In light of Prostate Cancer Awareness month, we thought this subject was very fitting for this month. Today we’ll discuss men’s skin, the difference between male and female skin, and better ways to care for men’s skin.
What’s the Difference?
The sebum production in male skin is double that of a woman's skin.
So that means that they typically have oilier skin that is shinier as well. Oil is king (in general), and while it can create some skin problems, especially in Canada, I find that it is more beneficial to have a higher oil content in the skin because oil floats on top of water and reduces and transepidermal water loss more effectively if there is enough oil content in the skin. It is easier to control excessive oil than it is to get oil from an ‘empty well’, so to say.
In men’s skin, the sebaceous glands and the pores are much larger than in female skin and as an end result, it means that the pH value of male skin is lower than that of female skin. It does unfortunately make them a little bit more prone to skin conditions like acne.
Adult males are less prone to dry skin than adult females. From a clinical perspective, we’re continuously chasing the oil to combat dryness in female skin much more than for male skin. Yes, the water-oil balance is the key to healthy skin in anyone but the battle is much more persistent in female skin
The collagen maturity and density are different. The masculine characteristics of male skin do give it that stronger or different structure and that is determined by the higher levels of testosterone in male skin. The collagen content of male skin reduces at a more consistent rate than that of a female.
For females, the onset of the deterioration of collagen starts earlier, but it's a more subtle process than for men. For men, when you see the first signs of aging, the deterioration of the structural integrity of the skin happens more quickly. That’s just the way we differ in our aging process for males versus females.
Additionally, wrinkles that appear on men’s skin are typically much deeper than for females. The female sees thinning of the skin, and their wrinkles are a little bit finer, not as deeply grooved as that of the male skin.
Men Are Stepping up Their Skincare Game
We're in an era now of really educating men about what is really good and healthy for their skin. They're absolutely stepping up their skincare game! But let's be real, traditionally, men have not looked after their skin, as well as women, have. Now is the time though; let's get men educated about good skincare habits! I feel very strongly about this as a mom of two boys--they're not at the point of shaving, but the starting point is good skincare habits now so that when they need to take this extra step of shaving, the fundamentals are in place.
I think the key to a successful home care regime for men’s skincare is simplicity. I know if I make it too difficult, my clients don't stick to it and that’s what’s important. So, to start, I get a proper cleanser that starts to feed the cells from the cleansing step. (No more three in one body wash, face wash, and shampoo!). Next, I suggest a moisturizer. Ideally, during the day, we want to try and encourage them to wear sunscreen. At night, perhaps a more repairing/recovering type of moisturizer (if they're willing to use two separate ones). These two steps are the minimum that I want to see for men. And then they need to implement a third step for when they're shaving….
Let’s Talk About Shaving
Fun fact: according to Eucerin, on average, men who shave subject their skin to approximately 16,000 shaves in a lifetime.
Every time the blade goes to the face there are a few things in the line of fire: the microbiome, the acid mantle, and the corneocyte, the uppermost layer of the skin cells. These all have a negative effect on the skin when not present. Therefore, with shaving, the skin becomes more sensitive and reactive. Every time men shave, it removes that outermost layer of the skin essentially exposing it to external influences.
Up to 40% of men actually report shaving related skin problems. It seems more relevant in younger men with fairer skin. And we find that in men who shave frequently, the irritations become less later in life. So if we can instill healthy habits in the shaving routine, we can minimize these negative effects of shaving.
The biggest mistake shavers make is to shave and then hop in the shower. Showering first will soften the bristles and the skin. Then the shaving is more pleasant and you can actually get a closer shave this way as well!
The second biggest mistake is in the razor. Choosing the right tools makes a big difference. Let's talk about the tools that are available.
- Old foil razors might be a little out of fashion. They are typically used dry. With these razors, it seems like the ingrown hairs and the razor bumps are more frequent, but the skin is less irritated in general. Cleaning it is super important as is ensuring the foils are not broken because that will cause nicks within the skin. I do find that this particular razor works better for men who perhaps have softer hair growth.
- The next one is the rotating shaving heads. Some benefits of these are that they can bend a little bit as men push them against the skin and it feels like it is a closer shave. But this one can cause more ingrown hair in some individuals because the hair is not being shaved at a specific angle (ie - with the hair growth); it's rotating and cutting the hair at random angles. Some men tolerate this really well, others not so much. One of the big benefits of this particular razor is that it can be used wet and dry. Men can literally stand in the shower and shave.
- For men with stronger hair (with that five o'clock shadow by lunchtime), I recommend a hybrid trimmer. It’s almost like an old traditional razor; it can trim and shave at the same time. This is the best option if you let the hair grow a day or two too long, and it is much gentler on the skin to trim first and then shave.
- If a man has very delicate skin and shaving is very aggravating, then I recommend the traditional blade. In fact, it is by far my top recommendation for shaving. You can control the closeness of the shave, you can make sure that you always have an interchangeable, very sharp blade, and your lubrication is also easily controlled with this method. Your skin will love you for it!
I also recommend using an oil medium for lubricating the skin and then shaving. For people who want a really close shave, shave with the hair growth first and then go against it to get closer if you really need to.
After The Shave
What are you putting on after shaving? If you have time, create a little bit of a ritual around shaving. I recommend products that have that ratio of 1:1:1 free fatty acids, cholesterol, and triglycerides because we want to restore the acid mantle of the skin while it is repairing itself afterward. You can customize it if you have something that allows customization (ie. Dermaviduals!), bringing in that anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and other ingredients to create a customized mix for your clients to help them get that relief, cooling, and soothing. I like to create a gel that they can put on immediately after a shave, and then they can follow up with a moisturizer on top of that.
This is all particularly timely this month, with Movember. I'm getting a lot of reports of men’s skin itching now that they're growing their mustaches. Bringing in anti-inflammatory properties through a cooling mask is really good to help combat that. When men are growing their beards or mustaches when they typically don't, the status quo of the microbiome is changing, so it's not uncommon for men to experience irritation in their skin.
- Shower first, then shave.
- Lubricate when shaving.
- Restore your skin barrier after the shave with something calming, cooling, anti-inflammatory. That is the type of relief and nourishment, as professionals, we want to give our clients for after shaving. I have the luxury of making a customized moisturizer and shaving foam for my clients. If I so choose, I can make a customized aftershave balm or gel or cream. The options are endless with what we have available in our industry in today's day and age! (Thanks to Dermaviduals! - you can learn more at www.dermaviduals.ca )
Next month, I'm going to be talking about gifting skincare, as we'll be in December - so come back for more. But for now, go ahead, rescue the skin of the men in your life with these great tips!