Skincare & The Gender Gap
The Gender Gap
When it comes to differences in men and women's skin, biology is truly the culprit. The variations in male and female skin begin deep down in the structure of the skin's fat layer and dermis. Women have thinner skin than men because the dominant male hormone- testosterone- causes male skin to be thicker. Women also tend to experience drier skin than men do because their oil glands secrete slightly less.
Unfortunately, as we age, the differences in male and female skin become more pronounced. In the late middle age, men lose testosterone and women lose estrogen which results in thinner, more fragile skin for both genders. In women, the drop in hormone activity is greater and the effects are more prominent. When women enter menopause, their estrogen levels drop, causing skin to become thinner and drier as oil glands begin to slow production of natural emollients that keep skin hydrated from the inside out. At this time, skin becomes a less efficient barrier against irritants, allergens and bacteria. Overall, thinner skin is more susceptible to a type of inflammation called dermatitis, making it more vulnerable to trauma and infections.
Tip for Men: Men are more likely to have excess oil which can lead to enlarged pores. Maintain optimal oil production by using a topical formulated with alpha lipoic acid and salicylic acid.
Men & Skin Cancer
Thanks to its thickness, men tend to take their skin for granted. Men are much less likely to go to the dermatologist, wear sunscreen or even use a basic moisturizer. This means that many men will forfeit their natural protection against wrinkles and dry skin simply by neglecting themselves. In my practice, I've performed more surgery on a type of skin cancer called basal-cell carcinoma on faces, ears and necks of men than on women.
Tip: Apply a non-chemical, broad-spectrum SPF daily.
Cravings by Gender
Research shows that women tend to choose carbohydrates over protein because of their unique brain chemistry. Women naturally have lower levels of serotonin (a feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain) than do men. The levels of serotonin in women drops even more during the menstrual cycle. When your serotonin load falls below your comfort zone, one of the easiest and fastest ways to get it flowing again is indulge in a big bowl of carbohydrate-rich pasta or dessert. Men, by contrast, have naturally high serotonin levels, so they tend not to crave as many carbohydrates and tend to have diets that consist of higher amounts of protein.
Tip: The average woman should get between 60-80 grams of protein per day. Men should have 80-90 grams per day.
Dealing with Razor Burn
Many men find themselves plagued by razor bumps and ingrown hairs caused by shaving. I conducted a small, double-blind placebo controlled study with my patients and found that the most effective solution for razor bumps was immediate application of an alpha hydroxy acid (such as glycolic acid) to the affected skin. These gentle acids help the skin to eliminate dead surface cells and heal inflammation.
Tip for Men: For smoother and closer shaves, try adding a product with glycolic acid to your daily regimen.
Hormones, Gender and Acne
Stress is a proven precipitator of acne. While both men and women suffer from stress, adult women are much more adversely affected by it due to hormonal differences. And acne isn't just affecting teenagers. Recent statistics from the American Dermatology Association report that the median age for patients suffering from acne has been gradually increasing, from 20.5 years of age in the past to approximately 26.5 years more recently.
More than 17 million people are diagnosed with acne in the US, of which 50 % are adult women and 25% are adult men. When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise, whether from a poor diet or from stress, we experience a serious increase in inflammatory chemicals at a cellular level. This causes inflammatory diseases such as acne to worsen dramatically. Cortisol and other adrenal steroids can act as androgens and stimulate the sebaceous (oil) glands, resulting in a flare-up of acne. Although men are affected by stress and pro-inflammatory cortisol response, women suffer effects from both the pro-inflammatory cortisol release and imbalanced sugar-insulin levels as well as the effect of the male-type hormones. Men are not affected by high levels of androgens in the same way that women are. Women are more susceptible to adrenal hormone stimulation because most of women's androgens are synthesized in the adrenal glands. The stimulation of the oil glands results in changes such as the clogging of the pores and increased secretion of pro-inflammatory fatty acids. These pro-inflammatory fatty acids release the chemical messengers known as cytokines, and so the inflammatory fire is fed. Men with high levels of androgen circulating do not suffer from the androgen effect in the same way that women do.
Tips for Preventing Hormonal Breakouts
- Follow the anti-inflammatory diet
- Make sure that you get enough sleep
- Try to minimize stress in your life
- Don't drink coffee. Coffee contains many organic acids which affect our blood sugar and cortisol levels. It is not specifically because of the caffeine because you can drink a cup of decaffeinated coffee at 8 AM and your cortisol levels will still be measurable at 10 PM –the same effects as a cup of regular coffee
- Set aside time for meditation, prayer or a walk in nature. It is a well- established fact that people who do this have significantly lower cortisol levels. Long term benefits include keeping our skin clear, maintaining a healthy immune system and preventing age-related diseases, such as diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular disease
- Consider learning some simple Yoga exercises. Substitute green tea for coffee
- Make sure that there are plenty of essential fatty acids in your diet because essential fatty acids can decrease cortisol levels
- Take nutritional supplements including alpha lipoic acid, zinc, DMAE, pantothenic acid.
- Add essential fatty acids such as borage and evening primrose oil which are rich in linoleic acid. Acne sufferers have a low concentration of linoleic acid in their sebum and the levels decrease as the acne increases
- Adopt a loving, non-judgmental pet
My Health & Skincare "Must-Haves"
Some of my most important anti-aging "must-haves" are salmon, salad and select topical products, they make all the difference. My current skincare routine consists of washing with one of the Perricone MD cleansers like Nutritive Cleanser with Alpha Lipoic Acid. I follow this with Serum Prep as a toner, and then I finish with Acyl-Glutathione. For men dealing with irritation from shaving, I recommend a topical formulated with alpha lipoic acid and DMAE (such as Formula 15), which will provide a closer shave and minimize irritation and ingrown hairs.
When it comes to exercise, I try to be as efficient as possible; I combine weight training with yoga and three mile runs every other day. In times of stress, I get stricter on the diet, amp up the yoga routine, but I always suggest keeping exercise to a moderate 45 minutes. While traveling, I try to drink lots of water and keep to my supplement regimen.