There's a common misconception amongst us men. Too many guys believe that words like "scrub" and "exfoliate" are feminine and that face and body scrubs are best left to the opposite sex.
But this couldn't be further from the truth. The fact is, if you want clear, smooth skin - you need to exfoliate regularly. And that means embracing skin exfoliation for men.
And we're not just talking about your face. The skin on your body needs TLC too! This blog explains what face and body scrubs are before showing you how to integrate regular exfoliation into your weekly grooming routine. Trust us - you won't look back!
Are face scrubs exfoliators?
Face scrubs are often labeled as exfoliators and vice versa. While both serve the same purpose - removing dead skin cells from the outermost layer of your skin - they are different products.
A men's face scrub is a cream-based skincare product that contains exfoliating particles. It's known as a "mechanical" exfoliator (you remove dead skin cells through friction - the act of physically scrubbing your skin cells).
The exfoliating elements in face scrubs include crystals, micro-fine granules, natural beads like bamboo powder or particles, and in some cases, plastic micro-beads.
On the other hand, an exfoliator is a chemical agent that removes dead cells from the surface of the skin. It's also known as a chemical exfoliator because it dissolves dead skin cells using enzymes or acids.
Instead of physically scrubbing dead cells away, chemical exfoliators dissolve the intercellular glue that holds dead skin cells together.
Should guys exfoliate their face?
In a word - yes.
Your skin is up to 30% thicker than women's and also produces more oil. Without proper exfoliation, dead skin cells can get trapped on the skin's surface, leading to clogged pores, dark spots, rough skin texture, wrinkles, dullness, dryness, and flaky skin.
Regular exfoliation removes these dead skin cells to reveal smoother and brighter skin.
Is exfoliating good for men?
Throughout the day, your face collects dirt, oil, grime, and other debris that can get trapped in your pores. The result is breakouts and acne.
Exfoliating your skin allows you to penetrate deeply into your facial pores and remove the dirt, grime, and oil that's clogging your skin. This process smoothes, refines, and cleans below your skin's surface.
If you have a beard, exfoliating can keep beard dandruff at bay, improve your skin's texture, and keep your hair follicles clear and healthy.
But be careful - exfoliating every day can strip your skin of its natural oils. This causes your skin to overcompensate and produce more oil, which can get trapped in your pores and cause breakouts.
Skin exfoliation for men benefits:
- Unclogs pores
- Reduces blackheads
- Minimizes the appearance of pores
- Softens fine lines and wrinkles
- Controls excess oil
- Brightens dull skin Improves overall tone
- Softens skin texture
- Irritates skin
- Causes breakouts
- Deprives your skin of its natural regeneration capability
What does a scrub do to the face?
Your skin is constantly shedding skin cells. When this happens, smoother skin cells push their way up to the skin's surface. This process is called 'cell turnover.'
Exfoliation removes dead and dulling skin cells and helps speed up your skin's turnover, helping it look younger.
Which is the best exfoliator for the face?
The best exfoliator depends on your skin type.
There are 3 men's skin types:
- Dry (your skin feels tight throughout the day and you may experience flaking)
- Oily (your face is shiny and usually appears greasy later on in the day. Your skin is prone to breakouts)
- Normal / Combination (your forehead, nose, and chin are oily, but your skin is dry everywhere else.)
Exfoliation for men with dry skin
Exfoliate with gentle, non-abrasive ingredients to promote skin cell turnover without removing your skin's natural oils.
Be gentle - being too rough with dry skin can lead to micro-tears in your skin's surface.
Look for a face scrub containing natural ingredients that hydrate your skin, like Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Shea Butter, and Coconut Oil.
Exfoliation for men with oily skin
Oily skin is prone to breakouts and PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation). This condition leaves dark spots on the skin after a breakout has healed.
Regular exfoliation helps lighten these dark spots by polishing away the uppermost layers of skin and revealing new skin cells.
Those with moderate to severe acne breakouts should consider using a gentle men's face scrub that includes antibacterial ingredients like Aloe Vera Gel which soothes your skin and helps prevent future blemishes.
Men with normal / combination skin
Men with normal or combination skin can use a scrub to deeply cleanse the grime and pollution picked up during the day and prevent clogged pores forming blackheads and breakouts.
Opt for a face scrub made with natural ingredients and avoid anything containing artificial fragrances or perfum, as this can irritate your skin.
When should men exfoliate?
As you age, the rate at which your body sheds dull and dead skin cells begins to slow down.
When you're younger, your skin will naturally renew itself every month. When you reach the age of 30, the process begins to slow down even more.
But it's never too late to start. If you notice your skin is dull and flaky - start exfoliating ASAP.
Should you exfoliate your face in the morning or night?
