What Makes Men’s Skin So Unique? Whether psychology or physiology, scientists have long been interested in the differences between men and women. Dermatology is no different. There are significant, if not subtle differences in the skin of men and women that extend beyond the ability of the former to grow all manner or luxurious and lumberjack-worthy facial hair; differences that affect the diagnosis, treatment, and prevalence of skin conditions. So, in honor of Father’s Day, we’re taking a look at the good, bad and fascinating things that make men’s skin so unique.
Thick-Skinned – Literally! Androgens, hormones like testosterone what are responsible for the development and maintenance of male characteristics, also affect the thickness and texture of skin. In fact, the statum corneum (outermost layer) of a man’s skin is around 25 percent thicker than that of a woman. Hormones also affect the rate at which skin thins with aging – men’s skin thins gradually over time, while women will experience most skin thinning in the years after menopause.
Youth is Skin Deep In addition to thicker skin, men have a higher collagen density (collagen to skin thickness ratio) than women, which some researchers believe is why women appear to age faster than men. Due to intrinsic factors, like the genetically-programmed aging process, a woman’s skin will appear up to 15 years older than a man’s of the same age. However, damage indirectly caused by social factors and gender norms – such as a disproportionate number of men in outdoor labor and construction work where daily UV exposure are the highest – essentially cancels out these natural benefits. “For men putting together an anti-aging skin care regimen,” says Dr. Giacomo Maggiolino, board-certified dermatologist at Forefront’s Grafton, Sheboygan Falls and Pleasant Prairie clinics. “Focus on preventing and protecting against further UV damage in the morning with an antioxidant serum (such as Vitamin C) followed by a facial SPF 30 sunscreen – I use a moisturizing sunscreen every morning in place of an aftershave. At night, use creams that repair and restore with a retinoid (such as an over the counter retinol or the stronger, prescription-strength, tretinoin) and/or creams that contain proteins/collagen growth factors.”
Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer Unfortunately, UV damages does more than cause fine lines and wrinkles. Over time, it can be deadly. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, from ages 15-39, men are 55 percent more likely to die of melanoma than women in the same age group and one in 33 men (as opposed to one in 52 women) will develop melanoma in their lifetimes. “Ultimately, we don’t know for certain why men have such disproportionately high melanoma rate, but limiting UV exposure definitely helps,” says Dr. Maggiolino. “Seek the shade. Wear a hat and a shirt when in the sun. Choose a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 30 – and reapply every 90 minutes when in direct sunlight. And see your dermatologist yearly for a full body skin screening. Melanoma is deadly, and catching it early can save your life.” When it comes down to it, men and women’s skin need the same things: protection, hydration and attention. With the skin care experts at Forefront Dermatology by your side, you can look forward to beautiful, healthy skin – regardless of your sex. To find the Forefront physician nearest you, visit the Locations page today.