If most men are honest with themselves, many of them can’t do the things they used to be able to do. Maybe one had the ability to dunk a basketball, now they are happy to simply touch the net. Maybe some have watched their memory become less reliable for retaining information than it once was.

While some still take great care of their body and mind, odds are, as age increases, there has been a noticeable change in ability (possibly simply reaction time in sports). As most know, this happens as the body takes longer to respond to things as age increases.

No part of the body serves as a better example of this than the skin. As one ages, skin takes longer and longer to renew itself. Dead cells and harmful bacteria, that used to leave rather quickly, tend to stay around far too long and clog pores, cause ingrown hairs, make skin loose its luster, and evenly wrinkle the skin. As a every effective method to speed up their skin renewal ability, guys should exfoliate their faces of these dead cells.

Upon researching and testing, we narrowed it down to four products that made it to the top of our list. Our recommendations include:

Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub and Kyoku For Men Exfoliating Facial Scrub for quality options for the face. Dove Men+Care Face Scrub serves as affordable option. For the body, try Green Bay for Men Body Scrub. It comes in a large bottle which makes it an excellent value for money and more importantly, it does the job.

What’s exfoliation and why should you care about it

Washing face properly to rinse debris and avoid clogged pores

Image courtesy: GeorgeRudy/BigStock.com 

Exfoliation serves as a type of skin therapy that involves removing the outmost layer of dead cells with mild abrasion and/or a chemical component.

Exfoliation has a long history of effectiveness. Credit is often given to ancient Egypt, for mechanical exfoliation. They used while variety of options and methods for this purpose. Pumice stone (similar to those still used today) were popular for abrasion. They made mineral mixtures including things such as alabaster particles, sand and aloe vera. While those all gained popularity, it is believed the first true exfoliate was sour milk. It was used largely due to its rich lactic acid content (Cleopatra was famously said to have consistently bathed in it.

Cultures have long understood the need for exfoliation and adapted based on materials readily accessible. Take American Indians for example, they used dried corncobs for something abrasive while washing their face. The people within the Comanche Tribe used sand from the bottom of the river bed to scrub their skin. It was a common practice of the Polynesian culture to use crushed sea shells. Throughout the Middle Ages, people used older wine as an exfoliant. Old wine was deemed effective because of its tartaric acid content. Over time, more and more natural remedies were adapted until the 1800s. In this era a German dermatologist, Paul Gerson Unna, began to create a scientific formula that served as the earliest form of chemical peels. His research was so revolutionary, his practices with salicylic acid are still used today.

Let’s pinpoint why exfoliation is essential…

Exfoliation 101

Quite simply, exfoliation cleans better than soap, water, and a basic cleanser alone.

Throughout the day, skin collects dirt, oil and dead cells that soap, water and a simple daily cleanser can not remove.

Exfoliation scrubs serve to remove excess material and dirt off the skin with it’s ability to penetrate deeply into the pores due to its grittiness.

Mild cleansers like regular face washes, are not abrasive enough to provide a deep clean. Think about it in a similar way to the difference between furniture polish and varnish remover. Furniture polish removes the top dust layer and adds a small amount of protection, like daily cleaners, while varnish remover penetrates the top layers, stripping away the excess to get down to the wood, like exfoliants. Unlike wood, this deep clean is a necessity in skin care for proper skin health.

It removes dead skin cells.

New skin is constantly created on the face and ultimately this skin dies at the surface of the skin. If this dead skin is not removed, it leaves the face looking flaky, dirty, and inconsistent. An exfoliating scrub expels this dead skin and washes it away.

It pulls out deep ingrown hairs.

Ingrown hairs are often painful and difficult to deal with. Since scrubs deeply penetrate, they are extremely likely to uproot those frustrating ingrown hairs. After removing the dead skin and loose hair follicles, the ingrown hair has the ability to grow outward.

It provides a closer shave.

Dead skin, dirt, and grime clog up razor blades. The blade makes true contact with the stubble after exfoliation leaving a better and closer shave.

It slows down aging skin.

Exfoliants reduce fine lines and bring back luster to dull skin tone through dead cell extraction.

