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What Men Really Want

By: Rhonda Allison
Posted: May 27, 2011, from the June 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Although many of the products and treatments used today still work on men’s skin, those specifically designed for men will be more effective. For instance, to compensate for the naturally low pH level and higher acidity in men, their bodies produce an acid mantle—a combination of oily fats, or sebum, and perspiration—that covers the skin’s surface to protect and maintain the proper balance. Most cleansers are in the 8.5–11.0 pH range, which raises the pH of the skin and undermines the skin’s natural defense system. This pH level is OK for women, but men will do well with a cleanser that is a pH of 5.3 or lower.

Before treating a man’s skin, it’s important to understand how it differs from women’s skin and the role testosterone plays. In the epidermis and dermis, testosterone is responsible for increasing the number of granular cells, collagen production and blood flow. With sebaceous glands, testosterone stimulates the production of sebum and toughens hair in the follicle. For any treatment or formula to be effective, it is important that it addresses the sebum, hair and sensitivity factors, as well as the thicker epidermis and the lower pH level.

Working with male skin

To get results, male skin requires serious attention using the appropriate enzymes and acids for proper exfoliation. Exfoliation and peeling agents that yield lower molecular peptides offer a protective function to the skin. Sake—rice ferment—for instance, is one such agent. It regenerates while moisturizing, soothing and detoxifying the skin. The level of peel will be based on the number of layers: one layer will lift surface cells for a light rejuvenation; two-to-three layers will produce a deeper peel.

Although finishing a treatment with protection is essential, it’s even more imperative for men because they have a higher rate of skin cancer.2 This is largely in part because men often spend more time in the sun, don’t wear sunscreen, and information on the importance of wearing sunscreen simply isn’t as available to them as it is for women.3 Keep in mind too, free radical exposure, in combination with their naturally low antioxidant levels, will lead to deeper wrinkles, brown spots and slack skin.

If you overwhelm your male clients too quickly, you may lose them, so focus on a results-oriented treatment, and let that do the work for you. Start your male client on a simple two-step regimen, building upon the essentials throughout time. Work with men to cleanse twice daily, and apply a protector every morning to shield skin from the damaging elements, such as wind, sun and other pollutants, particularly if they play or work outdoors. Zinc oxide along with skin-fortifying antioxidants will guard against free-radical damage, nourish the skin and prevent premature aging.

Are you ready?