Women’s Skin Care vs. Men’s Skin Care: How Do They Differ?

All Posts, Skin Care 101 August 22

It’s no secret that men’s and women’s grooming products are marketed in completely different ways. Think about any women’s skin care commercial to have ever been on TV. Bright lighting, pink everywhere, and women with already-flawless skin. Sounds right, right? What about men’s skin care commercials? Rugged guys that look like they’ve stepped out of the pages of a magazine, along with dimmer lighting and more intense music. Not exactly the most accessible or relatable.

But, are men’s skin care and women’s skin care products really all that different? Can you not use your partner’s skin care if you find yourself in a bind? Is using your man’s shampoo suddenly going to fry your scalp to bits?

The short answers: not earth-shatteringly so; no, you still can; and no, it shouldn’t. However, there are a few differences between the two that are worth discussing. Here’s the skinny on women’s skin care vs. men’s skin care.


Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Women’s product packaging comes in all colors of the rainbow.

Women’s products also often have fun imagery to them, like flowers, beach scenes, or beautiful graphics. This provides a stark contrast to the black, navy, and grey bottles you’d likely find in a man’s bathroom. (Heaven forbid he’s caught using “girly” skin care, right?) Overall, guys seem to care more about function than form, even if it’s just to save face.


One of the differences we notice when it comes to women’s skin care vs. men’s skin care is fragrance. The women’s skin care aisle at the store seems to offer every single scent you can think of.

Want your skin care to whisk you away to the tropics? Done. Want to smell like a cake? They got your back! And, there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as your skin isn’t sensitive to fragrance, and you enjoy scented products.

For men, on the other hand, the scents in skin care tend to be richer and more masculine. These scents match the plain packaging and help set the products apart from their more feminine counterparts. But, we’ll let you in on a little secret in just a second.


Now that we’ve gotten the two most obvious differences out of the way, here’s where it gets a little deeper. As we mentioned before, some brands create two versions of the same product, but give each version a different fragrance. They then market one variety to men and the other to women. But, it’s the same ingredients. This is usually the case for the generic products people purchase at the drugstore every day. Crazy, right?

Other times, the differences go beyond fragrance and packaging. If you look at the skin care market as a whole, not just the products from a single brand, you start to notice something. The products marketed toward men and the products marketed toward women have major differences in ingredients across the market as a whole. Here are the ingredients that differ the most.

Botanically-Based Compounds

“Natural” and “organic” are huge buzzwords in the world of skin care.

Everyone seems to lust after products that only contain the best ingredients. They fall in love with brands that wouldn’t even consider adding harsh chemicals to their products. This is especially true for women. Women are more likely to read ingredients lists more closely.They shop for skin care with a critical eye, and those buzzwords are very likely to catch their attention.


Women tend to show signs of aging much earlier in life than men. Not to mention that their skin begins to thin at a much quicker pace.

This means that women begin shopping for anti-aging products much sooner than men do. Some men aren’t even bothered by signs of aging! So, as you can imagine, many men’s products don’t contain any sort of retinol.


Antioxidants go hand in hand with retinol in that they help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. By neutralizing free radicals in the body, they slow down the process of oxidation, thus keeping the hands of time at bay just a little longer. You’ll typically find these more in products for women, since signs of aging are more of a concern for them.

For guys? Maybe. You might find a vitamin here or there, but when it comes to women’s skin care, antioxidants is where it’s at.


Take a look at the ingredients list of a moisturizer for men. More than likely, you’ll find that it’s water-based. We’ll get more into this later, but men’s skin is thicker and more oily than women’s skin.

Those luscious, luxurious creams that women adore? Yeah, those probably won’t work for men. Many of them are cream-based, which spells trouble for men’s acne-prone skin. Water-based moisturizers have thinner formulas. They aren’t as likely to clog pores or cause further oiliness.

Skin Structure

We all know that there are major differences in the genetic makeup of men and women. From physical traits to hormonal composition, men and women are just…different, especially when it comes to their skin. To understand the differences between men’s and women’s skin care, you have to understand the differences between their skin. Let’s break it down.


Like we mentioned before, men’s skin is thicker than women’s. In fact, it’s usually about 20% thicker. As a result, men’s skin often appears tighter and firmer. As time goes on, this difference only becomes more apparent. Men’s skin becomes thinner at a constant rate, while women’s skin thins out at top speed during the first five years after menopause.

