This article was produced in conjunction with Blu Atlas.
Face scrubs have gotten a bad rap in recent years thanks to some popular scrubs with some not-so-great ingredients. But the reality is that high-quality face scrubs with the right ingredients and formulation can be a great addition to any man’s skincare routine. For one, face scrubs are a fantastic way to instantly brighten your complexion and remove dead skin cells that are just chillin’ on the skin’s surface. They’re also a must-have skincare product for those who shave or frequently experience in-grown hairs.
No matter the reason you want to use a face scrub, we’ve got you covered. To help you navigate the skincare market that just happens to be flooded with exfoliators, we’ve found the 25 best face scrubs for men. So whether you have sensitive or tough skin, there’s an exfoliator for you.
If you’re one of the millions of people out there with sensitive skin, then you know that nice-smelling products can come at the expense of irritating your skin. And when you add that to the exfoliating power of a skin scrub, the product can become almost unusable. Blu Atlas’ Exfoliating Scrub overcomes both of these problems by using only natural fragrances and scrubbing your skin with gentle, proven ingredients that will leave your face feeling smoother than before you washed it.
Rather than packing their scrub full of chemicals to eliminate dead skin cells, Blu Atlas includes bamboo stem extract and jojoba oil to do the job. These two natural ingredients both wash away dead skin and rejuvenate living cells. The hibiscus flower extract locks in the moisture in the long term, while algae extract makes your face feel as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Blend all of these ingredients together, and you have Blu Atlas’ fragrant yet all-natural Exfoliating Scrub.
2. SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub
SkinCeuticals is a well-trusted brand known for its high-quality, scientifically-backed formulations. So with their Micro-Exfoliating Scrub, you can feel secure knowing that you are using the best of the best. This face scrub uses hydrated silica to effectively cleanse pores and exfoliate dead skin cells to reveal softer, smoother skin. The Micro-Exfoliating Scrub also uses other hydrating ingredients such as glycerin and aloe vera to promote a healthy skin barrier, so you’re getting hydration and exfoliation in one product.
And unlike other harsh exfoliators on the market, SkinCeuticals’ Micro-Exfoliating Scrub is gentle enough for daily use and is ideal for those with dry, normal, combination, or oily skin types.
3. Horace Face Scrub
Horace is an all-natural grooming brand for men whose no-frill formulas are always 95% to 100% natural. Horace’s Face Scrub is made from 98.5% naturally-derived ingredients, including Murumuru seeds and butter that work to gently exfoliate and protect the skin from dehydration. Other nourishing ingredients like vitamin E, rapeseed oil, and sunflower oil work to soothe the skin and prevent inflammation. This fragrance-free face scrub is suitable for all skin types and works best when used once to twice a week on damp skin.
4. Bull Dog Sensitive Face Scrub
It can be tricky for those with sensitive skin to enjoy the lavishes of a facial scrub. That’s why Bull Dog Skincare created their Sensitive Face Scrub specifically for those with sensitive skin. It’s formulated with gentle ingredients such as quinoa, baobab oil, oat oil, and willow herb to cleanse and exfoliate without leaving the skin feeling tight, dry, and irritated. This affordable, fragrance-free formula comes in at just under $7, so there’s really no excuse not to try it.
5. Lumin Exfoliating Rub
Lumin’s Exfoliating Rub buffs away dead skin cells, prevents post-shave skin irritation, evens skin tone, and helps fade acne marks. The formula features charcoal to draw out dirt and impurities from the pores, while antioxidant-rich rosemary leaf and green tea extract calm skin inflammation.
6. Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Microdermabrasion Blackhead Eliminator
For an exfoliator that really packs a punch, look no further than Peter Thomas Roth’s PRO Strength Microdermabrasion Blackhead Eliminator. This is one the best face scrubs for men because it uses a triple-action exfoliation method to brighten skin and treat clogged pores. Its chemical exfoliant: salicylic acid, penetrates deep into the skin to dissolve blackheads and whiteheads, while a microencapsulated enzymatic complex removes surface impurities and excess oil. Its physical exfoliants include small, skin-polishing crystals along with kaolin and bentonite clays to leave skin clearer and more radiant.
7. Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant
This popular exfoliant is one you can use daily for your smoothest, most protected skin yet. Its advanced powder formula activates when combined with water to release exfoliating enzymes and alpha-hydroxy acids. Daily Superfoliant’s anti-pollution technology also features ingredients like activated charcoal to keep environmental toxins away from the skin and niacinamide to strengthen the skin’s defense against pollution.
8. Clinique for Men Face Scrub
Tailored for men’s skin, Clinique for Men’s Face Scrub uses exfoliants like silica and salicylic acid to prep the skin for shaving by removing dead cells, preventing clogged pores, and lifting beard hairs so you can achieve an extra close shave.
9. Paula’s Choice The UnScrub
Paula’s Choice The UnScrub has you rethinking the way you use face scrubs. With its one-of-a-kind formula, this gentle scrub washes without disrupting the skin barrier and uses natural, dissolvable, environmentally friendly jojoba beads to exfoliate and cleanse. Thanks to its milky gel texture and cleansing capabilities, you can use this face scrub to rinse away sunscreen, dirt, and other impurities.
10. ClearStem Skincare VITAMINSCRUB
Kind of like eating a healthy diet, getting an extra dose of vitamins into your skincare routine is never a bad idea. ClearStem Skincare has made getting your skin vitamins easy with their antioxidant-infused scrub, containing vitamin C and green tea to visibly brighten, stimulate collagen, promote calmness, and protect the skin from environmental aggressors. Alongside antioxidants, this scrub uses environmentally friendly bamboo particles to polish the skin. Plus, its non-drying formula means it’s great for all skin types and ages.
11. Peter Thomas Roth Acne Face & Body Scrub
The problem with some acne products is that they’re too harsh and lead to irritation. Made for those with acne-prone skin, this face scrub by Peter Thomas Roth effectively cleanses and treats acne without over-drying. This face scrub uses acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid to chemically exfoliate the skin, while ultra-fine jojoba beans physically exfoliate to prevent (and treat) clogged pores. It’s also effective enough to use on your body—think back, chest, shoulders, or wherever else you experience breakouts.
12. Origins GinZing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser
Kind of like a perky cup of coffee in the morning, Origins’ GinZing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser uses energizing Panax ginseng and coffee bean caffeine to awaken the skin and your senses. In this best-selling, vegan formula, natural jojoba and carnauba wax exfoliate the skin, while grapefruit, lemon, and spearmint oils invigorate and refresh. Though this is a gentle formula, it’s best suited for those with normal, oily, or combination skin.
13. Ole Henriksen Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub
What’s not to like about a facial sauna? The answer is—nothing. In Ole Henriksen’s best-selling Pore-Balance Scrub, volcanic sand exfoliates the skin for smoother texture, while glycolic and lactic acids clear away dead skin cells and prevent breakouts. This face scrub also makes use of spa-like ingredients such as neem seed oil and a botanical blend of green tea, eucalyptus, algae, and Irish moss to refine pores.
14. Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub
Jack Black’s Face Buff was designed for men to use pre-shaving, but it can also be used as an energizing face scrub on days when you aren’t. This scrub uses eco-friendly, biodegradable exfoliants such as bamboo powder to unclog pores and prevent in-grown hairs, while botanicals such as licorice extract calm the skin and vitamin C adds antioxidant protection against free radicals. Face Buff also uses peppermint oil for a minty fresh feel.
15. Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub
As one of the most popular face scrubs on the market, Kiehl’s Facial Fuel is suitable for all skin types wanting to improve the look and texture of their skin. This skin buffer for men uses apricot seed kernels and oil to exfoliate, soften tough facial hair, and clear away impurities. Other key ingredients include caffeine, menthol, vitamin E, and citrus extracts for a scrub that’s (as the name suggests) energizing for the mind and body.
