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How To Use Face Scrub For Men

Face scrubs are the perfect ending to a down and dirty day. But if you don’t actually know how to use face scrub, then you might not be getting all those clear, soft, blemish-free skin benefits that scrubs have to offer.

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What Is A Face Scrub?

Face scrubs are a little bit like gritty liquid soap. They contain grainy pieces that rub away dead cells, soften your skin, and clear your complexion.

If you’re trying out scrubs for the first time, keep in mind that not all scrubs are facial scrubs. Lots of times when people say “scrub,” they’re referring to body scrubs, which also have some sweet skin benefits. Some niche scrubs are made for specific body parts, like your feet – those ones can be pretty rough. When it comes to scrubs, it’s important to buy the right product for the right body part so that you don’t irritate your skin or cause a rash.

Facial scrubs are designed to be much gentler than scrubs that you would use elsewhere. (After all, the second to last place you’d want to have a bad skin reaction is your face.) Some scrubs even double as cleansers, washing away bacteria.

When Should I Use A Scrub On My Face?

Scrubs feel especially good after a long, grimey day. But really you should use them regularly, anywhere from 1 to 3 times per week, depending on your skin type.

If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to use a light scrub once a week. If you have hardier skin or tend to build up a lot of dirt and gunk throughout the day, a thicker scrub used about three times a week is perfect.

Personally, I don’t keep track of how often I use my scrub. Whenever I feel too oily, or if my pores seem to be getting irritated or clogged, that’s how I know it’s time to break out the scrub.

What might be more important to know is when not to use a scrub. A scrub will only make you feel worse when your skin is rashy, sunburned, cut, or suffering from eczema. The sunburn scenario can be especially tempting – only use a scrub if your burn has completely faded, and you just need to rub away the remaining peely skin.

Scrubs are great for healthy skin that needs some exfoliation. They’re hell if your skin is damaged. And if you have eczema, make sure to read this guide on how to exfoliate with eczema before you make another move.

How To Use Face Scrub For Men

Facial scrubs are almost self-explanatory. Splash some water on your skin; put a small dollop of product on your hands; scrub away for 30 seconds to a minute; rinse it off completely; and pat your face dry.

Some common mistakes include not getting your face wet enough beforehand, or not rinsing the scrub off completely afterwards, so let’s re-emphasize those steps. If you don’t use enough water, the scrub will feel gross and uncomfortable. Not rinsing completely can irritate your skin and lead to breakouts (treat it like soap, not a face mask).

What’s less self explanatory are the before and after steps. You should always apply a moisturizer (lotion or oil) after using a scrub. Scrubs are great at de-gunking, but they also dry out your skin. That’s partially why you shouldn’t use a face scrub more than 3 times per week.

Do You Use Face Wash Or Scrub First?

Most experts agree that you should use your face wash before you use your scrub. If you’re confused about which is which: scrubs vs cleansers and their differences and benefits.

Face washes are gentle and cleansing, so they get rid of bacteria and the first layer of oil buildup. It’s a good way to prep your skin for a slightly harsher scrubbing.

But personally…to be honest…on days that I’m using a scrub, I don’t use a face wash. And if I do, I use it second. Lots of scrubs can do double duty for your skin. They scrub and cleanse, and some even do wash away bacteria. Look at the ingredient labels and directions to figure out what your scrub does and doesn’t do.

At the end of the day, this isn’t a high stakes choice. As I like to say, do what feels right for your skin.

Can I Use Face Scrub Daily?

The cardinal rule of face scrubs is that they’re only meant to be used up to 3 times a week.  

Unlike the “should I use face wash or scrub first?” question, this one is riskier if you ignore the experts’ suggestions. Using a scrub too frequently will irritate your skin, leading to flakiness, damage, and bad breakouts.

The dead skin, oil, and grime on your face is often the source of acne and blemishes, but it also protects your skin. It’s like building a moat of alligators around your castle. Sure, you have to deal with the alligators (which is a pain in the a**), but so do your enemies.

So don’t use your scrub daily, even if it’s really tempting. You need your natural oil/dead skin/grime barrier to a certain extent.

Can I Moisturize After Scrub?

Yes, please moisturize after you use a facial scrub.

Scrubs are drying by nature. Stripping away that natural barrier of oil and dead skin is a good refresh to prevent acne, but it also leaves your skin defenseless. You need a lotion or oil of some sort to restore a protective barrier between your skin and the open air.

Some scrubs market themselves as moisturizing. That doesn’t mean you get to skip out on moisturizing after using the scrub. It just means that the scrub is gentler for sensitive skin.

If you’re worried about sensitive or easily irritated skin, you might be interested in the gentle benefits of a sugar scrub. You’ll still want to apply a facial lotion or oil after scrubbing, but the sugar actually dissolves dead skin and oil, rather than manually exfoliating it away, so it’s softer.

How Many Minutes Should I Scrub My Face?

Think seconds, not minutes. You don’t need to use a scrub for more than 30 seconds, a minute maximum.

Unless you have incredibly hardy skin (or an incredibly gentle scrub), it really won’t take more than half a minute to scrub your face. Manual exfoliation is a rough process, so you don’t want to scrub your face for too long.

Also take into account how long it’s going to take you to completely rinse off the face scrub. The scrub will continue to exfoliate your skin while you’re trying to splash yourself down with water and rub it away. If you scrub for too long, then spend another 30 seconds trying to rinse it off completely, you might irritate your skin.

Can I Use Toner After Scrub?

You can use toner, acne cream, sunscreen, or all three after you’ve used your scrub. Just be sure you also throw a moisturizer somewhere in there.

Applying products after you’ve used a scrub is especially sweet because the products finally have a chance to really soak into your skin. Usually, you have that soft barrier of oils and dead skin, but once the scrub breaks that down, your other hygiene items have a chance to work their full skin care magic.

The one thing you’ll want to be cautious about is using strong products after a scrub. I like to use a little bit of apple cider vinegar on my blemishes, but I never do that after using a scrub. The nose-scrunching scent and acidic feeling is just too much on freshly scrubbed skin.

Toners feel amazing after you’ve used a scrub. Moisturizers feel even better. But abrasive products have a higher chance of irritating your skin, without a little bit of dead skin and oil to stand between your skin and the cream or liquid.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.