Men and Women’s Skin is Different

Yes, it’s a well-kept secret that women’s skin is different to men’s.

The skin is the largest multifunctional organ in the body – so it’s pretty important! It helps us to protect our bodies against UV radiation, as well as bacterial and chemical invasions. More so, it regulates our water retention, bodily temperature and electrolytes. And if that wasn’t enough it also enables our body’s immunological, sensory, and autonomic function.

So understanding how the skin works and its characteristics are a gatekeeper not only to fantastic glowy skin but also the management of skin diseases and our body’s protective barrier.

Our Skin is Different

Interestingly, studies have shown that women’s skin is different to men’s and that manifestations of several diseases differ between the sexes.

Skin disorders and infectious diseases are presented more in men whereas psychosomatic problems, pigmentary disorders and autoimmune and allergic diseases are more common in women.

So it’s annoying to find out that approximately, 70% of skincare studies do not test their theories on female skin.

Yes – the basic differences between male and female skin are mostly unknown.

The historical convention of using male-only models in biomedical research means the majority of research is undertaken on primarily male models creating many barriers to our understanding of skincare.

And without an understanding of how women’s skin is different from men’s, we can barely scratch the surface of how to better prevent, diagnose, and treat skin diseases as well as make our skin soft and dewy!

So here is what we know so far.

Here’s How Our Skin is Different

Hormone production

So we all know that men and women have different hormones – that’s part of what makes us distinct!

In terms of skin, the hormones collectively known as androgens are what separate us. You’ve heard of testosterone right? Well, this is the most powerful androgen and it gets most of its power through the tiny holes in our skin known as appendages.

Adult males produce about 10 times more testosterone than women

Adult males produce about 10 times more testosterone than women which cause some major changes to our skin. Androgen most noticeably drives hair growth. In areas sensitive to the effects of Androgen – such as skin – testosterone stimulates hair follicles causing thicker facial hair as well as hair loss.

Hence why men are far more likely to grow a beard than women!

Oily Skin

These androgens also react to the positive receptors in oil glands and their cells. This means men typically have larger oil glands and therefore produce more sebum (oil) than women causing – you guessed it – oilier skin!

Men on average have more oil glands than women and produce about twice as much sebum as we do.

Men on average have more oil glands than women and produce about twice as much sebum as we do.

Sebum is important to the hydration of the skin – but anyone who has acne will know – too much sebum can become a bad thing.

Fortunately, our female superpower is estrogen. Women have plenty of this hormone and it makes sebum thinner compared to men’s. Therefore men likely are more likely to get blocked pores leading to spots and blackheads.

Thicker Skin

Men’s skin is about 20% thicker than a woman’s.

Men’s skin is about 20% thicker than a woman’s.

Dermatologists have found that the layer of our skin called the dermis is thicker in men than in women. In men, this layer contains more collagen leading the skin to have a tighter, firmer appearance.

They have also found that testosterone creates a denser network of fibres on male skin which leads to male skin being thicker.

This is why we age in different ways!

Whilst men are more prone to deep wrinkles caused by repeated facial expressions (think George Clooney) women tend to have superficial finer lines.

Ageing Skin

It has been said a woman’s skin is about 15 years older than a man’s of the same age.

It has been said a woman’s skin is about 15 years older than a man’s of the same age.

Collagen is the main culprit for ageing. all of our bodies produce the protein collagen and it’s what makes our skin firm and tight.

After around 30 years our metabolism slowly starts to decrease our collagen production. Menopause can be a great catalyst for even slower collagen production doubling the amount of collagen we lose a year.

Androgens once again kick into action here for men. They support collagen and elastin – the stuff that makes our skin young and tight – production over a lifetime.

As we get older, we produce less collagen. That lack of collagen makes our skin thinner, saggier, and produces wrinkles.

That same process happens to both men and women but at different rates – so we just age differently.

Addressing These Differences

Studying the differences between male and female skin is an important and currently unmet need.

Addressing these differences in preclinical research would improve clinicians’ understanding of sex-based differences but also help to inform individuals on the types of skincare and treatments that work best for them.

Currently, a number of companies in the FemTech space are looking into how these differences can be better understood and implemented to support better skin.

Renude: the start-up using algorithms and computer vision for affordable  personalised skincare | London Evening Standard | Evening Standard

Renude – are combining skincare science and data science to provide customers with simpler and more efficient ways to find skincare routines that work for them.

La Mariais a luxury feminine wellness brand, which has used understanding of female hormones, has created skincare to complement these natural hormonal changes that occur throughout a woman’s life.

FemTec – the company recently bought Birchbox and are moving the company into a more personalised skincare subscription. Using FemTec’s BiomeAI platform, which uses AI and deep machine learning the company wishes to deliver holistic healthcare personalised for every woman.

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