Hubert Burda Media

Experts share skincare tips for the modern gent

Doctors reveal what treatments and products work best for men in their 30s, 40s or 50s.

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. So, it’s no wonder that even when it comes to skincare, there are differences between the two genders.

For starters, doctors whom we spoke to for this story agreed that men tend to have thicker skin…quite literally.

Dr Eileen Tan, dermatologist at Eileen Tan Skin, Laser and Hair Transplant Clinic, says male skin can be 20 to 30 percent thicker than women’s, which gives men the upper hand: Their skin is supposedly firmer and richer in collagen and elastin levels, says Dr Tan. 

Dr Low Chai Ling, medical director of The Sloane Clinic, also observes that men tend to develop deep wrinkles on the foreheads and not so much around the mouth area. The reason? “The opening in the skull around the eyes is actually larger in men and there’s less bony support, which makes it more likely for them to have hollow, deep-set eyes that will potentially start to develop eye bags as they age.”

This is when aesthetics procedures come in helpful. Not that gentlemen need a lot of prodding these days.

Says Associate Professor Vincent Yeow, medical director of Dream Plastic Surgery: “There has been a change in attitude towards skincare and anti-ageing maintenance, especially among younger men… I think it’s largely due to a shift in perceptions on how physical appearance affects their professional and social lives. Media and K-pop influences have definitely helped improve the acceptance of aesthetics and plastic surgery procedures.”

Yeow adds his clinic has been observing a gradual increase in the number of male clients seeking aesthetic or plastic surgery in recent years. The most popular options seem to be a special eye bag removal procedure that is proprietary to the clinic and that gives more natural-looking results, he says. And like women, men’s skincare needs also vary according to their ages.

In the 30s

In general, those in this age group tend to be concerned with enlarged pores, oiliness and acne scars left over from their 20s. All these conditions are the result of men’s skin having more sebaceous glands. Says Dr Tan: “Male skin also has a richer blood supply. This means it’s more prone to perspiring…and to acne and superficial fungal infection.”

For her patients in this age group, Dr Tan recommends a basic skin care regimen of cleanser, toner, oil-free sunblock and moisturiser, as well as monthly chemical peels or facials using phototherapy. These treatments reportedly are done quickly and have no downtime. “Men prefer non-invasive or minimally invasive treatments with little to no downtime. Most do not want their colleagues or friends to know that they have done aesthetic treatments,” she says.

At The Sloane Clinic, Dr Low suggests that men in their 30s start using sebum-controlling and pore-refining products to keep skin clear and reduce male-specific concerns, such as shaving bumps and zits. To refine skin texture and improve the complexion on the whole, the Brilliant Skin Program is one of the most often requested procedures at her clinic chain, as this series of fraxel light laser treatments has no down-time, leaving no tell-tale signs.

For Dr Georgia Lee, medical director of TLC Lifestyle Practice, it is important that men in their 30s begin to take preventive measures against photo-ageing by being diligent with their use of sun protection products. She encourages her patients to do so by showing photos of collagen loss from the lack of UV protection. “Photo-ageing-induced laxity around the eyes and on the face puts them off more than (photos of) pigmentation do. I would prescribe a no-fuss colourless sunscreen spray that requires no blending; one that doesn’t need to be cleansed off with a make-up remover.”

Besides photo-ageing concerns, Dream Plastic Surgery’s Yeow sees patients with wrinkles and lines, which are quite easily treated with botox and filler injections that can give results lasting six to eight months. Men in their 30s also experience mild to moderate skin laxity, which is taken care of with a combination of radiofrequency and high-intensity-focused ultrasound procedures for a natural lifting effect lasting up to 18 months.

In the 40s

There’s an old Chinese adage that says how men at 40 are fresh like a flower. The reality: This is when sun damage and wrinkles start to surface, says Dr Tan. Botox treatments for crow’s feet and forehead lines are a common request for this age group.

Dr Low’s advice: Start using anti-ageing skincare with antioxidants and peptides, especially if you are in the sun a lot. She also recommends “judicious” placement of fillers at the sides of the cheekbones to sculpt the facial contours.

Dr Lee likes turning to Thermage or Ultherapy, as both have no downtime and can offer results that can last from 12 to 36 months — “all attributes preferred by male patients,” she adds.

Yeow prefers to combine concerns that men face in their 40s with the ones that surface in their 50s. “Men’s skin layers are thicker and heavier, and require treatments with stronger lifting and holding power.” For double chins and skin laxity, he would recommend a non-dissolvable thread lift used in combination with laser sculpting. The latter is said to be less invasive and require a shorter recovery time than traditional facelifts.

In the 50s

Once a guy hits his 50s, he’ll most likely face sagging skin, droopy eyelids, pigmentation and of course, wrinkles. Dr Lee shares that anti-laxity procedures and fillers are popular among men in this age range, as well as ad-hoc pigment lasers such as Q-switch Nd Yag for age spots. However, she stresses that Asian skin is prone to experiencing post-laser hyperpigmentation but this will get better over time.

Dr Low points out that even those who are “late agers” cannot defy gravity forever. In comes skin-lifting treatments at her clinic, including the Soft Lift and the 3D FaceLift programmes.

And don’t forget your skincare. Dr Lee recommends choosing sunscreens in cream formats as they are more moisturising on more mature skin. For Yeow, it’s about applying richer moisturisers to strengthen skin’s natural barrier function, as skin tends to become drier due to ageing.