Ready to know more about San Diego?


20 Best Exfoliators for Men (2023)

Finding the right kind of exfoliator for our skin is vital to keep it clean and clear of debris
Exfoliators for Men

Exfoliators for Men

Let’s face it, men’s skin is thicker and often rougher than women’s skin. Dirt, grime and junk can get deep into the pores on our faces, leading to all sorts of skin issues. Finding the right kind of exfoliator for our skin is vital to keep it clean and clear of debris.


Exfoliators are often used before a face wash or lotion to remove dirt and get down to the pores. Using a daily face wash or toner on top of dirty skin only locks in the contaminants. Exfoliators also remove dead skin cells and leave the skin feeling bright and fresh.

What Is an Exfoliator?

While we may think of an exfoliator as a rough-and-tumble product that scours our skin to oblivion, that really isn’t the case. Exfoliators use ingredients that remove dead skin and dirt without leaving behind damaged skin in the process. 

Two Types of Exfoliators

There are two main categories of exfoliants to choose from. Each benefits the skin in different ways.

Physical Exfoliators

Any product that uses manual action is known as a physical or mechanical exfoliator. These products require manual movement to provide the cleaning action. Items such as scrubs, loofahs and brushes are considered physical exfoliators. Washcloths, pumice stones and microneedling also fall into the physical exfoliator category. The gentle movement of these items on the skin helps clean away dirt and dead skin cells.

Chemical Exfoliators

Another option for exfoliation involves going the chemical route. Instead of manual movement, chemical exfoliators use the power of acids, enzymes and retinoids to remove dead skin cells and dirt. Chemical exfoliants have a higher probability of irritating the skin if misused.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Several of the best exfoliators for men this year use acids. Alpha hydroxy acids, also known as AHAs, are water-soluble acids derived from fruits. AHAs peel away the skin’s surface so that new skin cells can develop and provide a more cohesive look. Popular AHAs include glycolic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, malic acid and tartaric acid.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)

Another type of acid used in chemical exfoliators is the beta hydroxy acid or BHA. These oil-soluble acids dive deep into pores to dry out oily hair follicles and unclog pores. Men with acne issues or sun-damaged skin may use BHA products more than others. The most common BHA is salicylic acid, which can help reduce irritation caused by acne.


The use of retinoids is another common ingredient in many skin-care products. Retinoids come from vitamin A and help minimize the look of aging and soothe the skin. Products available over the counter contain, at most, 1% of retinoids, while more potent formulations are available through prescriptions. Many different kinds of retinoids are used in skin-care products, including retinol, tretinoin, bexarotene, adapalene, tazarotene and alitretinoin.

How Exfoliants Benefit Skin

Removing dirt from pores and clearing away dead skin cells are the primary jobs of any exfoliator on the market. Using an exfoliant on a long-term basis can also boost collagen production, a vital part of vibrant skin. 

When to Use an Exfoliant

While some men use an exfoliant on a daily basis, most of us don’t require that much scrubbing. In fact, using an exfoliant daily can do more harm than good. Scrubbing away at the skin every day can cause blemishes and damage the surface skin layer. 


It is best to use an exfoliant about three times per week. Always apply it before other facial products so that the skin is clean and ready. Using a product on top of dirty skin limits the product’s effectiveness. After use, follow up with a moisturizer to help soothe skin and heal the tiny abrasions that an exfoliator causes.

Are Exfoliants Safe?

Exfoliants are certainly safe, if used correctly. While we may want to scrub away the day with a vigorous brush or pumice stone, it is possible to scrub too much. This is why exfoliants are recommended for use a few times a week instead of every day. Swiping a brush or facial scrub over our skin is beneficial and can help boost overall skin appearance. If skin feels raw or damaged after use, simply lay off the exfoliant for a while to allow the skin to repair itself. Most men can tell when their skin needs a break by how it feels when using a physical exfoliant.


Knowing when to stop using a chemical exfoliant can be tricky. Many chemical exfoliants come with warnings about usage and proper application. Since the chemicals in the product do all of the work, some men may not realize that damage has been done until after the product is washed away. 


Always double-check with a dermatologist with questions about specific skin issues and conditions. Also, look at the ingredients in the current products used to ensure that the skin isn’t getting a double dose of something that could cause harm. 

Recently Banned Microbeads

Some of us may have an exfoliant in the bathroom that includes microbeads as a physical exfoliator. These microbeads are small pieces of plastic that were regularly used in exfoliators until 2015. Many states have banned the use of microbeads in exfoliators to protect wildlife and the environment. These days, it is hard to find any skin-care product that includes microbeads.

