Women's skin, while it's comprised of the same things as men's skin, has different concerns. Women's skin is not as thick as men's skin, due a naturally thinner layer of collagen in the dermis -- in fact, the collagen layer is about 25 percent smaller [source: P&G Beauty & Grooming]. Additionally, hormones play an important role in determining a woman's skin type, just as they do with men. This doesn't mean that women can't have oily skin or men can't have dry skin, but it suggests that our gender contributes to how the cards fall. And, just like men, women's skin becomes thinner and drier as they age -- for women, that happens right around the time menopause hits and estrogen levels drop.
You'll find many women's body cleansers contain pretty much the same ingredients as those marketed to men. Hydrating ingredients, including glycerin, which helps to attract moisture to the skin, as well as petroleum-based ingredients and oils that help seal moisture into skin are common, as are acne-busters such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
While ground apricot pits may sound like they'd scrub all those dead skin cells off -- and they will -- they can be too harsh for women's skin because of their rough edges. Exfoliating cleansers that contain smooth, round particles -- such as polyethylene beads or sodium tetraborate decahydrate (borax) granules -- are a gentler yet still effective option. Our skin generally regenerates itself on a monthly basis, but regular exfoliation will help remove dead skin cells before they can cause flaky and uneven-looking skin. Exfoliation will also help the post-shower moisturizer soak into skin more effectively.
Ultimately, the skin-care products you choose should be the ones that work best for your skin type, age and lifestyle, and that has little to do with gender. Some men may prefer an all-in-one cleanser that not only washes away dirt but also fights acne and replaces the need for a separate moisturizer -- whether it's in male-specific packaging or comes in a small, pretty container. If its ingredients give you the best results, it doesn't matter if it's for men or for women. It's for you.
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Cutting Through the Clutter: Making the Most of Your Facial Cleansing Routine." Feb. 21, 2005. (Jan. 24, 2011) http://www2.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?acct=104&story=/www/story/02-21-2005/0003065165&edate
- Bruno, Karen. "Women's Skin Care for Your Face." WebMD. Aug. 10, 2009. (Jan. 24, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/women-face-skin-care
- Jaret, Peter. "Men's Grooming: Skin Care for Your Body." WebMD. July 21, 2009. (Jan. 24, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/men-body
- Jaret, Peter. "Men's Skin Care for Your Face." WebMD. July 21, 2009. (Jan. 24, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/men-shaving-grooming
- Marmur, Ellen. "What are the most common cleansing ingredients?" Sharecare. (Jan. 24, 2011)http://www.sharecare.com/question/what-most-common-cleansing-ingredients
- P&G Beauty & Grooming. "Skin Cleansing." (Jan. 24, 2011) http://www.pgbeautygroomingscience.com/skin-cleansing.html
- Packaged Facts. "Men's Grooming Products: A Global Analysis." Market Research Group, LLC. Nov. 1, 2009. (Jan. 24, 2011)http://www.packagedfacts.com/Men-Personal-Care-2293646/
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?)." July 8, 2002. (Jan. 24, 2011) http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/ucm074201.htm