While most acne treatments such as Benzagel can be used by both men and women, there are significant differences between male and female skin that may affect how the products are used. Skincare products targeting either gender exist for a reason, and it’s important to understand both the biological and lifestyle differences affecting healthy skincare. The facts may surprise you!

What’s Unique About Male Skin?

The first big difference between male and female skin is the influence of testosterone. Testosterone levels cause male skin to be thicker; up to 25% thicker compared to women. In addition, men’s skin is also tougher in texture, and contains more collagen. This means that along with being tougher, the appearance of aging is less apparent causing them to look younger for longer.

Another big difference is sebum production, which is double that of women. Sebum is naturally occurring oil that our skin needs, however this means male skin is oilier and shinier than female skin. As a result, the skin’s pH is lower than that of female skin and is especially prone to acne and breakouts. Age is a big factor: after puberty, sebum production is greater in males than in females and accounts for why men have longer lasting acne.

Males have more Lactic Acid in their sweat, which accounts for a lower pH (.05 lower) when compared to female sweat. Men also sweat more than twice as much as women and are more prone to sweating, which means that men have greater opportunity to purge the toxins in their pores that can lead to acne.

Essentially, men’s skin has more natural benefits, but that same natural process that delays visible aging is the very thing that leads to greater incidents of acne, especially during puberty. These natural defenses often lead men to thinking they don’t need a skincare routine until it’s too late.

What’s Unique about Female Skin?

The skin on a woman’s face – even if she never used a skin-care product in her life – is naturally thinner than that of a man. The thickness of a woman’s skin remains constant until about the age of fifty, whereas men’s skin thins. This means that skincare routines for women can be more consistent for a longer period of time.

While the defining characteristic of male skin is related to testosterone, for women it comes down to estrogen. Estrogen, while giving women softer skin, also has the side effect of decreasing collagen synthesis. As collagen content is directly related to the signs of skin aging, it has been said a woman’s skin is about 15 years older than a man’s of the same age. Women lose about one percent of their collagen per year after their 30th birthday.

Men have more active sebaceous glands, which mean women have fewer pores than men which results in relatively fewer breakouts due to clogged pores. Despite this, women are still more likely to experience acne than men on their face. Women experience acne far less on the rest of the body, but this seems to be related to testosterone production (and why oral contraceptives such as birth control lower testosterone and have a marked effect on hormonal acne.)

Another big difference – possibly the biggest one – is behavioral. For example, women are much more conscious of sunblock than men. Which is to say, men use it less in general and could contribute to why the “15-year” skin age-difference is not so apparent despite the biological influences listed above. This is part of the larger trend of women having more robust daily skincare routines, preventing everything from dryness to skin cancer.

Basic Solutions for Men and Women

When you’re dehydrated, your skin is dehydrated – and this will show up in terms of dry skin, as well as more wrinkly or saggy skin. Whether you’re a man or a woman, a common thread in this article has been to make sure your skin is clean and hydrated regardless of thickness or size of pores.

The most important thing to remember is your skin will change as you get older; thickness, sensitivity, and reactions to diet are all things that change abruptly during puberty but never truly stop. The relationship men and women have with their skin is an ongoing negotiation, so do yourself a favour and develop at least a baseline skincare routine early on with the knowledge that it will evolve throughout your life just like you do!