Let’s give into gender stereotypes for a moment, shall we? Men are brutal, hard-living cowboys who smell of dirt, sweat and musk. Women, on the other hand, are gentle flowers who spend a great deal of time honing their beauty and social graces. One sex comes from the chilling surface of the Red Planet, while the other’s origins reside in a world of crushing atmospheric pressure and acidic storm clouds — Venus. One sex is composed of sugar, spice and everything nice while the other is made entirely of serpents, mollusks and disembodied dog tails.
Stroll down the skin care aisle, and you’ll find a number of gender-specific facial cleansers to remove the dirt and impurities we collect during the day. You’ll also find a number of unisex products. Are men’s and women’s skin all that different? Do we really need two separate face scrubs taking up space in the shower?
On a biological level, yes, men’s and women’s skin differ. The male of our species tends to boast a thicker epidural layer with larger pores that clog with dirt and oil more easily. Men also lose collagen, a skin-strengthening protein, at a slower rate than women. There’s also the whole issue of facial hair, as men usually have to factor in shaving their face regularly, which can further scrape and damage skin.
Differences in actual cleansers, however, generally amount more to marketing. Women’s skin care products have long dominated the market, and cleansers aimed at men generally revolve around looking and smelling more masculine: more spice, less fruit, more dark or clinical color schemes on the labeling. Top that off with a no-nonsense name like “Men Science Daily Face Wash,” and you have a real chance at scoring a slice of the $19.7 billion men’s grooming industry. Underneath all of this, there’s very little difference between most male facial cleansers and their female or unisex counterparts.
The real factors that determine which cleanser is right for you have more to do with your individual skin type, be it normal, dry, oily, combination or sensitive. Beyond that, consider the ingredients in your cleanser product as well as its role in your overall skin care regiment.