How are men's facial cleansers different from women's facial cleansers?

woman uses pad to clean face
Men's facial cleansers have some advantages that regular cleansers don't -- like ingredients that aid shaving. See more personal hygiene pictures.

Years ago, Colgate, the maker of Irish Spring deodorant soap, famously created the slogan, "Manly, yes, but I like it too."

And while there are a few personal care products that appeal to both men and women, you probably won't find many when it comes to facial cleansers. The reasons for this include how the products are marketed, as well as the different skin care needs of the two genders.


Men have tougher, oilier skin due to an increased amount of collagen in the dermis (the middle layer of skin) [source: Clinique].

In addition, daily shaving has an exfoliating effect on their faces. Because of these factors, their skin tends to show the signs of aging more slowly than women's.

While it may sound like the fairer sex has the raw end of this deal, consider that most women usually have a history of taking better care of their skin.

They are much more likely to pamper their faces with moisturizers and sunscreens, which, over time, can make a difference in the health of the body's largest organ.

These variations -- both in skin type and behavior -- mean that men's and women's facial cleansers are sometimes formulated with different types of ingredients. In the coming sections, we'll look at the distinctions between these facial cleansers.


Men's Facial Cleanser Ingredients

Generally speaking, men aren't exactly connoisseurs of facial cleansers. In fact, even skin care products marketed toward men (often with masculine, sporty packaging) are more likely to be bought for them by women [source: Cosmetics Design]. That's not to say that men are unlikely to wash their faces; it's just that they're more prone to clean with whatever's on hand -- either the bar soap they use on their bodies or the cleanser that belongs to their significant other.

Body soaps are not ideal for facial cleansing as they contain harsh detergents that can remove moisture from the skin [source: WebMD]. Fortunately, men have tougher skin that is less sensitive to such ingredients. And because men are not as likely to spend a lot of time on their personal care routine, many manufacturers of men's cleansers have designed washes that are formulated for use on both the body and face, minimizing the time spent on grooming while still protecting the face from harsh chemicals.


Man-centric facial cleansers also have some advantages for men that regular cleansers don't -- ingredients that aid shaving. Some may contain exfoliants, which can help reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs, and aloe, which can soften the beard.

Beyond features that accommodate beard maintenance and skin toughness, men's facial cleansers contain the same basic ingredients that any general version would, which can include soap compounds, fatty acids and synthetic surfactants, which reduce surface tension when dissolved. Also like standard facial cleansers, products formulated for men usually offer special formulations for dry, oily or sensitive skin.

Keep reading to learn more about women's cleansers.


Women's Facial Cleanser Ingredients

man washes face
Whether you're a woman or a man, you want to have a clean face. But facial cleansers are not "one size fits all."

We've discussed men's facial cleansers and how they differ from others on the market. However, you'll rarely hear of a category called women's cleansers. That's because almost any skin care product not designed specifically for men is meant for women. View any general skin care advertisement and almost all will contain female models. And observe the packaging of these products: They include soft, female-friendly colors, as well as language geared toward women's appearance concerns ("anti-aging," for example).

So it's safe to say that the ingredients of women's facial cleansers are the ingredients of any facial cleanser. They contain standard elements like soap compounds, synthetic surfactants and fatty acids.


However, because women do have more fragile skin than men, they should probably avoid using cleansers formulated for their masculine counterparts, as those products are designed for thicker, oilier skin and may not be as mild as they need. And since women's skin shows signs of aging faster, they might also want to consider a cleanser with humectants, which are moisturizing ingredients.

Because women tend to invest more time and money into skincare, there is a larger variety of cleansers geared toward them. So if you're a woman searching for a new cleanser, you can keep in mind the basics we've established and build on that foundation with a cleanser that is formulated specifically for your skin type and needs. You'll find products containing special ingredients for acne and wrinkle prevention -- and almost anything in between.

Want to know more about skin care? Keep reading for additional information.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Cutting Through the Clutter: Making the Most of Your Facial Cleansing Routine." Feb. 21, 2005. (Dec. 23, 2010)
  • Bruno, Karen. "What's New: Advances in Face Care." WebMD. Aug. 6, 2009. (Dec. 23, 2010)
  • CareFair. "Your Skincare Guide to Soap." (Dec. 23, 2010)
  • Clinique. "Men's Skin 101." (Dec. 23, 2010)
  • Davis, Jeanie Lerche. "A Guy's Guide to Skin Care." WebMD. 2006. (Dec. 23, 2010)
  • Jaret, Peter. "Men's Skin Care for Your Face." WebMD. July 21, 2009. (Dec. 23, 2010)
  • Marmur, Ellen. "What Are the Most Common Cleansing Ingredients?" The Cleveland Clinic, ShareCare. (Dec. 23, 2010)
  • Nichol, Katie. "Organic Male Highlights Importance of Marketing Men's Skin Care to Women." Cosmetics Design. May 10, 2010. (Dec. 23, 2010)
  • Packaged Facts. "Men's Grooming Products: A Global Analysis." Nov. 1, 2009. (Dec. 23, 2010)