appeal."

While unisex products or products specifically for men are on the rise, there is also no reason why men can’t use women’s products though.

The differences between men and women's skin

Men’s skin is significantly different to women’s because it’s designed to grow facial hair. It’s 20 per cent thicker than women’s with a higher collagen density, and men produce more sebum (because hair follicles produce natural oils).

Men also sweat twice as much as women and their sweat has a lower pH due to the production of lactic acid, so every time they work up a good sweat they’re effectively moisturising their skin through a combination of perspiration and lactic acid.

All of this means that men tend to have better hydrated skin than women, and not show their age as quickly. But they often suffer more from acne as teens.

(Men metabolise collagen at a constant rate which means they age slowly and steadily. In comparison women’s skin begins ageing rapidly once they hit menopause due to accelerated collagen loss.)

When men do begin to show signs of ageing their lines are deeper, in the form of pronounced smile, laughter and frown lines.

However, the fundamental basics that men need to keep their skin healthy are the same as women:

  • a gentle soap-free cleanser to wash away the day’s grease, grime and pollution without stripping the skin
  • a moisturising product to maintain a healthy barrier function
  • a broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent UV damage which might otherwise lead to premature aging and skin cancer

“If there’s a specific skincare concern such as rosacea or pigmentation, a skincare-savvy guy can add a treatment product like a serum, just as a woman would,” Tracy adds.

“And if they shave, they’re going to want to do it with a specific shave product to help soften hair and minimise razor burn or trauma to the skin.”

Tracy concludes, “Our skin is our body’s largest organ and our protective covering so it deserves special attention and respect, regardless of gender or age.”

 

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