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Différences entre la peau de femme et celle d'un homme.

Women’s Skin, Men’s Skin: What Are the Differences?

There are obvious differences between men and women. This applies to genetics as well as hormones and anatomy. A less obvious distinction concerns the skin. This is because whether on the face or body, a female epidermis does not have the same characteristics as a male epidermis. Here are some differences between female and male skin.

Summary
Published February 29, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 7 min read

What Are the Differences Between Female and Male Skin?

Under the influence of the steroid hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are more feminine, and testosterone, which is more masculine, the structure of the skin of males and females differs at puberty. In particular, the following differentiations can be made:

The Thickness of the Skin

The thickness of the epidermis is the first difference between male and female skin. In men it tends to be over 60 μm, while in women it rarely reaches 50 μm. A man's skin is thus about 20% thicker than a woman's. This is partly because the male dermis contains more collagen than the female dermis. This molecule of the extracellular matrix is involved in the mechanical properties of the skin, especially its firmness.

With age, collagen synthesis decreases, resulting in thinner skin. In men, its thickness decreases throughout life, by about 9% every 20 years. In women, this process is slower at first, with thinning of only 3% every 20 years. After menopause, however, collagen degradation accelerates, resulting in a 20% decrease in skin density every 20 years. Ultimately, men's skin is and remains thicker.

The Typology of the Skin

Men's skin tends to be oilier than women's. Testosterone, which is 6 to 7 times more prominent in men, targets receptors in the sebaceous glands, the activation of which initiates a signaling pathway involved in sebum production. Sebum secretion is thus hormone-dependent. Under the influence of the high amount of sebum, the pores dilate. As a result, the skin appears greasier and is more prone to impurities and colonization by certain microorganisms. The facial areas most affected by this phenomenon are the forehead, nose and chin, i.e. the T-zone where most of the sebaceous glands are located. Thus, it can be observed that men produce twice as much sebum as women.

How Do These Differences Affect the Skin?

Men's skin is generally less soft and smooth than women's. The hormonal overproduction of testosterone (hyperandrogenemia) in men during puberty leads to excessive sebum production, which favors the colonization of bacteria. Cutibacterium acnes, a bacterium involved in the development of acne, among other things, feeds mainly on triglycerides contained in sebum. When it digests these, it produces free fatty acids that increase inflammation of the sebaceous glands. In addition, a high production of sebum can cause the skin's pores to become clogged and the natural desquamation of the skin to be impaired. All these phenomena favor the development of skin impurities such as blackheads or red pimples.

With increasing age, however, the tendency to overproduce sebum proves to be an advantage. Men suffer less from dry skin in adulthood than women. The sebum produced supplies the hydrolipid film on the surface of the epidermis with nutrients. This protective film keeps the skin from drying out and acts as a shield against all the external influences to which it may be exposed: strong temperature fluctuations, environmental pollution, light rays, wind, etc.

The characteristics of male skin have another advantage: the signs of aging tend to appear later in men. Although the amount of estrogen in both men and women decreases over time, there is a sharp decline in estrogen production during menopause in women. Estrogen is able to stimulate fibroblasts, which are cells in the dermis involved in the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin. Since they are found in the extracellular matrix, all three contribute to the well-being of the skin. Hyaluronic acid is a macromolecule that binds water in the skin, while collagen and elastin give the skin tone and suppleness.

Sources

  • MCVITIE E. & al. The influence of age and sex on skin thickness, skin collagen and density. The British Journal of Dermatology (1975).

  • WONG J. & al. The dynamic anatomy and patterning of skin. Experimental Dermatology (2016).

  • CHEN W. & al. Sex hormones and acne. Clinics in Dermatology (2017).

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