From gritty scrubs to chemical peels, these are the best exfoliators for men
Cleansers are great for busting daily grime, but if you’re not using a scrub every so often, it’s tough to get the most out of your skincare game. The best exfoliators for men — or for pretty much anyone —slough off dry skin to eliminate everything from flaky patches to clogged pores and deliver top-rated results from head to toe. Whether you’re looking for a face scrub that can work with your beard or a potent at-home peel, there’s an exfoliator tailored to your skincare needs.
There are two main types of exfoliators: physical and chemical. A physical exfoliant is exactly what it sounds like: something textured and gritty. Here you'll find everything from ultra-fine silica and natural coconut sugar (a palm byproduct) all the way up to coarser walnut shells and sea salt. Generally, the finer the particle, the gentler and more face-friendly it will be.
Chemical exfoliants include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). These acids disrupt the makeup of skin cells so they can be sloughed off (without any scrubbing) and have unique skin care benefits. You’re likely familiar with salicylic acid, which is a BHA, and a top choice for treating acne and oily skin. Some AHAs include glycolic, malic, citric, and lactic acids. While both AHAs and BHAs can smooth, brighten, and help with hyperpigmentation, a mild AHA, like lactic acid, would be ideal if you have sensitive skin. Just know that some AHAs, like glycolic acid, can be more aggressive, so you'll want to avoid it if your skin is prone to irritation — and any AHA is going to make your skin more sun-sensitive so always make sure to apply a good SPF.
From drugstore staples and grassroots favorites to advanced formulas and full-body scrubs — plus, the foot files and washcloths to go with them — these exfoliators are worth adding to your routine.
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1. The one for beards
The Honest Amish Beard and Body Soap goes gentle on beards and tough on grime, delivering a nice deep scrub close to the root. Walnut hulls, bentonite clay, and cherry bark are the buffers, while plant-based oils, including olive, coconut, and pumpkin seed, condition. Many reviewers appreciated that it could be used on both the face and body.
"It has extra grit and feels awesome across my skin," one reviewer noted. "It works great in the beard as well ... cleans very deep ... after using, my beard is nice and soft and the skin underneath feels great from the grit." A little goes a long way in terms of lather, but according to reviewers, it's best to keep the bar out of water when not in use so it lasts longer.
2. The one for sensitive skin
Cetaphil's face scrub is an ideal option for sensitive skin; the ultra-fine granules polish away dead cells without triggering irritation, and it's gentle enough to be used daily. The hypoallergenic formula is clinically tested for sensitive skin types and won't clog pores or acne-prone skin. Meanwhile, vitamins B5 and E, as well as glycerin, help hydrate and condition.
"My skin is really complicated, oily, sensitive, acne-prone and burns easily," a reviewer commented. "This face wash has been the gentlest and most effective I've ever used." Just keep in mind that it won't feel like a gritty scrub, but the payoff of being able to use it daily without over-drying is a plus.
3. The high-powered peel
This effective AHA face peel helps to eliminate dullness and soften skin in five minutes flat. Just paint it on and the cocktail of glycolic, malic, and lactic acids will do the work for you, dissolving dead skin cells and retexturing your skin. It might not feel gritty, but it packs a powerful punch: Don’t leave this rocket fuel on longer than 15 minutes. Aloe vera and jojoba oil are there to hydrate and calm so you come out looking fresh, not fried.
"Guys this is a great product to add your face care regime," a fan advised. "There was a noticeable difference in the feel and look of my skin after the first use. My face looked healthier and my skin was definitely smoother."
4. The one with coconut sugar
Coconut sugar and silica do the exfoliating in this fan-favorite scrub for dry skin. With more than 16,000 Amazon ratings, the popular Palmer's Coconut Sugar Facial Scrub features rich oils and butters for moisturizing heft, while a pumped-up list of plant extracts and surprisingly advanced skin care (like ferments and milk proteins) round out the rest of the ingredients. It's formulated with fair trade ingredients and an eye towards sustainability, and you won't find any gluten, parabens, or sulfates on the list.
