Best Exfoliating Face Scrubs
When it comes to the fundamentals of grooming, most of you guys have it figured out: wash morning and night, use sunscreen during the day, and apply a moisturizer before bed. But what about exfoliating? If you think cleansing your face twice daily is enough to keep it in the best shape possible, you’re wrong. As it turns out, there is a big, fundamental difference between washing and exfoliating.
RELATED: Best Ways to Exfoliate by Skin Type
The bottom line? You should do both if you want to keep your face looking its absolute best. “Face washes and cleansers are meant to wash away dirt and impurities from the skin surface, while leaving the skin layers intact,” explains Dr. Shilesh Iyer, a dermatologist at New York Dermatology Group. “Scrubs go further, by removing portions of the dead skin layer that sits on top of the skin.”
That top layer of your skin, also known as the epidermis, serves a couple very important purposes: to protect what’s underneath, and to produce new skin cells. But as you get older, this new skin cell regeneration, or cell turnover, slows down. This leads to dead skin cells accumulating, often resulting in dull skin, clogged pores, and rough texture.
“Using an exfoliator can help smooth and improve skin texture, unclog pores, and even help with acne,” says Iyer. “Overall, exfoliators can give the skin a more polished appearance and reveal a more radiant [complexion].”
While a good exfoliant can, quite literally, help sweep away a multitude of skin concerns, another great perk is that smoother skin absorbs anything you put on it afterwards (think serums, moisturizers, even acne treatments) more quickly and deeply.
What should you look for in an exfoliant? “A good face scrub should be easy to use and gentle on the skin,” says celebrity beauty and grooming expert Jodie Boland. While fragrance is completely up to you, Boland recommends finding a face scrub with “fine granules and a nice creamy texture that easily moves around your face and neck.”
How To Exfoliate
As for how often or when to use a face scrub, that all boils down to your skin type and how potent or active your scrub is. For example: If you’re using a product with AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) or BHAs (beta hydroxy acids), you’ll want to use it less frequently than something that relies solely on physical exfoliating particles. But as a general rule of thumb, Iyer advises: “For my patients with more sensitive skin, I recommend exfoliating no more than once weekly, while men with thick and oily skin may tolerate exfoliating every other day.”
If you think you don’t need a scrub because you have dry skin, think again. The truth is most skin types will benefit from exfoliating. The key to scrubbing dry skin is enlisting a more gentle approach and milder formula.
However, if you’re a guy with super sensitive or rosacea-prone skin, Iyer advises that you steer clear of scrubs altogether, “as they may exacerbate facial redness and capillary formation.” (If you’re still unsure of your actual skin type and how often you should scrub, ask your dermatologist or aesthetician for guidance.)
After determining your skin type, slowly work an exfoliator into your weekly grooming regimen. Boland recommends using a face scrub “either in the morning or evening before bed and at least three to four times a week.” Per Boland, the following steps will help you achieve blemish-free skin:
Wet your face and neck with lukewarm warm
Apply a quarter-sized amount of product on your fingertips
Start on the neck using gentle, circular movements
Work your way up to the face and avoid the eye area
Rinse off with warm water
“You should use a cleanser on your face before applying a scrub, but if you don’t have time to cleanse, a face scrub will work as cleanser and exfoliator,” adds Boland.
If you’re oily or thick-skinned, pay extra attention to problem areas such as your T-zone, nose, and chin. Don’t forget to exfoliate your lips – you (and your partner) will appreciate how soft and smooth a little scrub can instantly make them — but never exfoliate around the eyes, as the skin in that area is thin and fragile.
When you're finished, gently pat your face dry with a clean towel. Never rub freshly exfoliated skin because it can potentially irritate and redden.
So with all this information, which scrub is right for you? Keep reading to see the eight face scrubs we are loving right now.
Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub
Free of fragrances and parabens, the Face Buff remains a grooming staple for men with dirty and oily skin. We’re fond of its mild scrubbing factor, which eliminates grime and excess oils trapped inside pores. It carries the perfect consistency, requiring very little product. The minty aroma is also energizing and will certainly help wake you up.
$18 at Amazon.com
Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub
Developed expressly for men (but beloved by women, too), this product feels especially good during warmer months. Menthol provides an instantly cooling and refreshing sensation while caffeine helps reduce puffiness and tightens skin. Apricot kernel oil prevents your face from drying out by adding lightweight moisture.
$26 at Kiehls.com
St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub
There is a misconception that any exfoliator found in the bargain bin section does more harm than good to your skin. As a 2018 AskMen Grooming Award Winner, St. Ives proves skeptics wrong with this dermatologist-tested cleanser. Loaded with green tea and salicylic acid, which are clinically proven to clear up acne scars and remove blackheads without stripping skin of its natural oils, this affordable face scrub is a solid performer that surpasses its value on performance alone.
$6.22 at Amazon.com
Scotch Porter Charcoal and Licorice Exfoliating Face Scrub
Founded by Calvin Quallis, Scotch Porter touts slick packaging and innovative, yet eco-friendly formulas. Fortified with a bevy of skin-healthy botanicals such as turmeric and licorice roots and green tea, the brand’s scrub also stars charcoal, which has been shown to help detox the skin by drawing out impurities.
$18.50 at Amazon.com
M3 Naturals Charcoal Scrub
We’ve preached the good word of activated charcoal long enough to convince you of its magical cleansing properties. This carbon-processed scrub is combined with undervalued skincare ingredient, dead sea salt, to create a detoxifying sensation that actually removes blackheads for invigorating results. You’ll definitely feel it act as a magnet while it draws out impurities.
$17.23 at Amazon.com
Every Man Jack Face Scrub Mint
This popular face scrub is a great introduction to the brand’s all-natural grooming catalog, utilizing key ingredients such as jojoba beads, marine extracts, and peppermint oil to cleanse and nourish your mug. Its mild texture and invigorating scent also caters to sensitive skin types.
$5.69 at Walmart.com
Baxter of California Facial Scrub
Along with buffering dead skin cells, Baxter’s phenomenal face wash also stimulates cell rejuvenation further producing a fresher, smoother surface. The formula is pleasantly gritty with cornmeal and walnut shell powder and naturally lightly scented. This cruelty-free formula ensures no chemicals or parabens hurt and animals in order to keep that precious moneymaker looking good.
$19 at Amazon.com
Lab Series Invigorating Face Scrub
Suited for normal and oily skin, Lab Series’ naturally derived cleanser doubles as a pre-shave solution formulated to cleanse and prep your face before sending a razor across it. Finely crushed apricot seeds provide an effective and gentle scrub with a super smooth consistency for easy application to slough off dead cells without irritation.
$33 at LabSeries.com
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