It spot cleans and clears complexion.

Through hormonal changes, the sebaceous glands produce a substance called sebum. These serves as the main source of skin spots and uneven skin because, if not cleared away, it can build up. Exfoliants remove this excess Sebum.

How do you properly exfoliate?

After getting the face wet, either in the shower or sink, rub a tiny amount of the exfoliator on the hands. Proceed to massage the face in a circular motion. Make sure not to over scrub because the coarse, gritty texture of the exfoliant will do the work itself. It will be obvious that it is working. After massaging for roughly 30 seconds to a minute, clean it off. It is a good practice to apply a good quality moisturizer or moisturizing SPF afterward as exfoliating tends to dry out the skin.

When should a man exfoliate and how often?

It is recommended to exfoliate one to three times a week but should never be done more than every other day. If one over exfoliates the skin, it will become overly sensitive, red and, sometimes, respond with breakout. When over exfoliated, the skin is purged of its natural oils. If one continues to over exfoliate, the skin can become extremely thin. Plus, the skin is considered a smart organ and sheds dead cells, somewhat, on its own.

If the skin is over exfoliated, it can slow down the cell turnover process severely. On off days, it is acceptable to use a gentle daily face cleanser.

Another recommendation is to exfoliate in the morning, not the evening. By doing this, it creates a process where skin repairs throughout the day and rebuild during the night.

Exfoliating in the morning removes impurities and the layer of dead skin cells allowing the skin to repair.

At night, to clean the face, wash with a gentle cleanser instead.

Another added advantage of morning use, when done before shaving, is it removes the dead skin and lifts up stubble for an ultra-close shave.

Why are there different exfoliants for the face and the body?

Different exfoliating products for men

This is largely because skin requires different types of cleaning.

Facial Scrubs

These are the most common forms of exfoliation. These tend to be gritty so that all the dead skin cells can be vacated from the facial surface, but they are milder than body scrubs because the face has thinner, more sensitive skin.

Body Scrubs

Body scrubs often have harsher, larger granules than face scrubs and regular body washes. Many parts of the body below the neck need strong exfoliation. For example, look at the feet, elbows, knees, etc. These are areas where skin either dries out and dies or over produces oil to combat the drying out. It often gets flaky/oily and could use a deep scrub from time to time.

Scrub Bars

This is basically a bar of soap with some coarseness. They serve well for quick body exfoliation. These are called a bridge between exfoliating solutions and tools.

Criteria to choosing the best exfoliator for men?

Understand that all exfoliating ingredients are not equal.

Some are too strong for some skin types while others aren’t strong enough. Ingredients in exfoliators can be broken into two major categories: those that physically exfoliate and those that chemically exfoliate.

Physical exfoliator ingredients

As most probably implied, the work by physically removing dead surface cells via rubbing and friction. Ingredients that are to be looked for include.

  • Jojoba Beads

This is an natural additive that works really well on the most sensitive skin, but is effective regardless of skin type. Jojoba beads, unlike other designed to be abrasive ingredients, are smooth and round. They never scratch the skin and gentle strip away dead skin cells. They are soft enough that people may use a scrub containing it on the lips. These are considered environmentally friendly as well.

  • Pumice Stone Fragments or Crystals

This is a much stronger, harsher physical exfoliator. Those with sensitive skin should avoid but it is highly effective for those needing a strong scrub. It is naturally, like jojoba beads, and creates a manual microdermabrasion that rids the skin of dullness, fine lines and clogged pores.

Chemical Exfoliator Ingredients

When hearing the word “chemical” it usually sends up red flags.

This is not the same kind of chemical many are afraid of. It, simply, describes how the ingredients work. Instead of physically removing dead skin cells, these dissolve the binding “glue” that connects dead skin cells. These travel deep into the skin and are great for those with more resistive skin and those who can not handle harsh abrasion on the skin.

AHA exfoliant

The technical name for this is alpha hydroxyl acid and serves as an overarching name for several key ingredients. All the materials in this ingredient are drawn from plants or milk. Specific ingredients that fall under this category include:

  • Lactic Acid

This is usually milk based, those sometime plant based. It is gentler than it often compared counterpart, glycolic acid. It works well on all skin types and comes in various strength for different facial ingredients. It is one of the most adaptable ingredients in facial and body skin care.

