Beauties, have you ever looked at the shelves, at those products labelled ‘men’ and ‘women’ and wondered… what’s really the difference and what’s just marketing? Randa Zaid founder of Hayaty Natural is here to talk about this!
There are some minor differences, but human skin has almost the same structure regardless of gender. Men’s skin is around 20 – 25 per cent thicker than women’s skin, it contains more collagen and elastin and tends to produce more oil due to the amount of testosterone in the male body. But women also have certain levels of this hormone, it’s not exclusive to men. So, basically, the science says skin is skin.
But a different proposition is proffered in the health and beauty sections of our stores, where flowery pastel packaging turns dark and monochromatic as skincare products become more suitable for men.
Sex sells, and so does gender
It begins at birth—blue for a boy, pink for a girl—and continues with toys: skipping ropes and dolls for girls; marbles and toy boats, trains, and cars for boys. Girls liking pink and boys liking blue is instinctual for most of us. This conditioning informs our thinking well into adulthood and the cosmetics industry has for some time had the same mentality. It bought into the masculine versus feminine trope and used stereotypes as extremely powerful marketing tools.
The colours in women’s products are soft and muted and the fragrance is flowery—roses, lilies, cotton and spring meadows—but men’s products are dark and smouldering with the emphasis on strength and the packaging is scattered with adjectives such as ice, glacier, shark and savage to ramp up the tough guy image. Strong, earthy smells are associated with masculinity, but shouldn’t be up to individuals what type of smells they prefer?
GlobalData, which provides expert analysis for companies in the world’s biggest industries, reports that rising expectations from consumers are now driving up the transition to gender-neutral products and smart retailers are already re-designing their stores in a shift away from the traditional male and female sections.
Caring for skin
The focus in any skincare routine should be the needs of your skin and not your gender. Is your skin oily, dry, sensitive or a combination? Your gender doesn’t determine your skin type and by specifying products in this way, many people might be missing out on optimising their skincare routines. Men and women eat the same food after all. They might prefer some different flavours, and some might eat more than others but many ingredients are the same and enjoyed by both. We don’t market food to feed male and female bodies differently so why do we do it when it comes to feeding our skin?
Just because a product says it is for women or men doesn’t mean both can’t use it. It might be marketed differently but it doesn’t mean it’s not the same. In 2015 the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that women’s skincare products cost up to 13 per cent more than those marketed at men and women tend to buy more skincare products than men.
Do it like an Egyptian
Beauty held significant value in ancient Egypt and the possession of an x or y chromosome had no bearing on the products they used for their self-care. Both men and women went to great lengths with their skincare routines with the emphasis on cleanliness. Taking care of the body was necessary for good health and warding off evil and the same products have been found in the graves of both men and women.
In modern society we have tended to view self-care as being just for women and many men haven’t wanted to be seen taking that sort of care for themselves. But that is changing. We need to get away from the idea that taking care of our skin is about preventing wrinkles or focusing on anti-ageing. Its not about vanity, its about nourishing our skin and taking care of ourselves. It’s less about gender and more about being holistic. Today’s men and women are more likely to be focused on greener, cleaner formulas than gender.
Choosing suitable products
Start with products that suit your skin type. Keep it simple. We really don’t need hundreds of different products. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it. The days of husbands and boyfriends having to be coerced into using a face wash or moisturiser are diminishing in our enlightened world, but if men are embracing a skincare routine for the first time it makes sense to look for natural products. Don’t make the leap from never using skincare to suddenly slapping on something with a harsh retinol base. The key ingredients to look out for are products with antioxidants and vitamins, especially A, C, D and E as well as B12 for hydration. The fewer the ingredients the better. A gentle cleanser with milk and honey or an olive oil soap won’t strip away the skin’s natural oils. A high-factor sunscreen in the morning should set you up for the day. Overnight an oil-based moisturiser will calm and nourish. And that is all anyone really needs, with perhaps a serum boost a couple of times a week for added hydration.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Randa Zaid is founder of Hayaty Natural, a genderless skincare brand inspired by the wisdom of the ancient Egyptians. Using medicinal botanicals like Black Seed (so beloved of the Ancient Egyptians they called it the ‘blessed seed’) and a combination of plant-based ingredients sourced from local communities in Randa’s homelands of Egypt and Italy, each formulation follows ancient recipes developed by the Pharaohs to provide an holistic approach to self-care. Hayaty is Organic, Vegan, Fairtrade, Cruelty- and GMO-free. Packaged in recyclable glass and card, each bottle comes with a hand-made Egyptian papyrus to inspire us to love ourselves and our environment.
New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
The American Academy of Dermatology