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In this Editor’s Choice feature, SPY presents the best face scrubs for men. The products that earn our Editor’s Choice badge meet our strictest selection criteria, and before making our product picks, we consulted dermatologists and tested every one of these products on our own faces. To help you pick the right product for your face and skin type, we’ve selected only the top options from leading skincare brands.
If your skin has been looking a little dull lately, then we recommend adding one of the best face scrubs to your skincare routine. In our testing, we’ve found that a good exfoliating face scrub can be a great weekly (or twice-weekly) addition to your regimen, and we often find that acne, redness and dullness seem to lessen after using a scrub.
Facial scrubs, in conjunction with the right cleansers, face moisturizers and face washes, are a great way to wash away gunk, grime and excess oil. They essentially act as spring cleaners for your face — clearing out the dead stuff you don’t need anymore so your skin can breathe, grow new cells and rejuvenate. There are tons of high-quality, effective and easy-to-use facial scrubs out there that make scrubbing your skin a satisfying experience. And once you feel the benefits, you’ll always keep a face scrub in your medicine cabinet.
Before we dive into the best face scrubs for men, we reached out to Dr. Joel Lamm, a board-certified dermatologist and the supervising physician at the Ever/Body dermatology clinic in New York City, to answer a few basic questions about the dos and don’ts of face scrubs.
What Are Face Scrubs for Men and Why Should I Use Them?
A face scrub is basically the same as a face cleanser or face wash, except it has mildly abrasive components to help exfoliate the skin. Some face washes and skincare face masks will offer exfoliation too, but not as much as a face scrub.
Because of these abrasive particles, face scrubs for men deliver “deep cleansing and exfoliation,” Lamm said. That makes them great for clearing away oils, busting up dead skin, breaking down acne, evening complexion and generally promoting healthy skin turnover. Typically, the only difference between men’s skincare products and women’s is the color of the bottle, but we do recommend buying a men’s face scrub in particular, as these products are better for men’s tougher skin.
What Ingredients Should I Look for in Men’s Face Scrubs?
There are two ways to exfoliate skin: chemically and mechanically. Mechanical scrubs, or physical exfoliants, typically “use natural particles such as walnuts, apricots and pumice” to break down skin, Lamm said. On the other hand, chemical exfoliants rely on acids “such as lactic, glycolic and salicylic.” Both types of exfoliation work to remove dead skin cells and neither is better or riskier, but “chemical exfoliants are typically less abrasive.”
Here’s our recommendation: use chemical exfoliants if you’re worried about acne. For everyone else, physical exfoliants are the better choice. In addition, the best face scrubs for men often contain natural ingredients such as:
- Camelina oil
- Green tea
- Vitamins C & E
How Often Should I Use Face Scrubs for Men?
It’s very possible to over-scrub due to the abrasive chemicals or particles, so Lamm recommends that exfoliating “not be done more than two or three times per week for normal to oily skin types.” For people with sensitive skin, they should stick to once or twice a week because “exfoliating too much or too often can cause irritation and dryness from loss of the skin barrier.”
When getting started with exfoliation, “starting slowly” is the way to go and applying moisturizer immediately afterward can help. If it’s daytime, be sure to apply sunscreen too, Lamm added.
Now that we know a little bit more about what to expect in the best face scrubs, check out our editors’ favorite face scrubs for men below. Though you can’t shed your skin like a snake, exfoliating face scrubs can go a long way to breaking down and restoring dry, uneven and blemished skin.
Bulldog Original Face Scrub for Men
A two-time SPY award winner, the Bulldog Original Face Scrub is one of the best facial scrubs for men we’ve ever tested, and the SPY grooming team is unanimous in this decision. The affordable face scrub is formulated to make cleansing and exfoliating your face easy and has a gentle formula for removing dead skin. It has aloe vera, a naturally calming ingredient, as well as camelina oil and green tea for a clean finish. We love the way our faces feel after using this scrub, and we think you will too. The formula also contains tiny bits of oat kernel, almond shell and olive seed powder that, when combined, buff out your skin to help remove impurities.
Who It’s For: Men with sensitive or normal skin types, budget-conscious shoppers
Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub
This facial scrub is perfect for men with beards or anyone that’s tired of ingrown hairs. We recommend using this men’s face scrub after shaving or while in the shower, and in our testing, we found that our skin felt smoother and cleaner after using Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub. This facial scrub is specially formulated to exfoliate your skin and remove impurities while also softening tough facial hair.
This facial scrub is made with apricot kernels and infused with ingredients like menthol, vitamin E, caffeine and citrus extracts for an invigorating grooming experience. Thanks to the menthol, this face scrub will leave your face tingly after use, which really makes it feel like it’s working.
Who It’s For: Guys with facial hair or ingrown hairs; anyone that loves luxe grooming products
Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub
Jack Black explicitly markets the Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub as a pre-shave scrub, but it works just fine as an invigorating scrub anytime you need a little more exfoliation power. The scrub contains environmentally friendly and biodegradable ingredients, including bamboo powder to mechanically exfoliate skin. It also removes oil, dirt, dead skin, prepping your skin for a smooth shave or just getting out of the house.
