Is there really a difference between men and women’s skin? Dr Anita Sturnham, Dermatologist and consultant to pH balanced skincare brand, Sebamed, shares her knowledge on the male vs female skin structure and advice on how both sexes should be taking care of it.
You skin changes with age. As you get older, men and women will notice that skin isn’t as smooth or tight as it once was, it’s drier and more fragile and you will experience loss of elasticity and plumpness. Both men and women lose approximately 1-1.5% of their collagen every year from the age of 20. For women, however, this escalated significantly in the five years leading up to and after the menopause, speeding up to a loss of 2-2.5 % per year. The male androgens slow down the rate of collagen breakdown in men. It is thought that they create a denser, stronger network of fibres, making them harder to degrade and breakdown, as the skin ages.
Regardless of your sex, there are some general skin rules that are important to follow every day. Start your day with a gentle cleanse, to remove oil, bacteria and prep your skin for the next products you apply. Follow with a rebalancing, PH neutral toner and be sure to use a peptide-packed moisturizer and a daily sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Remember prevention is better than cure - spend time every day on a good and consistent skincare regime and you will get the very best out of your skin.
I suggest using the Sebamed Anti-Dry Day Defence Cream– its rich in active moisturising complexes that support the skin’s natural moisturising factors (NMF’s) and is ideal for both men and women’s skin.
The skin in men and women fundamentally has the same anatomy, with the same epidermal and dermal layers and cell types. Men can still experience skin sensitivity, acne and ageing much the same as women and of course still want to achieve healthy skin. However, there are some slight variations between the sexes. Adult males for example, produce approximately 10 times more testosterone than women do. Testosterone drives oil production, so men often have oiler and thicker skin and a better natural hydration. Men also have larger sebaceous glands (oil making glands) and the cells in the sebaceous (oil) glands have more positive receptors for androgens, the male hormones. This makes them more responsive to androgens than female oil glands. Regardless of age, men also have higher collagen density than women.
The pH of male and female skin differs slightly too. The average pH of male skin is lower due to higher rate of sebum production in male skin. Men can, therefore, be slightly more prone to getting blocked pores and congestion. I recommend using a salicylic acid wash to cleanse thoroughly twice a day and keep follicles clear. I also recommend a gentle ‘weekly’ exfoliation to break down oil and remove dead cells. This also helps to lift up coarse hair pre-shave. Men should avoid perfumed soaps to cleanse, as these can strip the skin of its important lipid barrier and alter the skin’s natural PH.
Men typically also have more acidic sweat than women do, which accounts for a lower pH (.05 lower) when compared to female sweat. Men usually sweat more than twice as much as women, and they are also more prone to losing more sweat when trying to regulate the same body temperature changes as women. Women are therefore thought to have a more effective sweating regulation mechanism. With this in mind, I recommend men used targeted pore detoxifying skin care, such as the Sebamed Clear Face Range.
I recommend using the Sebamed Balsam Roll On Sensitive Deodorant for Men stops odour causing bacteria and does not impede the physiological functions of the sweat glands. With high skin tolerance, its pH 5.5 value of healthy skin supports and protects the natural barrier function of the skin’s acid mantle.
Whilst habits are changing, many men spend less time looking after their skin on a daily basis. Surveys have shown that men are generally less sun-savvy than women, meaning they don’t use or reapply sunscreens. UV damage is responsible for 80% of premature skin ageing, so despite the anatomical differences that help men’s skin to age better, the lack of protection often makes women and men’s skin of the same age look similar, despite the fact that men have thicker skin and more resilient collagen.
A women’s face goes through many changes as she ages. From adult acne, pigmentation, uneven skin tone, wrinkles and dryness and menopausal skin, women can experience all manner of issues. For women, the dominant sex hormone is called oestrogen. This hormone makes our sebum slightly thinner than men’s do, so women are less prone to congestion from oil alone.
As you move from your teen to your 20s, your puberty hormones start to stabilise and as a result, many women can see a reduction in acne. During your 20s, skin has a healthy turnover however, from your late 20’s onwards, your collagen, elastic and hyaluronic acid levels will deplete and by mid 30s, you might see an increase in UV damage and fine lines and wrinkles start to appear. I’d recommend adding in pigment stabilising antioxidants in a serum form. Look for ingredients such as Vitamin C 20% and ensure that your skincare range is pH neutral. By the time women approach their mid to late 40’s they move into the peri-menopausal phase of life. This is the stage leading up to the menopause, which for some women can last up to 10 years. During this time, hormone levels start to change. Notably Oestrogen depletes further, leading to breakdown of our important skin scaffolding protein fibres, collagen and elastin. We also see testosterone levels start to decline, oil production reduces, and skin is more prone to dryness and sensitivity. Men also go through a similar story, with falling levels of male sex hormones leading to increased skin dryness and sensitivity.
In turn, women see cellular turnover has declined significantly, and there is a build-up of old dead skin, making pores look larger and skin look dull and lifeless. The production of collagen and elastin declines, whilst the rate of collagen breakdown increases. This results in lines, wrinkles and sagging skin. During this phase, it is worth increasing exfoliation to twice weekly, to speed up cell turnover, with a mild exfoliator such as the Sebamed Clear Face Gentle Scrub. I’d also recommend adding in some hydrating serums after your cleanse and toner and use gentle hydrating moisturisers morning and night.