We were born into a world steeped in stereotypes: blue for boys, pink for girls. Our toys divided us: marbles and train sets in the blue corner, skipping ropes and dolls houses in the pink. Even in the health and beauty sections of our favourite stores there is separation, with the packaging shifting from flowery pastel to a darker, monochromatic palette as products become more ‘suitable for men.’ But do we need to differentiate between skincare for men and women?
Do We Have Different Skin in the Game?
Men’s skin is around 20 – 25 per cent thicker than female skin, it contains more collagen and elastin and tends to produce more oil due to the amount of testosterone sloshing around the male body. But women too have certain levels of this hormone, it’s not exclusive to men. So, yes there are some minor differences, but human skin has almost the same structure regardless of gender, and the American Academy of Dermatology has found there is no medical or scientific reason for products to be divided by gender.
The focus in any skincare routine should be the needs of your skin. Is it oily, dry, sensitive or a combination? Your gender doesn’t determine your skin type and by specifying products in this way, many people might be missing out on optimising their skincare routines. Men and women eat the same food after all. We don’t market food to feed male and female bodies differently so why do we do it when it comes to feeding our skin?
It’s Always Been This Way
Times change. That blue and pink thing flips if you go back a couple of centuries. And in ancient Egypt, where beauty held significant value, the possession of an x or y chromosome had no influence on the products they used for their self-care. Both men and women went to great lengths with their skincare routines with the emphasis on cleanliness. Taking care of the body was necessary for good health and the same products have been found in the graves of both men and women.
Global Data, which provides expert analysis for companies in the world’s biggest industries, reports that rising expectations from consumers are now driving up the transition to gender-neutral products and smart retailers are already re-designing their stores in a shift away from the traditional male and female sections.
Choosing Suitable Products
Start with products that suit your skin type. Keep it simple. We really don’t need hundreds of different products. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it. The days of husbands and boyfriends having to be coerced into using a face wash or moisturiser are diminishing in our enlightened world, but if men are embracing a skincare routine for the first time it makes sense to look for natural products. Don’t make the leap from never using skincare to suddenly slapping on something with a harsh retinol base. The key ingredients to look out for are products with antioxidants and vitamins, especially A, C, D and E as well as B12 for hydration. The fewer the ingredients the better. A gentle cleanser with milk and honey or an olive oil soap won’t strip away the skin’s natural oils. A high-factor sunscreen in the morning should set you up for the day. Overnight an oil-based moisturiser will calm and nourish. And that is all anyone really needs, with perhaps a serum boost a couple of times a week for added hydration.
Skincare In The Future
Society’s perceptions of gender are constantly being changed and blurred and although there has been a sharp rise recently in gender-neutral skincare with some well-stablished brands being joined by newcomers in this market, other brands need to work hard to be a part of this inclusive environment.
In 2021 Cosmetic Design-Europe, a leading online news source for the cosmetics industry has predicted a ‘beauty for all’ trend over the next five years. And Beauty streams, the insight platform for the beauty industry around the globe, says the market is set to move up a further gear from gender-neutral to gender-freedom. It would seem skincare brands now need to focus less on the gender of their customers and more on how their products make people feel. And as customers we need to focus on our skin’s type and needs and ignore the gender-focused hype.