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Understanding the Psyche of the Male Client

By: Richard Linder
Posted: August 29, 2012, from the September 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
male professional skin care client

According to The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, men underwent more than 800,000 cosmetic procedures in 2011. That is a 121% increase since 1997, when the organization first started tracking these numbers. Additionally, the market research organization The NPD Group, said the U.S. men’s skin care market grew 11% in dollar sales in 2011. That is an impressive gain. The group also states that 75% of men 18 and older are not yet using skin care products. This presents a unique opportunity to not only increase your client base and revenue from the sales of products and treatments, but also, more importantly, make an enormous impact on a demographic that is at great risk for skin cancer and other dermal conditions, which result from not properly protecting and caring for the skin. It is possible to make a difference, but men can be challenging clients. Diving into the physical and psychological differences between women and men can uncover the key to attracting and maintaining a strong base of loyal male clients.

What makes men different

The differences in men’s skin compared to women’s skin are important to understand when considering males within the skin care market. Hormones play a significant role. In males, androgens are the dominant hormones and continually increase throughout puberty before leveling off in the early 20s. Higher levels of the androgen testosterone are responsible for increased hair growth and sebum production, which can lead to more acne.

In addition to more oil production, collagen, blood vessels and facial hair, male skin is better oxygenated and hydrated, and 25% thicker than that of women. These characteristics serve men well to mask the visible signs of aging, considering that they do not begin to show their age as early as women, making aging skin easier for them to ignore. This partially explains why men do not see the importance of proper skin care as early in life as women.

The fact that men are typically reticent to use sunscreen or to care for their skin at all is compounded by the fact that they also tend to spend more time outdoors in employment and leisure activities. This can be a challenging combination. Knowing that men need guidance to understand the importance of caring for their skin means that breaking down any psychological boundaries is the place to start.

The psychology

During the past years of economic anemia, many highly qualified men have found themselves vying for the same job openings as a sea of younger talent. This has definitely spurred men to seek out treatments and products to maintain a youthful appearance. Additionally, imagery in advertising, fashion and film that has depicted the “ideal” woman as young, thin and beautiful has now turned to men, focusing on the “ideal” male image. Younger men are paying more attention to their hair, skin and general appearance. Although comparing yourself to any manufactured vision of perfection is pointless and demeaning, a positive cultural shift that has occurred as a result is the increased use of moisturizer with sunscreen and antioxidants. Because of this, the door to the possibility of sparing this younger generation from increasing instances of basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma skin cancers in the future has been opened.