6 Best Men’s Exfoliators (Face Scrubs) for Smooth Skin

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best exfoliator face scrub

There’s so much more to men’s grooming than there was even a decade ago. Whether it’s beard care, hair care, or washing your body, we men benefit from the many advances and knowledge related to grooming.

Even the simple act of washing your face – a part of your everyday routine – has come a long way thanks to quality face washes that provide a deeper, healthier cleansing than a bar of soap.

Meanwhile, there’s yet another level: face exfoliators, a.k.a. facial scrubs.

Exfoliation goes beyond regular face cleansing to remove dead skin cells, unclog skin pores while removing dirt and grime to give your face a more polished look.

A great way to step up your grooming game is by using a facial scrub a few times a week.

In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub

Not just any scrub, mind you, but a superior quality scrub such as the Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub. This all-encompassing exfoliator is solid in every department. It extracts impurities, clearing pores while preventing in-grown hairs.

ZELEN Life Exfoliator

Its organic formula is excellent for men of all skin types, particularly sensitive and acne-prone skin. Its gentle yet powerful action helps control breakouts. It also has regenerative properties for those looking for an anti-aging scrub. ZELEN Life is a venture that I am partly involved in. You can read more about it in the product overview below.

What’s more, our picks for the best face scrub for men do not end at two.

In this post, we’ve reviewed 6 excellent exfoliators to help you find the most suitable one for you. We’ll also discuss what to look for when buying exfoliators, how to use scrubs on your face, and the differences between scrubs and other deep-cleansing facial products.

Right, let’s get the ball rolling.

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageJack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub
  • Invigorating, refreshing and uplifting
  • Deep-cleansing scrub removes debris from pores
  • Invigorating scent
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bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Exfoliator
  • Gentle exfoliation, non-irritating sugar particles
  • Powerful organic formula
  • Deep-cleansing and hydrating for acne control
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bb2-table__imageTiege Hanley's Facial Exfoliating Scrub (Skin Care System Level 1)
  • Full skincare system
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Includes natural ingredients
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bb2-table__imageBrickell Renewing Face Scrub For Men
  • Super strong formula containing Pumice
  • Loaded with natural ingredients
  • Refreshing aroma
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bb2-table__imageRugged & Dapper Facial Cleanser For Men 
  • Clarifies and balances skin
  • Great for men with sensitive skin
  • Reduces the development of acne comedones
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bb2-table__imageM3 Naturals Premium Activated Charcoal Scrub
  • Charcoal formula extracts purities from the skin
  • Safe and effective
  • Effective for body use
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Before you buy: 5 Things to consider when buying an exfoliator

Choosing the best exfoliator is the same as choosing most other skincare: your skin type is everything. Fortunately, there is a facial scrub for every skin type. Here are some tips for choosing an exfoliator that’s ideal for your skin.

1. Skin Type

Dry Skin

Exfoliation is excellent for you dry-skinned gents who often have an over-abundance of flaking dead skin cells. Some other signs of dry skin include red patches, a feeling of tightness after washing your face, dullness, and roughness.

But you need to be careful – exfoliators with formulas that are particularly strong will strip dry skin of all of its moisture, which exacerbates the problem. To avoid this issue, choose exfoliating scrubs with ingredients that replenish lost moisture.

Scrubs with a creamy consistency are usually those with extra moisturizing ingredients.

Sensitive Skin

Men with sensitive skin have to be careful when choosing facial skin products, and many choose not to exfoliate at all.

However, there are scrubs available that are gentle enough to use on even the most sensitive types of skin, including those that use enzymes to exfoliate. Look for products that are labeled hypoallergenic or allergy tested.

If you’re not sure, check with your dermatologist before choosing a facial scrub.

Oily Skin

You’ll ask a lot of your facial scrub if you have oily skin. For one, you want a scrub that penetrates deeply to prevent your pores from clogging (and prevents breakouts), but also one that balances the skin to reduce oil production.

Salicylic acid is an ingredient to look for if you have oily skin because it’s a deep-cleaning agent that also addresses existing skin blemishes.

Normal Skin

As we’ve mentioned in other reviews of skincare products for men, men with normal skin have all the advantages. They can choose with an open mind, not worrying whether certain scrubs and ingredients will aggravate a specific skin type.

They can focus on finding products that provide deep cleaning while also keeping their skin healthy. If you fall into the Normal Skin category, feel free to choose exfoliators that contain more than one exfoliating agent.

