Do men need different skin care than women?

Traditionally, skin care for men is simple. The focus is mainly on shaving, shower products and hair care. Often they often grab products that are in the bathroom. In recent years, also through social media, men strive for healthier and fresher skin. Is skin care for men different than for women?

What are the differences between men and women skin care

Facial hair is the most obvious difference.

Skin Care Shaving Beard Hair

Most men start shaving their face and neck around the age of 14-15. The average shaving area of ​​a man is 300 cm2. The male face has an average of 500 hair follicles per cm2.

The property of the hair affects shaving The force required to shave or cut a hair increases with the thickness of the hair. So more power is needed to shave a thicker hair. It turns out that it takes almost three times as much force to shave a beard hair than a head or leg hair. If the shaving technique is inadequate, the skin is more likely to become irritated and rough.

Research has shown that hair is a challenging biological material to shave. Dry hair is equivalent to a copper wire of similar diameter and requires equivalent force to shave.

Dry hair corresponds to a copper wire of similar diameter. Wet hair is equivalent to an aluminum wire

Draelos 2018

Shaving technic

The first step is preshave, the preparation needed to reduce the shaving power of a beard hair. This improves shaving comfort and reduces skin irritation and redness. Keratin is a body’s own protein and building material for your hair. Hair has a high affinity for water and becomes significantly softer. The force required to shave a hair decreases dramatically as hydration increases. The most significant shaving force reduction of over 35% occurs after a 2 minute pre-soak with water. Pre-soaking for longer than 2 minutes does not reduce the cutting power of a beard.

After the first pre-shave step, you can shave the beard using a shaving product (cream, gel or oil). The product mainly provides less skin friction, resulting in much less redness, itching, irritation and inflammation.

And finally after shaving, skin hydration is important. Often people use after shave with alcohol, but that can cause more skin irritation and redness. A moisturizing cream often works better. The repair of the skin barrier after shaving ensures a calm and smoother skin.

In the same shaving study (double blind, split face randomized) they also looked at the effect of topical 5% niacinamide (vitamin B3) vs placebo and glycerin on skin hydration (TEWL). 90 men (age range 18-45 years) with self-assessed moderate to heavy beard growth were asked to shave (3-blade razor and commercial shaving gel) and not to lubricate their face with a moisturizing product. Shave two and lubricate one half of the face with glycerin and the other with a placebo. Shave Setting 3, lubricate one half of the face with 5% niacinamide and the other half with a placebo agent. After 1, 2 and 3 weeks of shaving and lubricating, it appears that 5% niacinamide hydrates the skin the best (least TEWL loss) compared to placebo.

Iconic Elements Spotreducer contains Niacinamide 5% with Ectoin – more information products. Want to know more about effects of niacinamide

Did you know that? Shaving is also a form of skin peeling. The dead epidermis layer is mechanically removed, so also any open and closed blackheads.


The production amount of sebum in men is different than in women. Sebum is produced by your sebaceous glands in the dermis. It provides, as it were, a coating on our skin and hair to retain moisture in your skin, among other things. Compared to women, men produce a lot of sebum after puberty. This higher sebum production is due to higher testosterone levels. Due to the presence of more sebum, men have a greater chance of clogged pores, blackheads and pimples than women. Men’s skin can also look visibly greasy or shiny. So skin cleansing to remove excess sebum gives more freshness to the face.

But did you know that ?
American survey of 1000 men: 33% of men DO NOT wash their face daily. Never washing a face is 2 x more common among men aged 18-24 compared to people over 40. And when they wash their face, 33% use regular hand soap.

A 2006 randomized study investigated the effect of facial cleansing on acne vulgaris in men. The subjects washed their face twice a day for 2 weeks with a standard mild cleanser. Then they were divided into one of three groups. Group 1, wash face once a day. Group 2, had to wash face twice a day and group 3, had to wash face four times a day for 6 weeks.

Study Conclusion. Acne worsening was significantly observed in the once-a-day study group. Significant acne improvement in the group that washed face twice daily with a mild cleanser. Looking for a mild cleanser?


Men have more collagen in their skin than women. An advantage is that men are less likely to develop wrinkles and fine lines. And another advantage is that lines around the eyes such as laugh lines are more accepted, tough and masculine.

That doesn’t mean men are immune to wrinkles and other signs of aging like pigmentation. The cosmetic ingredients against wrinkles/fine lines and pigment spots are the same as concubines.


The skin hydration in men is also different. Transepidermal water loss, also called TEWL, is the amount of water that leaves/evaporates skin is less in women than in men. Although polls show that women think their skin is drier. So in men, the skin dries out faster than in women. Well-hydrated skin ensures fewer complaints such as itching, flaking and eczema in the long term.

Dry Skin, Itching, Dryness Male Skin
Learn more about dry skin and what you can do

Other differences between men’s and women’s skin

A woman’s skin reacts faster than a man’s. At a lower temperature, vasodilation (vasodilation) occurs earlier in a woman. Also, a woman’s skin reacts more quickly to irritants and has an increased sympathetic tone. This might explain why women show more redness and more irritation from skin care products. The term ‘suffering from sensitive skin’ is mentioned more often by women. Men suffer less from this and are less interested in a sensitive skin product.

Skin care routine for men

Although there are important differences between men’s and women’s skin, the basis for effective skin care is the same.

Wash your face daily in the morning and evening and after exercising. Do not use regular soap. It often contains aggressive ingredients, which dry out the skin more. Use a mild facial cleanser and wash your face with lukewarm – not hot – water.

Watch your shaving technique. A preshave is to first wet your beard with warm water (pre-soak) for 2 minutes. Use an unscented shaving cream, gel, or oil. Razors with multiple blades can work well for some men, but on the other hand they can also shave too close to the skin. This increases the risk of redness and skin irritation. If you often suffer from razor bumps, irritations, ingrown beard hairs, use a razor with 1 to 2 blades. Don’t pull your skin too tight when shaving. Replace your razor after 5-7 shaves to limit skin irritation.

Moisturize your skin daily, preferably twice a day. A man’s skin dries out faster than a woman’s. For best results, apply a moisturizing cream to your face or body immediately after bathing, showering or shaving while the skin is still damp.

Skin inspection is not unimportant, this is also part of a skin care routine. Skin cancer and skin damage (actinic keratosis) are common in men. Sudden new spots or moles that bleed easily without previous trauma, color change, or a multi-colored mole (brown, black, dark brown, gray blue) are often early warning signs of skin cancer. Men over the age of 50 have a higher risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Early detection has a good prognosis.

Sun protection also for men. Sun damage can lead to wrinkles, age spots and even skin cancer. Before going outside, apply sunscreen to all exposed skin areas including your scalp, ears, behind the ears, neck and lips.

For the best protection, use a broad spectrum, with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. More about UV rays, such as UVA, UVB and SPF protection

Now that you are here

There are certain skincare habits that we all know aren’t great for your skin, such as going to bed without removing your makeup, going out on a sunny day without sunscreen, or washing your face with a regular block of hand soap. These are fairly logical examples, but there are other habits that are not always good for your skin. These then fall under the heading of ‘bad habits’ for your skin barrier. More about
Habits that irritate your skin too much – from dermatological practice

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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