16. Typology Regenerating Face Scrub with Olive Squalane
Typology’s uniquely formulated Regenerating Face Scrub goes from a gel consistency to an exfoliating oil once massaged into your skin and then transforms again into a milk when rinsed with water. This triple textural transformation simultaneously works to exfoliate and deeply nourish the skin. With ingredients like olive-derived squalane, this face scrub works great for all skin types but is especially transformative for those with dry, mature skin.
17. Brickell Men’s Renewing Face Scrub
Brickell’s Renewing Face Scrub for Men uses jojoba beads and pumice to slough away oil, dead skin and prepare the skin for shaving. At the same time, natural moisturizers such as aloe vera and avocado butter nourish the skin. This face scrub is made 98% from natural ingredients and is naturally scented with coffee extract and green tea for a fresh, energizing feel.
18. Baxter of California Facial Scrub
Baxter of California’s Exfoliating Facial Scrub is designed to smooth and revitalize men’s skin. Exfoliating cornmeal and walnut shell powder buffs dry, dead skin to prevent clogged pores and in-grown hairs. Additional botanicals such as honey, chamomile, avocado oil, and ginkgo extract support healthy, brighter skin.
19. Marlowe NO. 122 Facial Scrub for Men
This classic facial scrub is perfect for all skin types who want a simple formula that cleanses and buffs away dead skin. Ingredients like pumice and apricot seed powder provide powerful (yet gentle) exfoliation, while other botanicals such as Camellia oleifera leaf extract and Passiflora incarnata fruit extract provide the skin with antioxidant protection.
20. Disco Exfoliating Face Scrub
Disco’s Exfoliating Face Scrub was specifically designed to help fight the in-grown hairs and razor burns that come with shaving. Its vegan, cruelty-free formula is jam-packed with nourishing plants such as aloe vera to repair skin damage, papaya extract to gently exfoliate, and apricot oil to moisturize and reduce skin inflammation.
21. Ole Henriksen Lemonade Smoothing Scrub
This best-selling face scrub may be sweet like lemonade on a summer’s day, but it’s highly effective for smoothing skin texture and reducing the appearance of pores. Using ultra-fine sugar exfoliants and lemon peel extract to physically exfoliate and moisturize the skin, Ole Henriksen’s Lemonade Smoothing Scrub also has a concentration of 10% glycolic and lactic acids to chemically exfoliate and reveal brighter, more even skin texture.
22. Origins Checks and Balances Polishing Face Scrub
A good skincare product will leave your skin feeling healthy and balanced. That’s why Origins created Checks and Balances, their vegan, gentle face scrub that uses natural ingredients such as bamboo and mineral silica to buff away dead skin cells and reveal smoother, clearer skin. Other key ingredients include mint essential oil and tourmaline to help refresh and invigorate the senses.
If enlarged pores are one of your skin concerns, you might want to add this face scrub to your basket ASAP. In clinical trials, 92% of testers showed immediate reduction in pore visibility and fewer clogged pores after one week. The result? Softer, brighter looking skin almost immediately.
23. Burt’s Bees Deep Cleansing Scrub
Burt’s Bees has combined chemical exfoliant salicylic acid with jojoba beads to gently exfoliate away dead cells and treat acne without irritating or drying the skin. Salicylic acid has the power to go deep into the pores to unclog buildup, resulting in clearer skin. The Deep Cleansing Scrub also features soothing ingredients such as cica (also known as Tiger Grass) to reduce redness and promote skin healing. Its non-comedogenic, acne-fighting formula is great for those with oily, breakout-prone skin.
24. Kiehl’s Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub
With real fruit extracts and natural pineapple and papaya notes, this face scrub by Kiehl’s is basically a tropical vacation in a bottle. Made with luffa cylindrica fruit and apricot seed powder, this gentle formula helps remove dead cells for softer, cleaner-feeling skin. Plus, because the exfoliators are so gentle, it’s suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin.
