Mars Versus Venus
Are men different from women in regards to their skin? While there are many similarities, there are some key differences that every professional should be aware of. These differences include a thicker dermis and epidermis, higher sensitivity, increased production of sebum, larger pores, more facial hair, and of course a different hormonal structure. Skin issues specifically related to shaving, such as ingrown hairs, dryness and razor burn also challenge men.
Some studies have even shown a difference in men’s acid mantle, a combination of sebum and perspiration which serves as an important protective barrier. The acid mantle can be disrupted when the pH level fluctuates and often a product’s pH can play a role in this disruption. For instance, products with a higher pH may elevate the skin’s pH, throwing off the sebum production and thereby the mantle.
Addressing sebum, tough hair, skin sensitivities, thicker epidermis and acid mantle is also important. Effective treatments and formulas will need to take into account one more component: testosterone. In the epidermis and dermis, testosterone increases the number of granular cells, collagen production and blood flow. It also stimulates the production of sebum and toughens hair in the follicle. Testosterone will fluctuate with age and while there is no magic treatment to cure what ails our male clientele, having the education, proper tools and treatments in place will help aesthetic professionals diagnose and effectively solve skin challenges as men progress through the generations.
Depending upon where the client is in his skin care spectrum, setting the proper foundation is the first step. Educating them on proper skin care and the importance of it will enhance work done in the treatment room and help them maintain healthy skin.
A few of the challenges men face, which are very similar to women, include acne, hyperpigmentation, aging and moisture loss. Men also see an increased occurrence of pseudofolliculitis (ingrown hairs and razor bumps) and, because they do not regularly wear sunscreen, sun damage.
While every man will come with his own set of skin challenges, there are a few fundamental steps each male should know and use in order to achieve healthy skin. Three very simple elements – cleansing, exfoliating and protecting – will help abate acne and the appearance of aging and hyperpigmentation.
- Cleanse – Chances are clients are under cleansing and over delivering on topicals and moisturizers, piling ingredients on the skin. Educate men, and all clientele, on how to cleanse and for how long. Proper technique will allow corrective ingredients to penetrate the cells and actually go to work.
- Exfoliate – Proper exfoliation stimulates cell turnover by lifting dead cells and in the process, initiating the regenerating process. However, this essential step requires balance, particularly with granular scrubs. Provide clients a schedule for exfoliating and educate them on the proper pressure to apply.
- Protect – This step is absolutely essential, but is an often forgotten part of the daily regimen, mainly among men. Not only is it important to shield the skin from ultraviolet rays, but also other damaging elements like wind and pollutants. A good zinc and antioxidant-based protection formula will guard against free radical damage, nourish the skin, and prevent sun-induced premature aging.
Lifestyle is also an important component. An unhealthy diet, chronic stress, little sleep and lack of exercise will most certainly impact the skin. While we are not physicians, it is within our role as aesthetic professionals to talk with clients about how lifestyle impacts the skin. Let us now delve into some of the more specific conditions men battle as they progress through the generations.
Acne can impact men at any age, but it is most common among teenagers and men in their 40s and 50s who experience fluctuations in hormone levels. Focusing on cleansing and healing is an important factor in acne cases.
A facial cleanser that contains salicylic or lactic acid works well for acneic conditions, providing exfoliation, hydration and antibacterial support. Retinoid creams also have a direct impact on lesions by inducing cell turnover and reducing sebum. Additional moisturizing and antioxidant support comes from ingredients like blue agave and zeolite, natural minerals that detoxify and strengthen the skin’s immunity.
For quick cleanups, particularly after workouts, provide clients with salicylic acid-based cleansing pads with natural antibacterials such as totarol. These are great for the man on the move as they provide quick exfoliation and remove excess oil and dirt from the skin.
As I noted, acne can reemerge in adulthood, and studies report nearly 25 percent of men battle adult acne. To treat this, use a mild solution such as papain enzymes or sake-based acid solutions to help stimulate cell turnover, make extractions easier, and repair and rebuild the skin which not only helps minimize signs of aging, but also treats acne. Follow with a bentonite or kaolin-based clay mask to draw out toxins and prevent pores from clogging. Finish the treatment with salicylic-based toners, peptides, minerals (such as rhodochrosite), and hyaluronic acid to give the skin a boost of hydration and nutrition.
As men move into their late 20s and 30s, hormone levels stabilize, lifestyles change and skin is generally at its healthiest. This stage presents an opportunity to discuss damage prevention and maintaining skin health. At this age, men are typically more willing to get on board with skin care maintenance to prevent the signs of aging from creeping in. Protecting the skin now will reap tremendous rewards in the future.
Pseudofolliculitis and Dehydration
Ingrown hairs, razor bumps and moisture loss are other common challenges men face. Men experiencing this look for tools to help them combat uncomfortable conditions that often accompany shaving and dry skin.
Though counterintuitive to many consumers, cleansing is essential to mitigating dryness and pseudofolliculitis. If performed prior to shaving, cleansing will clear away oil and debris and soften the hair making for an easier shave. Gel-based shaving formulas also promote hydration and allow for a more even shave and less tugging on the follicles. Nourishing toners help reduce razor burn, breakouts and ingrown hairs.
As men progress through their 30s, 40s, 50s and older, visual signs of aging begin to set in. This varies significantly by client and can include fine lines to deep-set wrinkles, decreased collagen production to a severe loss in collagen and elastin fibers, mild discoloration, dehydration, and even sun damage due to many years of exposure to environ-
First and foremost, be on the lookout for any abnormal spots and refer clients to a specialist if you come across any suspicious lesions. In the treatment room, a progressive peel will address both aging and age spots and help increase hydration and collagen production, refine pores, correct discoloration, and give the skin an overall refreshed look. Utilize a rice wine, a pyruvic and phytic acid solution to rejuvenate the skin and provide exfoliation, and finish with retinol and a potent dose of antioxidants to rebuild the skin. Do not forget the
The Male Appeal
While having the right services in place to provide solutions for men’s specific skin challenges will prove an effective marketing approach, it is just one piece of the puzzle. Marketing materials should speak directly to the male clientele, making it clear that everything about the treatment and products is geared specifically for them. Strong, bold colors and active phrases will garner their attention, but also be sure to clearly outline a problem specific to their skin, a solution, and the results they can expect.
Simplicity is key throughout and should reflect everything from a straightforward marketing message to the treatment room. While men relish in being pampered, they also like result-driven treatments that allow them to get in, out, and on with their lives with minimal disruption.
Once the services and marketing collateral are in place, it is time to spread the word. Start with your existing base of clients – if they primarily consist of women at this point, even better. Remember they will likely be the ones to introduce the men in their lives to proper skin care.
Partnering with male-appealing local businesses such as golf courses, country clubs, gyms, and even upscale automobile dealers to develop special incentive packages often proves fruitful. Utilize e-mail or direct mail pieces to reach out to corporations in which maintaining a well-groomed appearance is essential to success in the workplace. Offer them an introductory promotion to get them in the spa door. Just remember to keep it bold, yet simple.
When executed properly, with the right knowledge in place, integrating services for the male clientele in your spa may reap tremendous rewards and provide a business boost. Just be sure to focus on simplicity, education and result-driven services. This also goes for the treatment room and prescribed home care regimens.
Rhonda 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 aesthetic experience. www.rhondaallison.com and www.ramethod.com