What’s the Difference Between Women’s and Men’s Products?

Sable Yong


Not that we frequent it often, but in the hair care aisle of your drugstore or any Sephora or beauty supply store, there will be tucked away in some corner, a small (in comparison) selection of mens’ grooming products. There’s no way as much variety of products available, but there they stand in their generally black or gray “masculine” packaging. They’re probably not made that way to repel women, so much as they are to attract men–or the type of men who would never dare have girly products in their medicine cabinet. Even if those products have essentially the same function. Do men’s and women’s grooming and beauty products do the same thing though? Is there a difference that one gender would benefit from it more than the other?

For the most part, no. Just because a product says it’s for men doesn’t mean you’re can’t use it if you’re a girl. If you’re partial to certain fragrances though, you may find yourself in a bind. The main difference, other than packaging, between body and hair products for men and women is fragrance. Women use more products than men on average–about twice as many daily– so with the amount of beauty lines out there, there’s some stiff competition on the market to grab your attention.

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You’ll find more botanical ingredients listed upfront in women’s products than in men’s. That’s because in the market women tend to gravitate more towards holistic or natural ingredients (any sort of berry complexes, roots, flower extracts, etc). Not to say that men don’t appreciate that stuff too, but if you maybe noticed, men’s products tend to appeal to a scientific or manual side, making their products appear more utilitarian in style and use. This doesn’t mean that women require more holistic natural or botanical stuff, just that it’s a common consumer perception of desirability, not necessarily a need.

Generally if you go to a dermatologist, whether you’re male or female, the derm doesn’t really prescribe one gender unique treatments that the other can’t have. Skin is skin, to that degree. One difference however is that men tend to have more sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands in your pores) so the harsh detergents in body/face wash for men aren’t as drying for them as they can be for women. Has your brother/boyfriend/boy_friend ever just washed his face sans moisturizer afterwards? If we did that, no matter what season, our faces would be tight-feeling and uncomfortable in 30 seconds flat.

Hair products are one of things that really is a packaging switch-up. Shampoo and conditioners are likely to share the same ingredients, just with different scents. Women’s shampoos and conditioners, varied as they are, might have a bit more involved (color care, frizz control, etc) as far as hair concerns go. Styling products, however, are one of the same. After all, a pomade is a pomade is a pomade.

The one grooming product with the most variance has got to be razors. You’ve probably noticed (and are just as frustrated as we are) that men’s razors are a lot cheaper than women’s. What’s the deal even though the brands making them openly admit to using the same “blade technology” AKA the same exact blades? The most functional difference is that since women shave larger surfaces on their body, our razors generally have bigger and rounder heads with surrounding surfaces to guide hairs under the blade in the best position for shaving. Men’s razors’ blades are more densely packed together to cut the thicker hair that grows from their faces. The handles are designed differently since shaving your legs requires a bit more acrobats than shaving one’s face. Once could cite design and material costs as the main price discrepancy, though if you’ve caught on to the fact that men’s razors cut closer (and also more dangerously–careful!), you’re really not missing out of anything by buying men’s razors instead of women’s.

You probably have wondered why women’s body products are more expensive than men’s, within the same drugstore brand that offers different products for men and women. There isn’t actually a clear cut answer to why that is other than marketing. Some brands tout a unique experience technology or “sensation” incorporated into a product (that you may not necessarily find in the ingredients list) that puts it at a premium. A lot of that premium can be accredited to societal pressure for women to be well-groomed at all times, so by that influence, lots of women would pay more. Lots of things can sway a purchase–packaging, scent, brand, luxury perception– but overall does it perform how you want it to and do you enjoy using it? Those two questions in the affirmative are generally what leads to repurchases and widespread popularity.

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