25. Rugged & Dapper Daily Power Scrub
Rugged & Dapper’s Daily Power Scrub is a multi-purpose face wash toner and exfoliator in one, meaning that it both cleanses and exfoliates skin for a deep clean. With ingredients like organic aloe vera, rosehip seed, and dandelion, it’s packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will regenerate damaged skin, protect from premature aging, and promote a healthy complexion. This scrub is also gentle enough for everyday use, so it can be your one-stop shop for a feel-good clean.
How to Find the Best Men’s Face Scrub
Try to opt for a face scrub that also contains soothing, moisturizing, and calming ingredients such as aloe vera, plant oils, and green tea extract to offset any potential irritation caused by the exfoliants. Plus, these ingredients are awesome to have in your skincare routine in general and really show that a brand cares about the health of your skin.
Chemical Exfoliants or Enzymes
In addition to the physical exfoliants in a face scrub, chemical exfoliants such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) can work to exfoliate the top layers of dead skin cells, and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) can exfoliate deep within the skin to unclog pores. Physical scrubs that contain fruit enzymes such as pineapple and papaya can also provide gentle forms of chemical exfoliation.
Small, Round Granules
The best physical exfoliants use small, round granules (the smaller, the better) to gently exfoliate the skin. The round shape of the particle will exfoliate the skin without causing any damage.
On the flip side, when it comes to ingredients you want to avoid, try to stay away from face scrubs that have large, abrasive granules such as fruit pits with jagged edges. These irregularly-shaped materials can cause small micro-tears in the skin, leading to a weakened skin barrier and more sensitivity over time.
For those with sensitive skin, tiny dissolvable beads like those found in Paula’s Choice The UnScrub are perfect for that hint of exfoliation that doesn’t leave your skin feeling raw or irritated. You should also avoid fragrance and essential oils (even if they are all-natural) if you have sensitive skin prone to irritation.
What do face scrubs do?
A face scrub is a skincare product that uses exfoliating beads, particles, or other materials to gently exfoliate dead skin cells from the skin that can lead to clogged pores and in-grown hairs. In addition to its primary duty of exfoliation, a face scrub can also have cleansing ingredients that wash the skin and moisturizing ingredients to nourish and soothe.
Can I use a body scrub on my face?
You really shouldn’t. The skin on our face is much different than the skin on our bodies. It’s much thinner and more sensitive, for example. So using a scrub (or any body care product for that matter) on your face won’t give you the results you’re looking for and might end up leading to breakouts and irritation.
On the flip side, using a facial exfoliator on your body can be done, but the formula is probably too gentle to produce any tangible results.
How do you exfoliate your face with a scrub?
All face scrubs are designed to work a little differently. With most, you’ll want to start by prepping your skin with warm water and then gently applying the product using circular motions. Other face scrubs work best when applied to dry skin. So before you get scrubbin’, be sure to read the directions on your particular product and see which method of application you should choose.
Applying gentle pressure when using a face scrub is key. The tougher particles in the formulation are there to exfoliate, so you don’t need to scrub extra hard for the product to be effective.
How often should you use an exfoliator?
Too much exfoliation is never a good thing. Since the purpose of a face scrub is to clear away dead skin cells and excess oils, using a scrub too often on already healthy, exfoliated skin will likely lead to irritation and more problems down the line. So unlike your facial cleansers and moisturizers, you’re best off exfoliating one to three times a week, depending on how sensitive your skin is. Of course, some of the gentler exfoliators on the market can be used daily. When in doubt, check the label on your face scrub to see how often the brand recommends using it.
What are the benefits of exfoliating?
There are many scientifically-backed benefits of exfoliation. Here are some of the most important.
Your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells to make room for fresh, new cells about every 30 days. When these dead cells don’t shed completely from the skin, they can build up on the surface, leading to a dull, lackluster complexion. When you exfoliate the skin, you remove the excess of dead skin cells to reveal a brighter, smoother complexion. Exfoliation can also help reduce the appearance of dark spots and acne scars by encouraging fresh, new skin growth.
