Writer: John Alliage Morales
Inside cosmetic stores nowadays, his and her products line up the shelves, neatly tucked in separate aisles that seem to delineate femininity and masculinity by a beauty industry exploiting men’s emerging vanity obsession.
Skincare lines, which used to target the female populace, now carry an array of beauty essentials dedicated to the growing male market: his products packaged in masculine hues, scented in woody perfumes. In the past six years alone, product launches for men’s grooming rose by 70 percent worldwide. Beyond culture and the economics of catering to men, however, should there be really separate products from the dermatological standpoint?
The answer lies skin deep.
Under the skin
Male skin, studies say, is thicker—in fact, 25 percent thicker than female’s. Males produces more collagen, the type of connective tissue that makes skin supple
Men also sweat more—40 percent more, to be exact—and have more hair on their bodies.
Women, meanwhile, carry more fat in their body. They have more subcutaneous fat, and store five to 10 percent more than their male counterparts. They also secrete less sebum and stop secreting this oil after menopause, unlike men who produce this substance throughout their life.
These differences have something to do with the interplay between estrogens and androgens. Sex hormones and adaptations explain why men and women have different ways of addressing skin problems.
Females tend to look older and get wrinkles easily, because their skin is thinner, which is caused by less collagen production. Studies show that women’s skin ages much faster — the quality of a woman’s skin is said to be 15 years “older” than the skin of man of the same age. The difference, though, is not markedly noticeable, since women generally take better care of their skin.
Women are at another disadvantage: biology dictates that they store more fats under the skin, which if not burned, turns into wiggly cellulite that sits on the hips and thighs.
And because women have less sebum,
they have coarser and drier skin as they
age. Female skin is also more functionally responsive than male’s – which is why
women are more sensitive and more prone to redness and irritation to skincare products.
Men rarely encounter these problems, and they have additional benefits of producing more sweat, enabling the body to hydrate itself better, and having body hair that works as a natural anti-UV protector. However, being a man has its downsides, too: fighting odor and bacteria is a tougher battle for the so-called stronger sex.
Gender and cosmetics
Dr. Michael Tick, a lab director at the Institute for Skin Sciences, says that these subtle differences are important in considering skincare products that address gender-specific derma concerns.
For instance, odor control is harder to address in male than female, because one, their body is covered with more hair than female and sweat stays longer on their bodies. Products that minimize pores and control facial oil, meanwhile, are better
for males, who produce more sebum.
Women, meanwhile, have to consider pH levels as their skin is easily irritated by chemicals. These days, there are more anti-aging products dedicated to women who biologically produce lesser collagen
and have thinner skin.
Dr. Tick, a biochemist, suggested that men and women should pay close attention to
the ingredients present in their products.
Men should look for Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Oil, Flax Seed, and Milk Thistle—those products with higher molecular structure—to protect larger pores, he said. Ingredients such Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera should be able to tone male skin.
Women, on the other hand, should use tightening serums that contain ingredients such as Collagen, Grade Seed Extract, Hawthorne Berry Extract, and Green Tea Extract. According to Dr. Tick, moisturizing or reparative creams that include Aloe Vera, Calendula, Vitamin E, Elastin protein, and Hyaluronic acid are more appropriate for women’s skin.
When men began to clamor for their own line of skincare products, the industry initially responded by reformulating scents and repackaging existing ones. Advances in skin sciences though shed light on the microscopic nuances of the female and male skin, providing an objective look that catering to female’s beauty and male’s grooming needs is beyond marketing strategy. It is, in fact, scientific.