A stroll down the skincare aisle of any given grocery store, pharmacy, or beauty store is likely to look the same.
90% of the shelves are filled with colorful, scented, and varied products until you get to the other 10% of musty-scented 3-in-one moisturizers and cleansers, all packaged in gunmetal gray bottles with the words “FOR MEN” on the front.
Men still experience issues and variations with their skin but have not experienced the rigorous marketing and education around skincare that women have.
Not only that, but their options at the store are also extremely limited.
This has many men wondering if they can even use a “woman’s” skincare product to fix their problems or reaching straight for their wife or girlfriend’s products instead.
The emergence of this 10% product share is relatively new, but the idea of having specifically gender-targeted products is not.
Generation X, along with the clean beauty revolution, have brought products marketed as gender-neutral or unisex to beauty and skincare shelves.
But it begs the question – are skincare products “gendered” only on the surface of a package or do the formulas differ?
The Difference between Men’s and Women’s Skin
There’s also a lot of overlap between men and women in their ideal skin goals; they want their skin to be smooth, healthy, and young-looking for as long as possible.
However, dermatologists have concluded that yes, there is a difference between men’s and women’s skin, so the route to achieving these skincare goals will differ slightly.
The first and most obvious difference between a man and a woman’s skin is the amount and thickness of facial hair.
The presence of more facial hair means that men also have more sebum, or oil, on their skin.
This helps to explain why men and young boys are more likely to have acne than women their age.
A man’s decision to shave vs. grow out their facial hair also plays a massive role in his skin condition.
Though men tend to have more oily skin, shaving frequently may dry the skin out, especially when using shaving cream.
Men are also more prone to having ingrown hairs on their faces.
Alleviating this may add a step to their skincare routines that women typically don’t have.
Men who experience dryness after shaving should reach for a moisturizer or after-shave balm to lock in moisture and soothe any irritation.
Beard sporting men often say that “with a great beard comes great responsibility“, which can be very true.
Beards can lock in sweat, dirt, and residue from beard oils and food, causing acne.
Part of the responsibility of keeping a beard healthy is making sure the skin underneath it is healthy, clean, and moisturized.
Men’s skin also differs on a hormonal level.
Due to the production of androgens (i.e. testosterone), a man’s skin is about 25 percent thicker than that of a woman’s.
Thicker skin also means more collagen, a key player in keeping the skin firm and smooth.
Both men and women lose collagen at the same rate throughout most of their lives until menopause when the skin starts to thin more rapidly.
Thinning skin is a huge determinant of signs of age in the skin, including wrinkles and sagging, so men may start reaching for stronger anti-aging products later in life than women.
All in all, men and women’s skin does differ, but it’s also similar in many ways, especially with the things we want to avoid.
Most skincare products contain many of the same ingredients, just in different doses, and wrapped up in different packaging.
Whichever product you choose to try is up to you, but the main driver should be to address what exactly you want that product to solve rather than which packaging appeals to your eyes.
Skincare – It’s Not just a Woman’s Game
Sure, skincare products may be new to the grocery store aisles, but they’re not new to men.
Men have been using skincare just as long as women!
The ancient Egyptians had some skincare secrets of their own.
Men have used scented oils and ointments as far back as 10,000 BC.
Oils and creams were used to protect against the sun and dry desert heat as well as to mask odors.
Some ancient Egyptian artworks even depict men wearing decorative makeup.
For as long as history can recall, humans have always wanted a well-groomed, healthy partner that stands apart from the rest, and it’s no different today.
Skincare is not just a woman’s game, and it never has been, so self-care shouldn’t be stigmatized as such.
Can Skincare Products be Shared?
Using a product that skews as masculine or feminine won’t hurt you either, no matter which gender you identify with.
Like any smart shopper, you should get to know what your skin type and needs are and read the label before trying out any product.
You may find that a men’s product works best for you or you prefer the scent of a woman’s product.
Either way, it’s your call to make!
Unisex skincare is likely to become the new norm.
Many brands are doing away with rose gold packaging for “women’s products” and dark blue bottles for men, but you don’t need to reach for a product specifically noted “unisex” either.
The clean beauty industry is ushering in a new standard for product packaging and ingredients.
The “no nonsense” approach to skincare often brings simple, neutral-colored packaging that tells you exactly what you’re going to get from using it.
Is it for men, women, or specifically unisex?
Who cares – it works for everyone.
Whether you’re looking to break some gender stereotypes, find a product you can share with a partner, or are on the hunt for a no-nonsense skincare product that is proven to work for all skin types, here’s a list of products that help tackle the big skincare issues for both sexes.