While the skincare industry has undoubtedly plumped up the differences between men and women’s skin, there are some distinctions. As Dr. Jeremy Brauer, NYU Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology explains, “There are a number of ways that men’s skin is different than women’s. Not only is men’s skin thicker, it tends to be oilier.” Women’s collagen levels also deplete a bit more rapidly causing slightly more visible aging, especially after menopause. And the pH of men’s sweat is 0.05 lower than women.
But—and this is the crucial point—these differences have almost no bearing on what ends up being good for your skin. As Brauer puts it, “When it comes to skincare ingredients, the patient’s gender isn’t really a factor.” All skin likes to be clean, soft, and dewy. And those statistical gender differences are far from absolute. Some women have oilier skin. Some men have drier skin. Many men definitely have thinner skin (wink, wink). We’re all just individuals who like nice things. “I always customize my skincare advice to the individual patient, regardless of gender,” Brauer says. So just because men’s skin tends to be oilier on average doesn’t mean it demands an industrial-grade solvent blended with discarded peppermint candy canes to get fresh after a workout (looking at you, Irish Spring).
The bigger challenge, as it so often is, is getting men to admit they have a problem. Dr. Brauer explains, “While men are much more advanced at and interested in grooming than ever before, there are many that still need to work on the basics...The basic trifecta is to cleanse, protect with a broad spectrum sunscreen, and moisturize. Also, it can’t be said enough, but drinking water.”
So stop stealing a spot of cleanser here, dribble of lotion there from the ladies in your life from the shadows. Steal them proudly. Or better yet, pick up a bottle or two of your own. There are plenty of wonderful unisex brands to try if hers is still too pink for you.