Skincare Routine Series: Tips On How To Exfoliate Men’s Face

Welcome Friends! Most guys move from washing their faces to putting on face cream and then stepping out the door. This is not the routine you want if you are trying to improve your skin. If you want to keep up with professional facials, then there is another step you want to take for improving your skin. Exfoliation. Unfortunately, this next step in our skincare routine is often skipped. Yet it is one of the best facial treatments a man can give his skin. In this guide we will discuss everything you need to know and provide you with all of our best tips on how to exfoliate guys faces.

Keep reading along!

The Basics

What Does It Mean To Exfoliate Skin?

Exfoliation is defined as shedding outer layers. In dermatology, exfoliation means removing the oldest dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. Of the three main layers of skin, exfoliation will remove skin from the outer epidermis layer. Removing skin provides many benefits. The following are a few benefits for men from exfoliating your facial skin.

  • Improves The Appearance Of Your Face With Healthier Skin
  • Smooths Skin’s Texture And Balances Skin Tone
  • Minimizes The Appearance Of Facial Pores
  • Prevents Growth Of Ingrown Hairs
  • Removes Blackheads
  • Efficient Absorption Of Face Creams Or Serums

Is Exfoliating Necessary For Men?

Compared to women, men’s skin is naturally different. A guy’s skin is thicker and more durable. Also, men have more hair and wider pores. Therefore, maintaining a guy’s skin requires more effort. In order to prevent acne and other issues, men need to exfoliate regularly. Exfoliation will remove the old skin so that the old cells do not become trapped in your pores. Otherwise, clogged pores can breed acne.

When Should A Man Exfoliate?

As men age, the speed of skin cell turnover slows down. In other words, shedding of skin from your skin’s surface slows. Therefore, men should be using a facial exfoliator as part of their regular skincare regimen. Guys should begin exfoliating in their 20s and more so in their 30s. In general, exfoliation is necessary at least 2 to 3 times a week. Also, the order of your regimen is important. You should cleanse with face wash first, exfoliate, then moisturize your skin.

What Can You Use To Exfoliate?

Chemical Exfoliate

When it comes to removing the outer layer of a guy’s skin, there are two options. Men can use either physical or chemical exfoliators. Physical exfoliators manually remove dead skin cells. Some examples of physical exfoliators are facial cleansing brushes, towels, and scrub granules. A chemical exfoliator uses acids to dissolve your dead skin. Examples of chemical exfoliants are alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA).

How Often Should You Exfoliate?

As a man ages, the need for exfoliation increases. Dermatologists recommend that guys exfoliate their faces 2 to 3 times per week if you are using an exfoliating scrub. Similarly, if you are using exfoliating lotion, you should exfoliate 2 to 3 times per week. Lastly, if you are using an exfoliating face wash, then you should use the face wash twice a day, during the morning and evening.

Is It Better To Exfoliate In The Morning Or Evening?

Whether you exfoliate your skin in the morning or night there is not a significant difference. Exfoliating in the morning will clear dead skin and excess oil from the prior night. Exfoliation at night will remove debris and sweat from the day. However, you should consider how much time you have, physical activity, and sunlight before deciding when to exfoliate

Given exfoliating is an additional step, consider time for when you want to exfoliate. We exfoliate during our night routine since we have more time to be thorough. 

Another consideration is physical activity where you should avoid physical activity after you exfoliate your skin. This is because your skin is more sensitive after exfoliation and can become irritated from exercise.

Lastly, if you plan to be in the sun for an extended period of time, wait to exfoliate. Again, your skin is more sensitive after exfoliating and may be more easily damaged by sun rays. In general, you should apply moisturizer with SPF after exfoliating your face.

How To Exfoliate Men’s Faces

How To Exfoliate Dos and Donts

To properly exfoliate men’s faces, dermatologists recommend the following tips on what to do and what not to do.

What To Do

#1. Use Dime-Sized Amount

After washing your face, take a dime-sized amount of exfoliant and apply to different areas of damp skin. Apply to your neck, chin, cheeks, nose, and forehead. Rub exfoliant into each area in circular motions for approximately 60 seconds. Avoid getting exfoliant into eyes.

#2. Rinse With Cool Water

After rubbing the exfoliant into your skin, rinse off your face with cool water. Using cold water will soothe your skin. When you remove the top layer of skin, your face will be more sensitive.

#3. Apply Moisturizer With SPF

Given the top layer of dead skin from your face has been removed, your skin will be sensitive. This also exposes your skin to sun damage. Therefore, apply moisturizer with SPF at the end of your routine.

BowTied Pro Tip: The exfoliating process is appropriate for black men’s skin as well.

What Not to do

#1. Exfoliate Too Often

Men should exfoliate their skin up to one time a day and three times a week. According to dermatologists, exfoliating too much can irritate skin. Also, too much exfoliation can cause your sebaceous glands to boost natural oil production. The excess oil can potentially cause acne breakouts.

