When it comes to skincare, men have traditionally been less inclined to prioritize it compared to women. However, in recent years, there has been a significant shift in the attitudes of men towards self-care and grooming.
One important aspect of a well-rounded skincare routine is facial exfoliation, so in this blog, we’ll explore the benefits, methods, and recommended products for facial exfoliation for men to help you achieve clear and healthy skin.
Don’t worry – it’s all very simple and straightforward.
Methods of Facial Exfoliation for Men
There are 2 methods of skin exfoliation – physical aka mechanical, and there’s chemical exfoliation.
Mechanical exfoliation involves using a scrub or a tool that will physically scrape off a layer of dead skin cells from the skin’s surface.
On the other hand, chemical exfoliation is done without using any friction. This method relies on using certain ingredients to break the bonds that hold skin cells together and in doing so, it also lifts and removes the dead skin cells.
Each of these techniques has both pros and cons:
Let’s explain more about each method by looking into how facials based on these techniques work:
Treatments for Skin Exfoliation for Men
Depending on whether you prefer mechanical or chemical facial exfoliation for men, there are a couple of treatment options you can choose from:
Dermaplaning is perhaps the best mechanical male skin exfoliation method since it’s quite similar to something men are already familiar with – shaving.
Dermaplaning facial exfoliation for men is done with a sharp blade that scrapes at a skin’s surface, removing up to 2 weeks’ worth of dead skin cells, dirt, and debris. And it’s very easy to DIY! You can learn how here.
If you want to learn more about this technique, check out our dermaplaning guide!
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Microdermabrasion is another mechanical exfoliation method that essentially scrapes off the outermost layer of the skin and removes the debris in one move.
It’s done with a handpiece that has a rough rotary tip in the middle of which is a suctioning hole that simultaneously sucks up everything that comes off the skin.
There are a couple of variations of this technique, most notably a gentler and more hydrating version – hydrodermabrasion.
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Enzyme peel is a gentle and effective skincare treatment that helps exfoliate and renew the skin’s surface by using natural enzymes from fruits and vegetables to break down dead skin cells.
Enzyme peels are often preferred over harsher chemical peels as they are gentler – although they don’t provide as dramatic skin improvements.
You can learn more about specific types of enzyme peels here.
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If you’re looking for a non-physical option, chemical peeling treatments are the way to go. These facials are very popular – both as a treatment and DIY product – due to their incredible variety.
So not only will they remove the top skin layer, but they will also remove any imperfections bothering you with it. They can treat so many different skin conditions and can be custom-made for any skin concern you’re looking to resolve.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular acids:
- Salicylic acid peel – great for oily and acne-prone skin
- Glycolic acid peel – great anti-aging properties
- Lactic acid peel – promotes a smoother and more radiant complexion
- Mandelic acid peel – most suitable for sensitive skin
- Azelaic acid peel – helps reduce inflammation
- TCA acid peel – addresses more significant skin concerns
- Jessner’s peel – combined of other acids, offers deeper exfoliation
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Sometimes, skincare professionals may suggest combining mechanical and chemical exfoliation to enhance the benefits of both exfoliation methods and address different aspects of skin renewal.
In this case, they will often do microdermabrasion or dermaplaning first, after which they’ll follow it up with a very low-concentrated superficial layer of acid-peeling solution.
Since the outermost layer of dead skin cells was already removed, chemical peeling will penetrate deeper into the skin and provide more dramatic results.
This is why this kind of combo treatment is often used on clients that are looking to fight certain skin conditions, for example, acne scars or aging, rather than on clients that are just looking to keep their skin looking fresh and radiant.
Products for Skin Exfoliation for Men
While facial treatments are great and should be done every once in a while, you can’t disregard exfoliation in your regular skincare routine.
But as everyone’s skin is unique, it’s important to pick an exfoliator that suits your skin type and concerns.
When selecting exfoliation products, consider:
- Your skin type – dry or sensitive skin should opt for gentler options, while men with oily or acne-prone skin may benefit from stronger physical or chemical exfoliants.
- How often you’ll be using the product – over-exfoliating can lead to dryness, irritation, or skin damage, so if you’ll be using it often, opt for gentler formulas made for daily use.
