How Do I Choose the Best Men's Exfoliator?

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  • Written By: Kaiser Castro
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 17 August 2019
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A men’s exfoliator essentially removes the dead skin cells on the epidermis, allowing for new skin to shine through. An essential tool in a man’s grooming kit, exfoliators are most often used to prep the skin for shaving. There are actually two types of this skincare product that will buff away dead skin cells — chemical and mechanical. Some manufacturers create their exfoliating face washes with beta- or alpha-hydroxy acids, allowing for chemical sloughing of the skin, while mechanical exfoliators are usually created with ground up, synthetic bits to essentially scrape away the dead skin cells. Both of these methods are viable ways of cleansing the skin, but there are some pros and cons of which you will have to be aware for each.

Chemical exfoliators that are formulated with organic beta- or alpha-hydroxy acids will chemically slough off dead skin cells. The exfoliating action tends to be gentle and the efficacy of the exfoliating action tends to increase with continued use. A men's exfoliator that is formulated with a chemical exfoliator will benefit those who have sensitive skin or those with skin that produces too much oil due to the acids being able to control sebum production. Chemical exfoliation will usually not be powerful enough, however, to remove stubborn, dry patches.


Mechanical exfoliators tend to be more robust, immediately improving the texture of the skin. The exfoliating action lies in the tiny bits that scrape the dead cells and skin impurities, allowing for comprehensive cleansing. Most mechanical exfoliators will benefit those who have flaky skin. Sensitive skin types should steer away from mechanical exfoliators due to their aggressive nature.

Visiting a beauty boutique or a dermatologist’s office to try the different textures offered in exfoliators may help you to make a decision as to which to use at home. Pouring some onto the tips of your fingers and lightly rubbing the exfoliator between the fingers to feel the consistency will help you to choose one that is right for the skin type. While chemical exfoliators should be formulated with a gentle mix of acids and skin-soothing ingredients to combat the dryness that is usually associated with freshly shaven skin, a mechanical exfoliator should feel slightly gritty to the touch.

No matter if the exfoliator is mechanical or chemical-based, a men's exfoliator should be able to power through facial hair, as well as help to soothe the skin before and after shaving. A men's exfoliator should be formulated with skin-soothing ingredients like chamomile or jojoba oil. Some of these exfoliators will not only remove grime off of your whiskers and skin, but will also help to soften facial hair and ready it for shaving.


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