Ultimate Guide Men's Face Scrubs and Exfoliators

The idea of exfoliating and using a face scrub is relatively new to most men. But it's becoming common as we realize the importance of a solid skincare routine. 

The problem is, there's a whole lot information out there and it's often convoluted, contradictory and confusing. (Especially when you're new to men's skincare and grooming routines!)

So we wrote this guide to help you figure out the best men's face scrub for you.

So before you spend your hard earned cash on the latest men's exfoliator or face scrub for men - sit down, grab a coffee and make sure you read this blog.

Oh - and before we start - if you have questions about men's grooming or if you just need advice - click here to drop us an email. We'll always get back to you personally.

Are face scrubs exfoliators?

Men's face scrubs and exfoliators are designed to remove dead skin cells from the outermost layer of your skin.

If dead skin cells are not removed, you risk clogged pores which can lead to breakouts and bacterial infection. A build-up of dead skin cells also leads to dull skin. 

A face scrub is a cream-based skincare product that contains exfoliating particles. This is known as a “mechanical” exfoliator (dead skin cells are removed 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 plastic micro-beads.

An exfoliator is a chemical agent which removes dead cells from the surface of the skin. This is known as a chemical exfoliator (it dissolves dead skin cells using enzymes or acids).

Instead of physically scrubbing dead cells away, chemical exfoliants dissolve the intercellular glue that holds dead skin cells together.

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 pores. It smoothes, refines, and cleans below your skin’s surface.

If you have a beard, exfoliation can keep beard dandruff at bay, improve the texture of your skin and keep your hair follicles clear and healthy  - encouraging strong beard growth. 

Do facial scrubs damage your skin?

Any scrub that contains large, irregularly-shaped particles damages skin by causing micro-tears in its surface. Examples of these particles include: irregularly shaped ground-up shells, fruit pits and volcanic rock.

Micro-tears weaken your skin’s barrier, making skin more prone to dry, flaky patches, redness, and sensitivity. This issue is made worse if the scrub also contains an irritating fragrance, whether it’s natural or synthetic.

mens face scrub ingredients

^ Plastic micro-beads found in some men's face scrubs

Some exfoliators contain plastic micro-beads - tiny plastic beads used to exfoliate dead skin. Men's face scrubs can contain up to 300,000 of these micro-beads per product.

Micro-beads cause small tears in your skin and these small tears can leave you vulnerable to infection with bacteria entering these holes. 

Micro-beads can also enter your body through dermal absorption (entering your bloodstream via the surface of your skin) and applying products containing micro-beads to your face near your eyes may injure the cornea.

It’s also possible the tiny beads may get under your eyelids, scratching your eyeballs. 

How do men exfoliate their face? 

  1. Use warm water to wet your face, ensuring complete coverage. Avoid hot water which can dry out your skin or scald you, leaving your skin irritated and red. The optimum temperature is between 100 F and 110 F (36.5 C to 40.5 C).

  2. Apply a nickel-sized amount of 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.

  3. Massage the scrub into your skin gently in circular motions for 1 minute. Be careful not to rub too hard. If your skin moves, you’re too rough! Be careful not to get the scrub in your eyes. 

  4. Rinse the scrub off your face gently. Again be careful not to get any in your eyes or mouth. 

  5. Pat dry your skin with a soft clean towel and continue with the rest of your skin care routine. Don’t be rough on your skin - it will cause irritation, plus years of tugging at your skin can make it lose elasticity. When you rub around your eyes, wrinkles and dark spots are more likely to form.

 

Should you exfoliate your face in the morning or night? 

Focus on protection in the morning and correction in the evening. Exfoliate your face in the evening to clean your pores and remove the accumulated build up of dirt, pollution and grime from the day.

When should men exfoliate?

Start exfoliating at the age of 25. 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.

It’s never too late to start. If you notice your skin is dull and flaky - start exfoliating.

best mens face scrub

What happens if you scrub your face everyday?

It depends on your skin type and the type of exfoliator you use. Exfoliating every day can lead to excessive dryness, irritation, redness and even broken blood vessels because you are removing your skin’s protective barrier.

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.

Allow your skin to heal naturally. If you have chronic acne and your skin is inflamed, exfoliation can irritate your skin further. 

Which is the best exfoliator for the face?

The best exfoliator depends on your skin type. There are 3 skin types:

  1. Dry (skin feels tight throughout the day and you may experience flaking) 
  2. Oily (your face is shiny and usually appears greasy later on in the day. Your skin is prone to breakouts)
  3. Normal / Combination (your forehead, nose and chin are oily but your skin is dry everywhere else.)

How to exfoliate for men with dry skin

Exfoliation with gentle, non-abrasive ingredients to help promote skin cell turnover without removing your skin’s natural oils.

Exfoliate gently - being too rough with dry skin can lead to micro-tears. Find a men's face scrub containing ingredients which hydrate your skin, like Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Shea Butter and Coconut Oil. 