- The rest of your skincare routine – exfoliate your face in the evening to clean your pores and remove accumulated dirt, pollution, and grime from the day. And put on SPF in the morning to protect your new skin layer. You can find some SPF suggestions here.
Here are our top picks for the best facial exfoliator for men:
Best Physical Exfoliators – Scrubs
A men’s face scrub is a cream-based skincare product that contains exfoliating particles that remove dead skin cells through friction.
Usually these particles are micro-fine granules that are made from natural beads like oatmeal, sugar, bamboo powder, but in some cases, products use plastic micro-beads (try to avoid those).
Any male skin exfoliation face scrub that contains large, irregularly shaped particles can damage your skin by causing micro-tears on its surface. Examples of these particles include fruit pits, volcanic rock, and plastic micro-beads.
So if you are too rough, these micro-tears can weaken your skin’s barrier, making skin more prone to dry, flaky patches, redness, and sensitivity. This is why it’s crucial not to overdo it or to scrub too harshly.
Best Chemical Exfoliators
At-home chemical peels usually come in the form of a gel solution or as a pre-soaked pad that is applied to clean, dry skin. The solution is left on the skin for the amount of time the product instructs, after which it’s neutralized or washed off.
These products contain higher concentrations of active ingredients so you may experience slight tingling or even mild stinging upon application. Just be careful not to damage your skin – if you’re in pain you shouldn’t continue with the treatment.
Best Physical Exfoliators with Chemical Acids
These products utilize the effects of exfoliating acid agents, but they aren’t applied like a mask but rather as normal face cleansers. They work their magic while you’re massaging them into your face, after which they’re just washed off.
Why Male Skin Exfoliation Matters
Let’s begin by explaining something called skin cell turnover.
This is a natural process in which our skin is shedding old, dead skin cells and replacing them with new, smoother ones.
These new skin cells are pushing their way to the skin’s surface, but sometimes they can remain blocked by the layer of older skin cells that haven’t flaked off yet.
Exfoliation helps speed up this process by removing dulling skin cells from the surface and helping the skin look younger and brighter. This is why it plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy and blemish-free complexion.
So men, who tend to have thicker and oilier skin compared to women, can benefit as much – if not more – from regularly exfoliating. Here’s why:
Exfoliation Prevents Acne, Unclogs Pores & Removes Blemishes
Exfoliation helps remove all the dirt, oil, and grime that accumulated in your pores during the day. It’s especially bad if all this gunk gets trapped under a layer of skin as it’ll allow acne-causing bacteria to feed off of excess oil and result in a breakout.
But exfoliation helps penetrate deeply into the pores and removes all that’s clogging your skin which in turn prevents blemishes like blackheads, whiteheads, and acne from forming.
Exfoliation Improves Skin Tone & Texture
By eliminating rough and uneven skin, exfoliation promotes a smoother and more refined complexion. Also, regular exfoliation can help eventually fade dark spots, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation, which will make your skin tone appear more even.
Exfoliation Reduces Ingrown Hairs
Men often struggle with ingrown hair due to shaving. Exfoliation helps prevent this by lifting the layer of skin that’s trapping hairs and reducing the likelihood of irritation.
Plus, exfoliating before shaving helps create a smoother surface for the razor to glide across which allows for a closer and more comfortable shave.
So if you have a beard, exfoliating can keep beard dandruff at bay and keep your hair follicles clear and healthy.
Exfoliation Improves Overall Skin Health
Facial exfoliation promotes healthy skin cell turnover by encouraging the growth of new, healthy cells, which contributes to overall skin health and vitality.
It also helps maximize the benefits of skincare products since now they’re able to penetrate more effectively into the skin.
So Will You Be Incorporating Exfoliation in Your Skincare Routine?
By regularly exfoliating, you can achieve clear, smooth, and healthy skin. Whether that be through physical or chemical exfoliation, all that matters is finding a method that works for you.
Remember to choose products wisely, pay attention not to overdo it, and always prioritize sun protection.
In addition to having an exfoliator, consider also introducing a few other products to keep your skin looking its best. You can read all about what skincare for men should look like here.
Cover image source: Freepik