With Father’s Day around the corner, many of us are celebrating the special men in our life. It makes us pause and think for a moment - What exactly is men’s skincare? Do men actually need their own skincare ranges? (Isn’t it just another marketing gimmick?) Let’s delve a little deeper into this less-explored topic.
Do men need their own skincare?
Men’s skincare is products that specifically address skin concerns and lifestyle needs unique to men. Wait, but aren’t men's and women’s skin the same? Well, not exactly. Men’s skin tends to be 25% thicker than women’s skin on average, due to higher collagen levels. Sebaceous glands (which produce oil) are more active in male skin – this means men have better built-in moisture but it also makes them more acne-prone, so they don’t have as heavy hydration needs as women. Men also tend to have larger pores on average, especially on the face. Then, the aging process for male skin is more gradual, unlike with female skin which tends to undergo dramatic changes around menopause. Most of these differences can be attributed to hormones testosterone and estrogen. And that’s just the biology. Additional lifestyle factors, such as shaving daily and spending more time outdoors on average, make skin-repairing ingredients and SPF even more a necessity for men.
How J-Beauty men’s skincare is evolving
Nowadays, men are no longer pigeon-holed into a bar soap, razor and shaving cream lifestyle, but they’re perceived as tuned-in consumers. This is especially the case with Japanese men. The majority of young 20-something Japanese males use some type of skincare, with face wash, moisturizers, brightening products, aftershaves, and anti-aging creams the most sought after. Many modern day Japanese men prefer a naturally healthy and smooth skin texture – a big contrast to the romanticized, rugged look of the past.
Japanese men’s skincare routines tend to be minimalist and sophisticated, based on what’s tried and true rather than passing trends. True to J-Beauty philosophy, Japanese men tend to prefer products that simplify their skincare routines, so they often opt for all-in-one products that are easy to use. They also seem to favor crisp feel-good aromas in their skincare products, much like men’s cologne.
It’s interesting to note that even beyond skincare, Japanese men in general tend to be more beauty-conscious than their western counterparts, with male beauty parlors offering more than just haircuts and hair coloring – we’re talking mud-pack facials, body hair removal, eyebrow trimming, and even manicures tailored to men. The belief that beautiful skin helps a person feel healthy, competent, and confident is no longer exclusive to women. Visits to beauty salons as well as DIY self-care is considered a way to unwind and relax for the working Japanese man. Even makeup for men is becoming more and more popular, with men using foundation to conceal acne.
At the end of the day, stick to what works
Is it absolutely essential that men stick to only men’s skincare products? We shouldn’t forget that despite the overall differences between male and female skin, individual skin concerns can vary drastically, and one need not feel confined to only their own gender-marketed products. Product packaging aside, many skincare products (J-Beauty products included) are functionally unisex, and basic skin needs - cleansing, hydration, and sun protection – are universal for all genders. At the end of the day, people should feel comfortable to use whatever works for them. Afterall, good skincare helps solve problems, not create new ones!