  • Glycolic Acid

This is a more powerful cleaner than lactic acid and works well for deeper congested skin. It often is used in similar forms to lactic acid for stronger, deeper cleaning products.

  • Citric and Multi Fruit acids

These are natural acids drawn from fruit that dissolve the top layer of skin for smoothing, cleaning and anti-aging.

  • Bioelements Herbology

This falls under the category of both physical and chemical exfoliators. It contains 4 major Chinese herbs that brighten and strengthen the skin. It works first by physically removing the upper layer of dead skin cells then, through water-soluble granules that melt, releases a chemical exfoliator to dissolve any dead skin cells missed.

BHA exfoliant

The technical name for this is beta hydroxyl acid. When using this term in skin care it is almost always referring to salicylic acid. It is the best on skin with acne as it works to penetrate pores removing debris and other foreign impurities.

If the user has oily skin, two key features must be considered. A deep scrub that cleans the pores and prevents clogging and breakouts is needed, but make sure to attempt to balance skin for a reduction in oil production. As stated above, look for a scrub containing salicylic acid, a deep cleaning agent that flushes out clogged pores. Try scrubs such as Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control Scrub.

Contrary to belief otherwise, dry skin is a perfect contender for exfoliation. The process with buff away all the dead cells and reduce flaking. Stay clear of strong formulas as they will strip the skin its much need moisture content. This will dry the skin out worse than before. Look for hydrating ingredients such as aloe, green tea, argan, and jojoba oils. These will create a soothing effect and provide deep moisture to the skin. Follow up this with a form of moisturizer.

For those with sensitive skin, be careful to find a gentle scrub. Look for things that exfoliate with enzymes, that work by gently breaking down the bonding agent that holds dead cells to one another. Vasanti BrightenUp Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator is good for this face or opt for a formula with a creamier consistency such as Dove Men scrub.

16 Best exfoliators for men’s face and body

To help with future purchase, below are reviews of some of the best exfoliators for men you can buy today.

Brickell Men’s Renewing Face Scrub for Men

Brickell face scrub

This quality product includes effective natural and certified organic ingredients like Aloe Vera, Pumice, Jojoba Beads, and Green Tea. It works for most skin types. It comes in travel size form and works great to remove dead skin, leave a clean complexion and soften the skin. Most men love the smell and find it extremely effective.

It comes from a trusted company, Brickell. It has the reputation of creating high quality men’s skincare and grooming products. As stated above, it uses natural and certified organic ingredients. The products are sold all over the world and have appeared in various respected men’s magazines such as GQ, Men’s Health, and Men’s Journal.

This is a really effective product. Some don’t like the texture it on the skin because it contains more texture than most are used to but most will not mind. It smells nicely but is highly price for the small container.

Toulon Exfoliating Face Scrub

Toulon face and body scrub for men

While this is an effective product, buyer beware, it contains walnuts for those will allergic reactions. If there is no walnut allergy, this is a great product. It detoxes and exfoliates the face revealing smooth, healthy skin. It is also effective on the body. It works well on dry skin and those with poor complexions. This product claims to be fragrance-free and only has a slight scent. It is natural and cruelty-free. It contains 100% Vitamin E, Vitamin B5, and walnut shells.

This product has seen users build collagen, reduce wrinkles, lighten age spots, and even fade scars. It does not leave the skin red like some scrubs. It is a versatile product that does the job from a company that has several other highly respected products.

Dove Men+Care Face Scrub, Deep Clean

Dove men care face scrub

This product contains natural pumice for gentle exfoliation that helps to remove dirt and oil without purging the skin of needed oils. The invigorating scrubbing agents respond on contact, cleansing all while fighting dryness. It leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. For an extremely affordable option that cleans while gently moisturizing, try this. It is really gentle on sensitive skin.

Dove is a name many trust for affordable quality. It is easily found at any store that sells skin care products and works well with other Dove products. It feels creamier than most scrubs. Some do not like the smell and it does lose some points for that.

