Skin care should not necessarily be approached with a one-size-fits-all routine. In order to understand how to protect it, it’s important to recognize the genetic and environmental factors that affect its health and appearance. For instance, the biological makeup of men and women causes major differences in the way our bodies function. For skin, therefore, what works for women may not for men, and vice versa.
The skin is the largest multi-functional organ in the human body. The average adult has about eight pounds of skin covering roughly 22 square feet. It has many functions, from providing useful information about physiological health to serving as a water-resistant barrier. Skin can also:
- Withstand natural wear and tear
- Fight off bacterial invasions, infections and chemicals
- Protect against harmful ultraviolet rays
- Maintain body temperature
- Receive stimuli from the physical world
- Absorb and excrete substances
- Help regulate the flow of water and electrolytes
There are three layers of skin tissue: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The epidermis, or outer layer, controls color pigmentation and replaces dead cells with fresh ones. The dermis, or middle layer, houses nerve endings, pain receptors, blood vessels, hair follicles and collagen. The hypodermis, or subcutaneous layer, protects your organs by serving as a shock absorber.
When selecting skin care products, consider your skin type so as not to choose an option that is incompatible. “Skin type” refers to the texture, color, sensitivity and other characteristics of your epidermis.
How Does Facial Skin Differ From the Rest of the Body?
Your face is probably one of the most sensitive areas on your body and therefore requires extra protection — especially since it is often exposed to UV rays. The skin on your face can also be more susceptible to hormonal changes because it has the highest number of sebaceous glands. Failing to clean these glands can cause oil buildup and acne. However, using soaps that remove too much oil can make skin dry and irritated.
The top layer of skin on your face, called the stratum corneum, is thin, delicate and can be more easily damaged. Although men have a slightly thicker layer, facial cleansers with harsh chemicals or rough exfoliants can still harm it and make you more susceptible to rashes and burns.
How Does Men’s Skin Differ From Women’s?
Many of the features that are unique to men’s skin are due to hormones, namely androgens, which regulate the development of male characteristics. In fact, testosterone (a specific type of androgen) makes the skin structurally different: For men, skin is about 25% thicker than for women, so the texture is tougher.
Collagen is the main structural protein found in tissues and is responsible for skin strength and elasticity. When collagen levels decrease, it can lead to wrinkles and premature aging. Most men have a higher collagen density than women, which makes them less likely to show early signs of aging. Plus, because they have thick skin (literally), it tends to be more resilient and helps keep them looking more youthful for longer.
Additionally, men typically produce more hair than women, leading to repeated wear and tear from razors and buildup of beard creams and oils. Generally, men have more hair follicles on the face than women. When clogged, these follicles can produce more acne and ingrown hairs. On top of that, men tend to produce more sebum, or natural oil, than women, despite having smaller oil-secreting glands.
Understanding Your Skin Type
Even with the structural differences in male and female skin, the basic elements remain the same. Here are the most common skin types:
- Sensitive — You tend to experience irritation when using over-the-counter products.
- Average — You don’t usually have a problem with cleansers and cosmetics.
- Dry — Your face may be flaky, itchy or have patches of roughness.
- Oily — You produce a lot of oil, making your skin look especially shiny.
- Combination — Depending on the area, your face can be dry or oily.
Men’s Vs. Women’s Skincare Marketing
With all these distinctions, it makes sense that men and women would approach skin care differently. However, when it comes to facial regimens, most products and marketing campaigns are targeted toward women. Men have customarily maintained simple (or nonexistent) beauty routines. Traditional gender norms, apathy for matters of appearance and/or insecurity have often kept men from investing in useful, worthwhile cosmetics.
However, despite the divide in marketing tactics, proper skin care can benefit all. Plus, with the growth of the male personal care industry over the last few years, there is an increased interest in quality products.
A solid beauty routine isn’t limited to gender. Everyone should take particular care of their skin, especially in the summer heat. For seven easy ways to incorporate healthy skin care habits into your routine, check out our infographic.
Inforgraphic provided by Blume Skin & Body
Sandra Caldwell is Chief Operating Officer for Blume Skin & Body, a company specializing in nonsurgical cosmetic skin treatment procedures. She has more than 20 years of experience in the industry and focuses on medical aesthetics, laser treatments and retail operations.