2. Evaluate the gentleness of the product

Exfoliation is an essential part of a healthy skincare routine. As time goes on, our skin gets a little sluggish, leading to slower cellular turnover and signs of aging. Those dead skin cells aren’t in any hurry to eliminate themselves, and exfoliating gives them a helping hand.

Despite these benefits, exfoliating is an aggressive act on the skin. If you use a scrub that is too abrasive for your skin type, then it can do more harm than good.

So it’s worth taking into account the strength of the exfoliator you are about to buy. For example, if you have a sensitive skin type, you may need a very gentle exfoliator.

But how do we assess how gentle or abrasive a skin exfoliator is? Well, it all comes down to understanding its scrubbing beads – the grains within the scrub. Size matters when choosing scrubbing beads, and there is a wide range of scrubs – from super fine to super coarse and a whole lot in between.

In general, the finer the grains, the gentler the scrub, and those with coarse grains are often more abrasive. Keep in mind: the larger the grain, the higher the chance that it will irritate your skin. Also, consider if the grains are rounded, as they provide a gentler sloughing action while not causing microtears in your skin.

Avoid scrubs that use coarse grains if you shave every day because they are often very abrasive. Likewise, finer grains are ideal if you don’t shave regularly, like most men with a full beard.

Facial scrubs contain a variety of ingredients that act as the exfoliant and, as with so many products, we prefer those that use natural ingredients such as coffee, oats, sugar, pumice, cornmeal, walnut shell powder, and more.

Pro tip:

If you get a chance, test out the scrub on the back of your hand. If it feels ‘scratchy’ there, then it will feel the same on your face. Take a closer look at the exfoliator and inspect the particles. Are they rounded or are they of an irregular shape?

3. Keep in mind harmful and synthetic ingredients

A gentle scrub is not only determined by its scrubbing beads. You should also consider the other ingredients in the formula.

You may find an exfoliator with fine grains passes your sensitive skin test. However, if it contains harmful chemicals, you may still experience some irritation.

So what are the most common ones to look out for?

The most common chemicals found in skincare are parabens, sulfates, and petrochemicals, as well as synthetic colors and fragrances. Try to avoid them where possible.

Sure, it’s not easy. Chemicals seem to be in everything these days. But the pleasing aspect is that as our awareness of chemicals grow, skincare companies are starting to use them less and less.

What’s more, for the eco-friendly men out there—what you DON’T want are products that contain microbeads made of polyethylene plastic.

The problem with synthetic microbeads is that they don’t decompose and, ultimately, find their way into our lakes, rivers, streams, oceans. Not only are they a pollutant, but fish and other marine life consumed vast amounts of microbeads over the years. The U.S. banned microbeads in 2015, but if you live elsewhere or are purchasing an exfoliator from an overseas brand, keep this in mind.

Know that the exfoliators included in our review are free of these chemicals and synthetics.

4. Look for exfoliators that have moisturizing properties

So, you are successful in finding a scrub that is suitable for your skin type and free of the most common nasties. That’s great, but the fact remains that the act of exfoliation is harsh on the skin. Also, during the process, your skin may lose some water from the surface.

This is why we always turn to a moisturizer after scrubbing our face to calm things down. Moisturizers are essential in any skincare routine to soothe and hydrate the skin, and this is particularly important after exfoliating.

But why wait to apply a moisturizer when there are now exfoliators that also hydrate the skin at the same time.

Keep an eye out for scrubs that include organic oils and fruit extracts as part of their formula—for example, jojoba oil, which has excellent natural moisturizing properties.

Jojoba is packed with antioxidants and helps reduce inflammation on the skin caused by exfoliating. Also, fruits high in vitamin C have similar anti-inflammatory qualities and contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals, which are responsible for the death of skin cells.

A facial scrub that moisturizes and controls inflammation, while slowing down the accumulation of dead skin cells can help you maintain a younger, radiant complexion—thereby reducing the need for you to exfoliate as often. So it’s a win-win!

5. Check the label

Now you know what to consider to find the right exfoliator for you and your skin, the thing that pulls everything together is – by reading the label.

Just like we check labels before we consume foods, looking at the ingredients list of your next exfoliator will ensure that you are fully aware of what you will be applying to your skin, whether it’s good or bad.

Of course, it’s not the most exciting part of buying a product. Plus, we are not all skincare experts who know exactly what is harmful and what is beneficial.

But know this general rule of thumb: the shorter the ingredients list, the better. The longer the label is, the greater the chance chemicals and synthetics are present in the formula.

