When it comes to resisting skin aging, men have a leg up on women. Most men shave their faces every day, which helps to exfoliate the skin and keep it looking smoother and more evenly-toned. Men also have higher levels of testosterone which drives the oil glands, which can in turn help to protect the skin from aging. Testosterone also makes the oil glands appear plump and enlarged, which can in turn make the skin appear more plump and thereby increases the thickness of the middle layer of the skin. Finally, men’s estrogen levels don’t fall too drastically as they age, which keeps the skin from appearing dull, flaky, and matured . So why do men appear to be aging faster nowadays?
Men Don’t Care for Their Skin as Well as Women Do
We’re not one for making gross generalizations, but we think it’s fair to say that generally, most men don’t care for their skin as women do – and many dermatologists agree with us. In fact, Dr. Neal Schultz, a highly-respected dermatologist and spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation said that “They’re [men] not using it [sunscreen]… They’re not using enough. And when things get rough and things start to happen … they’re clueless about the warning signs they should be looking for”. In fact, a survey by the Skin Cancer Foundation found that almost 1 in 2 men who were surveyed hadn’t used sunscreen in the past 12 months, whereas only 32% of men regarded themselves as being sufficiently knowledgeable about how to use sunscreen. Worse yet, nearly two-thirds of the survey participants believed that female skin was more delicate and sensitive to UV rays, and therefore women need to use sunscreen more than men (spoiler alert: everyone needs to use the same amount of sunscreen!).
Of those surveyed, 79% were unaware that you should apply one ounce of sun block, whereas 61% of men believed that the sunscreen that they apply can last up to four hours (the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying it at least every two hours). While “guys don’t like applying schmear anywhere . . . but particularly to their face” according to Dr. Schultz and taking care of the skin is seen as “wimpy” or “effeminate”, the statistics don’t lie. In 2010, 10,000 more men than women were diagnosed with melanomas, with the CDC noting that poor skincare was a significant player. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a majority of melanoma cases are white males over age 50, with these patients often discovering growths much later than women do, making the melanoma more difficult to treat. Worse yet, men are more likely to hold labor-intensive jobs that require sun overexposure, such as construction workers, truck drivers, landscapers, etc .
So why are guys so much less likely to protect their skin from sun over-exposure? Part of it comes from social stigma; men are seen as rugged and tough – they don’t need no stinkin’ sunscreen, thank you very much (or so they say). But this perception is very much a farce, as data has repeatedly shown us. However, society as a whole is also partially to blame for this unfortunate phenomenon. A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion examined 579 issues of 24 magazines that were published in May and September from 1997 to 2002. They specifically looked for advertisements for sun tanning lotions that contained SPF, sunless tanners without SPF, sunscreen with SPF, moisturizers with SPF, or cosmetics with SPF. Their findings were shocking; nearly 77% of skincare product advertisements were found in women’s magazines, and 38% of suncare products advertised were either cosmetics (38%) or moisturizers (26%) containing SPF. None of the ads mentioned all of the recommendations for safe use of sunscreen: a minimum of SPF 15, both UVA and UVB protection, instructions for reapplication, and proper applicationcoverage requirements. Advertisements geared towards those who receive higher rates of sun exposure, such as travelers, men, and those who spend lots of time outdoors, were far fewer than those geared towards women . Men, don’t become another statistic; make sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply it every two hours. Also make sure to wear sunglasses, sun protective clothing, and clothing in dark colors and heavier fabrics .
Men Don’t Like to Eat Fruits and Veggies
It’s no secret that people nowadays eat more processed sugars than people did even one generation ago. While we’ve recently experienced a veritable health craze, research has suggested that men are generally less likely to see the value of eating fruits and vegetables, with many of the men surveyed saying that they had less control over fruit and veggie intake than females. For example, researcher John A. Updegraff notes that “men don’t believe as strongly as women that fruit and vegetable consumption is an important part of maintaining health”. The study found that while women reported being more confident in their abilities to eat fruits and vegetables when they were tired, hungry, or around friends and family who ate junk foods, men felt less confident . While the study didn’t mention what other foods the participants were eating, it is not unreasonable to think that if the men had a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables, then they may very well have been replacing these food groups with unhealthier items, like fried or other high-heat-cooked foods, sugary drinks and salty snacks, or unhealthy processed food. As readers of our blog well know, a diet high in sugar (or salts which can turn into sugar when they hit the bloodstream) or a high-glycemic diet plays a major role in the production of A.G.E. products, which can in turn cause premature aging in the skin and cause serious complications for bodily health as well. Researchers from the journal Appetite suggested that one way to remedy men’s poor eating habits is to teach men better ways to take control of their fruit and veggie intake (such as finding ways to work fruits and vegetables into their TV-time snacks). However, the researchers noted that peer pressure seldom works to encourage men to eat better, as it simply puts them under pressure and stress.
Men’s mTOR Pathway May Accelerate Aging
From a biological and evolutionary perspective, muscle hypertrophy (increase in muscle size) and heavy, larger bodies help men to compete with other men. The mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is partially responsible for the cellular growth and hypertrophy that make men healthy and strong in their young years. However, over-activation of the mTOR pathway later in life can often lead to prolonged growth, which results in aging and age-related diseases like cancer and neurodegeneration. Worse yet, mTOR is responsible for cell senescence, in which the cells gradually become weaker and lose their ability to divide and grow . With mTOR’s ability to interfere with cellular health as we age, it is no wonder that males may indeed age faster than originally thought.
Traditionally, men have been viewed as having a leg up on women when it comes to resisting skin aging. However, high-glycemic diets and diets rich in sugar and over-active mTOR pathways may be partially responsible for men’s aging more quickly than usual. Additionally, men’s general reluctance to follow a robust and complete skincare routine may be a culprit, especially when research has shown that men generally don’t see sunscreen to be all that important, and even when they do, they aren’t well-informed about how to use it. Men, for both the sake of your skin and general physical health, we recommend that you have routine checkups with both your regular physician and a dermatologist, always wear a sunscreen, and consider a diet lower in sugars, salts, and high-glycemic index foods. If you want some additional tips on how to keep your skin healthy, feel free to ask questions in our comments section below, or send us an email – we love hearing from readers!
 Medical Daily
 Live Science