Not ones to shy away from controversy, here at Sönd, we like doing things a little bit different to many other, mainstream, skin care brands.
For example, we don’t advocate the addition of an across the board sun protection factor (SPF) in our skin care range, as we don’t believe that this is the right thing to do. Instead, we believe that it’s our fans right to choose whether or not they use sunscreen.
If you wish to, our day and night time moisturisers can be mixed or layered with a separate sunscreen, either chemical or mineral. And if you’d prefer to take other sun care measures, such as wearing a broad brimmed hat or avoiding the heat of the sun in its hottest hours between 11am and 3pm then that works perfectly too.
But when we get down and dirty with our topics, they generally revolve around skin and skin care. Not, as you’d expect, anything to do with sex or gender.
But we can’t ignore the question of gendered skin care. How often have you seen “razors for women” or “deodorant for men” advertised and wondered, how is women’s unwanted hair or male sweat any different from anyone else’s?
Across the pond, our American cousins have recently had a groundbreaking election and have seen the first woman elected to the post of vice president. And Vice President Elect Kamala Harris is a woman of colour too. Congrats, America!
So whilst glass ceilings are being smashed in what’s generally deemed to be one of the most powerful countries in the world, is there a place for gendered skin care in today’s society? Can men use women’s moisturiser?
Or is there evidence that biologically female and male skin is different, and therefore has different skin care needs? Is there little difference aside from ‘girly pink’ packaging and ‘masculine’ musky, woody scents?
Let’s find out…
Female vs male skin: a lesson in hormone biology
As we’ve discussed numerous times here at Sönd, our skin is very much under the influence of our hormones. If we’re female, the peaks and troughs of our hormones as we go through our menstrual cycle, potentially pregnancy and breastfeeding and then the inevitable menopause, all mean our skin might suffer.
This is because the skin is influenced most by the hormones known as the androgens. These are the male sex hormones that are also present in women’s bodies, just to a much lesser extent. As our female hormones rise and fall, they either mask or highlight the activities of testosterone.
Testosterone is a type of androgen, and when this hormone is high, it can cause the release of excess sebum. Sebum is the oily, wax like substance that is naturally produced by the skin to keep it supple and hydrated.
But if we produce too much sebum, we can suffer the effects of oily skin and potentially acne prone skin as excess sebum can block the skin’s pores, leading to spots and breakouts.
Because male bodies contain higher levels of testosterone, their skin also tends to be oilier, thicker and have more pronounced enlarged pores.
So this is one reason why biologically male skin will benefit from a heavier moisturiser than biologically female skin. Plus, generally speaking, they will benefit from a moisturiser that targets oil production and enlarged pores.
Hormones and hair
But it isn’t just hormones that dictate our skin care needs. Another major, more visible difference between most biologically female skin types and most biologically male skin types, is glaringly obvious - facial hair. Males tend to have a lot more of the stuff, and it tends to grow longer on a daily basis.
Designer stubble, a Paul Hollywood style goatee, a hipster beard or a little bit of ‘bum fluff’ - male facial hair has many different guises. But they all have one thing in common - be it on a daily basis or considerably less often, it will need to be removed or at least groomed.
Shaving our faces can lead to ingrown hairs and folliculitis, meaning that facial hair is another reason there are often gender differences to approaching skin care.
The best way to avoid ingrown hairs is to exfoliate regularly, using a gentle exfoliant that won’t irritate skin that may already be irritated by hair removal.
But does all this mean that male skin will react badly to a moisturiser developed to suit female skin? Probably not, but there is a but.
What happens if a male uses a ‘female’ moisturiser?
Put it this way, the world is unlikely to end if your husband, boyfriend or male part time lover pinches a bit of your facial moisturiser. (Although it might if he uses a lot and leaves the pot all messy.)
It’s also unlikely that his skin will react terribly in an instant. But over the long term, male skin probably won’t be living its best life if it’s being treated to an unsuitable moisturiser on a daily basis.
But what if a cohabiting male and female simply want to use the same moisturiser? Is there any hope?
Well it turns out, yes, very much so. In the shape of day and night facial moisturisers from Sönd! Thankfully, our Sidekick Day Cream and our Midnight Feast Night Cream have been developed with all skin types in mind. This means that they work excellently and equally on both biologically female and male skin types.
Our entire skin care range doesn’t care about your sex, gender, political leanings or your favourite Netflix box set. It just cares about looking after your skin. We developed our range around our hero product - alkalising silica salts, that deeply nourish and support all skin types.