Best exfoliators for men 2021: face scrubs and acid exfoliators to clear your skin

Scrub up with these cleansing exfoliators

Best exfoliators for men: face scrubs and acid exfoliators to clear your skin

Exfoliating your skin shouldn’t be like resurfacing a road. Gone are the days of scrubbing your skin with harsh abrasive scrubs that leave your skin red raw. 

There are two types of exfoliator you can be using on your skin. A face scrub to actively lift surface dirt or liquid acid exfoliators. There are two types of acid exfoliators, AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) and both act as a chemical exfoliant to encourage natural cell turnover. 

Acid doesn’t usually carry many positive connotations, but it is the buzzword in skincare at the moment and a global phenomenon. 

Acid exfoliators result in a natural exfoliation, compared to the manual one you achieve from a face scrub.

Depending on the product you are using, we recommend exfoliating 2-3 times a week. If you’re in a built-up, polluted area you’ll need to be more persistent. 

Conscientious exfoliation results in a smoother and healthier complexion. However, the aftercare is just as important to ensure your efforts are effective. Dr Ross Perry, GP and Medical Director of CosmedicsUK says: 

“After exfoliating, new skin cells are exposed. The skin will be at its optimum for receiving nutrients and hydration and will readily absorb products that are applied. For best results, choose a suitable serum and moisturiser, applying very quickly to soothe and hydrate the skin.” 

The best face scrubs:

Since microbeads were outlawed and the world has come  together to #PassOnPlastic there has been a stringent cull on micro beads in the cosmetics industry, and rightly so. 

However, brands who created their face scrubs laden with plastic microbeads had to go back to the laboratory to reformulate. We’ve rounded up the best scrubs whose standards haven’t fallen by the wayside when it comes to a plastic-free formulation. 

Best exfoliators for men: Acqua di Parma Collezione Barbiere Facial Cleansing Scrub

1. Acqua di Parma Collezione Barbiere Facial Cleansing Scrub

A gentle exfoliating scrub with a lovely scent

Reasons to buy
+Lovely scent+Gentle on skin
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t lather

Acqua di Parma’s face scrub is one for more delicate, rosacea-prone skin as it has enough texture to lift dead skin cells and daily grime effectively, without tearing layers away from your epidermis. It smells nice, looks nice and feels nice with it’s gel-like texture, but if you’re after satisfying froth you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Best exfoliators for men: Kiehl’s Rare Earth daily scrub

2. Kiehl’s Rare Earth daily scrub

Great for removing the dirt and pollutants of daily city life

Reasons to buy
+Gentle on skin+Good results+Mattefying clay
Reasons to avoid
-Very thin texture 

Kiehl’s Rare Earth scrub has a soft clay texture with a satisfying lather and the addition of oat kernels for exfoliating. The kernels in this exfoliator are gentle enough to use daily, if you’re a city dweller then using this before bed is a must to slough away the dirt and pollutants of daily city life. This Rare Earth scrub smells and feels nice and the oil-busting white clay works to mattify an oily complexion. Target the t-zone if you’re prone to blackheads. 

Best exfoliators for men: Garnier Pure Active 3-in-1 Clay

3. Garnier Pure Active 3-in-1 Clay

Thick and gritty scrub, great for bearded men

Reasons to buy
+Great price+Versatile product 
Reasons to avoid
-Can be drying if overused 

You get more bang for your buck with this 3-in-1 and it certainly delivers good results. Gentle enough to be used everyday with a fine grit to softly polish skin, leaving it clean and soft after the first use. The texture is thicker and slightly grittier than the Kiehl’s, making it a good option for bearded men. 

Leave the clay product on for 5 minutes once a week to help combat oily skin.

Best exfoliators for men: T-Zone Charcoal & Bamboo Deep Cleansing Face Scrub

4. T-Zone Charcoal & Bamboo Deep Cleansing Face Scrub

A great exfoliating facial scrub with active charcoal

Reasons to buy
+Active charcoal works to lift impurities+Great value for money
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t lather up very much

The scrub reminiscent of your acne-ridden teens. T-Zone’s face scrub was a pleasant surprise, gentle on the skin but with enough texture to really buff your skin to brightness. The charcoal works to draw out impurities, making this a great option for blemish-prone skin.

Acid exfoliators 

If you know, you know. Acid exfoliators are a testament to the advances of skincare. Kinder on the skin than a scrub with a multitude of benefits such as exfoliation and cell reproduction. With the right products you’ll notice a reduction in acne scars, refined pores and a vanished lacklustre complexion. 

There are two types of acids ; AHAs and BHAs. AHAs are more exfoliating and stimulate collagen production- keep an eye out for glycolic acid. BHAs are best for oily skin and blackheads and the key ingredient to keep an eye out for is salicylic acid, you’ll often find BHAs in acne products as they are best for tackling bacteria on the skin. 

Word to the wise: both increase photosensitivity so be sure to slap on the suncream or use a moisturiser with a minimum of SPF20 during the day. 

Best exfoliators for men: The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

1. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Amazing results and excellent value

Reasons to buy
+Excellent value for money+Effective results
Reasons to avoid
-More time consuming-Not for sensitive skin

Try to remain calm when applying this 30% AHA peel into your skin. The blood red colour takes a little getting used to, but The Ordinary has yet again proven their products are simple, affordable but wholly effective. Add a couple drops of this elixir to your face once or twice a week and watch it do it’s magic in 10 minutes. Good things take time but be sure to wash it off! 

Best exfoliators for men: Crabtree And Evelyn Brighten + Hydrate Exfoliating Tonic

(Image credit: Crabtree & Evelyn)

2. Crabtree And Evelyn Brighten + Hydrate Exfoliating Tonic

A stylish exfoliating tonic from Crabtree & Evelyn

Reasons to buy
+Subtle scent+Brightens and smooths skin+Soothes as well+Attractive packaging

This tonic from Crabtree and Evelyn is designed to brighten and balanced your skin. A sweep of the Brighten + Hydrate Exfoliating Tonic leaves skin smooth, radiant and more even thanks to a supercharged skincare blend of powerful ingredients. The tonic has a blend of AHAs and BHAs which work together to exfoliate the skin surface and unclog pores, creating a smoother, more refined texture. Apple fruit water hydrates while liquorice root soothes to keep skin feeling comfortable.

Best exfoliators for men: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

2. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Exfoliating acid works great on oily skin

Reasons to buy
+A good one for sensitive skin
Reasons to avoid

The brainchild of consumer advocate for skincare and industry authority, Paula’s products are well formulated with proven efficacy. BHAs work best on oily skin and effectively eradicate blackheads and the proof is in this 2% liquid. 

Best exfoliators for men: Sunday Riley U.F.O

3. Sunday Riley U.F.O

U.F.O is a luxurious exfoliator and a face oil in one

Reasons to buy
+Luxurious to use
Reasons to avoid
-Scent isn’t for everyone

There’s nothing alien about this hero product from Sunday Riley, though the colour can be alarming. U.F.O is both an exfoliator and a face oil in one. You’ll feel as though you're replenishing rather than exfoliating and the herby smell is satisfyingly clean. A couple of drops goes a long way, but be sure to keep away from eyes.

Best exfoliators for men: Alpha H liquid gold

4. Alpha H liquid gold

Watch ache scars are blemishes disappear

Reasons to buy
+Highly effective
Reasons to avoid
-Probably more expensive than liquid gold

Our money’s on this small pot of liquid magic. It’s an overnight potion formulated with 5% Glycolic Acid, to be used every other night. Try it and watch acne scars, pigmentation and blemishes visibly improve - hello brighter, tighter and happier skin!