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Caring for Male Clients Across the Generations

Contact Author Rhonda Allison July 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Caring for male clients

There is a significant shift occurring in the men’s skin care industry. Men are rapidly becoming savvy skin care consumers, trading in their all-purpose moisturizer or cleanser for more specific solutions to their individual skin challenges.

According to market researchers at the NPD Group, skin care will be the most dynamic segment in men’s grooming.1 In 2012, this segment of sales increased 6%, reaching $45.5 million, proving men’s skin care is on the upward trend.1

With an increasing number of men embracing good skin care practices, professionals will benefit from knowing how to work with men’s skin, particularly the different nuances of their respective age groups. (See Working With Generations of Men.)

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Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that works for the various age groups across the board, there are some common challenges men combat throughout the generations. With the proper tools and treatments (See Treatment How-to: Rejuvenating Peel for Men), skin care professionals can help male clients tackle these issues. Keep in mind, a large part of the process will also involve educating them about how to care for their skin at home.

Men and their skin

Do men really have different skin than women? There are many similarities and, of course, many of the products and treatments used on female clients still work very effectively on men’s skin, but there are also some key differences.

Men typically have:

  • A thicker dermis and epidermis;
  • Higher sensitivity;
  • A different hormonal make-up;
  • More sebum;
  • Larger pores; and
  • More facial hair than women.

Some studies have shown a difference in the acidity of the pH level of men’s skin, as well, changing the make-up of their acid mantle, which is a combination of sebum and perspiration.4 Additionally, men battle skin issues specifically related to shaving, such as ingrown hairs, dryness and razor burn.

To compensate for possible differences in the acid mantle, skin care professionals should be cognizant of the pH levels of the cleansers and topical products used. Products with higher pH levels may elevate the overall skin pH and disrupt the acid mantle, which serves as an important protective barrier. Of course, there are many other components that will impact the skin’s pH, such as diet, sleep, medications and environment, but skin care professionals do have an opportunity to help clients get back on the right track.

Testosterone also plays a significant role. In the epidermis and dermis, it is responsible for increasing collagen production, blood flow and the number of granular cells. With sebaceous glands, testosterone stimulates the production of sebum and toughens hairs in the follicle. For any treatment or formula to be effective, it must address men’s sebum, hair and sensitivity factors, as well as their thicker epidermis and lower pH level.

Getting men on the right track

There are three key steps that men in any age group must implement for healthy skin.

1. Cleanse. It’s important to talk to men about the process, including how to do it and for how long.

2. Exfoliate. Men are already doing this with their daily shave—they just need to extend the process to the rest of their face. Talk with clients about frequency and the proper pressure to use when applying.

3. Protect. Zinc oxide, along with skin-fortifying antioxidants, helps guard against free radical damage, nourish the skin and prevent premature aging. Be sure to end every treatment with a protective element.

Also, talk with clients about how their lifestyle can impact the health of their skin. Getting adequate sleep, not smoking, eating less sugar and more fresh foods, keeping stress at bay and exercising can significantly improve the appearance of the skin.

An emphasis on education

When working with male clients, keep in mind your biggest asset will be education. Not only educating yourself on the nuances of men’s skin, and the ingredients and treatments that work best for them, but also arming them with this knowledge. Once they understand, they are more likely to adopt proper skin care methods, become loyal clients and make their skin care purchases from your retail area.


  5. (All accessed May 9, 2013)

Rhonda AllisonRhonda Allison, a pioneer in the skin care industry, is the founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals and RA for Men. She is also an author and internationally known speaker with more than 30 years of esthetic experience. She can be contacted at 866-313-7546 or

Note: treatments that a licensed esthetician may perform in a medical spa space vary by state. Please consult with your state board before adopting or performing any unfamiliar treatment.

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Working With Generations of Men



Treatment How-to: Rejuvenating Peel for Men

Rejuvenating Peel for Men

Duration: 30 minutes

Cost: $125–175

Contraindications: Do not perform if client is taking multiple medications, including tretinoin or isotretinoin; is under physician’s care; has a sunburn or upcoming outdoor activities planned within 2–4 weeks; has aspirin allergies or sensitivities; or has any open wounds.

Supplies and equipment needed:

4 x 4 gauze squares

Facial steamer

2 glass beakers

Firm square brush

Eye pads

Gauze (optional)

Heated warm compress

Hand-held fan

Disposable gloves

Products needed:

Lactic acid and tequila cleansing wash

Salicylic cleansing pads

Papaya enzyme

Salicylic and salicylate toner with sake, minerals and specialty teas

Rice wine, pyruvic and phytic acid solution

Retinol skin-corrective serum

Mineral (zinc) and antioxidant day cream

Step 1: Ask the client to complete a consultation form. Before the treatment, discuss any issues of concern regarding the form. Next, walk the client to the treatment room and ask him to lay face up on the treatment bed.

Step 2: Moisten skin with a water-dampened 4 x 4 gauze to remove surface oils. Apply lactic acid and tequila cleanser to the skin, and begin to work it in with circular massage movements. As the cleanser becomes matte, moisten hands and massage it into a lather. Continue to work the product into the skin to deeply cleanse for 3–5 minutes. Optional: You may also use steam with this step.

Step 3: Remove cleanser with warm, wet gauze and rinse several times to thoroughly remove cleanser.

Step 4: Apply one salicylic cleansing pad across skin with firm pressure to pick up any excess oil, while working deeper into the pores.

Step 5: Place one teaspoon of the papaya enzyme in a glass beaker. Using a firm brush, apply evenly to the face and neck. Place eye pads over the eyes and steam for 10 minutes, or occlude skin with a thin gauze layer and heated wet compress. Remove enzyme with a wet 4 x 4 gauze and perform several rinses. Blot the skin dry with a tissue or dry gauze.

Step 6: Saturate two inches of gauze with salicylic and salicylate toner, and smooth into skin with firm pressure. After performing this step, inspect the gauze for a yellow residue, which indicates that lipids have lifted from pores.

Step 7: Place eye pads on the client and provide him with a hand-held fan, in case of intense heat. Men are often more sensitive than women when it comes to stinging sensations. Remind the client when you hand them the fan to use it if the stinging becomes too intense. Be sure to wear disposable gloves for this step.

Step 8: Pour the rice wine, pyruvic and phytic acid peel solution into a glass beaker. Dip a firm square brush into the solution and carefully apply one layer evenly to the face and neck. Wait about 5–7 minutes while the solution fully absorbs into the skin.

Step 9: Apply the retinol skin-corrective serum and let it remain on the skin.

Step 10: Finish by applying a mineral and antioxidant day cream to shield the skin from environmental elements.

Step 11: Instruct the client to do nothing to the skin for 24–48 hours, other than mild rinses in the shower and applying a mineral-based sunscreen daily. He should avoid hot steam and any heat exposure. The skin will be somewhat tight, but not uncomfortable, and flaking will begin on day three or four once cleansing resumes. Have the client return in seven days for a relaxing barbershop express clean up, which includes a cleanse and enzyme application, followed by a nourishing topical and warm towel, and finished with an SPF application.

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