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Product stealing

The difference between male and female products

Product stealing
29 September 2011

My girlfriend always has a go at me for pinching her stuff from the bathroom. Is there any real difference between men’s products and women’s products?

Rick, Norfolk

Our expert Ahmed Zambarakji answers your questions below:

I understand. You’ve (un?)intentionally slept over and only have a matter of minutes to spruce yourself up before you’re due at that morning conference. One quick glance at her overstocked bathroom shelf and– if you overlook the mountain of half-used makeup and bizarre ‘feminine hygiene’ stuff – there are a couple of things that should (in theory) work on your rugged, manly mug. And if you have no intention of ever calling her again, you probably even pinched them too.

Astute and savvy consumer that you are, you don’t imagine there’s a world of difference between men’s and women’s products other than the packaging, fragrance and a bit of fancy wording on the bottle. And you’d be right. Sort of.

Women’s products will work on a man’s skin (I’m partial to a bit of Clarin’s Beauty Flash Balm or Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair when I’m feeling secure about my masculinity) but the real question is whether they will be more (or just as) effective as a specialist ‘men only’ product.

Given that men’s skin is considerably denser and oilier than women’s – and is exposed to a razor on a daily basis – guy-focused formulas will usually differ in objective, consistency and technology (as well as fragrance, packaging and all the other peripheral stuff). Skin is skin, irrespective of gender, but there are specific concerns that are unique to men, that don’t trouble women - and vice versa.

And that’s where targeted men’s products have their place in the world: you’re not really going to find a decent ingrown hair formula, aftershave balm or back treatment marketed towards women. Feel free to gender-hop when it comes to things like a face wash (cleanser) or sunblock but if you’re in the business of solving serious issues (ageing, chronic oiliness, shaving rash), then you’ll need a targeted men’s formula.

More importantly, if investing in your own toiletries will save you a hissy fit, it’s probably worth the time and money.

Find Ahmed at

(Image: Rex)