We’ve all seen the products emblazoned with the words ‘for men,’ but is there really a difference between men’s and women’s skincare?
So, when it comes to skincare, are there actual differences between men’s and women’s products? Or is it all smoke and mirrors (i.e. marketing)? To find out, we talked to a dermatologist, cosmetic chemist, and the lead scientist at a brand that offers products for both genders.
Cosmetic chemist founder Ron Robinson says there are big differences based on product aesthetics and skincare needs in men’s versus women’s product formulations. Nancy Ilaya, PhD, scientific director, says that texture and sensorial profiles differ between men’s and women’s ranges.
“Based on surveying the marketplace, men’s skincare products tend to be more functional in terms of packaging, regimen, ingredients, lighter weight in textures with more traditional formats – gels, gel creams, lotions; and masculine in terms of sensorial cues,” she says. “Men’s skin requires special care in the beard area as facial grooming can leave the area exposed to irritation from shaving and vulnerable to ingrown hairs.”
Contrastingly, women’s skincare products are a little more complex when it comes to ingredient combinations, claims, and regimens. “Common across many women’s skincare products on the market are formulations that have richer textures and come in several formats – creams, gels, lotions, milks, emulsions, oils, jellies,” Dr. Ilaya explains. These are largely driven by women’s engagement in skincare, diversified preferences, the self-care role of skincare, and willingness to use multiple products to manage skin needs, she adds.
Are there differences between men’s and women’s skin? The short answer is yes.
“Male skin tends to be more sebaceous and have an increased density of hair follicles,” says dermatologist Rita Linkner, MD, of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City. “That means that men require active ingredients that are higher in concentration and formulations that are able to deliver active ingredients into skin that is oilier/more glabrous.” She says that gel-based cleansers are better for men as opposed to cream-based ones that are ideal for women for this reason.
As for body products, Dr. Linkner says there are even more differences in formulation — and for good reason. “Oil glands and hair follicles increase in size and density in a male, compared to a female,” she explains. Men also typically have more body hair, a higher density of sweat glands, and oilier skin, whereas the opposite is true for women, Dr. Ilaya adds. “The key to selecting body products is to address the skin’s needs and note texture preferences,” she says.
Of course, men’s and women’s hormones vary, as well, which affects their skin respectively. “Male testosterone means men can be more body-acne prone and female estrogen means that skin quality and dryness changes with age, i.e., with menopause and pregnancy,” Dr. Linkner says. The result? Distinct product offerings. “Because of these differences, they require products that address their skin’s unique needs,” Dr. Ilaya says.
Most hair care products for men are, justifiably, focused on hair loss, Dr. Linkner says, adding that “women’s hair care products are only more recently catching onto this with female-pattern hair loss becoming demystified.” Robinson notes that men also tend to have shorter, thicker hair, so their styling needs may be different. “Men’s products tend to be lighter weight and fast-absorbing,” he says.
Similar to differences in hair product marketing, there are also differences in hair removal marketing. Robinson explains that because men shave their faces, they have a much larger category of products to address this, similar to the products on the market for women to use to shave their legs.
Pure Parker has a vast selection of skin care products for men and women.
Experts of this article from The AEDITION