What Men Really Want

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Men’s facials: At one time, those two words went together about as well as water and oil. Today, however, they represent an important sector that skin care professionals don’t want to overlook.

The fact is, men have wanted to participate in the youth revolution for years; they just didn’t have the green light from the world of macho. However, a shift has been taking place that says men who take care of their skin and look their best are cool and accepted.

With this shift, there is an opportunity to educate, simply because most men haven’t been educated about how important skin care services and products are for healthy, youthful skin. That is where your job comes in. Get an active dialogue going with clients and consumers—both men and women—about the importance of men’s skin care. Keep in mind, however, that men’s skin desires and needs differ from those of women.

What do men really want?

That’s a loaded question for which there is no answer, but in terms of skin care, men want simplicity. They are less interested in the idea of a full, integrated process and more interested in those few essential, results-oriented treatments and products—hard-working simplicity. Any effective facial and regimen should, however, follow the five critical, yet simple, skin laws: cleanse, exfoliate, tone, restore and build, and protect.

Getting men to move beyond basic skin care—or adopt a regimen at all—can be tricky, but facials are a great way to ease men into an integrated skin care system. Also, try turning them on to products that pull double duty. For instance, a shave gel that doubles as a rejuvenating mask; a toner that works to strengthen, restore and rebuild the skin; or a moisturizer that supports and protects skin from the elements.

Another issue to address is skepticism. According to a recent article in The Washington Post, men are generally skeptical about many of the made-for-men drugstore brands hitting the market. Many believe these are the same formulas for women with a “manly” label slapped on them; and they may be on to something. On the other end of the spectrum are the men who believe over-the-counter brands are as effective as cosmeceutical, professional-grade products. For these reasons, education is essential, and men are ready for it.

Attracting male clients

Men are getting facials, but it’s how you appeal to them that makes the difference. The term “metrosexual” no longer resonates with the male consumer; today, it’s the “everyday guy” who values a groomed appearance without taking it to extremes.

Make sure your marketing materials promote the idea that everything about the treatments and products offered are geared specifically for the active man’s skin, from the ingredients to the ease of use to the serious results. Use strong, bold colors and active phrases in all marketing materials, including displays.

Once you have your marketing pieces in place, begin spreading the word among your female clients. Remember, they likely will be the ones to introduce the men in their lives to proper skin care. Also, try partnering with local businesses that appeal to men, such as golf courses, country clubs, fitness facilities or auto dealerships to develop special incentive packages. Via e-mail or direct mail pieces, reach out to corporations that rely on maintaining a well-groomed appearance for success in the workplace, and offer them an introductory rate to get them in the door of your skin care facility. Just remember to keep it bold, yet simple.

What men need

Men typically have a thicker dermis and epidermis and higher sensitivity, and they produce more sebum and have larger pores than women. Their pH is also more acidic, and studies have shown male skin cells carry fewer antioxidants, which results in a greater number of deeper facial lines and hyperpigmentation issues.1 Additionally, men continually battle a slew of skin issues specifically related to shaving, such as ingrown hairs, dryness and razor burn.

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?

Are you ready for a male clientele? Being armed with knowledge, and effective products and services, will keep your business dynamic, diversified and successful. Remember to keep it simple, tailor the ingredients or products you recommend to them and help set them on the path to healthy skin care.


1. www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/news/20070402/mens-skin-more-sun-sensitive

2. www.skincancer.org/Skin-Cancer-Facts/#general

3. www.skincancer.org/men-and-skin-cancer-solving-the-knowledge-gap.html (All accessed on Apr 6, 2011)

Rhonda Allison, a pioneer in the skin care industry, is the founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals and RAW skin care for men. She is also an author and internationally known speaker with more than 30 years of esthetic experience.

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