If your skin is a bit on the sensitive side or you are experiencing some irritation from the product you are using – change things up, and look for products with fewer ingredients.

So skin type, scrubbing beads, and ingredients are what you should pay attention to most when choosing a facial scrub.

Other factors go into the making of a quality exfoliator, which we’ll get into later, but it’s particularly important to keep the above in mind when choosing a facial scrub for you.

Let’s move on to our reviews of the best face scrub for men.

The 6 best exfoliators for men

1. Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub

Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub

Best features:

  • Scrubs away dirt and dead skin cells
  • PureScience technology
  • Contains small scrubbing beads that are biodegradable and eco-friendly

Best exfoliator for:

Men with oily skin who want a solid all-around scrub.


You’ll often see the “PureScience” label with Jack Black’s men’s skincare products, and it’s a label that has plenty of positive connotations, i.e., natural and organic ingredients with no parabens, colorants, or fragrances, as well as dermatologist approval.

PureScience provides an excellent foundation for Jack Black’s Face Buff Energizing Scrub, which meets the standards of best men’s face scrub in many ways:

  • It’s a good all-around product that’s suitable for most skin types, including oily and sensitive skin. In fact, it may be the best face scrub for oily skin available today.
  • It contains small scrubbing particles that that effectively remove dirt and dead skin cells. That makes it an excellent scrub for preparing your skin for an irritant-free shave, and it prevents in-grown hairs by clearing congested pores.
  • It has enough of an abrasive quality, but not too abrasive that it scrubs away the deepest dirt from your face. You don’t need to apply a ton of pressure during the scrub; just enough to leave your skin feeling (and looking) smooth.
  • You get a lot of scrub in each bottle – enough to last you several months even if you use it several times a week. It also makes it a great value for its price.
  • Its scrubbing beads are 100% biodegradable and environmentally-friendly. They easily decompose and don’t pollute the water system.
  • Many users rave about Jack Black’s Face Buff Energizing Scrub’s scent. It’s minty, but manly, and leaves your skin feeling cool and refreshed. The fragrance resembles that of a masculine cologne but isn’t overpowering.
  • Again, applying it to the parts of your face that you shave ensures a closer shave because it removes dead skin cells and dirt that may block your razor and cause friction.


  • Leaves face feeling invigorated and refreshed
  • Provides a deep scrub to remove dirt and grime
  • Invigorating scent


  • Some find the scent too strong

Bottom line

Jack Black’s Face Buff Energizing Scrub is a great all-around product that’s good for men with most skin types, including sensitive skin. Moreover, it’s paraben and cruelty-free, as well as vegan.

2. ZELEN Life Exfoliator

ZELEN Life Exfoliator

Best features:

  • Fine sugar powder gives a gentle scrubbing action
  • Organic formula helps to moisturize and soothe skin
  • Balances oil (sebum) production to prevent blocked pores

Best exfoliator for:

Men of all skin types, particularly those with sensitive, acne-prone, or aged skin.


Exfoliation involves the clearing away of dead skin cells, which sounds intense. And it is intense, to some degree, but that doesn’t mean it has to be harsh on the skin.

The ZELEN Life Exfoliator offers the best of both worlds: a facial scrub that thoroughly removes dead skin cells without irritating the skin. It’s suitable for all skin types, including men with sensitive skin and those prone to inflammation, such as acne.

Even better, it consists of all-natural ingredients and doesn’t include parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, or synthetic colors and fragrances.

The sugar powder is fine enough to roll over the skin in a gentler sloughing action and not cause microtears, which helps to prevent breakouts. These fine particles also help penetrate to those hard to reach areas like the creases around your nose.

Blended with organic jojoba and sunflower oils, this facial scrub does more than just lift away dead skin cells and clear blocked pores. It also cleanses the skin deeply to remove dirt, oil, and impurities while soothing and smoothing the skin at the same time to reveal a fresh complexion.

Jojoba mimics the skin’s natural oils, which helps oily skin types by regulating the skin’s production of sebum. This prevents clogged pores that potentially lead to acne. The similarity to sebum also makes jojoba oil an excellent non-greasy moisturizer for those with dry skin. Jojoba oil also works well to lock moisture into the skin.

Sunflower, meanwhile, is fast-absorbing, trapping moisture inside skin cells while extending the hydration skin needs to thrive. It reduces redness and strengthens the skin’s natural barrier, making it less sensitive.

Another important benefit is that the ZELEN Life Exfoliator has anti-aging properties and helps to speed up the skin’s healing process. It is rich in beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A and helps reduce the fine lines and wrinkles caused by aging.

