The differences between male and female skin

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The differences between male and female skin

Skin is skin. No matter how you identify. That’s why Medik8 recommends our CSA Philosophy to everyone; no restrictions. The secret to younger looking skin is the same for all; vitamin C followed by Sunscreen by day, vitamin A by night. This easy to follow strategy is clinically proven to visibly reduce all signs of premature skin ageing.

Many female-oriented brands have created a ‘for men’ range with slightly different formulas or even taken the exact same female-oriented formula and put it in a more masculine looking pack and not told you about it. For us, we wanted to be fully transparent with our ‘for men’ offering as simply put, CSA is right for everyone. Full stop. So, we’re not being shy about. Our For Men range contains the same great formulations as our regular range, just packaged up in a more masculine looking box with some specific advice on how to care for men’s skin. That’s it.

We more than agree there are a few striking differences between male and female skin, mainly due to our inherent physiological differences. But CSA is still very much the way to go. Let’s take a look at what makes us different.


Let’s talk about hormones. Not just a distant memory from your tempramental teenage years, hormones still rule the roost when it comes to determining skin anatomy during adulthood. In fact, most of the physiological differences between men and women’s skin can be blamed on differences in levels of hormones.

Men are ruled by testosterone, a sex hormone synthesised in the testes and the adrenal cortex, which also occurs in women in the ovaries. Testosterone is converted to dehydro testosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. Estrogen and progesterone are synthesised in the ovaries in women and play a huge part in a women’s hormone regulation.[1]

In males, testosterone and DHT wield overall power over hormone receptors in the skin which control sebum secretion, sweat production, hair growth, and a whole host of other factors.

Let’s take a look at exactly how men and women’s skin differs physiologically…

Sebum Production

Sebum is important as it provides your skin with a flexible, protective and waterproof stratum corneum barrier. Overactive sebum production can be associated with pore blockages, enlarged pores and acne.

Hormonal stimulation causes the sebaceous glands to increase in size and heightens sebum production. Males tend to have much larger pores than women and secrete more sebum, due to higher levels of DHT. In fact, men have been found to have up to 4x more sebum than women.[2] A larger sebum output is usually associated with larger facial pores.

Vitamin A is your secret weapon for helping to normalise the skin’s sebum production. Able to decrease the activity of overactive sebaceous glands, vitamin A is ideal for those looking to banish acne-prone skin. Try incorporating Crystal Retinal into your nighttime routine. It features powerful retinaldehyde, which is the only form of vitamin A proven to be directly antibacterial - ideal for a blemish-prone skin type.

Male sebum levels stay pretty constant throughout their lives, but women’s sebum levels vary short-term with ovulation cycles, and long term they decrease with age. Often women find that post-menopause their skin produces much less sebum and this can lead to issues with dryness.[3]

If you are experiencing dry skin from a lack of sebum production; try C-Tetra Intense, our vitamin C serum based on squalane. Chemically almost identical to squalene, a component present in our sebum, the squalane helps to form a natural barrier over the skin to add suppleness and nourishment to the complexion.


Men’s skin is almost always thicker than females, by up to 25%.[1] In fact, men have been found to have a higher collagen density than women.[4]

Male skin thickness decreases linearly over the years starting at around age 20, while women's skin thickness tends to remain constant until the age of 50, after which it decreases.[4] This is usually associated with hormone imbalance during menopause, causing a decrease in hydroxyproline, a major component in the synthesis of collagen.

A little helping hand with collagen production can be appreciated in both sexes. The CSA philosophy helps to provide your skin with the means to push your skin to produce collagen. Vitamin C is known to help form hydroxyproline, and vitamin A is proven to boost collagen production. Sunscreen is imperative for keeping that freshly formed collagen safe from the sun’s damaging rays. Interestingly, men have been found to be more susceptible to UVA and UVB damage, so therefore must be even more diligent with sunscreen.[1]

Facial Hair

A huge difference between men and women’s skin is the presence of facial hair. Most men grow facial hair due to the presence of testosterone.

Shaving can promote either helpful or harmful exfoliation and it may make skin even more prone to irritation or inflammation. It can cause dryness, redness, ingrown hairs and even hyper sensitivity to products applied afterwards. Shaving effectively removes the upper skin barrier and therefore anything applied on top of this area will penetrate into the skin at a higher rate. This may be why often men experience more sensation when applying active products on this area.

Vitamin A is key to helping to promote an intact and protective barrier over the skin. Vitamin A is known to help speed up skin cell renewal, which overtime helps to restore your skin’s natural defences. Applying sunscreen over shaved skin is especially important as this skin often lacks natural protection against the sun’s harmful rays.

Taking care of male skin

So there are a few key differences between men and women’s skin; sebum production, thickness and facial hair. But CSA is the overarching solution which transcends gender. All of our Medik8 products can be used by everyone; no matter how you identify. We have developed 3 brand new kits designed with men in mind; boxing CSA up into sleek black packaging. But of course, all of these kits can be used by absolutely anyone. Everyone welcome.

The ideal presents, here’s how to choose the perfect kit for the man in your life...

For the skincare beginner, or time-pressed man, look no further than the Medik8 for Men CSA Philosophy Kit Essential Edition. Looking for the easiest routine to follow to fit CSA snugly but quickly into your AM & PM routines? Look no further. With only 2 cream products plus a cleanser, it is the quickest way to get started with our CSA Philosophy.

For the more advanced, Medik8 for Men CSA Philosophy Kit supplies full-size CSA products to get cracking with the CSA journey. Or try our mini sizes in Medik8 for Men CSA Kit Discovery Edition; perfect for those looking to dip their toe into professional skincare, or those off to dip their toe into an infinity pool after a long haul flight (aka holiday skincare!)

Whatever you choose, make it CSA - the ultimate routine for Beautiful Skin for Life.


[1] P. U. Giacomoni et al, Gender-linked differences in human skin, Journal of Dermatological Science, 2009, 55, pp 144-149

[2] U. Jacobi et al, Gender-related differences in the physiology of the stratum corneum, Dermatology, 2005, 211(4), pp 312-317

[3] M. Roh et al, Sebum output as a factor contributing to the size of facial pores, British Journal of Dermatology, 2006, 155(5), pp 890-894

[4] S. Shuster et al, The influence of age and sex on skin thickness, skin collagen and density., British Journal of Dermatology, 1975, 93(6), pp 639-43

[5] S. Rahrovan et al, Male versus female skin: What dermatologists and cosmeticians should know, International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 2018, 4(3), pp 122-130

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