Best Exfoliants for Different Skin Types

While many of us want to believe that we have tough skin that can handle anything, that may not be the case. Choosing an exfoliant that matches your skin condition can boost the product’s overall effectiveness.

Acne-Prone Skin

Acne is a problem that some men have to battle well into their mature years. Any exfoliator that includes acne products like salicylic acid, glycolic acid or retinoids should help cut down on redness and breakouts.

Sensitive Skin

Men with skin that is easily irritated have sensitive skin. Consider choosing an exfoliant that includes BHAs or a physical exfoliant that offers gentle cleansing.

Dry Skin

Skin texture that is flaky or rough could indicate dry skin. Using an exfoliator that can brush away dead skin cells and flakes is essential.

Oily Skin

Those of us with oily skin often feel that our face is greasy or wet to the touch. Using an exfoliant that soaks up oil is the best option. Stronger physical or chemical options may work well in standing up to oil-prone skin that needs a good old scrub.

Combination Skin

Combination skin includes areas of both oily and dry skin. Dealing with two different skin types can be challenging, but some exfoliators on the market are tailored to alleviate combination skin conditions. Being aware of which areas are dry and oily can help, as you may have to use different products on each skin type.

Normal Skin

Men with skin deemed “normal” have skin that isn’t prone to sensitivity, oil or dryness. Normal skin should be able to handle any kind of exfoliant, but always make sure to watch for adverse reactions. 


Choosing an exfoliator that works with a particular skin type and is easy to use is essential for any skin-care routine. Check out these 20 best exfoliators for men in 2023, which offer ingredients and price points that fit any budget.

1. Blu Atlas Exfoliating Scrub

All-natural ingredients work together in the Blu Atlas Exfoliating Scrub to gently power-wash the skin. Jojoba oil adds vitamins A, D and E, which brighten the skin tone and provide nourishment. The oil’s fatty acids and antioxidants also penetrate deep into pores to remove every last speck of dirt. 


Hibiscus flower extract is rich in antioxidants and works to fight pollutants from the daily environment. Bamboo stem extract adds antimicrobial properties to the mix to help clean skin effectively. The bamboo stem extract also calms down red spots and skin that is inflamed from acne. We love that this product from Blu Atlas includes natural ingredients so there is no need to worry about putting harmful chemicals onto the face.

2. Baxter of California Facial Scrub

All skin types can appreciate the benefits of the Baxter of California Facial Scrub. This product includes natural ingredients to exfoliate, like walnut shell powder and cornmeal. Gingko extract and avocado oil are also included in the blend to create smoother skin and a better skin tone. Honey extract conditions and brightens the look of skin, while lavender and chamomile soothe skin and deter inflammation. 


We like that this product gently exfoliates and buffs away debris using premium ingredients. Use this product one or two times per week to help restore vitality to the skin and improve appearance.


3. Brickell Men’s Renewing Face Scrub for Men

Dead skin on the face can cause ingrown hairs, which is a nightmare for men with facial hair. Kick those irritating hairs to the curb with the Renewing Face Scrub for Men by Brickell Men’s Products. Jojoba beads gently break up dead skin cells while avocado butter and vitamin E work to keep skin feeling fresh. Aloe vera rounds out the formulation to soothe and calm down even the most distressed skin areas.

4. Bulldog Men’s Original Face Scrub

We love how this brand uses natural ingredients that pack a punch. Bulldog Men’s Original Face Scrub doesn’t have any extra fragrance, dyes or irritants that could be an issue for men with sensitive skin. Camelina oil, green tea and aloe vera help clean out dirty pores while nourishing the skin. 


The Bulldog Brand is vegan and cruelty-free, while also being a leader in environmental causes by creating product tubes that are eco-friendly and compostable. 

5. Clinique for Men Face Scrub

Use the power of this well-respected skin-care brand, known for its high-quality formulations. Clinique for Men Face Scrub is a specially curated blend of ingredients that cater to the unique aspects of men’s skin. Salicylic acid and silica work together to lift up and release dead skin cells from the face. This product also raises facial hair so that shaving is easy and quick.

6. Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant

Take advantage of this gentle yet powerful exfoliant from Dermalogica. Their Daily Superfoliant includes a powerful blend of ingredients for the ultimate clean feeling. Activated charcoal particles absorb toxins and oils, while AHAs and enzymes work on the chemical side to exfoliate. Red algae and tara fruit extract also help protect the skin from environmental stressors.


Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant comes in powder form. It turns into a paste when water is added. Anti-pollution technology helps clear away free radicals and environmental factors that attack the skin daily. This highly effective product will provide excellent results for most men’s skin.

7. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser

Some of us may want an exfoliator that we can use every day, which is why Kiehl’s created this daily option. Their Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser is gentle enough to use every day while working to effectively clear the skin of contaminants. We noticed a visible change in skin clarity and overall tone when we used it once a day.


This dermatologically tested product includes pearlstone, or Perlite, which is a natural exfoliant derived from volcanic ash. The pearlstone is paired with white birch extract, which restores hydration to brighten up skin tone. Peony extract is another ingredient that is a natural antioxidant to protect the skin against damage. The addition of activated C in the formulation works with these ingredients to boost skin appearance. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. 

8. Cetaphil Exfoliating Face Wash

If you’re a man with sensitive skin, try this extra-gentle option from Cetaphil. Their Exfoliating Face Wash includes a special vitamin-rich formula that protects the skin with hydration. Skin is refreshed but not damaged, thanks to the inclusion of essential vitamins B5 and E and glycerin. Micro-fine bamboo granules break up dead skin without causing irritation or redness. 


Cetaphil Exfoliating Face Wash is gentle enough for everyday use to help clear the skin of contaminants and dirt. Use it during your daily shower or at night after a long day. 

9. Horace Face Scrub

If you’re in the market for an exfoliator that is free of drama and fuss, look no further than the Horace Face Scrub. This simply designed product is free of all of the things we don’t want in an exfoliator. There are no silicones, parabens or mineral oils in the mix, and the scrub is easy to use. Palm fruit from the Amazon rainforest is the star of this product, which helps create clearer skin. Murumuru palm seeds exfoliate the skin while murumuru butter, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil hydrate for ultimate nourishment. 


Horace Face Scrub also includes vitamin E in the formulation to boost antioxidant levels and soothe skin. This option may look basic on the outside, but the unique ingredients inside the tube will astound men with any skin type. We like that this product includes 98.5% natural ingredients, meaning that we can use it without worrying about what we put on our faces. Use Horace Face Scrub one or two times per week for optimal results.

10. Origins Checks & Balances Polishing Face Scrub

Another of the best exfoliators for men that kept coming up in our research was the Origins Checks & Balances Polishing Face Scrub. This product features mineral silica to gently exfoliate and polish the skin’s surface. Powdered bamboo adds another dose of polish, while extracts of red tourmaline help realign the overall complexion. This face scrub helps reduce the look of pores and creates skin that is soft to the touch.


Origins worked hard to create a product that exfoliates well, and we can’t get enough of it. The Checks & Balances Polishing Face Scrub includes a fresh blend of essential oils, including lavender, spearmint, geranium and bergamot, which work together to create a soothing experience. This face scrub is recommended for normal, oily, dry and combination skin. Use it up to four times per week for a balanced and bright appearance.

11. Ole Henriksen Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub

For those men who enjoy the warming and cooling effect of a sauna, this Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub from Ole Henriksen should provide a similar sensation. The dual-action formulation helps exfoliate the skin with both lactic and glycolic acids to lift dead skin cells with chemical processes. After cleaning, the cooling action of peppermint and eucalyptus calms down the skin and provides a refreshing scent overall. 


The Ole Henriksen Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub deeply cleans pores and helps minimize the look of pores. Icelandic volcanic sand and neem seed oil attack skin impurities. The brand’s Green Fusion Complex™, which includes active botanicals like green tea, algae, Irish moss and eucalyptus, works to clear away oil and grime by unclogging pores.

12. Disco Face Scrub

The Disco Face Scrub is a highly effective cruelty-free and vegan option. This product uses the power of ingredients like eucalyptus, apricot oil and aloe vera to provide moisturizing and antioxidant properties. Papaya extract helps purify the skin with exfoliating benefits. Disco Face Scrub is specially formulated to help fight ingrown hairs. 

13. Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

Try out both a chemical and physical exfoliator with this AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser from Murad. This product uses both types of exfoliation to provide a complete and all-encompassing cleanse. Salicylic, lactic and glycolic acids work together to clean pores, remove dead skin and moisturize for the chemical side of the equation. Biodegradable jojoba beads take on the physical aspect of the process, helping to lift up dead skin so it can be rinsed away. 


Men with normal, dry, oily or combination skin should consider the Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. However, those with sensitive skin should avoid this powerful product. Use this cleanser a few times a week and watch out for any adverse reactions after use.

