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Looking for a Few Good Men

By: Troy Fairchild
Posted: October 17, 2008, from the November 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
smiling man with face cream

Every guy entertains the notion of being a man of mystery and international intrigue. And the fact of the matter is, he really can be—at least in terms of approaching him effectively for skin care services. Stereotypes both new and old can get in the way when targeting a male clientele, and professionals need to sweep away these misconceptions in order to reach the huge potential of the male market.

The myth of Superman

Men like to feel manly, and for decades now they have spurned skin care services because they’ve heard their skin is tougher than female skin. And they’re mostly right, but this toughness only goes so far.

It’s true the dominance of testosterone in the male metabolism stimulates collagen production while estrogen decreases collagen synthesis. A man’s skin is on average 25% thicker and more resilient than that of a woman his age. This contributes to the long-held cultural stereotype that men age more gracefully than women, even though the wrinkles men eventually get will tend to be deeper and more severe than a woman’s lighter damage.

But anyone who has sat through an episode of Gene Simmons’ A&E television show Family Jewels will agree: Testosterone has its ugly side. The presence of male androgens can cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge, making pores more visible and often contributing to acne.

Male clients need to be reminded that they are not superhuman and neglect will indeed damage their skin. Sunscreen is not just for girly men—in the United States, for instance, men take a significant lead over women in skin cancer diagnoses and in the diagnosis of deadly melanomas according to the American Cancer Society. Clearly, this is an instance where winning is not always a good thing.