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The Male Market

By Howard Murad, MD, and Jeff Murad
Posted: September 19, 2007, from the October 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Shaving is often the factor that causes the biggest discrepancy in the skin care needs of men and women. Along with general irritation and razor burn that results from dragging a razor across one’s face every day, many men also suffer from pseudofolliculitis, a condition in which hair grows back into the skin, irritating the follicles and causing itchiness, inflammation and bumps. For these reasons, men need products that exfoliate the skin to help uncover ingrown hairs while simultaneously delivering soothing and hydrating ingredients that address redness, irritation and dryness. The market is beginning to address these concerns with high-quality products that call out these benefits in a way that is more compelling to men.

Men’s views on skin care

The industry has begun creating products and treatments that not only address men’s unique skin concerns but are also more receptive to their perceptions of skin care. Men are becoming more aware of wrinkles, acne and discoloration, and are realizing they too can benefit from products that, in the past, have mostly been used by women. However, they also tend to focus on products that address specific problems they are currently having rather than choosing products that are preventive.

In a recently conducted market research study, most male respondents stated that acne, razor burn and dryness are their only skin concerns. Due to this tendency toward a narrow focus on their needs, men often avoid caring for their skin until the damage has already been done, often in the form of acne scarring, wrinkles and discoloration. Already-damaged skin increases the need for targeted treatment products, and it is the job of industry innovators to educate male clients about treatment options that can address future, as well as current, needs.

Men are also surprisingly unaware of the importance of sun protection and typically don’t incorporate sunscreens with SPF into their daily regimen. This should be one of the easiest and most self-evident steps in grooming and overall skin care for both genders. There are several opportunities to introduce men to SPF products and to educate them on the importance of sun protection, as well as on how to combat environmental damage. Many new products targeted at men contain an SPF to help streamline the grooming process.

Of course, nobody wants to add more tasks to an already busy schedule. Men are certainly no exception, and typically prefer easy, 1-2-3-step systems of products that make grooming fast, easy and efficient. They are particularly interested in products that do two things at once, such as combining acne and anti-aging formulas into one. Regimens containing more than four steps are intimidating to many men and can hinder them from trying a new system. With men, simplicity is best.