Paul Rudd, Idris Elba, John Stamos: The list of male celebrities who seem to age backwards is a long one. But why doesn’t this Benjamin Button effect typically apply to women? According to leading dermatologists, it largely comes down to little chemicals in our bodies called hormones. “Specifically, there are receptors for estrogen on the skin cells that influence the health and appearance of the skin,” says Monroe, LA dermatologist Janine Hopkins, MD. These are the key reasons why men’s skin ages better than women’s.
Women Have Thinner Skin
“Due to hormonal and biological differences, women’s skin ages differently than men’s,” says Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill. “Women tend to have thinner skin—a loss of elasticity—making them more susceptible to wrinkles and sagging. Additionally, sun exposure and lifestyle factors can significantly impact women’s skin due to their higher levels of UV sensitivity and longer lifespan. However, skin aging is not solely determined by gender: Factors such as genetics, diet and skin-care regimen can also play a role.”
“With age, women notice that their skin is thinner, especially around the mouth, so lines and wrinkles may appear in female patients as vertical lip lines, and in the eyelid area as more noticeable crow’s-feet,” Dr. Hopkins adds. “Skin on the hands also shows earlier signs of aging in females due to loss of volume from less subcutaneous fat. This makes the veins and tendons on the hands more noticeable too.”
Men Have Better Skin Hydration
According to New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD, “studies show that besides an increase in thickness, the skin levels of hydration, transepidermal water loss, sebum, microcirculation, and pigmentation are generally higher in men. However, women have a higher skin pH than men.” In one study, men’s skin proved to be thicker on not just the face (forehead, midcheek and jowls), but also the neck and abdomen. This was tested using a corneometer, a device that indicates the hydration level of the superficial layers of the skin, on men and women of all ages.
Another study focused on transepidermal water loss (TEWL) specifically. Hydration is essential for healthy, youthful-looking skin, and TEWL occurs when water makes its way from the deeper layers of skin to the surface and then evaporates through the skin barrier. Findings revealed that in general and regardless of age, men showed significantly lower TEWL than women.
Women Experience Menopause
“Once estrogen starts to wane, women start to lose collagen at a faster rate,” explains Dr. Day. “This creates skin that is paper-thin, less elastic and less firm. Women can lose up to 30 percent of their dermal collagen in the first five years post-menopause.” Dr. Hopkins says the skin also becomes drier during menopause, which means accelerated aging. Moisturizing products are especially important during this phase of life to help the skin function optimally and look healthy. “Furthermore, even before menopause and hormonal deficiency occurs, female skin has less sebaceous glands than male skin, and sebaceous glands help keep the skin moist,” she adds.
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