Let’s also consider sun damage. Because men’s skin is thicker, they aren’t as susceptible to sun damage as women. Plus, they aren’t as proactive with SPF, which makes them more likely to suffer from skin cancer.


This one all comes down to hormones. The testosterone that runs through men’s bodies causes increased oil production, while estrogen in women suppresses oil production. So, men have more oily skin than women do. They also have more sebaceous glands (enough to produce twice as much oil), and their pores are often much larger.

Because men produce so much sebum, their skin has a more shiny appearance. This then affects their pH level. All that oil means that men’s skin’s pH is lower than that of women. In some clinical studies, men have aged better as a result, but, as you may have guessed, they are more prone to adult acne than women are. At the same time, they are less prone to dry skin.

Signs of Aging

We’ve discussed the fact that men’s skin shows signs of aging at a slower pace than women’s skin. Since their skin contains more collagen, it’s more resilient against the hands of time. Signs of aging appear later in life for men, but once it happens, it happens. Changes in men’s skin occur very quickly once they start.

Men are usually most affected by sagging skin and dark circles. But, they still get wrinkles; wrinkles just aren’t as much of a concern for them. For women, wrinkles deepen and groove over time. Men’s wrinkles appear grooved almost immediately.

Sensitivity Level

The sensitivity of the skin varies greatly between men and women. Because men’s skin is thicker and contains more collagen, theirs is much less sensitive than women’s skin. This means that many men’s skin care products are a bit too harsh for women to use on a daily basis, since these products are formulated for thicker skin. Similarly, men’s skin is more prone to acne as a result of it being more oily. Therefore, they might find women’s moisturizers to be too harsh and too heavy for their skin.

Routine Breakdown

So far, we’ve discussed differences in products, but let’s not forget about the skin care routine. Many women take a lot of pride in their skin care routines. I know I do!

Men, on the other hand, just don’t tend to have the same attitude toward skin care. Their routine isn’t as extensive as women’s. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s still interesting to explore when comparing women’s skin care vs. men’s skin care.


Shaving the face is a step in a man’s skin care routine that women simply don’t do. On average, men who choose to shave will do it about 16,000 times in their lifetime. (Yeah, that’s a whole lot of razors and shave cream!) Shaving removes the uppermost layer of skin cells. This leaves lower layers of skin exposed, and causes the skin to react more quickly. As a result, many men suffer from shaving-related skin conditions. We recommend using a sharp razor and a good amount of shave gel each time.

However, women don’t get off scot-free from shaving. Most women do shave other areas of their body, and that’s another thing to consider. Like we said, shaving removes the top layer of skin cells, along with all that unwanted hair. Because women shave wider, more expansive areas, they may experience sensitivity on larger parts of the body. This explains many women’s need for extra-soothing moisturizer.

Number of Products Used (or Lack Thereof)

Many men make the mistake of using too few products. Spot a three-in-one body wash at your guy’s house, anyone? Guys prefer as few steps as possible, but that can backfire. Just because most men have oily skin doesn’t mean they don’t need to moisturize. A good moisturizer can help balance your skin’s oils, preventing future breakouts. If men don’t give their skin the care it deserves, it’ll look tired and dull despite the extra collagen.

In the same vein, many women use too many products. This can also backfire. When you’re using too many products meant to mattify the skin, three exfoliators, and 17 anti-aging products, your skin’s probably going to freak out on you. Not to mention what could happen if you don’t use them in the correct order. We think both men and women could learn from each other in this instance!

Outdoor Exposure

Last but not least, guys just seem to love the great outdoors.

Many men work in industries that cause them to work outside during the day, thus exposing them to the sun more frequently. So, they need a little extra protection. A lot of men don’t take this step! Not using SPF will leave you vulnerable to sun damage and skin cancer, so be sure to incorporate some into your routine!

Here at Sebamed, we take pride in the fact that anyone can use our products, regardless of skin type or identity. Sebamed’s wide range of cleansers, moisturizers, and hair care is gentle enough for even the most sensitive of skin. We pH-balance our products to the level of healthy skin, ensuring a healthy skin barrier with each use. Check out our complete product lineup here.

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