Best Men’s Face Wash (Cleanser) Reviewed: All Skin Types

This Article May Contain Affiliate Links

In A Hurry? Our Top Picks:

  1. Best Overall: Oars + Alps Solid Face Wash
  2. Best Natural Face Wash: Brickell Men’s Purifying Charcoal Face Wash for Men
  3. Best For Oily Skin: Ursa Major Face Wash

A face wash specifically designed for men can help bring your skin care game up to par.

A quality face wash can rid your skin of any oil buildup, dead skin cells, general dirt and grime, all while still being gentle on your skin – such as the Brickell Men’s Purifying Charcoal Face Wash.

Not only will we review some of the most popular and highly rated face wash brands currently on the market, but we will also go over a few key considerations that you should think about when making a purchase, explain how face wash is an essential part of your grooming routine and how you can get the most out of your new face wash.

A Few Key Considerations Before Buying A Face Wash

When it comes to selecting the perfect face wash for you, there are a few factors you will want to take a minute or two to think about before you buy.

1. Skin Complexion

By far, the most important factor to consider when purchasing a face wash is to find the right one for your skin type.

As you will quickly see in a minute, some face washes are formulated to target oils more than others.

In addition, you will also find some face wash brands claiming that they are full of moisturizers in order to help those men who have dry skin.

A man’s skin will fall into any one of the five categories:

  • Oily
  • Dry
  • Sensitive
  • Combination (Both Oily & Dry)
  • Normal

If you are unsure of which skin type you are – jump to the bottom of this article where we explain a bit more about all the different types.

Naturally, for those men who are combating acne, there are some great anti-acne face washes out there that will often contain key ingredients, such as salicylic acid which will easily dissolve oil when applied to your skin.

2. Price

Based on what is currently available within the marketplace, expect to pay anywhere between $10 to $25 for a high-performing face wash.

We found that those that are cheaper, particularly under the $10 price point, contained a high concentration of chemically derived ingredients that often generate less than desirable results (i.e. irritation, dry skin, etc.).

3. Your Current Grooming Regimen

While we will expand on this in just a few minutes, it’s important to understand that face wash is only one part of a larger grooming regimen.

Therefore, some men may prefer to stay within the same brand of products for best results (i.e. all Khiel’s, Jack Black or Brickell products).

This can have an advantage as all the products will deliver consistent results and will also have equally consistent scents.

4. Natural vs. Un-Natural

When it comes to face washes, there will nearly always be some level of chemical-based ingredients contained within the bottle.

It’s important to understand that some chemicals are essential in fully removing oil or dirt build-up that is on the surface of your skin.

Some of the common and effective ingredients to look out for when it comes to face washes will be any of the following:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Cucumber Extract
  • Willow Bark Extract
  • Peppermint Leaf Extract
  • Grapefruit Extract
  • Mineral Clay
  • Sage Leaf
  • Charcoal

…and many more.

5. Targeted Solutions

In order for you to look your best, you should consider a face wash that provides a much more specialized or targeted approach.

During our review process we found many face washes and cleansers that are made for men that have acne, blackheads, or a bit more oil on their skin.

Should you be dealing with any of these common skin aliments, pick up a face wash that will fight these common aliments.

You will likely see much better results in the long run.

10 Best Face Washes & Cleansers for Men

1. Best Overall: Oars + Alps Solid Face Wash

Best Face Wash For: Men who want a natural face wash that delivers great results for all skin types.

When it comes to quality grooming products, among the top of the list will be Oars + Alps.  Known for delivering stellar results through natural ingredients, its no wonder that they are quickly making a splash in the men’s grooming market.  Here are a few noteworthy features that we think you will love about their face wash:

  • Solid stick design is travel friendly making it a versatile face wash

Unlike so many other face washes we reviewed that come in liquid form, the Oars + Alps face wash is the first that delivers an effective product in a solid stick form.  Adhering to the strict TSA travel requirements, this stout 1.4oz stick can be stowed away in your favorite carry-on luggage and won’t cause any issues when going through security.  

