Prof. Luca Valgimigli
The hasty attitude of men towards their skin belongs to the past and men have now understood that also the well-being of their skin is an important element of self-care. However, male and female skin have important differences that must be considered in order to choose the right product and get the best results.
It might have happened to many men (as it has happened to me) to wear an excellent moisturizer designed for women and to find it “heavy”, to start sweating or to have the impression that it was “too much” for their skin. The reason for these sensations lies in the differences between female and male skin.
What are the differences between male and female skin?
Given that men’s and women’s skin have the same structure and are mostly the same, there are specific differences related to the different balance of sex hormones and the different habits between men and women.
The male sex hormone, testosterone, prevails in men having levels about 10 times higher than in women, in which estrogens prevails, being, together with progestins, the female hormones. Testosterone and estrogens differently affect the development of the skin and its annexes, as well as its metabolism, explaining the differences.
Due to testosterone, men’s skin is about 20% thicker than women’s and ages differently. In fact, human skin contains more collagen and elastin, proteins that give the skin its mechanical properties, resistance and elasticity. Man’s skin therefore ages more slowly. However, the thickness gradually decreases over time after the age of 20, unlike what happens in women, in which it remains fairly constant until menopause, and then drops due to the sudden drop in the level of estrogens.
But beware: men’s skin also undergoes aging! Wrinkles appear later but when they begin to appear they deepen much faster than in women and become more pronounced. Therefore, it is also important for men to treat the skin with effective anti-aging products as long as there is time!
Among the main differences in men’s skin, testosterone induces greater sebaceous secretion, which after the age of 20 is, on average, twice as much in men’s skin as in women’s. The greater presence of sebum leads to a different composition of the hydrolipidic film in man, which on the one hand offers valid protection to the skin, on the other hand it makes it “intolerant” to treatments too rich in low diffusivity oils, or rich in waxes, which are perceived as “heavy” or occluding, and which are much appreciated by individuals with little sebaceous skin. The greater secretion of sebum can also lead to greater exposure to acne in man before the age of 20 and, later on, to folliculitis.
Another difference between the two sexes is the pH of the skin. In men, due to the greater secretion of lactic acid, the average value is around 4.5 – 5, so it is a little more acidic than in women, where it is around 5.5-6. This defends men’s skin from bacterial infections, compensating for the greater immuno-stimulating effect guaranteed in women by estrogens. However, the higher acidity also makes men’s skin more sensitive to irritation, also favored by shaving.
How do different habits affect the characteristics of men’s skin compared to women’s?
The male habit that most affects the skin, at least that of the face, is shaving. Shaving is an aggressive operation that causes a daily mechanical removal of a part of the hydrolipidic barrier, as well as causing small lesions and abrasions of the skin.
If performed in the traditional way with shaving foam, this can have a very high pH, even 10 or higher, and can profoundly alter the acid pH of the skin which, especially in man, is an important defense element. Shaving makes the skin vulnerable, repeatedly exposing it to inflammation and infections, which should not be overlooked.
A second important element, as pointed out by the AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) is the minor habit of man to use moisturizing products after cleansing or showering with soaps or products that can raise the pH or be too aggressive, removing a part of the protective hydrolipidic film. In other words, man physiologically has a greater production of protective elements, but takes less care of them than women do, paradoxically becoming more exposed to dehydration.
Which treatments are best suited to man’s skin?
Starting from shaving, which is a critical factor, it is advisable to use a shaving foam that does not significantly alter skin pH, such as BeC Schiuma da barba (shaving foam), rich in moisturizing components and formulated in 100% aloe gel, to immediately soothe redness and irritations.
After shaving, even for those who use the electric razor instead of foam and razor blade, it is important to restore the hydrolipidic film and soothe any irritation with a product that has a light and non-occluding texture such as VelvE’, which also helps repair small wounds and skin hygiene by protecting against infections. Instead, old alcohol-based aftershaves should be abolished.
Since men have a greater production of sebum, resulting in oily or combination skin, non-greasy and rapidly absorbed products are required, which do not give a feeling of occlusion. At the same time, measurements of TEWL (trans epidermal water loss) indicate that in men the need for hydration is similar to that of women, who compensate, thanks to estrogens, with the higher lipid content of the dermis.
An ideal product for daily hydration could be the organic PuraBi cream, based on witch hazel water or, the Crema Balsamo C.R.B., which also has an effective sebum-regulating action, reducing excessive sebaceous secretions. These are particularly indicated even at a young age, to treat acne-prone skin, or in case of folliculitis. To contain excessive sebaceous secretions, a skin-purifying and oxygenating mask is recommended at least once a week, for example using Nuova Maschera by BeC.
Male skin has a duller complexion than female skin due to less cell renewal; therefore, the use of Crema Balsamo C.R.B. that favors the renewal of the epidermis could be doubly useful.
As we have seen, men’s skin also ages and does so differently from women’s skin. It is therefore important to treat it in time with a product designed specifically for the characteristics of men’s skin, such as Titanyum which provides everything necessary to reduce wrinkles (and prevent them), improve elasticity and hydration, while having a light, dry and non-occluding touch, with rapid absorption that makes it perfect for the needs of men’s skin.