Can Women Use Men's Skincare Products?

Women's skincare products are more expensive. Just sayin'.

Chalk it up to the “Pink Tax.” Studies show that products marketed to women cost more, and that applies to everything from razors to dry cleaning—and especially to grooming products. According a study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, women's personal care products cost 13 percent more than those marketed to men. (Thirteen! Let that sink in.) To add insult to injury, a men’s skincare rep admitted to the New York Times that men’s products are cheaper just because men aren’t willing to pay as much for skincare as women are.

So, here's an idea: how about if women to save some cash and shop in the men’s skincare section at Sephora or Ulta? Or, why don' they just borrow products from a boyfriend or a husband? It's actually not that simple.

“The skin of men and women has a different makeup, and well-formulated products address these differences,” says Dr. Arielle N.B. Kauvar, MD, director at New York Laser & Skin Care and a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. “Men have higher amounts of the male hormone testosterone, which creates more body hair, larger and more active oil glands, and makes them more prone to acne. Men’s skin is also approximately 25 percent thicker because men have more collagen in their skin.”

Since we're talking about bummer facts like the Pink Tax, here's another one: women’s skin is more wrinkle-prone than men’s skin. “Women have more sensitive, thinner skin; they produce less oil, and their collagen production declines with time, leading to more wrinkles and sagging,” Dr. Kauvar says.

Additionally, products formulated for women are more geared toward sensitive skin, sun damage prevention, and collagen production than those for men, Dr. Kauvar says, while men’s products are stronger and more exfoliating.

That’s why Dr. Kauvar recommends women stick to products that are skin-type-specific—especially when it comes to anti-aging products. But, she does approve dabbling in the men’s skincare aisle for some other categories of products. “Gender-neutral moisturizers for face and body and acne skincare for oily skin can be used by both men and women,” she says.

Erica Parker, aesthetician at Michael Todd Beauty, is more agnostic when it comes to switching up men’s and women’s products. She recommends antimicrobial sonic skin cleansing, Brickell moisturizer, and Lab Series Skincare for Men's serum for guys and gals to share. “If you can get beyond the black jar and prefer gender neutral scents like lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus, then there is 100 percent no reason that women cannot use men’s products and vice versa,” she says. 

You could always cross over with hair products too. One of the products celeb stylist Justine Marjan constantly uses on Khloe Kardashian is Fatboy’s Tough Guy Water Wax, for everything from high ponytails to braids

Tyson Kennedy, co-owner of NYC’s Cutler Salon, first created the Fatboy product range for his own hair type. But now, thanks to word of mouth, the products are just as popular with women. “There is definitely a feeling of ‘hide it from your girlfriend,’ Kennedy joked. When it comes to hair, Kennedy believes gender isn’t a factor at all. “Hair types are so diverse, as a stylist you see everyone has different textures, types, and thickness," he says. "It's about working with hair, not hiding its natural quirks, and certainly not about different sexes.” 

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