This small and convenient design also makes it a terrific companion to the gym as well.

Of course, given that it’s in a solid form rather than liquid, you never have to worry about it spilling and ruining your Dopp kit or other grooming products.

  • Easier and cleaner application method

It’s important to note that traveling isn’t a requirement when it comes to considering this face wash.  The stick design allows for a much easier (and cleaner) application of product on your face in the morning and evenings.  With activated charcoal included within the product (more on this in a minute), you can see the application of the product in the mirror to make sure that you get all areas of your face.

  • Made with natural ingredients that deliver clean and clear results

One of the biggest problems when it comes to men’s face wash products is that many companies try to cut corners and use filler ingredients that deliver less than optimal results.  However, Oars + Alps pushes back on the trend and offers a face was that is largely all-natural.  Including standout ingredients like Alpine Caribou Moss (their secret sauce), activated charcoal powder, palm oil, and more.  If you want to learn more, Oars + Alps provides a great breakdown of each ingredient and what it does for the product on their site.

Other Important Features:

  • Product is never tested on animals
  • Compatible with all skin types including dry, oily, and sensitive skin
  • 30-day return window if you aren’t satisfied 
  • Completely vegan face wash
  • Subscription option available along with a rewards program that offers price discounts


  • Versatile design great for gym and travel
  • Natural ingredients work with most skin types
  • Easy application method


  • A bit pricey

What You Need To Know

When it comes to men’s face wash, there perhaps is no better option out there than this solid stick from Oars + Alps.  The travel-friendly design coupled with a list of quality ingredients makes it a winner.

2. Best Natural Face Wash: Brickell Men’s Purifying Charcoal Face Wash for Men

Beloved by men who prefer a product that isn’t nearly as reliant on synthetic ingredients, Brickell offers a terrific daily use face wash.

Their exfoliator that we recently reviewed received top honors for delivering superior performance.

This face wash is a great complementary product that is perfect for daily use.  Containing 99% natural ingredients and 60% organic, you won’t have to worry about the long-term damage that may be happening on the surface of your skin with other cheap washes.

With ingredients like green tea extract that are natural antioxidants, this face wash will be incredibly effective at protecting your skin from free radicals.

The charcoal in this product won’t be nearly as abrasive as pumice which is found in exfoliators, and therefore, should help to release dead skin cells from your pores with regular use.

Other men have been happy with the performance of this product as well, exclaiming that it effectively deep cleans the skin without overly drying it out.


  • Effective at washing your face naturally
  • Charcoal helps to release dead skin cells
  • One of the most loved by men everywhere


  • It’s expensive (but worth it)

What You Need To Know

Brickell has made quite a name for themselves over the past few years in the men’s grooming world.  Delivering excellent results through mostly all-natural products, it gets our pick as one of the best face wash for men.

3. Best For Men With Oily Skin: Ursa Major Face Wash

One of the best face washes for men with either oily or acne-prone skin will be the Ursa Major Face Wash.

Containing a mixture of natural ingredients along with AHA for a gentle chemical based exfoliation, this face wash will gently remove surface oils, unclog pores, while not over drying your skin or throwing off the pH balance.

Men who used this face wash daily found that it began to both brighten and tone their skin – giving them a much more healthier and vibrant appearance.

For the eco-concious men out there that are wary of suspect ingredients, you will be happy to learn that Ursa Major is sulfate-free and paraben-free.

Evoking a slight woodsy aroma mixed with peppermint, its an invigorating face wash that will wake you up in the morning without smelling overly pungent.

While this face wash is priced fairly high (nearly $30 for a single bottle), it was formulated in a crulety-free manner along with being made in the USA.


  • One of the best face washes for men with oily or acne-prone skin
  • 36 natural ingredients will make your skin look and feel better
  • Hydration properties will reduce fine lines
  • Made in the USA


  • It’s expensive – but gets the job done
  • Scent is subjective (some men loved it, other’s not so much)

What You Need To Know

Designed for men with oily and acne-prone skin (although its completely fine to use on normal skin as well), it will gently wash your skin and unclog pores.