Less Acne and Clogged Pores
Acne is often the result of hair follicles that become plugged (or clogged) with sebum and dead skin cells. Our skin naturally produces oil (known as sebum) to keep our skin moisturized, but our skin can sometimes produce an excess amount of this natural oil. Excess sebum combined with dead skin cells can lead to clogged pores and acne.
By regularly exfoliating your skin, you can remove excess sebum and dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, preventing acne. Using a physical exfoliator (like a face scrub) with a chemical BHA exfoliant such as salicylic acid will work double-time to go deep within the skin and unclog pores.
Bye Bye In-grown Hairs
In-grown hairs occur when shaved hair grows back into the skin, often causing pain and inflammation. They are an all too common (and annoying) condition for men who shave their facial hair. Luckily, using a face scrub is one of the best ways to prevent in-grown hairs before shaving. Face scrubs with exfoliants like salicylic, glycolic, or lactic acid are great for treating or preventing in-grown hairs since they exfoliate below and on the skin’s surface for bump-free skin.
Smoother Skin with Better Texture
For those with dull, rough, or bumpy skin, exfoliation can improve skin texture by removing dead skin cells, unclogging pores, and encouraging new skin cells to move up to the skin’s surface. Regular exfoliation can remove the dead cell buildup that leads to clogged pores and textured skin.
Exfoliation also stimulates collagen synthesis. Collagen is a protein that serves as the main building block for our skin, hair, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. When it comes to your skin, collagen is what keeps it looking plump, smooth, and youthful. To target deep texture issues and support skin structure, regular exfoliation for collagen synthesis is a must.
It Helps Your Other Products Absorb Better
Because dead skin cells sit directly on the surface of the skin, they inhibit your other skincare products from absorbing deeply and working their magic. Regular exfoliation (even if it’s just once a week) will help to remove the barrier of dead cells so your other skincare products, such as serums and moisturizers, can do what they’re meant to do.
When should I exfoliate?
There really is no perfect answer to this question; it all comes down to your personal preference and lifestyle. If you find that exfoliating in the morning leaves your skin feeling fresh and bright for the day ahead, then incorporate that into your morning routine. On the other hand, if you prefer to do more skincare and self-care at night, then use that time to exfoliate.
Do you exfoliate before or after shaving?
It’s best to exfoliate before shaving, as opposed to after. This is to help your razor get a closer and cleaner shave and not get clogged or disrupted by dead skin cells. Exfoliating before your shave can also help prevent in-grown hairs.
Can exfoliating prevent in-grown hairs?
Yes! Gentle exfoliation is critical for preventing in-grown hairs since it removes dead skin cells and prevents the hair from curling back into the skin or growing sideways. Remember, proper exfoliation doesn’t mean scrubbing your face raw (you should definitely avoid doing that). Before shaving, gently exfoliate with your favorite face scrub to remove dead skin cells and prevent in-grown hairs.
What’s the difference between a physical exfoliant and a chemical exfoliant?
The main difference between a physical and chemical exfoliant is evident from their names. One exfoliates physically, using a scrubbing action or product that incorporates beads, granules, or other materials to buff away dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, use exfoliating acids like salicylic or glycolic to loosen and remove dead skin cells so the skin can bring new cells up to the surface.
Can I use both physical and chemical exfoliants?
Yes! You can choose to alternate using a physical exfoliant on one day and a chemical exfoliant on another. Or you can use skincare products such as Ole Henriksen’s Lemonade Smoothing Scrub, which combines physical exfoliant sugar with alpha-hydroxy glycolic and lactic acids to chemically exfoliate the skin.
Is exfoliation right for me?
The general consensus, according to dermatologists and skincare experts, is that exfoliation benefits all skin types. However, certain exfoliation methods will work better than others depending on your skin type, needs, and concerns. If you have super sensitive skin, you might want to skip the physical and chemical exfoliants and use plant enzymes like papaya to gently target dead skin cells. If you have normal or resilient skin, you can use either physical or chemical exfoliants to improve the look and texture of your skin.
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