ZELEN Life is a brand I am partly involved in, with someone who is no stranger to skincare issues, Jordan Sully. A completely natural and organic, Mediterranean-inspired skincare range.


  • Removes dead skin cells without irritating the skin
  • Helps speed up the process of skin cellular turnover
  • Moisturizing effect that boosts skin hydration


  • As a premium product, it costs more than some other exfoliators.

Bottom line

ZELEN Life’s exfoliator gets the job done without irritating your skin or exposing it to harmful chemicals. Its organic formula packs a powerful punch that boosts skin health in more ways than you would usually expect from a facial scrub, making it perfect for problem skin types.

3. Tiege Hanley’s Facial Exfoliating Scrub (Skin Care System Level 1)

Tiege Hanley Men's Skin Care System - Level 1


Best features:

  • Tons of natural ingredients
  • Hydrates and smooths skin
  • Part of a full skin care system

Best exfoliator for:

Men looking for a complete face care system


Tiege Hanley’s Skin Care System Level 1 is a beautiful thing: a complete, carefully designed system that provides your skin with everything it needs to look and feel better.

This – their Face Scrub – is a key component of it, and it really is one of the best men’s exfoliants you’ll find anywhere.

It features a ton of great ingredients, including:

  • Cucumber Extract, which hydrates and smooths the skin
  • Methyl Lactate, which soothes and refreshes
  • Glycerin, which makes it kinder to dry skin
  • Eucalyptus oil, which has great antiseptic properties
  • Willow extract, which reduces inflammation and irritation
  • And Vitamin B3, which helps revitalize the skin after scrubbing

The ultimate effect is cleaner, clearer pores which are reduced in size and stay healthier looking for longer.

It will also reduce excess oil, and leave you with softer smoother skin.

All you have to do is use it twice each week – a small amount goes a long way – and you’ll start to see great results very quickly.

Tiege Hanley also has a really great membership program, which includes free U.S. shipping and a full subscription to the whole Skin Care System,

All that, and you can cancel anytime with a money-back guarantee.

Pro tip:

You can use the code “BALDINGBEARDS10” at checkout to get a free Tiege Hanley Dopp bag.


  • The Skin Care System Level 1 includes everything you need for a full skin care routine
  • The formula is filled with great, natural ingredients designed to replenish your skin
  • There’s a full money-back guarantee


  • The tube is relatively small

Bottom line

As part of the Skin Care System Level 1, Tiege Hanley’s Face Scrub boasts a killer natural formula that will leave your skin looking better than ever.

4. Brickell Renewing Face Scrub for Men

Brickell Renewing Face Scrub for Men

Best features:

  • Contains pumice to clear away dead skin cells
  • Loaded with natural ingredients including Jojoba beads to remove impurities
  • Gives an invigorating aroma when applied without the chemical

Best exfoliator for:

Men looking for a quality pre-shave face scrub.


Brickell’s Renewing Face Scrub is a quality facial scrub that serves a variety of functions, not the least of which is exfoliating the skin.

Sure, a facial scrub needs to clear away dirt and excess oil, but it also needs to clear away dead skin cells – and that’s one of the primary purposes of Brickell’s Men’s Renewing Face Scrub.

Why is the Renewing Face Scrub for Men such an excellent exfoliator? Perhaps the primary reason is that its ingredients include pumice, an “abrasive” commonly used in soaps and cleansers.

We put the quote marks around abrasive because pumice – a naturally-occurring rock – is very soft, not harsh, and great for removing dirt and grime from the skin and, yes, for exfoliating it, as well.

Indeed, pumice is soft but strong; many people use it in its natural rock form to wear down calluses and to remove dead skin on the feet and hands.

But it’s also a popular lightweight construction material used in concrete block, while used to grind and polish glass – among some of its other uses.

Brickell’s Renewing Face Scrub for Men doesn’t include pumice in its pure rock form but uses it as a finely ground ingredient that exfoliates the skin like few other products.

It also unclogs pores and scrubs the skin thoroughly to leave your skin feeling soft, clean, and fresh (and ready for your morning shave, if you’re so inclined).

Jojoba beads further enhance the Renewing Face Scrub for Men’s scrubbing action while helping to remove dirt and other impurities from skin cells.

The Brickell Face Scrub’s ingredients list is 98% natural and 70% organic and includes soothing skin agents such as aloe vera, avocado butter, and vitamin E. The list doesn’t include parabens, colorants, or other harmful, potentially hazardous stuff.