4. Scotch Porter Face Wash

This low-foaming face wash by Scotch Porter is vegan face wash that primarily relies on a unique mixture of both charcoal and licorice along with their own proprietary ‘Skin Renewal Complex’ making it one of the most distinct face washes to make our list.

Of all the face washes on the market, this Scotch Porter face wash is a personal favorite of men everywhere.  With over 100 reviews on the Scotch Porter website alone, you will find men making claims that this was the ‘best face wash I’ve ever used’ to simply ‘better than expected’.

What many men loved about this face wash compared to so many other mass produced brands on the market, is that it not only kept the pH balance natural to your own skin, but also easily controlled shine and oil – drastically reducing any occurrence of pimples or mild breakouts on your face.


  • Won rave reviews with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.0
  • Unique formula controls both oil and shine
  • Proprietary formula for a natural pH balance


  • Men with dry skin may want to look elsewhere

What You Need To Know

This face wash by Scotch Porter is simply the best face wash for men. Expect to get smooth skin and an even complexion after using this a few times.

5. Best Premium Face Wash: Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser

At the top of the men’s luxury grooming market, you will find a familiar company – Jack Black.  Featured in countless men’s lifestyle magazines and men’s cabinets across the U.S. and abroad, it’s easy to see why everyone loves this company.

First and foremost, they keep their products simple.  Developing solutions that are free of so much bad stuff on so many levels, you will find in this 2-in-1 face wash that is colorant free, paraben free, and free of any synthetic fragrances.

To further make the label ‘clean’, they also largely rely on natural and organic ingredients to get the job done.

The wash itself is terrific in that it’s not only effective at lifting dead skin cells and excess oil from your pores, but it will also help to tone your skin.  It largely achieves this toning ability through the inclusion of witch hazel (which also doubles as an antioxidant and astringent).

Leaving your skin looking and feeling great, you can’t go wrong with this excellent face wash by Jack Black.


  • A premium brand with a premium offering
  • Helps to both clean and tone skin
  • Best premium pick out there
  • Variety of size options


  • May not work well for those with oily skin

What You Need To Know

Jack Black is recommended by skincare experts across the spectrum.  The Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser does a great job at cleansing out most skin types in a gentle manner.

6. Best Affordable Face Wash: Bulldog Natural Skin Care: Original Face Wash

Starting to make inroads into major drug stores like Walgreens, Bulldog is delivering some awesome skin care products for men.

This face wash is packed with eight essential oils that deliver a plethora of natural benefits for your skin.

In addition to the wide array of essential oils, you will also find green tea that, as we covered earlier, is a natural antioxidant that will stop free radicals from damaging your skin.

Men who have oily skin have exclaimed that this face wash by Bulldog was extremely effective in keeping acne flare-ups at bay with continued use.

Use this along with their top-rated face cream for best results.


  • Cheap and accessible face wash for all
  • Great for men with oily skin
  • Contains several natural ingredients


  • May not deliver the same results as premium brands

What You Need To Know

Bulldog Face Wash is a perfect starter pick for those men who are just looking for an upgrade from a standard bar of soap.  Sure, it might not deliver like the premium offerings, but it’s good enough.

7. Clinique Men Face Wash

Formulated specifically for men with dry to normal skin, this daily face wash by Clinique will do an effective job at clearing out your pores.

With the absence of inferior ingredients found in other more affordable face washes on the market, Clinique won’t leave your face feeling overly dry or stretched out after application.

Packed in a hefty 6.7-ounce tube, this face wash isn’t the most travel-friendly.  If you plan on traveling via plane, you will have to check your bag as it doesn’t adhere to the standard 3.4-ounce liquid rule enforced by the TSA.

Therefore, this makes for a great at home wash that will be incredibly easy to use either before your morning shave, or just a simple wash before you hit the sack at the end of the night.


  • A great offering from a skin care focused company
  • Perfect for men with dry to normal skin


  • Expensive compared to others

What You Need To Know

This mild cleanser by Clinique is a great pick for those men who have skin that tends to be a bit dryer.  In addition to a cleanser, it’s also a great way to soften your facial hair before shaving.

