Everyone deserves to have healthy skin that makes them feel confident. However, for a long time, skincare has primarily been marketed toward women. But today, as society eases up on gender expectations and the beauty industry shifts focus toward a wider pool of buyers, more and more men are discovering how skincare routines and products can help them achieve skin they can be proud of.
The Skin Report is a podcast created to educate listeners on methods to improve skin health for people of all ethnicities and ages. On this episode, host Dr. Sethi provides an in-depth look at the basics of men’s skincare. First, she educates listeners on the science behind how sex hormones like testosterone impact the skin and explains how men of all ages can use this information to curate a routine for their skin needs. Finally, she discusses helpful aesthetic procedures men can undergo to address stubborn skin concerns like acne scarring and wrinkles. Tune in to learn more about how men can practice skincare for healthy, radiant skin.
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This transcript was exported on January 17, 2023 -view latest version here.
Skincare can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether it’s finding the right products, ingredients, or treatments, there’s a lot out there. But not always for people of African, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, East and South Asian descent. That’s why I set out to educate myself and others so that we can all feel beautiful in our skin.
Hello and welcome to the Skin Report. I’m Dr. Simran Sethi, an internal medicine doctor, mom of three and CEO and founder of Renew MD Medical Spas and Skin by Dr. Sethi. Last week we broke down everything you need to know about the popular Brazilian Butt Lift or BBL, so definitely check out that episode if you’re interested. This week we’re going to be doing something a little different. We’re going to be covering the basics of skincare for men. So if you want to hear how hormones impact the skin and how men can curate a routine for their needs, keep watching.
You might think that most men don’t want to participate in skincare, as public discussions around skin and beauty have been deemed feminine for decades. However, as we know on this show, taking care of our skin is essential to our health and happiness, and everyone deserves to have healthy and happy skin regardless of age, gender, and race.
And as gender expectations loosen and the beauty industry expands, we can see a growing interest in men’s skincare routines and products. In 2021, skincare products garnered the largest revenue of men’s personal care items dominated the market by 45%. In 2022, Ipsos and Spate conducted research that found that skin appearance was the number one reason why men thought about adding new products to their personal grooming. Beyond just skincare, the same data revealed that one third of men aged 18 to 65, were open to using cosmetics. However, this varied by age.
Another statistic along generational lines was how comfortable men felt entering a store to learn more about skincare and makeup. With younger men more open than older. So whether you want just the basics or you’re interested in an aesthetic procedure, we’re going to cover it all. First, we must answer one question, why? Why is male skincare different?
This comes down to our sex hormones, which play a significant role in our skin and how it changes when we age. No matter your sex, everyone has testosterone. In males, it is more predominant and is converted to its stronger, more active form in the philos sebaceous unit. The philos sebaceous unit refers to the hair follicle and the adjacent sweat gland. With a greater production of the active form of testosterone comes more oil production. So how does this all impact the skin? We’ll go over how male and female skin differs and how this drives priorities and concerns in men’s skincare at every age.
Males produce greater levels of testosterone and a more active form as well. With this in mind, we can look to how men and women’s skin differs in ages. First, oiliness and sebum production. Something we just touched on was oil production or sebum production. Sebum production is largely mediated by testosterone, which means that men generally produce more oil than women. This leads to a larger pore size in men as well. It can also make acne production more severe, but studies have been rather inconclusive on this.
Next, skin thickness. Men have thicker skin than women, and as collagen production confers skin thickness, men tend to produce more collagen than women do. Men having thicker skin than women also means that we age differently. But how? Aging, men show consistent or linear loss of collagen starting in their 20s. Women on the other hand, lose less collagen from their 20s to about early 40s, until they enter menopause. Around age 50, women see a larger decrease in skin thickness than previous decades.
Additionally, men tend to have more wrinkles on their forehead area than women do. In a 2013 study that evaluated facial aging and sagging, found that men in their 50s showed statistically significant sagging of the lower eyelid area, giving them a more tired appearance than women in the same age group. Another variation is that male skin has better water retention or moisture barrier. We don’t exactly know why this is, but it may also have to do with the fact that their skin is generally thicker than in females.
In previous episodes, we’ve discussed how our skin’s moisture evaporated throughout the day as we are warm-blooded. This is known as trans epidermal water loss. However, retaining water in our skin helps prevent formation of wrinkles and keeps the skin’s barrier function strong. Multiple studies have shown that men can better retain moisture in their skin compared to women. With age, both sexes undergo greater trans epidermal water loss, leading to dryer, mature skin.
Let’s move on to pigmentation. A study that compared the overall skin pigmentation index between East Asian men and women, found that women in general have less pigmentation than men. When comparing pigmentation levels in various parts of the body, women still showed slightly less pigmentation than their male peers. Finally, I just want to mention that when it comes to laxity, there are no significant changes between male and female skin.
So in summary, men produce more oil, collagen and have better moisture retention, leading to stronger skin that is less likely to wrinkle. With increased sebum production though, they also have larger pores. As they likely have stronger forehead muscles, they do tend to form deeper and more wrinkles on their forehead and have also been shown to have more formation of eye bags or under eye skin laxity after the age of 50.