14. Scotch Porter Exfoliating Face Scrub

We love the overall feel and scent of this Exfoliating Face Scrub from Scotch Porter. Pomegranate enzymes work to clear out pores on combination or oily skin. The newly reformulated ingredients also include burdock root and aloe to help revitalize tired skin and brighten the complexion. The scent of spice and citrus with bourbon notes and touches of wood complete the overall experience. Use Scotch Porter Exfoliating Face Scrub in place of a cleanser three times a week. 

15. SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub

Men with discolored or dehydrated facial skin should consider picking up this Micro-Exfoliating Scrub from SkinCeuticals. Hydrated silica works to clean pores, and also exfoliates the skin to make way for new skin cells. Glycerin and aloe extract purify the skin and improve overall texture. A specifically formulated blend hydrates and nourishes the skin for an overall brighter complexion. 


SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub is gentle enough to use daily if desired. We like that it is free of sulfates, parabens, fragrances, dyes, alcohol and soaps. This product is suitable for normal, oily, dry or combination skin types.

16. Patricks FS1 Anti-Aging Face Scrub

Volcanic sand and crushed diamond are the stars in this premium exfoliator for men. Patricks FS1 Anti-Aging Face Scrub pulls double duty in exfoliating the skin while providing age-fighting services. This brand includes both physical and chemical exfoliants in the blend to create the ultimate skin appearance. The volcanic sand and crushed diamonds work together in micro-form to clear out pores and slough away dead skin cells. Alpha hydroxy acid works on the chemical side to help skin cells turn over and keep them hydrated. 


Skin not only looks purified but also radiant after using this product. An added anti-irritant ensures that skin isn’t upset after use, and a multivitamin in the formulation helps nourish and promote healthy skin. 

17. Marlowe No. 122 Facial Scrub for Men

Clean with the power of pumice and apricot seed oil in this No. 122 Facial Scrub for Men by Marlowe. Exfoliating ingredients work together with nourishing potency to scrub down the skin while leaving behind a smooth and soft touch. The scrub’s texture is quite gritty, and will work to remove as much dead skin as possible.


Marlowe No. 122 Facial Scrub for Men includes unique botanicals like Passiflora incarnata fruit extract and Camellia oleifera leaf extract. Protect skin with the antioxidant power of this product on a weekly basis. This product is paraben- and phthalate-free, and is manufactured in the United States.

18. M3 Naturals Charcoal Exfoliating Body Scrub Polish

A combination of natural activated charcoal granules and coconut oil work together to provide exfoliation and nourishment in this Charcoal Exfoliating Body Scrub Polish from M3 Naturals. Toxins and dead skin cells are no match for this scrub, which helps to boost natural collagen levels for the ultimate clear appearance. 


M3 Naturals Charcoal Exfoliating Body Scrub Polish works to refine the skin and reduce the look of wrinkles with stem cell-infused ingredients. This spa-quality product minimizes pores and rejuvenates skin to a natural glow that will be noticed.

19. Nivea Men Maximum Hydration Deep Cleaning Face Scrub

Unclog pores and clear away dirt with this Maximum Hydration Deep Cleaning Face Scrub from Nivea Men. This product helps to smooth and refine the facial complexion with minuscule particles. Aloe vera and provitamin B5 work alongside the exfoliation to keep skin hydrated without feeling tight or dry. 


We like how this product is specially formulated to target the unique issues of men’s skin with ultimate hydration coupled with deep cleaning action. Nivea Men Maximum Hydration Deep Cleaning Face Scrub is suitable for all skin types and is easy to find on store shelves. 

20. Every Man Jack Skin Clearing Face Scrub

Men with acne-prone or oily skin will enjoy the use of this Skin Clearing Face Scrub from Every Man Jack. A blend of activated charcoal and jojoba beads works to sop up excess oil in every pore while lifting away dead skin cells. The addition of 2% salicylic acid also helps combat irritation and blemishes caused by acne.


Every Man Jack Skin Clearing Face Scrub doesn’t include any kind of synthetic fragrance and is vegan and gluten-free. We like that this product pulls double duty, clearing away dirt while eliminating blackheads.


Adding an exfoliating product into a weekly skin-care routine is essential for every man who wants healthy-looking skin. While some exfoliants are gentle enough for everyday use, most dermatologists recommend applying a scrub only a few times a week. Remember to cleanse and exfoliate the skin before applying other products so that the skin is clean. Consider trying any of these 20 best exfoliators for men this year to see what works best for your skin and lifestyle.

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA