Skincare for men: What’s the difference?

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Have you ever noticed how skincare for men is marketed differently than products geared towards women? Marketing would have us believe that men will only do the least complicated skincare routine with the least amount of steps. On the other hand, we’re led to believe that women are willing to spend far more time, money, and effort when it comes to skincare. 

But is there any biological difference between men and women when it comes to the skin?

Is men’s skincare different?

Everyone has their own skincare preferences, and the products we use depend on a lot of factors like age, lifestyle, and skin conditions. But is men's skin different? And if so, is men’s skincare different? 

Here are some of the primary structural differences between men’s skin and women’s. Many of these differences likely have to do with testosterone.

  1. Men have thicker skin

    It’s about 25% thicker than women’s. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be gentle with your skin (especially facial skin). It also doesn’t mean that men can’t have sensitive or reactive skin that gets irritated by certain ingredients or environmental factors.

  2. Men have more collagen

    Collagen is responsible for elasticity. Your body starts to slow down collagen production around age 25-30. But since men have more collagen, addressing sagging skin and general anti-aging may not be a primary concern until later in life. 

  3. Men exfoliate frequently without even realizing it

    Shaving your face on a regular basis provides light exfoliation, which gets rid of dead skin and encourages cell turnover. Just be gentle and be careful of irritating and highly astringent ingredients in your shaving cream or aftershave.

  4. Men have larger hair follicles and more of them

    This can mean more ingrown hairs (those small irritated bumps that form when hair curls back into the skin instead of growing out of it). A little extra exfoliation with a scrub twice per week can help prevent ingrown hairs.

  5. Men produce more sebum

    Oil is not your skin’s enemy. Our skin makes sebum, a natural oil that provides hydration. However, increased sebum production can lead to frequent breakouts.

Should men have a skincare routine?

Everyone has skin and it needs to be cared for. The products and routine you use will depend on your lifestyle, skin goals (e.g. reducing oiliness), any skin conditions you have, and your age. 

Although men tend to have thicker skin, it’s not immune to skin issues, pollution, or irritants. Men can have sensitive skin and tend to be more acne-prone because of increased oil production.

So should men have a skincare routine? Absolutely. Your skin is your largest organ after all. You need to keep it clean, hydrated, moisturized, and protected from the sun. 

Skincare tips for men

Here are some tips that will help you cover the essentials. You’ll want to make modifications to which ingredients you use based on age and whether you have acne-prone or sensitive skin.

Find the right cleanser

If your skin feels dry or tight after cleansing, it’s time to look for a gentler cleanser. A harsh cleanser could make you oilier than before, leaving you battling breakouts as your skin tries to rehydrate itself by producing even more oil. 

If you’re prone to breakouts, look for exfoliating and acne-fighting ingredients like:

  • LHA (lipo-hydroxy acid)

  • Benzoyl peroxide

  • Salicylic acid

  • Glycolic acid

To repair and maintain your skin’s barrier, look for:

  • Ceramides

  • Niacinamide

  • Squalane

Handle your skin with care

After a long day or a sweaty workout, you’ll really want to get in there and clear those pores with your cleanser. But don’t be too rough. Let the products do the work and use slow, gentle motions to thoroughly cleanse your skin. No need for harsh scrubbing.

Stay safe in the sun (and out of it)

Did you know that sunburn significantly increases your risk of skin cancer? And without the proper protection, anyone can get sunburnt. That’s why no matter your skin tone, sunscreen is essential. Dermatologists recommend a minimum of SPF 50.

Find out if a mineral or chemical sunscreen suits you better. Then wear it every day (yes, even inside and even when it’s overcast) and hang out in the shade whenever you can.

Understand how beards play into skincare

During the stubble phase, use an exfoliating scrub once or twice weekly especially if you tend to get ingrown hairs. 

Once your beard grows in, keep it looking and feeling good with a beard conditioner or oil. Beard oils work best for men with normal or dry skin, while conditioners are a better option if you’re acne-prone. You can use these types of beard moisturizers in lieu of SPF in the areas where you’ve got a full beard to protect your skin.

If you decide to shave, do it at night or immediately after showering. That’s when the hair will be softest, lowering the risk of irritation.

Don’t be intimidated. Have a little fun!

Skincare is for everyone. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy a luxurious face mask on a Sunday evening or adding a new hydrating serum to your daily routine.

When to consult a dermatologist

If you have acne that is painful, cystic or isn’t responding to a solid acne-fighting routine, you should reach out to a dermatologist. 

It’s also important to keep an eye on moles. If they change in size or colour, consulting a dermatologist is your safest bet.

Remember, your skin is your largest organ. Take care of it and get it checked out if you’re ever experiencing persistent issues or feeling unsure.

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