Skin is a very personal matter. You may have noticed that skincare products are often marketed towards men or women specifically. The logical reasoning behind this is that men and women’s skin generally differ in some aspects. While these differences are real and gender does have an influence on skin texture, it’s important to note that gender is not the only factor that should influence your decision while selecting your skincare products.
A combination of genetic and environmental factors determines the appearance, texture and health of your skin. It is not limited to only your gender, but also other genetic factors, hormones, environment and lifestyle. Let’s look at what makes men’s skin distinct from women’s – keeping in mind that this is only one of many factors that determine skin type.
Hormones play an important role in skin differences based on gender and the male sex hormones (or androgens) are primarily responsible for skin structure differences observed between men and women. Testosterone is the dominant male sex hormone that influences this difference and men produce up to 10 times more testosterone than women.
While both men and women have unique skin, in general, men’s skin is about 20-25% thicker than women’s, men produce more sebum and their skin ages differently than women’s skin. While women also produce testosterone, the lower levels are responsible for thinner, softer and more delicate skin.
Men’s skin contains more collagen and elastin compared to women. They are important skin structural proteins that provide a tighter and firmer appearance. Present in the dermis (the skin’s middle layer), collagen is responsible for providing strength and support to the skin structure and elastin promotes skin elasticity. Higher levels of these two proteins translates to stronger skin structure.
Collagen depletion in men is at a constant rate, typically 9% per 20 years compared to women who lose collagen at 3% per 20 years during the pre-menopausal period. However post-menopause, women tend to rapidly lose collagen which pronounces the effects of ageing. Due to thicker, stronger skin and slower collagen depletion, men tend to display fewer visible signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and loose skin compared to women.
Men have larger and more active sebaceous glands as well as larger pores compared to women. As a result of increased sebum production, male skin is oilier, shinier and lower in pH compared to female skin. While this excess oil makes male skin less dry, it is more prone to acne breakouts. In comparison, women’s skin tends to be less oily, therefore, they are less prone to acne breakouts.
Lastly, men who shave their facial skin have more sensitive skin as shaving removes the skin cells from the outer layer of the epidermis, exposing immature skin cells to the external environment and making them more prone to skin concerns.
While these gender differences are facts of human anatomy, products specifically designed for men and women may not actually meet the needs of the individual. Just by looking around, it’s obvious that not all women and not all men have identical skin. Your overall skin type is determined by a set of genetic characteristics but is influenced by several more factors such as diet, weather, stress levels, general health, sleep and other environmental aspects, not just your gender. This realisation is important to consider while determining what skincare products will suit and benefit you.
Different skin types need different care and the right ingredients will cleanse, nourish, and enhance your skin health. At Iryasa, we believe that quality natural ingredients selected for skin type, rather than gender, are the key to a glowing and radiant complexion.
Here we describe the five main skin types, briefly discuss what causes them and what each skin type needs to be well maintained, balanced and healthy. If you’re not sure what your skin type is, take a look at the following descriptions; and there are also online quizzes to help you find out.
Skin is most healthy when it is balanced and that’s exactly what characterises normal skin. It’s not too oily or too dry, the pores are barely visible, and it has few imperfections like blemishes and sensitive spots. It is likely that these individuals have good hormonal balance as well, as this strongly impacts skin quality.
People lucky enough to be born with normal skin may have the genetic factors under control and to their advantage, however the environmental factors can still influence skin health. Therefore, skincare is mandatory for all skin types to maintain the balance and nourish the skin. Common mistakes that people with normal skin types make are using any type of skincare product/ingredient without worrying about how it may affect the skin’s balance. The same goes for the foods consumed; too much fat, salt and sugar can throw your skin health out of balance.
Just because we use the term “normal” doesn’t mean that you’re “abnormal” if your skin is different. This term is used to represent an ideally balanced complexion – one that is easily achievable by using the right products for your skin type along with consuming the right foods.
Oily skin is characterised by a shiny appearance and large pores. Large pores accumulate dirt, oil and debris and are more susceptible to clogging. Hence, oily skin may be easily prone to acne breakouts and blackheads. While under normal conditions, sebaceous glands present in the dermis secrete sebum (oil) that helps moisturise the skin, over-stimulation of these glands cause excess sebum production resulting in oily skin.
Common causes of oily skin include hormonal changes (like during puberty), stress levels, medication, diet, genetics and interestingly also using too much moisturiser! Using too much makeup or skincare products that are unsuitable for your skin type may also cause oily skin. Dehydration, although counter-intuitive, may also cause oily skin because your skin tries to overcompensate the lack of hydration in the body. It is recommended to drink a minimum of 2 litres of water every day.
If your skin feels tight and flaky, you probably have dry skin. It might be naturally dry, producing less oil, or your skincare products may be the culprit. Normal skin secretes adequate oil on the skin’s surface that locks in moisture. However, dry skin is caused by reduced oil secretion on the skin surface and if not treated, dry skin can lead to more serious concerns such as eczema, which causes intense itching and redness, among other symptoms.
There may be several different causes for dry skin, including medications that may cause hormonal changes, spending extended outdoor time in cold weather, extensive washing and/or exfoliating, using very hot water for a shower or washing your face . It is important to consider your skincare regimen and how that may be impacting your skin texture. It is advisable to use a pH-balanced cleanser (ideally between pH 5.5-6.5) and a heavier cream-based moisturizer, especially during the colder months.
Most people have combination skin type. This means a mixture of dry and oily spots on their face. The oily region on combination skin is typically the T-zone (the central part of your face, encompassing the forehead, nose, and chin), whereas the cheeks are dry.
Due to variation in sebum production across the face, people with combination skin must ideally treat each specific area of their face, whether oily or dry with suitable products for the intended area.
Combination skin is caused due to distinct regions of your facial skin reacting differently to the environment and possibly hormones that cause overproduction of oil in certain areas while drying out some other areas. The T-zone in people with combination skin is commonly affected during high levels of humidity and heat, which results in excess sebum production in this region.
Redness, itching, burning and dryness – these are all characteristics of sensitive skin. Your skin may react to certain skincare or cosmetic products, frequent exfoliation or sun overexposure. Sensitive skin may go unnoticed until there is a visible reaction/allergic reaction seen and it may be a one-off reaction or a symptom of a more serious skin concern such as eczema, rosacea and contact dermatitis.
Sensitive skin needs special treatment. Regular moisturising using synthetic fragrance-free products will help hydrate the skin better. Some other tips to help soothe sensitive skin include using lukewarm water for showers rather than hot water, avoiding harsh exfoliants, using pure essential oils rather than perfumes and always performing a patch test on a discreet skin area before using it regularly.
If you feel you have sensitive skin and you experience redness and itching upon application of most of your skincare products, it may be beneficial for you to consult with your dermatologist and try to investigate the root cause. Ignoring these signs may result in unresolved long-term health issues and further complications.
As you now know, there are a multitude of lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors that influence your skin type. So, how do you overcome problems these factors may cause to get the skin you want? While you cannot change your genetics and your surrounding environment may be difficult to modify, you can control your diet and lifestyle. It may seem overwhelming to choose the right products with the multitude of skincare products currently available, but it really comes down to high-quality, non-toxic ingredients that work for your skin. Feeding your skin and body with nutrition is the right way forward for healthy skin.
Iryasa uses highly effective, natural ingredients that work synergistically for consistent results. We include sweet almond oil for its hydrating effects, aloe vera to soothe sensitive skin and turmeric for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, among many other carefully curated natural ingredients. Chosen with strong intention, these natural ingredients target different skin types to nourish and nurture to enhance your skin health. Do take a look at our skincare collection!