So based on these concerns and priorities, how should men approach skincare? I’ll go over my suggested routine when we return. When it comes to building a skincare routine, it can feel extremely overwhelming. If you haven’t been practicing skincare for very long, it can feel even more challenging. However, it doesn’t need to be overly complicated and we’re going to break it down.
So first, we want to cleanse our skin in the morning and at the end of the day. As we’ve said, men produce more oil and therefore tend to have larger pores. Larger pores can trap more debris and get larger as a result. To avoid this, men should use an exfoliant in their daily routine, preferably one that is a mixture of a chemical and physical exfoliant. I always recommend my lines skin polish to men, because it has a light botanical pomegranate as a chemical exfoliant with micro particles that give gentle, yet effective mechanical exfoliation.
This will prevent breakage of the skin barrier while effectively cleaning out pores. I do caution you against over exfoliation, because even in men, that will result in skin barrier damage and result in pigmentation and sensitivity, especially in darker skin tones. I almost never see men use exfoliants in their skincare routine, but many do use hand soap on their face, which initially strips their skin of oils and a few hours later, triggers the skin to produce even more oil. So no matter your skin type, please don’t use hand soap on your face.
In summary, men should use a salicylic or a BHA daily in the morning and a mechanical exfoliant at night. This will provide ample skin cleansing and help reduce pore size and breakouts. Next, moisturizers and serum. All men should be on an antioxidant serum like a vitamin C or a green tea serum, because this will help repair damage and build collagen throughout the day. Yes, men have more collagen than women, but they have a linear loss of it with age, so preparing it on a daily basis will definitely slow this loss of collagen down.
While men may produce more oil than women, they can still have dry or combination or oily skin. Therefore, moisturizing is essential for those with dry skin. For oily skin, men can skip the moisturizer, especially in warmer months, but keep the serum. Additionally, sunblock is essential. Everyone needs protection from UVA, B and blue light or HEV rays. In fact, men are more impacted by skin cancer than women. Regardless of gender, sunscreen or sunblock should be applied daily.
Next, eye gel. Men show greater skin laxity under their skin, so a firming eye gel early on is an excellent way to slow this process down. I will discuss this more when we touch on procedures, but for now, I will say to get a firming eye gel that also has peptides, collagens or caffeine.
Retinol, I’ve talked about retinal in depth in episode 32, because it’s such a powerful ingredient in skincare. I wanted to include it in this episode too, because I believe men can and should reap its benefits. A derivative of vitamin A, retinol allows us to make new collagen at a greater rate regardless of age and correct skin damage rapidly while doing this. So just like in women, retinol is extremely helpful for men.
My retinol lipid complex is a combination of retinol and lipids that mimic those in our natural skin barrier. If you have oily skin, the phospho lipids shouldn’t scare you away, as this will just fortify the skin barrier without adding excess oil on the skin. The phospho lipids also protect against dryness, sensitivity and pigmentation in darker skin tones that is typically associated with retinal use and leads to many people abandoning its use.
Before we wrap up this episode, I want to cover some popular aesthetic procedures that men can get done at medical spas. Each year, more and more men embrace the world of aesthetics. For male patients, I often see concerns over acne scarring in their 20s to 30s and wrinkles predominantly on the forehead for men 40 and up, as studies have shown.
So what aesthetic procedures do I tend to do for these patients?For acne scars, I turn to microneedling, which is an excellent option for those who want to reduce the appearance of these scars. Depending on the severity and the level of pigmentation, which is common in skin types four and greater, I will use microneedling with radio frequency and will sometimes use the [inaudible 00:11:01] laser.
I also perform a procedure called subcision that helps untether deep scars which are more common in men. At this point, I do want to mention that microneedling with radio frequency should only be done with a monopolar device on skin types four and greater. And the only FDA approved device in the US market is the Potenza, which I use extensively in my practices. For men looking to treat or prevent forehead wrinkles, Botox is a great idea. Considering Botox early in life, even as early as your 20s is a great option, as men tend to have stronger forehead muscles, which explains why they tend to form deeper wrinkles on their forehead early on in life.
Botox injections do need to be performed three to four times a year and can cost anywhere from $500 to $700 per session, depending on where you’re located, but have absolutely no downtime and in the long run, make a tremendous difference in not only erasing, but preventing deep wrinkles.
I hope with this episode you’re more comfortable taking on a skincare routine and understand the science behind each step in the routine. I also hope that if you have acne scarring or are starting to see early signs of aging that bother you, you understand that there are safe and effective procedures with barely any downtime that you could take advantage of no matter what skin type you have or how old you are. Thanks for listening, and until next time, love the skin you’re in and celebrate your beauty.
If you’d like to learn more about science backed skincare or medical aesthetic treatments, please subscribe to and turn on notifications for the Skin Report, so you always know when a new episode is up. We have a newsletter that you can sign up for on the SkinReport by dr.sethi.com, so that you can stay up to date on all our new episodes, blogs, products, and more.
Additionally, if you have a skincare question or want to make an episode topic recommendation, please message me at the SkinReportbyDr.Sethi.com. We’ve received some great questions so far and I’ll try and answer them at the end of every episode, so keep them coming. Thanks for listening, and until next time, love the skin you’re in and celebrate your beauty.
Transcript by Rev.com