How to exfoliate for men with oily skin

A gentle chemical exfoliator (one which does not use abrasives such as crushed nuts or seeds that can cause tiny tears in the skin) is useful for balancing the tone and texture of oily skin. 

Oilier skin is prone to PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), a condition which leaves dark spots on the skin after a breakout has healed. 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 an exfoliator that includes antibacterial ingredients like Aloe Vera Gel and Honey to speed healing and prevent future blemishes.

How to exfoliate for men with normal or combination skin 

Men with normal or combination skin can use a scrub 1 - 2 times per week to deeply cleanse the daily grime and pollution to prevent clogged pores forming blackheads and breakouts. Opt for a face scrub made with natural ingredients and avoid anything containing artificial fragrances, as this can irritate your skin.

Can you use face scrub on your body?

The skin on your body - with the exception of your chest - is thicker than the skin on your face. You can use men's face scrubs on your body but they may not be as effective as removing that top layer on dead skin because they are not as abrasive. 

Best men's face scrub ingredients

Avoid anything containing perfume, fragrance or plastic micro-beads. Avoid alcohol and oily formulas which leave an oily residue on your skin.

Always opt for natural and certified organic ingredients, and make sure you read the label and you're 100% happy with the contents. If you're unsure - Google is your friend. 

Beware, a lot of companies use misleading names to cover up unsavoury ingredients - so have your wits about you! 

natural mens face scrub
^ Crushed nutshells make an excellent natural alternative to plastic micro- beads.

Here's a list of natural ingredients you want in your face scrub:

  • White Tea Leaf Extract - studies have shown that white tea has an anti-inflammatory effect on skin and can strengthen and protect the skin matrix. Its rejuvenating impact sets it apart from other tea-based skincare agents. White tea can provide partial protection from UV damage caused by the sun.
  • Aloe Vera Leaf Juice - nourishing and hydrating properties, due to a combination of Vitamins A and B, folic acid, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, good fatty acids and triglycerides.
  • Shea Butter - anti-inflammatory and healing properties which can condition, tone and soothe your skin.
  • Coconut Oil -  adds a protective layer to your skin, helping it to retain moisture.
  • Witch Hazel - naturally astringent, antiseptic and cooling - an excellent cleanser, tonic and toner for the skin.
  • Allantoin - moisturizes the skin and helps shed dead skin cells.
  • Sweet Orange Peel Oil - exfoliates the upper layer of dead skin cells and softens skin
  • Vitamin E - protects skin cells from environmental damage
  • Citric Acid - gently exfoliates dry skin cells
  • Crushed nutshells - in place of plastic micro-beads, crushed nutshells gently exfoliate dry dead skin cells.

And here's what you should avoid: 

  • Artificial fragrances / perfum 
  • Plastic micro-beads
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • Animal derivatives
  • Artificial colors
  • Harsh detergents
  • Propylene glycols
  • MEA/DEA/TEA
  • Petrolatum
  • Mineral oils
  • Phthalates
  • Triclosan
  • Sulphates
  • Parabens
  • Silicones
  • EDTA

How to make men's face scrub

Strawberry Face Scrub (for acne)

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup mashed strawberries
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • A splash of raw apple cider vinegar

    Mix all ingredients and lightly buff the blend onto skin. Leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.

    Cherry Face Scrub (for hydrating and exfoliating)

    • 5 cherries
    • 1 tbsp almond powder
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1 tbsp brown sugar
    • 3 tbsp yogurt

      Mix together and gently scrub onto skin for 30 seconds, then rinse with warm water.

      Lemon Face Scrub (for blackheads)

      • ½ tsp lemon
      • 1 tbsp salt
      • 1 tsp purified/distilled water

        Mix the ingredients well and rub the paste onto skin in a circular motion. Gently scrub for two to three minutes, being careful not to rub too hard. Rinse off with warm water.

        Lemon is acidic so too much can irritate skin and make your skin sensitive to the sun. Apply sunscreen afterward to protect against UV damage.

        Coffee Face Scrub (wakes up your face)

        • 1/2 cup freshly ground coffee
        • 1/2 cup yogurt or milk
        • 1 tbsp of honey

          Mix ingredients together and gently smooth onto skin. Rinse with warm water.

          Olive Oil and Sugar Scrub (smooth skin, removes blackheads)

          • ½ cup (120 milliliters) of extra virgin olive oil
          • Add 1 cup (225 grams) of white, granulated sugar

            Mix together and dilute as necessary.

             


             

            Phew! We covered a lot here and we hope you found this guide useful.

            If you're looking for a natural men's face scrub which won't irritate your skin, check out our Natural Men's Face Scrub with bamboo powder.

            We think it's the best face scrub on the planet... but we might be a little biased ;) 

            Whatever you choose - make sure you do your research, know your ingredients and remember - your skin is like a sponge and anything you put on it goes straight into your blood stream. 

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