The FDA doesn't regulate moisturizers or other skincare products, and questions have been raised about some ingredients commonly found in women's moisturizers, such as parabens. Parabens -- such as propylparaben and parahydroxybenzoate -- are simply preservatives that are mixed into the moisturizer to keep it from spoiling.
Parabens are also xenoestrogens, meaning they fit into specially shaped estrogen receptors located in your cells. The presence of a paraben molecule in an estrogen receptor causes other glands and neurotransmitters to begin behaving, signaling and making adjustments based on the presence of that "estrogen." The presence of parabens in so many products makes it hard to determine whether parabens affect estrogen production or other aspects of the endocrine system. While no conclusive studies have consistently linked paraben use to increased rates of cancer or other problems, many people choose to avoid these chemicals and to seek out moisturizers that are free of parabens.
As previously mentioned, one primary difference between men's and women's moisturizers has nothing to do with any difference in men's and women's skin: fragrance. Women's moisturizers usually have a sweet or flowery fragrance. This -- in addition to the packaging, which often features "soft" or feminine colors -- is a primary identifier of a moisturizer produced for women. Women with sensitive skin may discover their skin irritation is caused by their moisturizer's fragrance.
While women's moisturizers usually contain many of the ingredients mentioned in the previous section, they often include many more, such as these:
- Vitamin A (in the form of retinol or retinoic acid): Forms of vitamin A are often included in women's moisturizers and touted -- accurately -- as "anti-aging." Vitamin A derivatives work by stimulating collagen production, which helps fill in fine lines and wrinkles over time.
- Vitamin C & vitamin E: These antioxidants help repair cellular damage caused by sun, pollution and free radicals that are created during oxygenation.
- Urea & lactic acid: Both are humectants that help draw and bind water to the epidermis, which is important for women since their skin tends to be drier than men's.
Want to know more about the differences between men's and women's moisturizers? Check out the next page for lots more information.