Understanding the difference between male and female skin

There are differences in gender regarding the manifestation of certain skin disorders. Picture:Pexels/Angela Roma.

There are differences in gender regarding the manifestation of certain skin disorders. Picture:Pexels/Angela Roma.

Published Nov 28, 2023


Men and women have different health-seeking behaviours, and this also is true for both skin problems and skincare.

Women tend to be more active in caring for their skin, as well as in seeking help from dermatologists.

Meanwhile, gender also plays a role in susceptibility to certain skin disorders.

Infectious diseases are more often seen in men, while pigmentation disorders, autoimmune disorders, allergic conditions, and psychosomatic skin problems are typically seen in women, according to the International Women’s Dermatology journal entry.

It also seems as if more skin diseases are female-predominant.

Male-predominant skin diseases usually occur at certain ages, especially during adolescence and old age.

In addition, certain factors such as sex hormones, behavioural factors, environmental differences, and ethnicity may play a part in these differences.

Research has revealed several key differences between men's and women's skin.

This includes variations in thickness, oil production, and ageing patterns.

These differences can have significant implications for skin care and the development of skin conditions.

One notable distinction is the thickness of the skin.

Studies have shown that men tend to have thicker skin than women, primarily due to higher levels of testosterone, which contributes to increased collagen density and skin thickness.

This difference in skin thickness can play a role in susceptibility to certain skin conditions and the effectiveness of skincare products.

Men also typically have higher sebum production levels than women - this is also due to testosterone.

Sebum is an oily substance produced by sebaceous glands and plays a crucial role in maintaining the skin's moisture level and protective barrier.

While adequate sebum production is essential for skin health, excessive oiliness can contribute to conditions such as acne.

The Harvard Health Publishing added that understanding these differences in sebum production can help tailor skincare routines and product formulations, in order to address the specific needs of men's skin.

Women's skin ages gradually, while men's skin ageing is often influenced by factors such as sun exposure. Picture: Pexels/ Angela Roma.

While women's skin ages gradually and the process is characterised by a decline in collagen and elastin production, men's skin ageing is often influenced by other factors.

These include sun exposure, which leads to more pronounced signs of ageing such as deeper wrinkles and sagging skin.

This also highlights the importance of wearing sunscreen.

The most common skin problems in men include the following:

Dry rough skin

Dry skin is a problem for men and women. Keep the skin hydrated by following a good skincare routine and using moisturisers that contain collagen, hyaluronic acid, glycerine, mineral oil, lanolin, and squalane, as these additives help lock moisture into the skin.

Vitamin E, shea butter, cocoa butter are also beneficial for skin hydration.

Oily skin and acne

As noted earlier, men’s skin produces more oil.

This can play a part in the development of acne. The combination of oil, dirt, and bacteria can clog the hair follicles, causing an inflammatory reaction, and leading to the appearance of acne lesions.

To combat this, cleanse the face at least twice daily with a gentle cleanser.

Exfoliating to remove dead skin cells, using a moisturiser and maintaining good hygiene can all help decrease skin problems.

Look for ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide which help control oil production and fight acne-causing bacteria.

Skin problems related to shaving

Male hormones contribute to hair growth on the face.

Frequent shaving can lead to skin problems such as irritation, redness, dryness, folliculitis, and ingrown hairs.

Before shaving, it is important to wash your face.

Use a clean blade or razor, and change them regularly to avoid infections.

For those with sensitive skin or curly beards – which are more prone to ingrown hairs – an electric razor is recommended as it is less irritating and easier to use.

After shaving, rinse your face with cool water to close the pores.

Gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel.

To soothe and hydrate the skin, apply an alcohol-free aftershave balm or lotion that contains calming ingredients such as aloe vera or chamomile.

What skincare products to buy

It is important to check product labels and ingredients.

Knowing your skin type and choosing appropriate products is vital for skin care.

Skin types are generally classified as sensitive, normal, dry, oily, or a combination of these.

Men typically have oilier skin, so gel formulations are more suitable for their skin.

For other problems such as acne, fine lines, wrinkles, or pigmentation, products with active ingredients such as retinoids can be used under the guidance of a dermatologist.

When outdoors, always use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on all exposed skin areas, including the ears, scalp, neck, and lips, to prevent wrinkles, dark spots, and skin cancer.

UV protective sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, hats and umbrellas, and staying in the shade are also recommended.