So the other day I was browsing the beauty aisle, taking my time looking through the lotions and potions that were on offer. It’s something of a ritual for me, even on those days when I know that I am fully stocked at home and not looking to buy anything. My S.O. of course has very little patience for this indulgence and in frustration he asked me why I needed all these different products anyway while all he required was some shower gel and lotion.
I stuttered and stammered a bit, taken aback by his question and because I know everything (there is no way I’m going to let him catch on to the fact that this might not be entirely true), I mumbled something about hormones as I quickly made my way to the checkout line. His question stayed with me though and I found myself turning it over in my head. Did I actually need all those beauty products or was I just being extra? Could I, like him, make do with just shower gel and lotion?
As I started looking into whether male skin differs from mine in any way, I discovered that yes, the do differ and yes, it is because of hormones (told you I know everything!) It’s not only oestrogen that plays a role here as I had earlier suspected (mainly because I tend to break out around the time I am having my period) but testosterone also has a hand in this.
Thanks to testosterone, male skin tends to be 25% thicker than that of a woman and it’s also oilier. For men, their skin thins gradually with age while a woman’s skin will remain pretty much the same until menopause hit, at which point it thins significantly. Male skin also tend to have more collagen, leading to a tighter, firmer appearance and delayed signs of aging (how is this fair?)
Another difference is in the fact that men tend to retain more moisture than women which is hardly surprising given that their skin is oilier (thanks to higher sebum production). Their skin barrier function is better which means that they aren’t as prone to dry skin as women are. This issue of dry skin in women is compounded by the fact that woman have a higher skin surface pH, causing further impairment to their skin barrier functions.
The higher sebum (the skin’s natural oil) production in men means that they are more prone to acne. This coupled with their larger pores causes men to have more problematic skin when it comes to issues of clogged pores and blackheads. Their sebum production doesn’t decrease in age as it does in women.
All these factors mean that men tend to have more robust skin than women and they are therefore better able to deal with skin irritants that may affect women more easily. They also don’t have to put in as much work into ensuring that their skin stays properly moisturised throughout the day. This doesn’t mean that men don’t need the same nutrients and care as women do. It simple means that they can get away with being less ‘extra’ than women and that’s just fine with me.