"I've tried so many different facial scrubs over the years and this is definitely my new favorite," one reviewer reported. "The price is extremely reasonable. I love how moisturizing this is too. A lot of other scrubs make my face feel very dry after using them, but not this one."
5. The one for acne
Neutrogena's acne scrub relies on physical and chemical exfoliation to do some serious work on your skin. A gentle physical scrub sweeps away dead skin cells (although the type isn't specified by the brand), while 2% salicylic acid targets breakouts at their source. The brand's specialty formula promises to deliver the salicylic deeper into pores than other options so you get an even deeper clean.
"I have oily skin, prone to blackheads, especially on my nose," a reviewer explained. "This has helped rid the oiliness, or at least bring it down quite a bit. The scrub smells nice, feels nice, and makes my skin feel good." Looking for a body option? Consider this medicated body wash to go with it.
6. The cult-favorite body bar
Dr. Squatch Pine Tar Soap is too legendary to leave out, with over 41,000 five-star reviews and counting. The rugged brick is made from a scouring powder of oatmeal, sand, activated charcoal, kaolin clay, and sea salt for maximum sloughing. Pine tar, shea butter, and moisturizing oils bind all of that grit together.
"I work in a machine shop and I constantly get oil on me and dust from the metals," a reviewer explained. "When I got this I used it the same day and I was instantly amazed how fast it got off all the dirt and oil stains on my arms. It even took out the smells of an old machine shop."
7. The top-shelf one with retinol
Dermalogica's Multivitamin Thermofoliant is an advanced option if you're ready to invest in your regime. It contains both physical and chemical exfoliants: The physical micro-granule scrub warms on contact so its turbo-charged ingredients can better penetrate your skin. The chemical exfoliant salicylic acid is blended with retinol to increase cell turnover, while potent antioxidants in the form of white tea, vitamin C, and licorice combat free radical damage for a brighter complexion.
"This is my favorite skin product going," a reviewer reported. "Its gentle enough to use a few times a week. After each use your skin looks and feels completely renewed. Worth every single penny."
8. The 4-piece set
Keep this salt scrub exfoliating kit in the shower so you can regularly polish down you body. It includes a 16-ounce jar of body scrub, a wooden spoon for scooping, a loofah pad for scrubbing, and a softening, unscented oatmeal bar soap. The Dead Sea salt scrub is thick and loaded with antioxidant-rich oils, plus heavy butters for buffing your body — and it comes in a ton of fragrance options from sandalwood (featured above) to bright citrus and refreshing peppermint.
"I'm a guy and appreciate the way these magic blends make my body feel (and smell, to be honest). I've already gone through nearly 4 tubs in about 3 months...incredibly invigorating and thoroughly cleansing without any obscure or funky-sounding chemicals."
Also helpful: the exfoliating shammy
Exfoliating cloths beat gloves hands down because they make it possible to reach every last spot on your back — but, if you really love yourself some gloves, you can also pick up them up with this cloth as part of a set. The cloth is made with nubby, dual-textured fabric and has built-in handles for some serious buffing action, and it's even easy to toss in the wash to keep clean.
"The texture is sort of like fish scales... but fish scales made of sandpaper. It's a wonderful, scratchy, amazing scrubber that lathers up better than any washcloth I've ever used and rinses clean faster," one shopper noted, adding, "It also dries out almost instantly with one good wringing."
Also worth considering: a rasp to deal with your feet
For serious callouses, you need to pull out the big guns. This jumbo foot rasp files away thick layers of dead skin like a cheese grater — which is exactly as gross and satisfying as it sounds. Rust-proof surgical stainless steel blades set in a plastic frame ensures its lightweight and safe to handle even if your feet are wet, and it hangs up to dry by the handle. "Love it! I’ve had rough and itchy patches for [years]. Nothing truly took them off like this did," wrote one reviewer. "I used it after a shower and then followed it with a foot balm."