Another thing to like about this scrub is that it’s good for all skin types, including sensitive skin. An additional plus is its scent, which combines the fragrances of green tea, coffee, and patchouli.


  • Strong exfoliator
  • Packed with natural ingredients
  • Refreshing scent


  • The container is a bit small (although travel-friendly)

Bottom line

Brickell’s products receive high marks in a variety of grooming and skin care products for men, and their Renewing Face Scrub is another hit. It cleans, exfoliates, and leaves your skin feeling refreshed and revitalized.

5. Rugged & Dapper Facial Cleanser for Men

Rugged & Dapper Facial Cleanser for Men

Best features:

  • Cleanser and exfoliator in one which maintains moisture
  • Fights bacteria that can lead to the formation of pimples and blemishes
  • Suitable for sensitive skin with soothing properties

Best exfoliator for:

Men with sensitive skin looking for a light exfoliator with hydration properties.


Like Jack Black’s Face Buff Energizing Scrub, Rugged & Dapper’s Facial Cleanser for Men is a solid all-around product that’s suitable for most skin types. But it’s also the best exfoliator for sensitive skin.

As mentioned, men with sensitive skin must tread carefully when choosing a skincare product. A product with harsher ingredients, which may work for men of other skin types, can make sensitive skin symptoms worse.

Rugged & Dapper addresses the issue of sensitive skin with a long list of natural ingredients that rid the skin of stubborn dirt and deeply exfoliate pores without the harshness of other products.

Rugged & Dapper’s Facial Cleanser for Men is even strong enough to fight acne-causing bacteria and the overproduction of sebum that many think leads to acne breakouts.

The active ingredients Rugged & Dapper’s facial cleanser are aloe vera – which is known for its skin-soothing properties – and willow bark, which is rich in antioxidants and acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Among its other ingredients are burdock root, tea tree oil, and vitamin C. You’ll find tea tree oil in a variety of men’s skincare products because it also acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps treat skin conditions such as acne.

All told, Rugged & Dapper provides a multitude of benefits for your skin as it acts as a revitalizing face wash and an exfoliator that removes dirt, excess oil, and grime without stripping your skin of moisture.

Men of all ages and skin types benefit from R & D’s facial cleanser.

The Rugged & Dapper facial cleanser has a thick, creamy texture that’s still light enough for men with sensitive skin.


  • Cleans and balances skin
  • Excellent for men with sensitive skin
  • Strong enough to fight the causes and symptoms of acne


  • A bit pricier than some other facial scrubs

Bottom line

Rugged & Dapper’s Facial Cleanser for Men is strong enough to rid your skin of dirt and grime, but gentle enough even for men with sensitive skin. We also like it because it’s free of harmful chemicals and toxins.

6. M3 Naturals Premium Activated Charcoal Scrub

M3 Naturals Premium Activated Charcoal Scrub

Best features:

  • Contains activated charcoal and dead sea salts for a strong exfoliation
  • Draws out impurities and tightens skin
  • Suitable for use on other parts of the body

Best exfoliator for:

Men who prefer a charcoal-based product.


Charcoal? Surely, you jest!

Actually, we’re dead serious. Charcoal – that stuff you light on fire and cook meat over – is ascending on the list of favorite grooming product ingredients. You’ll find it in soap, and even toothpaste.

And its use as a cleaning agent goes way, way back (like ancient human way back).

Charcoal certainly works as an ingredient in facial scrubs, as well, and M3 Naturals’ Premium Activated Charcoal Scrub gets high marks all-around.

After all, charcoal – also referred to as “activated” charcoal for marketing purposes – has a porous structure that naturally draws out dirt, oil, and stains from the skin, while also attracting water to provide superior hydration.

In other words, it works as a vacuum for the skin while giving it a nice dose of moisture. What’s not to like?

The folks at M3 Naturals combine charcoal with dead sea salts to produce a powerful cleanser for your skin. It fights acne and helps remove blackheads, while detoxifying and rejuvenating skin. Your skin will look brighter and feel tighter without sagginess.

Older men also appreciate how it reduces wrinkles and other signs of aging.

Perhaps best of all, charcoal is natural, safe, and effective, and you also use it as a body scrub.


  • Activated charcoal removes impurities from the skin
  • Safe and effective
  • Also beneficial as a body scrub


  • May leave a dark residue that you need to wash off

Bottom line

The M3 Naturals Activated Charcoal Scrub draws impurities, dead skin cells, and excess oils from the skin to make it smoother and rejuvenated.

