How Different Is Female Skin From Male Skin?

Dr Johanna Ward
By Dr Johanna Ward

Dr Johanna Ward is an award-winning Cosmetic Doctor and GP with a special interest in clinical dermatology and nutrition.


When it comes to our skin men and women differ quite dramatically, especially when we look at how the skin ages.

Here is a brief guide to the main ways in which our skin is different from each other. This has implications for the kind of skincare each of us should be looking to as the ‘gold standard.

  1. High levels of testosterone mean that men have 25% thicker skin than females. They have a larger pore size and a thicker stratum corneum. Men’s skin also has more collagen and ages more gradually than women’s skin does.
  2. Men produce more oil (sebum) in their skin due to their hormonal makeup. Oil is an evolutionary throwback to Ape times when we all had facial hair and the oil was there to lubricate the hair that grew in each follicle. Higher oil levels mean that men should use products that help control and balance the oil production, such as products with salicylic acid.
  3. Adult men on average age about 10 years behind women. This is due to a number of factors such as increased collagen density, thicker stratum corneum, and due to their hormone profiles. Both men and women lose about 1% of their collagen from their late 20s onwards. Men often lose their genetic advantage in ageing because they fail to wear SPF and protect their skin from the damaging effects of UV light.
  4. Men shave their facial hair regularly which can cause irritation if done without enough shaving foam or with blunt razors. This can increase the chance of developing ingrowing hairs. Products should contain anti-irritants for the skin and calming ingredients like aloe vera that help calm and soothe post-shaven skin.
  5. Shaving daily may mean men are more likely to have sun damage because shaving gets rid of dead skin cells exposing immature cells to the sun. Also, women generally are more clued up on the effects of sun damage on their skin so men, in general, tend to experience more sun damage.

But what does it all mean and what should women and men be doing differently daily?

Here’s a brief guide for each gender...

Women

Protect With Sunscreen: The single most important investment you can make is to find a good daily SPF. UV rays are responsible for 90% of the skin’s extrinsic aging.

Don’t underestimate the years the sun can add to your skin. It’s the most damaging thing as it damages your skin’s DNA, reduces collagen & elastin, reduces your skin’s capacity for good hydration, and causes damage to the deepest layers of skin causing sunspots and skin cancer.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to wear SPF every day. Every. Single. Day. All-year-round.

The importance of using sunscreen

Hydration: Well-hydrated skin looks less wrinkled and aged. As we age our skin loses its ability to hang onto the water.

Use moisturisers that have water-binding properties to increase water retention and look to hero products like pure hyaluronic acid serums for fabulous rehydration properties.

 

Collagen: From your late 20’s onwards your collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid levels will deplete. As women hit menopause (the average age is 51 in the UK) these will nosedive further. Be sure to be on a good skincare regime from your 20s onwards to help press the PAUSE button firmly on the ageing process.

Look for products with antioxidants (Vitamin C & Vitamin E are the most well researched), sunscreen (UVA & UVB), retinol (Vitamin A) and hyaluronic acid. All of these will help protect the skin, repair cellular damage, strengthen the skin and encourage a higher cell turnover which is always good.

Vitamin A (retinol) is a great ingredient to enhance collagen production and Hyaluronic acid serums are superb for fast skin hydration.

 

Exfoliation: Use an acid exfoliation (salicylic & glycolic acid are both great choices) once a week to remove cellular debris from the skin and to deeply cleanse your pores. This not only helps fight off acne and hormonal outbreaks but helps remove dead skin cells that make the skin look lacklustre.

A must before any big event.

 

Men

Daily Sunscreen: Use a daily broad-spectrum SPF to help protect your skin from premature ageing caused by sun damage. SPF daily is the golden rule to reduce the risk of skin cancer also so make sure you’re wearing it.

There really is no excuse nowadays as most daytime moisturisers are combined with sunscreen because we know how damaging UV rays are. Lock in moisture with daily sunscreen and moisturiser combined.

Men's skincare routine

Keep It Simple: Men often aren’t as committed to maintaining a skincare routine as women or just aren’t in the habit so simplicity is key.

AM: Cleanse, Moisturise, and Sunscreen.

Evening: Cleanse, Moisturise and Repair.

Acne: if you suffer from acne or even just occasional breakouts, have a cleanser with salicylic acid on hand to deep cleanse your pores and reduce inflammation and redness.

It can be a real miracle worker to fight off spots and reduce sebum oil levels on your skin. It can also help unblock ingrown hairs caused by shaving.

Shaving: daily can cause irritation, there’s no doubt. So make sure you’re giving your skin all the help it can get by using enough foam or cream and a sharp razor to reduce friction and the chances of getting ingrown hairs.

Exfoliating and cleansing can help you maintain balance in your skin so make both of these a part of your life at least once or twice a week.

If you want to read more, the experts at Consulting Room really know what they're talking about and have put together some Sunscreen, Pigmentation, Lines and wrinkles, and acne FAQs just for you. 

If you have more questions, you can use the Sunscreen, Pigmentation, Lines and wrinkles and acne questions feature to talk to our panel of trained medical experts. 

If you're keen to get started with acne treatment right away then you're in luck - those clever folks also have a list of trusted, accredited Sunscreen, Pigmentation, Lines and wrinkles, and acne clinics in your area.

 

Many thanks to the author Dr Johanna Ward who is an award-winning Cosmetic Doctor and GP with a special interest in clinical dermatology and nutrition. She studied English at Oxford University before studying Medicine at Guys, Kings and St Thomas’ in London.

Dr Johanna is an advanced cosmetic injector and laser practitioner as well as training other doctors nationally and internationally. She is often called up in the media to comment about all things ageing, dermatology and nutrition-related. She is the author of the best-selling book ‘Superfoods to Superhealth’ and is currently the resident skin doctor for Women’s Health Magazine.

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