Exfoliate your face in the evening to clean your pores and remove accumulated dirt, pollution, and grime from the day.
How do men exfoliate their face?
Follow these steps:
- Use warm water to wet your face, ensuring complete coverage. Avoid hot water (it dries out your skin and scalds you, leaving your skin irritated and red).
- Apply a nickel-sized amount of your chosen face scrub onto the palm of your hand.
- Gently rub your hands together, spreading the scrub on both palms, then apply to your face and neck area.
- Massage the scrub into your skin gently in circular motions. Be careful not to rub too hard. If your skin moves, you're too rough!
- Gently rinse the scrub, being careful not to get any in your eyes or mouth.
- Pat your skin dry with a soft clean towel and continue with the rest of your skincare routine.
Do facial scrubs damage your skin?
Any men's face scrub that contains large, irregularly-shaped particles can damage your skin by causing micro-tears in its surface.
Examples of these particles include fruit pits, volcanic rock and plastic micro-beads.
Micro-tears weaken your skin's barrier, making skin more prone to dry, flaky patches, redness, and sensitivity. This issue is even worse if the scrub also contains an irritating fragrance, whether natural or synthetic.
As we touched upon earlier, some men's exfoliators contain plastic micro-beads: tiny plastic beads used to exfoliate dead skin. Face scrubs can hold up to 300,000 of these micro-beads per product.
Micro-beads cause tiny tears in your skin. These small tears can leave you vulnerable to infection with bacteria entering these holes.
Micro-beads can enter your body through dermal absorption (entering your bloodstream via the surface of your skin).
Applying products containing micro-beads near your eyes may injure your cornea. It's also possible the tiny beads will get under your eyelids, scratching your eyeballs. (Not pleasant!)
What happens if you scrub your face every day?
Every man is different, but for most guys, daily exfoliation can lead to excessive dryness, irritation, redness, and even broken blood vessels.
For most men, it's a good idea to exfoliate two to three times a week. Younger men tend to have oilier skin, so they can probably handle more scrubbing. Men over 40 have a thinner epidermis, so they should stick to exfoliating once or twice a week.
See how your skin reacts. If it becomes dry, red, or irritated - use a face scrub less often or go for a more gentle face scrub containing natural ingredients.
Why should you not scrub your face?
Do not use face scrub if your skin is sunburned and irritated. Removing the outer layer of skin could lead to skin damage and pain.
If you have sunburn, allow your skin to heal naturally.
Avoid face scrubs if you have chronic acne or your skin is inflamed because exfoliation can irritate your skin further.
With face scrubs covered, let's move on to body scrubs.
What does a body scrub do?
A body scrub exfoliates the thicker skin below your neckline, leaving it smooth and soft. A good body scrub uses an abrasive material — usually sea salt or sugar — mixed with some massage oil.
Do body scrubs work?
Unlike our faces, we often neglect our bodies. Just like the skin cells on your face, the cells on your body regularly shed to reveal new, healthier skin underneath. Skin cell turnover slows as we get older.
The exfoliating granules in body scrubs help to scrub off dead skin. The rubbing action boosts circulation and helps clean your lymph nodes (which help your body fight infection) by increasing blood flow to the skin's surface.
Body scrubs also allow the moisturizer to soothe and hydrate your skin.
Can you use face scrub on your body?
The skin on your body - except for your chest - is thicker than the skin on your face. So while you can use face scrubs on your body, they may not be as effective at removing that top layer on dead skin because they are not abrasive.
Can you use a body scrub on your face?
Men's body scrubs are typically thicker than men's face scrubs. They contain rougher and larger particles such as sea salt and are too rugged for your thinner facial skin.
Using a body scrub on your face can lead to irritation and micro-tears, leading to breakouts and irritation.
Do you use a body scrub before or after body wash?
Use a gentle, natural body wash or cleanser first to clean away the dirt and debris from the surface of your skin, then apply your body scrub.
How do men exfoliate their bodies?
- To avoid burning your skin, only shower with warm water. Warm water opens your pores, which maximizes the effectiveness of exfoliation.
- Apply a grape size amount of body scrub and massage it in circular motions, avoiding your face.
- Rinse and follow up with a body moisturizer.
Do not use a body scrub if your skin is irritated or you have sunburn or a rash. Use a gentle body wash and follow with a moisturizer or after sun to help your skin recover.
If you shave your body (for example, your chest, shoulders, or back), you may experience ingrown hairs. This happens when your hair grows back and gets stuck under dead skin cells.
To reduce the risk of ingrown hairs, exfoliate with body scrubs before shaving to avoid a stinging sensation on irritated skin.
How often should men exfoliate their bodies?
Use a body scrub two or three times a week to help remove dead skin cells that get trapped in your pores and to increase circulation and encourage cell turnover.