Charcoal is a popular ingredient in today’s grooming world, and the Premium Activated Scrub is among the best charcoal-based products on the market.

How it’s done: The best method for using an exfoliator (and why)

The primary reason for using an exfoliator/face scrub is to remove dead skin cells that build up on your face and clog pores. Because your face doesn’t always shed skin cells very effectively on its own, your skin begins to look dull, not smooth, and polished.

There are other reasons to use an exfoliator besides clearing away dead skin cells – which we’ll touch on in a bit – but first, let’s take a look at how to use a facial scrub, as well as how often.

How often should I use an exfoliator?

You don’t need to use a facial scrub every day. Doing so may dry out your skin by removing too much of its natural oils while disrupting its natural pH balance. Typically, you should use your exfoliator one to two times a week, or a bit more if you have normal skin.

  1. If you have normal, oily, or combination skin (a combination of normal and oily), you can use your facial scrub one to three times a week. Scrubbing helps prevent oil from building up in your pores.
  2. If your skin is sensitive, dry, or acne-prone, you shouldn’t use your facial scrub more than twice a week, at most. It’s best not to use a face wash on the same day you use your exfoliator because you’ll excessively dry out the skin.
  3. Perhaps the best advice for determining how often you should use a facial scrub is “proceed with caution.” You may like the way your face looks – and feels – after exfoliating so much that you’re tempted to do it again tomorrow … and the next day. But overuse will dry out your skin and strip it of natural oils that help it maintain its elasticity.

How to properly use a facial scrub

best exfoliator men 1

STEP 1:Rinse your face with warm water before using your facial scrub. The warm water opens up the pores and makes it easier for your scrub to penetrate deeply.

best exfoliator men 2STEP 2: You’ll only need to use a small amount of scrub with each application. Place a dime-sized amount of scrub in the palm of your hand, then use your fingers to apply it with circular motions around your face. You can also apply it with a loofah or soft washcloth.

best exfoliator men 3STEP 3: Use gentle motions when applying it to your face. Scrubbing too vigorously will irritate the skin and remove too much of its natural oils.

best exfoliator men 4STEP 4: If you plan on shaving, apply the facial scrub first. The scrub will smooth your skin and lift and softens facial hairs to make for a smoother shave.

best exfoliator men 5STEP 5: After applying your exfoliator, rinse it off with warm water and then follow with cold water to shrink pores and prevent excess oils and impurities from going back into them.

best exfoliator men 6STEP 6: Don’t dry your face completely with a towel when finished. Instead, gently pat it dry.

Why should I use a scrub?

We’ve touched on the benefits of using a facial scrub in our reviews and introduction, but let’s dig a bit deeper:

  • An exfoliator removes dead skin cells

Again, the primary purpose of a facial scrub is to remove dead skin cells. New skin is constantly regenerated (with a whole new set of cells produced every two weeks). The dead skin that’s left behind gives your face a look of flakiness, dullness, and unevenness.

  • It cleanses the skin

Scrubs clean and remove excess dirt, oil, and grime that a daily cleanser doesn’t remove. They penetrate deeply into your pores to remove grit that accumulates over time.

  • It uproots ingrown hairs

Scrubs dig deeply enough to lift ingrown hairs and make them easier to shave.

  • A facial scrub removes excess oils

Excess sebum may build up on your face over time – especially if you’re prone to oily skin – and may cause skin spots and an uneven skin tone.

  • An exfoliator may slow the signs of aging

No product can completely stop the aging process. But facial scrubs and other cleansers can slow aging’s obvious signs by refining skin tone and reducing fine lines such as wrinkles. They also help facial cleansers and washes to work more effectively.

Exfoliators vs. other types of facial products

So far, we’ve concentrated on manual (or physical) exfoliators, i.e., facial scrubs that contain small abrasive particles, such as seeds, powders or beads that you apply to your face by hand while working them into the skin to remove dead skin cells and other impurities.

Facial scrubs aren’t the only way to get a deep cleansing, however.

The following is a comparison of facial scrubs to other types of facial cleansers.

Facial scrub

We’ve covered facial scrubs in detail up to this point. Just to reiterate – facial scrubs eliminate dead skin and remove impurities from your skin. They typically have a gritty texture, ranging from mild to rough.

Scrubs are the most commonly used type of exfoliation.

Facial scrubs are milder than body scrubs because the skin of a man’s face, while thicker than the skin on a woman’s face, is thinner than the skin of the body.

Body scrubs usually contain larger, harsher granules that can penetrate areas of the body such as the elbows, feet, and knees.