Kyoku For Men Exfoliating Facial Scrub

Kyoku for men facial scrub

Exceptional product that is infused with Vitamin A and E to bring skin to a healthy pH level making it more elastic and bring luster back. The product contains volcanic ash to draw out excess oils and toxics. It includes other unique ingredients such as Japanese Adzuki bean powder (removes dead skin cells), rice bran (anti-aging for all skin types), and other revolutionary Japaneses herbs. This product is even SPF 15.

Kyoku has the reputation of caring deeply about skin care. The company began in 2010 and has already won several awards from GQ, Esquire, and Men’s Health. They are so confident in the product they offer a 90 day money-back guarantee. Some do find it thick and difficult to spread. The smell is not desirable.

Brooklyn Botany Activated Charcoal Scrub

Brooklyn Botany Charcoal scrub

Specifically created formula for dual action effect. It uses salt from the dead sea and charcoal to eradicate excess oil and impurities while removing all blackheads. This scrub applies black so proper, complete application is easily verified. It moisturizes and does not rid the skin of need minerals and nutrients. Activated charcoal is used to trap toxin and chemicals in the body so they can be properly flushed out. This product threats cellulite as well.

It contains aloe vera, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and (again) dead sea salt. Natural doctors like Dr. Axe like charcoal in scrubs for their absorption process that binds good elements to the surface. Scent is better than it seems like it would be. Some find it leaves the face greasy and hard to spread.

Neutrogena Men Razor Defense Face Scrub

Neutrogena face scrub

This product has been a staple in the marketplace for many years. After a quick scrub with this product, the face is left clean and refreshed. It is easy to feel the cleaning tingle while the microbeads do their work. The scent is less scrub like and more of a soap odor (think Ivory Soap). It softens the skin and some men use it on their shaved head as well. It stimulates the facial hair for a very close shave.

The packaging is a little difficult to get all of the product out and it does feel less like scrub and more like lotion to the touch. It is highly priced for a Neutrogena product but Neutrogena is a name that has a huge level of trust in the marketplace for getting positive results.

Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub

Jack Black Face Scrub

Jack Black has been developing quite a following lately. It continues to produce good quality products and a price, while not cheap, more affordable than it’s high end counterparts. This scrub is infused with Vitamin C and Menthol for a cooling, refreshing feel upon application. It removes dirt and dead cells with small scrubbing particles. It leaves skin with no irritation and prepped for a very close shave. For those with a sulfate reaction, be warned that this product does include.

Most men love the light, almost pepperminty, scent of this product. It is a great product for those with oily skin but works on all skin types (including sensitive.) This product is highly recommended.

Rugged & Dapper Daily Power Scrub Facial Cleanser for Men

Rugged and Dapper face scrub

This product contains natural and certified organic ingredients. These ingredients include Aloe Vera, Vitamin C, Willow Bark, Tea Tree Oil and Burdock Root. This product full of plant based ingredients exfoliate away dead skin cells really well while leaving the skin smooth and conditioned. These ingredients, also, heal the skin, combat aging, purify and revitalize skin while balancing pH levels, and are antibacterial. It is a great product for all ages and all skin types (normal, sensitive, oily, dry, acne ridden, etc.). Strong pleasant smell for those who like a lingering scent. Very few, but some, have had reactions to the scrub.

Rugged and Dapper is a premium quality skincare company that makes products specific to men. All of their products are made in the USA. It is sulfate free, paraben free, vegan, and is not tested on animals.

Every Man Jack Face Scrub, Signature Mint

Every Man Jack Face scrub

This product has probably caught the eye while in a store. They have began to find shelf space in many major retailers. Signature Mint is the scent of this particular product due to is addition of natural essential peppermint oils. It cleans, removing dirt and oil. It is cruelty free and naturally derived. Ingredients include coconut derivatives, jojoba beads, and vitamin E.

Some complain about its lack of abrasive materials (jojoba beads). As a result of this, many don’t find it to exfoliate deeply enough. Questions rise to whether this should be considered a face wash or scrub. It does work well with sensitive skin in particular because of its mildness.

