Skincare for Men vs. Women: Is There a Difference?

                                                                                                                                                  Photo's courtesy of Lancer Skincare

Skincare is for everyone, although the marketing for facial cleansers and anti-aging moisturizers may make it seem like there’s a very strict gender divide. While there are many similarities in skincare for men vs. women, there are also some key differences. Today, we’re exploring the differences in men’s vs. women’s skin and talking about how men can build a skincare routine (including a shaving routine) that works for their skin’s unique needs.

Men’s Skin vs. Women’s Skin

While there are more similarities than not between men’s and women’s skin, there are also some key differences between them due to different hormone levels. For one, men’s skin tends to be between 20-25% thicker than a woman’s skin, resulting in a rougher texture when compared to women’s thinner skin.

Men’s collagen also decreases at a constant rate over the course of their life, while women’s tends to sharply fall off after menopause due to rapidly changing hormones. Due to this extra collagen, men tend to show signs of aging later than women do, all other things being equal. However, men are also much less diligent about wearing sunscreen, and all that UV exposure tends to hasten signs of premature aging, so this difference in apparent age isn’t always that visible when it comes down to it.

Men also have more active sebaceous glands and larger pores, which means that their skin tends to be more oily than that of women. This isn’t to say that some men don’t have dry skin or some women don't have oily skin; just that men’s skin is more oily on average than women’s. Because of this, many women’s skincare products are more focused on hydration and moisturization when compared to men’s products.

Adult women may also be more prone to hormonal acne due to the constant changes of their monthly cycle. That’s why many products targeted toward women focus on exfoliating away dead skin cells, reducing inflammation, and otherwise managing the side effects and causes of adult acne.

On the other hand, men tend to shave their faces way more often than women (although some women have been experimenting with removing very fine hair on their faces thanks to the dermaplaning trend). Shaving can be quite sensitizing for the skin, especially when it’s done daily. Shaving may remove the top layer of skin, resulting in redness, irritation, nicks, cuts, ingrown hairs, razor bumps, razor burn, and more. This is why many men’s skincare products are geared around shaving the face specifically.

Building a Men’s Skincare Routine

When it comes to building a skincare routine, the basic building blocks of a 3-step skin care routine are the same regardless of gender: everyone needs at least a cleanser, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen. However, men may wish to choose slightly different products in order to cater to the specific needs of their skin.

For one, most men don’t wear cosmetics, which means they can skip an oil cleanser or makeup wipes unless they wear a water-resistant sunscreen that is extremely hard to remove. Instead, they can go straight to a facial cleanser that features ingredients like acids that help with oil control. Then they will want to follow that up with a light lotion or water gel cream that will soak right into the skin and prevent water loss without making them look greasy.

Finally, men will want to end their skincare routine with an anti-aging sunscreen in the morning. Men with facial hair will need to be careful with mineral and tinted sunscreens, which can leave visible product buildup behind on their beard and mustache. Instead, we recommend looking for a chemical sunscreen that goes on clear and soaks in quickly. These sunscreens are usually much more pleasant to use and don’t leave residue behind in facial hair.

Tips for Skincare and Shaving

We can’t talk about skincare for men without talking about shaving since that daily habit has a huge impact on men’s skin. Shaving after a shower is a great idea because all the hot water will soften your skin and hair and make it easier to remove. Make sure that your face is free of excess oil and dead skin cells—which your facial cleanser should have washed away in the shower anyways.

Using a pre-shave oil can help soften the skin and hair further and make the shaving experience more comfortable. Regardless of whether you use a pre-shave oil or not, you should then apply a coat of shaving foam or gel all over the area you plan to shave. Try to shave in the direction of the hair, which will help to prevent razor burn and ingrown hairs. Rinse your razor after every single swipe to ensure that you are getting the closest shave possible. Be careful with shaving acne or patches of irritated skin, and consider giving your face a break when you need to.

Check your razor for dullness each time before you shave; most blades or cartridges need to be changed every half dozen shaves or so in order to ensure they are sharp enough. Shaving with a dull blade increases your risk of cuts, nicks, and infection. To prevent bacteria from growing on your razor, store it in a dry place. Do not leave it in the shower or next to a wet sink, as the constant moist air will encourage the growth of bacteria and mold.

Once you're done shaving, follow up with an after-shave balm or a rich moisturizer to nourish the skin. If you have sensitive skin that is easily irritated by shaving, look for shaving products specifically marketed for sensitive skin. These products usually lack alcohol, fragrance, and other potential irritating ingredients.

Have you tried skincare products specifically marketed to men or women? If so, what differences did you find, if any? Do you have any favorite product recs for men? Let us know in the comments below!