#2. Minimize Physical Activity

When you exfoliate, your top layer of skin is removed. This means the new layer of skin underneath is not mature and still sensitive. Therefore, additional physical activity can stress and irritate this new layer of skin.

Exfoliate Safely By Skin Types

Men have a few different options for exfoliating their faces. You can use chemical, physical, or mechanical exfoliation. However, you should consider what type of skin you have so you can exfoliate safely.

For reference here are the different types of skin.

You have dry skin if: Skin usually feels itchy and tight. Rarely shows any excess oil. Occasionally, your skin may be flaky.

You have oily skin if: Skin has the appearance of a sheen or shininess regardless of how often you cleanse. Pores appear to be wider and often visible. Tend to have more blackheads.

You have sensitive skin: Skin becomes red and irritated very easily. Shaving also causes your skin to be irritated.

The following section provides dermatologist recommendations for exfoliation based on men’s skin type.

Exfoliation For Men With Dry Skin

Gentlemen who have dry skin will benefit the most from exfoliation. With this skin type you likely experience itchy and flaky skin. For men with dry skin, skin experts recommend using exfoliating lotions or face scrubs that include hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Both of these ingredients will provide your skin with hydration and moisture. Guys who have this skin type should also make sure to moisturize afterwards for added hydration.

Exfoliation For Men With Oily Skin

If you are a man with oily skin, then you will have a tendency for blackheads or breakouts. This is due to the extra oil combining with dead skin cells. The combination can become trapped in your pores, breeding skin issues. Men with oily skin can use stronger chemical exfoliants and physical exfoliators such as facial cleansing devices. However, if you are in this skin type category, then avoid over-exfoliating. Otherwise, you will end up with over production of oil.

Exfoliation For Men With Sensitive Skin

Men with sensitive skin should focus on gentle exfoliants. In other words, avoid using rough grains or strong chemical exfoliants. Some good options, if you are in this group, are exfoliants that include glycerin or aloe vera. These ingredients will soothe your skin. If you opt for a physical exfoliation, then use a soft towel to wipe away dead skin cells off of your face.

Exfoliation For Men With Acne

You may think exfoliating is bad for you if you have acne prone skin. However, exfoliation is actually very beneficial for you. Acne is created by oil, dead skin, and bacteria becoming trapped in your facial pores. Reducing these things with exfoliation will help you heal from breakouts faster. If you have acne, the best exfoliators for men include alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). AHAs dissolves dead skin cells that create pimples gently. Also, if you are a guy with acne, then avoid harsh scrubs. The grains in scrubs will further inflame your existing acne.

Exfoliating And Shaving

Exfoliating and Shaving

Should You Exfoliate Before Or After Shaving?

If you are planning to shave then you should exfoliate ~12 hours after shaving. You should avoid exfoliating before shaving. The reason why is that both exfoliating and shaving remove the outer layer of your skin. Therefore, shaving after exfoliating will cause extreme skin irritation. Given you have already shaved, then waiting ~12 hours will allow your skin to heal enough so that you can exfoliate it again.

How To Exfoliate After You Shave

Guys that want to exfoliate after they have shaved recently should consider the strength of the exfoliant. Shaving is a form of mechanical exfoliation as the razor removes your skin in the process of removing hair. After shaving your skin will be irritated. As a result, men should wait ~12 hours after shaving and avoid hard scrubs. Using gentle exfoliants will be easier on your face and will prevent ingrown hairs or razor bumps.

Exfoliation With A Beard

How To Exfoliate Your Face With A Beard

Having a thick beard makes it challenging to exfoliate the skin underneath. On this site, we like to provide actionable advice. To exfoliate your face with a beard you should first use a beard brush, then use a exfoliating face wash. Using a beard brush will lift up your beard and create space for exfoliants to penetrate. An exfoliating face wash is perfect for men with beards because it gently cleanses and exfoliates your skin and prevents beard dandruff. 

BowTied Pro Tip: Avoid using scrubs as the exfoliating particles in the scrub may become stuck in your beard.

How To Exfoliate For Beard Growth

When exfoliating for beard growth, men should balance how much the beard area is exfoliated. Removing dead skin cells by exfoliating can help grow your beard. This will create room for new hair follicles. Also, having enough natural oils on your face will help keep your beard softer. Therefore, avoid over-exfoliating to prevent drying out and irritating the skin underneath your beard.

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What To Do After Exfoliating

Generally, exfoliating is the second step in your skincare routine after face wash. After exfoliating, guys can apply toners or facial serums. Or, if you are in a hurry, then you can also follow up exfoliating with a face moisturizer that includes SPF. The moisturizer will hydrate and protect the new layer of your skin.

Fact Checked by our Director of Dermatology We know that understanding how your skin and hair work can seem scary, so my team and I devote our time to thoroughly researching every single topic and product we write about. We hope you find our reviews helpful and informative.

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