Oleavine TheraTree Tea Tree Oil Exfoliating Scrub with Activated Charcoal

Oleavine body scrub

This product deeply cleans through micro volcanic pumice and white willow bark. It removes rough, callused skin. The activated charcoal draws out dirt and debris while naturally purifying the skin. It’s uses of essential oils and botanicals combats odor. The addition of tea tree oil serves as a great anti-bacterial agent on the skin.

This product may be too harsh for most faces as several have had break outs with this product. The company prides itself on cruelty free products. It doesn’t have a great scent.

Bulldog Original Face Scrub

Bulldog face scrub

A nice scrub containing a blend of eight essential oils, pumice, coconut shell, rosehip oil and shea butter. It contains no parabens, sodium laureth sulfate (causes breakouts and ulcers for some), artificial color and fragrances, and is animal source free. This is a staple with this company.

It has the reputation of leaving skin oily so those with oily skin, naturally, should avoid. It has a pleasant odor but does not clean to the level of other reviewed products.

Clinique Face Scrub for Men

Clinique for men face scrub

Many believe Clinique makes some of the best accessible skincare products on the market. For people who love Clinique, this product is no exception. It revives and soothes the skin. It removes dead skin cells and oil buildup. It provides a great pre shave stimulation. It contains a lot of abrasive material and works well with oily faces in particular.

This product has been around a while and is mostly widely enjoyed. The packaging isn’t great for distributing the scrub and it doesn’t do much in the scent department.

Dave’s Mighty Peppermint Exfoliating Body / Face Scrub

Small batch reserve body scrub

This scrub comes in a pleasant peppermint fragrance for therapeutic feel. It is free from harsh chemicals and safe for most skin types. It is sulfate and paraben free. It is natural and organic. It contains salicylic acid (the stuff oily skin users love). It will keep pores on face clear and body clean and is anti-aging and firming.

For over 15 years, Famous Dave’s have made products for both men and women. It does not use perfumes or floral based scents like other brands. It so believes in its products that it offers a money back guarantee, as they claim, no questions asked.

TreeActiv Acne Exfoliating Body Wash

TreeActiv Body wash scrub

Powerful natural ingredients include sulfur powder, calamine powder, castile soap, and Tea Tree Oil. Sulfur sheds dead skin cells and unclogs pores. Calamine reduces redness and swelling. Castile soap contains no SLS and cleans the skin well. Tea Tree Oil is a great natural antibacterial ingredient. It works to clear acne and improve overall skin health. If this product is regularly used it will improve skin tone, strengthen skin and cause the body better retain moisture in the skin.

This is another product that stands by their company’s products and will provide a full refund if unsatisfied. Many find this product to have very little lather and hard to clean with. These same people don’t find it to be worth its cost as an exfoliator. Finally it does have a decent smell without being too strong.

Marlowe Men’s Exfoliating Body Scrub and Wash

Marlowe men's body scrub and wash

This product is made with passion fruit extract for high vitamin C and iron benefits which restore and moisturize. It contains Green Tea for antioxidation to aid in skin cell repair. Willow Bark serves to calm inflammation and soothe irritated skin. It is paraben free and not tested on animals.

Marlowe distributes soap to people at risk for hygiene-related illnesses with every purchase through Clean the World. It makes all products in the USA. It is worth stating that this product is expensive and hard to find.

Greenwich Bay for Men Body Scrub

Botanical Body Scrub for men

A paraben free, sulphate free product. This has a shea butter scent with a hint of essential oils. It exfoliates with natural vegetable ingredients like loofah and apricot seed kernels. These are gentle on the skin but remove dead keratin cells for renewed skin. It is moisturizing and sustains a nice moisture content that is long lasting.

Green Bay Trading Company makes all its products in the USA and ensures high quality for the price. Some do not think this provides a deep enough clean because its gentle nature. The smell is nice throughout the day.

Closing thoughts

It is always a good idea to add exfoliation to the skin care regime. It gives a better shave, it makes moisturizers work better, and gives a deep down clean. This leaves the skin looking healthy and vibrant for years to come. Consider these recommendations and find the product that best suits personal taste.