Exfoliation has been around a while, to say the least. It’s commonly thought that the ancient Egyptians invented physical exfoliation and used a variety of materials, including pumice, sand, alabaster particles, and sour milk, in the exfoliating process.

Native Americans used corncobs and similarly abrasive materials.

Folks of the Middle Ages used old wine because of its acidity. One can only speculate about what they did with the leftovers.

Among the ingredients commonly found in physical exfoliators, today include jojoba beads and pumice stone fragments.

  • Jojoba beads are smooth, round, and rarely scratch the skin, but instead, gently strip away dead skin cells. They’re also considered environmentally friendly, unlike the plastic beads of yesteryear.
  • Pumice represents a harsher form of physical exfoliation but, like jojoba beads, is produced naturally. Men with sensitive skin should think twice about using facial scrubs that utilize pumice as their deep-cleansing agent.

Face wash

Face washes are mild cleansers that aren’t as abrasive as facial scrubs and other forms of exfoliation. Cleansers, which are often suitable for daily use, penetrate the top layer of the skin and aren’t as effective for deep cleaning as facial scrubs.

Scrub bars

Scrub bars have a coarseness that sets them apart from regular soap bars. They work well for quick body exfoliation. The same is true of body scrubs that come in liquid form and use larger, harsher granules than facial scrubs.

Chemical exfoliants

An alternative to a manual exfoliator is using a chemical exfoliator. They eliminate dead skin cells in a different way. Instead of having particles that do the physical scrubbing, they make use of acids and enzymes that dissolve the “binding” that connects dead skin cells, which enable them to be washed away.

&nbThey’re effective for men who can’t handle the abrasiveness of some facial scrubs. Some of the chemicals in this type of exfoliant include:

  • Lactic acid

Lactic acid may be plant-based or milk-based and works well on all skin types (and comes in various strengths).

  • Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is a more powerful cleaner than lactic acid and works deeply on congested skin.

  • Citric acids

Naturally-produced citric and multi-fruit acids help dissolve the top layer of skin for smoothing, anti-aging, and cleansing.

  • Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is another name for beta hydroxyl acid (BHA), and it works best on skin that’s oily and prone to acne breakouts.

Remember, if you have oily skin, you want to use a facial scrub that prevents clogging and breakouts but also balances the skin by reducing oil production.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels fall under the “chemical exfoliator” banner but are a much harsher form of exfoliation. A chemical peel consists of a watery, gel-like solution that’s designed to strip away the top layer of your skin to reveal a fresh new layer beneath it.

Peels are useful for people with excessively blemished skin and remove dead skin cells, blackheads, unwanted facial hair, and improve your skin’s color and texture.

At-home chemical peels are less intensive than peels administered by a skin health professional – which are used to treat issues like severe acne and melasma (in which dark, brownish patches are visible on the skin).

Note:Sagging skin and excessive wrinkles do not respond very well to chemical peels. Instead, facelifts and laser treatments performed by dermatologic surgeons are better options.


Facial masks may contain a variety of ingredients, including aloe vera, clay, seaweed, essential oils, etc., and work to draw out impurities from the skin. Masks may also tighten, tone, hydrate, nourish, and rejuvenate skin.

Clay masks draw oil and dirt to the surface of the skin and also tighten it. Cream or gel masks are designed to hydrate and nourish skin.

How we chose the best exfoliators for men

A lot of research is necessary when choosing the best products of any type; that goes without saying. We also take a lot of different factors into consideration, as was certainly the case with our search for the best exfoliator for men.

For instance, many top-quality facial scrubs are suitable for all skin types, but we wanted to include scrubs that covered all the bases – from dry to oily to normal to sensitive skin. We have also identified products that go beyond regular exfoliation and take things to the next level, such as offering moisturizing and anti-aging benefits.

We also considered each product’s list of ingredients – we favor those with natural ingredients, although not exclusively – as well as their ratings and reviews of users and experts alike.

Price is always a consideration, and we strive to list products that fit every budget.

Last but not least, we only choose those that we think are the most solid options; the products that we believe you’ll most benefit from.

Frequently asked questions

Should I exfoliate in the morning or at night?

Exfoliating can be done in the morning or the night; however, at night is usually better. This is because the process of exfoliating opens up your pores, and they remain open for a short time afterward.

This makes you more vulnerable to UV damage from the sun and also environmental pollutants. However, exfoliating in the morning can have its benefits, such as giving you a fresher, brighter appearance for the day ahead.

Can exfoliating cause breakouts?