Who It’s For: Guys looking for a pre-shave scrub, guys who like eco-friendly grooming products
Baxter of California Facial Scrub
You can pretty much never go wrong with Baxter of California skincare products, and that includes the Baxter Facial Scrub. Excellent as a pre-shave scrub or any time your skin needs a deeper clean, this gritty scrub relies on cornmeal and walnut shell powder to physically break down dead, rough dry skin for a clearer and more even complexion. In our testing, we found that this is one of the most abrasive exfoliating facial scrubs for men for sale, and that may be a pro or a con depending on what you’re looking for. If you want an extra-deep exfoliating cleanse, then this luxe product is a perfect addition to your bathroom counter.
Who It’s For: Guys looking for an intense deep clean
Disco Exfoliating Face Scrub
Disco is one of our favorite men’s skincare brands, and their exfoliating face scrub is one of their best products. Like other Disco products, it has a refreshing eucalyptus fragrance, so if you’re looking for a fragrance-free scrub, this won’t be the right product for you. For everyone else, we love the natural formula, which contains skin-soothing ingredients such as aloe vera and papaya as well as apricot oil to help reduce inflammation. This is milder than some face scrubs, and it left our skin feeling smoother and cleaner.
Who It’s For: Guys that love Disco products, guys who prefer natural skincare products
Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub
Drugstore brands are drugstore brands because they have proven over time to work well for just about any skin type. Cetaphil’s one of the classic drugstore kings, and the Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub shows why. For guys hunting for the best drugstore face scrubs for men, Cetaphil is a winning choice. Micro-fine particles handle the buffing and exfoliation to remove dirt, oil and dead skin while glycerin and vitamins B5 and E keep your skin feeling comfortable. As far as the best face scrubs go, the Cetaphil is one of the milder scrubs and is great for sensitive skin. Heads-up, this one’s a two-pack.
Who It’s For: Guys with sensitive skin, guys who do their shopping at the drug store
Neutrogena Deep Clean Gentle Daily Scrub
Like a lot of our favorite Neutrogena products, the excellent Neutrogena Deep Clean Gentle Daily Scrub is budget-priced and effective to boot. With salicylic acid and citric acid, this face scrub will have no trouble exfoliating skin, and it’s a great option for guys trying to clear up acne and blemishes while washing away daily grime and oils. Unlike most face scrubs, this gentle chemical face scrub is designed for daily use.
Who It’s For: Budget-conscious shoppers, men struggling with acne
Patricks FS1 Face Scrub for Men
For the grooming man who wants only the best, most elite grooming products, we’ve got the perfect face scrub. To wash away the stresses of your busy life, turn to Patricks FS1 Face Scrub. Filled with volcanic sand and crushed diamond (yes, crushed diamonds), this scrub buffs your face like no other and smells fantastic. Seriously, it’s hard to describe how good your skin will feel after using this scrub: Not too rough, not too soft, but just right and smelling great.
Who It’s For: Guys who appreciate the finer things in life
Nivea Men’s Maximum Hydration Deep Cleaning Face Scrub
The one problem with exfoliating face scrubs for men? They can leave your skin craving moisture. Thankfully, there are moisturizing facial scrubs made to keep your skin hydrated while removing impurities at the same time. This formula cleanses your skin to unclog pores without drying everything out. It has fine scrubbing particles as well as aloe vera and provitamin B5 that keep your skin from feeling tight or dried out post-wash.
Who It’s For: Guys with dry skin
Brickell Men’s Renewing Face Scrub
All face scrubs promise exfoliation, but depending on their formula, they all vary widely in consistency, from the creamy to the chunky and gritty. The Brickell Men’s Renewing Face Scrub is definitely in the latter category, with a gritty exfoliating paste of pumice and jojoba beads to break down and slough away a week’s worth of skin grossness. Whether you’re combatting oil, dead skin, blackheads, ingrown hairs or other impurities, men with all different skin types could see results with a face scrub like this.
Who It’s For: Guys with all skin types, anyone looking for an intense, deep clean
Age Defender Dual-Action Exfoliating Cleanser
This exfoliating cleanser is part of Kiehl’s new Age Defender line of anti-aging grooming products for men. Like the Neutrogena face scrub, it’s formulated for everyday use, which instantly sets it apart from most face scrubs for men. This soothing cleanser does double duty as a face mask and an exfoliating scrub, and it can be used in a variety of ways. If you let the formula settle on your skin for five minutes, it will instantly become an exfoliating scrub as you wash it away from your skin. We love the unique formula, which contains Moroccan Lava Clay for a deep but gentle clean.
Who It’s For: Guys looking for 2-in-1 products, guys with all skin types, guys over 30
Bulldog Energizing Face Scrub
If you already love Bulldog’s Original Face Scrub as much as we do but are looking for a new product to invigorate your skincare routine, then we also highly recommend the brand’s new Energizing Face Scrub. This new product has everything we love about the Original Face Scrub — gentle formula, effective cleaning, moisturization — but ups the ante with new ingredients designed to revive tired and dry skin. The new formula contains rice, algae, maize and coconut shell to clean and soothe your skin at the same time.
Who It’s For: Guys with tired skin
Why Trust SPY When Choosing Grooming Products?
The SPY team includes experienced grooming editors, product testers and reviewers with decades of combined experience in the grooming space. Already in 2022, we’ve tested dozens of new grooming products for men, and each year, we select the most elite men’s skincare and grooming products for our end-of-year product awards. Some of the exfoliating face scrubs for men featured above were included in our most recent awards, The 2021 Man.
We’re always searching for new skincare products, shaving tools and hair care products to help our readers look their best. Most importantly, we never recommend a product to our readers that we wouldn’t use on our own skin, and we carefully test products, review ingredients and consult experts when producing our grooming guides.