It was while searching for a face oil for my husband’s Christmas stocking that I came across the Elemental Herbology range. Assured by the enthusiastic assistant at Space NK that the Facial Cleansing Oil from this collection was equally suitable for male and female skin, while also useful as a shaving oil (although there was no mention of this on the bottle), I bought it and now use it myself to prepare my skin for the day ahead.
While gender-based marketing has traditionally been the norm with girls gravitating towards the delicate pretty pink bottles and boys being teased for even giving them a second glance, the boundary is becoming less defined with a notable rise in unisex skincare. But will this mean that guys can rely on their partner’s age-defying serum or wrinkle-busting potion to keep the signs of ageing at bay? Maybe not.
Let’s face it: male skin looks tougher, stronger and more resilient. And it is. Apparently up to 20 percent thicker, with 22 to 25 per cent more collagen giving it added toughness and protection from environmental damage. These key differences are primarily the result of the male androgen hormones. Men’s skin is oilier too so they often don’t show the lines and other signs of ageing quite as early as women. However, as most men shave, many daily, this can aggravate their skin so they need a product that will soothe and replenish any razor damage. So, while men can and do use their wife’s bottles and jars, with thicker oilier skin guys generally need stronger products, ingredients that pack a little more punch than their female counterparts, to really maintain healthy balanced skin for longer.
Deborah Gayle is the London-based general manager of The Refinery male grooming line of spas and skincare. She says the biggest difference between the sexes is that most men haven’t looked after their skin and it weathers more as a result. “As they get older their heavier musculature starts to fall and the face begins to fall too, lending a harsh jowly look,” she explains. “A quick wash in the shower is the routine for many men. However hard we educate them, many men still think that SPF only needs to be worn on holidays – not over lunch on a hot summer’s day in the city. Balding heads exposed to the English mid-day sun are a sure recipe for sun damage. Men need to protect their skin, especially for when they are older. They pump weights, run and many men will diet, but few will slap on some cream.” This said, she is finding younger men (in their late 20s and 30s) have a far better knowledge of skincare and will happily enjoy a facial and use a moisturiser however sporadically.
Now back to Elemental Herbology. The brainchild of Kristy Cimesa, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and authority on well-being, this stylish range offers a fresh take on natural skincare and is rapidly filling the shelves of leading spas and niche beauty retailers across the globe. Many products are equally popular with both sexes. “A product is unisex if it appeals to the senses and requirements of both men and women,” explains Cimesa. “Men’s skin is more prone to congestion, oiliness, increased sensitivities, blocked pores etc, due to shaving, therefore they are more inclined to gravitate to the products that help stimulate cell turnover and purify the skin like our Oil Control and Balance lines.”