Should men and women be treated with the same facial products in the same way? A literature review by an international group of physicians shows that the physiological skin parameters of hydration, transepidermal water loss, sebum, microcirculation, pigmentation, and thickness differ among men and women suggesting that treatment choices should differ as well.

Understanding the physiological, chemical, and biophysical characteristics of the skin help us develop a proper approach for the management of skin diseases,” wrote the authors of a review that focuses on sex differences of skin. The study was published in the International Journal of Women's Dermatology.

The studies show that the skin parameters of hydration, transepidermal water loss, sebum, microcirculation, pigmentation, and thickness are generally higher in men but skin pH is higher in women.

Male vs Female Specific Products

Developing a deeper understanding of the skin in this way could be used in developing facial products and cosmetic treatments that are truly sex-specific. The knowledge of sex-linked cutaneous differences might help in study planning and the development of female- versus male-specific products for more appropriate dermatological treatments or cosmetic interventions.

There are established sex differences in anatomy, physiology, epidemiology and in many diseases. With regard to skin disorders, infectious diseases are presented more in men, but psychosomatic problems, pigmentary disorders, certain hair diseases, and autoimmune and allergic diseases are more common in women.

Skin Pigmentation

In men, skin pigmentation and thickness are significantly higher, facial wrinkles are deeper, and facial sagging is more prominent in the lower eyelids, but there is no significant difference in skin elasticity between the sexes.

The molecular mechanism that drives these differences remain to be defined, but knowing they exist and treating patients accordingly may improve treatment outcomes.  In this article, we summarize key takeaways from the review.

Hydration

A healthy skin barrier protects against UV damage and other assaults, plus, it holds in moisture. Without adequate hydration, the skin’s physical and mechanical properties are impaired. The review cites a 2013 German study by Luebberding et al. that shows young men tend to have "high levels of stratum corneum hydration," but as the men aged beyond 40 years, the hydration decreased. Hydration on the forehead in both men and women beyond 70 years significantly fell below that of younger men.