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Men's Cosmetics

Nancy Wolfson
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 1)

A man's skin ages at a slower rate than a woman's. (A man's biological clock ticks less hurriedly, too.) There are a few anatomical explanations for slower-to-sag skin.

First, men really do have thicker skin, and thick skin is less prone to crinkle or droop. Think of the difference between an average balloon and an automobile tire: the balloon puckers when it deflates, while the tire keeps more of its original form. The dermis, the layer beneath the epidermis, or skin's outer surface, contains collagen and elastin that provide the skin's support structure; the dermis is a little thicker in men, which gives men's skin a more substantial, sustainable support system. Research shows that the average man's skin begins to thin at age 50.

Second, men have more sebaceous glands, which may stay productive until as late as age 80 (a woman's slacken at menopause). These glands are tiny squirt gun-like structures that secrete oils to the surface of the skin, preventing it from becoming rough and dry, which would make it more apt to show signs of age. Sebaceous glands are attached to hair follicles, which, being more abundant in men, result in more body and facial hair.


Shaving gives men a further edge in the aging game. Each time a man shaves he exfoliates, removing dead cells from the skin's surface layer and exposing new ones. This increased cell turnover is what gives skin its clarity, even tone and smooth texture.

Suddenly, men want smooth, even-toned skin. Among men, chemical facial peeling is the most common dermatological cosmetic surgery procedure after liposuction. In 1994, 36,300 American men had chemical facial peels (to the tune of $44 million) and 16,650 had dermabrasion (totaling $11 million.) Both are in-office procedures that resurface the skin. Also popular is a new resurfacing technique done with a laser. Real men now want their faces to feel like a baby's bottom.

Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey and Jean Claude Van Damme are a few that do. They are regulars at the Beverly Hills branch of the Georgette Klinger salon (one of nine nationwide), where more than 25 percent of the customers who go for facials and anti-aging treatments are men. For more than 50 years, Georgette Klinger's method has been based on her philosophy of individualized skin care. Clients get their own "prescription" based on their skin's needs, not on gender. Klinger does sell five products designed specifically for men, including a scrub mask, pre-shave softener, shaving treatment cream and an aftershave balm. The company sells more than 25 different cleansers and 15 moisturizers, for both women and men.

Recently, Klinger introduced her newest products: "Advanced Oxygen Moisturizer" containing vitamin esters of A, C, E and beta carotene, and "Advanced Oxygen Facial Mask," made with alpha hydroxy acids (exfoliating agents derived from fruit, sugar and milk acids, said to reduce wrinkling by dissolving bonds that hold dead cells to the skin), amino acids and collagen.

To emphasize the importance of oxidating the skin, Lawrence Farber, the company's senior vice president who oversees research and development, explains, "At the age of 40, our skin probably has about half the oxygen it once had." Oxygen is necessary for skin respiration, which helps nourish the cells, aids in the elimination of skin impurities and assists in the war against free radicals.

The term "free radicals" comes up in almost any conversation on health and aging. Along with sun exposure, free radicals are now known to be one of the primary instigators of aging skin. The same oxidation process that causes iron to rust occurs inside our bodies. Free radicals are the body's "rust." An overabundance of free radicals can attack and break down body cells. Certain nutrients called antioxidants fight back by latching onto the free radicals and sabotaging their destructive ability.

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