Regular exfoliation reduces the build-up of dead skin cells and blocked pores, which are factors in the formation of acne lesions. While exfoliating can prevent breakouts, it is also possible to cause breakouts if you exfoliate too much or too aggressively.

Also, if you are prone to clogged pores and new to exfoliating, there is a chance that you might experience an initial breakout. To avoid breakouts, be careful when choosing an exfoliant. Start with a gentle product and build it up over time to avoid irritating your skin and causing inflammation.

Like any new skincare regime, be mindful that an initial breakout might happen so that healthy, clear skin can come to the surface.

How often should I exfoliate?

For normal to combination skin, you should aim to exfoliate two to three times a week. If your skin is more on the sensitive side, then once a week is enough.

Can I exfoliate too often?

Yes, it is possible to exfoliate too much. Keep in mind that while exfoliating helps in the sloughing of dead skin cells, it can also irritate the current living cells in the process. You need to give your skin time to repair, and this can vary from person to person.

Generally, exfoliating two to three times a week is enough. If you are noticing your skin is showing signs of inflammation and redness, then it is possible you are exfoliating too often, or the product you are using is too harsh for your skin type.

Do I exfoliate before or after cleansing?

There is no correct method, and it is possible to do both ways. By starting with a cleanse, you are extracting the impurities from the pores, and when it comes to exfoliating, you are doing so on a clean surface.

Alternatively, if you exfoliate before cleansing, then you are pulling the dead skin cells from the skin, and then the cleanser can wash them away. Understand that the products do different jobs and find out what works best for you through experimentation.

Can I exfoliate other parts of my skin?

Yes. Note that the skin on different parts of your body is different from your facial skin. For example, your arms and legs are less delicate and able to withstand more aggressive products. Try out different exfoliators on various areas and find out what works.

Also, don’t forget your lips. If you suffer from chapped or dry, flakey lips, then some gentle exfoliation can help.

Do exfoliators expire?

A facial scrub will usually expire after approximately two years. To maintain the longevity of an exfoliator, it is important to close the jar or container after every use. This is to prevent bacteria and contaminants from entering and affecting the stability of the product.

Exfoliators last longer than many other skincare products as long as they are well taken care of. Avoid water from entering the container, and if it is a jar, consider using a spatula instead of your fingers.

How long does it take to see the results from a facial scrub?

An exfoliator can provide short and long term results. You should see some improvement from the first use. However, for the highly noticeable benefits, it can take from 6 to 8 weeks.

Patience is vital as only repeated applications can create true results. There is no benefit to over-exfoliating because your skin needs time to heal and regenerate before the benefits become visible.

Can I exfoliate incorrectly?

Yes. If you select a product that irritates your skin or you scrub too aggressively or too often, then you are doing so incorrectly. This will become apparent if you start noticing signs of inflammation, redness, or frequent acne breakouts.

On the other hand, if you are not experiencing any adverse reactions, but you are also not seeing any positive results after 6-8 weeks, it is possible that you are not using a strong enough exfoliator for your skin type. If this is the case, try scrubbing slightly harder or use a product that has stronger exfoliating beads.

Can I use more than one exfoliating product?

Yes, you can. However, be wary that this increases the chances of causing skin irritations. If you want to use more than one scrub, it is advisable to start with one and use it for several weeks before incorporating another exfoliating product into your routine.

If you want to use both a mechanical and chemical exfoliator, try using the mechanical in the morning and the chemical at night.


Exfoliation is an essential part of a man’s grooming and can often get overlooked. If you are new to exfoliating your skin, then now is the perfect time to up your game.

As our understanding of skincare advances, the quality of exfoliators on the market are also on the rise. To the point where they offer much more than just scrubbing your face. Now they are made to moisturize and repair at the same time, such as the ones we have featured in this guide.

Do you have a favorite facial scrub? Do you have a favorite that’s not on our list, or have you used one of our favorites?

And, as always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions. We’d love to hear from you!

You might also like:

Best Skin Care Products for Men: Upgrade Your Daily Routine

Best Face Moisturizers, Creams & Lotions for Men

Best Face Washes & Cleansers for Men (All Skin Types)

Best Eye Creams for Men to Fight Aging & Puffy Eyes

Best Toothpastes for Bad Breath a.k.a. Halitosis

About The Author

Domen Hrovatin
Domen Hrovatin

Domen—a self-confessed facial hair addict—is a grooming professional, style enthusiast, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about male pattern baldness. His work was mentioned in countless notable men's grooming and style publications, including Beardbrand and AskMen.

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