8. Face and Stubble Wash by Percy Nobleman

One of the highest peer-reviewed face washes on this list comes from Percy Nobleman.

But you see, this face wash isn’t like most other face washes.  What really sets this solution apart from the rest is that it’s also a stubble wash.

Therefore, Percy Nobleman really straddles between being a full-blown face wash and a beard shampoo.

Expertly crafted in England (which has a long lineage of excellent grooming products for men), the Percy Nobleman solution competes head-to-head with both Brickell and Jack Black face washes when it comes to their reliance on natural ingredients.  At a 98% composition of natural ingredients, this product will be able to fully wash your face in an extremely comfortable and effective manner without the use of harsh and suspect chemicals.

Ingredients like glycerin (which is a natural humectant) will work to trap the moisture in your skin that will help to reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Evoking scents of peppermint and cucumber, once you use this face wash you will feel invigorated before you head out the door.

In a stout 2.5-ounce. bottle, this face wash is perfect for men who travel frequently and need to adhere to the TSA liquid container rules.

This product is also great for men who don’t mind investing a few extra bucks for quality when it comes to their grooming routine.


  • Perfect travel-friendly pick
  • The largely natural ingredients are welcomed by many
  • Invigorating scent


  • Given the size, it’s quite pricey

What You Need To Know

This is the perfect face wash for those men who are always on the go.  Being 2.5 ounces and having a great ingredient profile, it should work well and not irritate sensitive skin.

9. Dove Men+Care Face Wash

Matching their incredibly well-made body wash, Dove Men+Care delivers another quality product to the men’s grooming repertoire.

This face wash comes in three variants, including deep clean, sensitive, and hydrate (pictured above) to suit just about any man’s preference.

The dermatologist-tested solution will very gently and mildly wash away the excess dirt from the surface of your face in a non-abrasive manner.

If you have dryer than average skin, this face wash should do a terrific job at providing adequate moisture to keep any skin flakes at bay.

Should you be a man on a shoestring budget that is just dipping your toes into a proper skin care regimen, then this face wash by Dove Men is a terrific product at an affordable price point.


  • Can be found everywhere
  • Hydrating properties helps to moisturize skin
  • Wide lineup for all skin types


  • Not many natural ingredients

What You Need To Know

Like Bulldog, this face wash by Dove Men+Care is a great no-frills entry level face wash.  Available just about everywhere, it’s a great pick if you are in desperate need.

10. NIVEA Men Original Moisturizing Face Wash

NIVEA knows a thing or two when it comes to making quality products.  As we recently featured their aftershave balm in our latest product roundup, the NIVEA moisturizing face wash is another great addition to their lineup.

Packed with Provitamin B5 and Vitamin E, your skin will start to realize the full benefits of this product almost immediately.

Providing a nice sudsy lather upon application, this face wash is great for men with normal to oily skin.

Should you have slightly more sensitive skin, it’s important to note that NIVEA does provide a Sensitive face wash for you.

While this is one of the most affordable face washes on this list, it doesn’t come without a caveat.  One of the leading ingredients on the side of the label is denatured alcohol; therefore, we recommend that you use a face cream in tandem with this product.


  • One of the best mass-marketed picks
  • Menthol scent is invigorating
  • Deep cleanse


  • Contains alcohol

What You Need To Know

This deep cleansing face wash by NIVEA is a perfect pick for those men who have normal to oily skin.  The addition of alcohol can be a deal breaker for some, especially those with dry skin already.

Other Face Washes We Reviewed

Baxter Of California Daily Face Wash

This is a deep cleaning, everyday use face wash for men that can remove all of the built up dirt, grime, and oil – without leaving your face dry afterwards.

Kiehl’s Facial Fuel

This vitamin-enriched face wash for men removes dirt and impurities as well as refreshes, awakens, and preps the skin for a closer shave with less irritation.

ELEMIS Deep Cleanse Facial Wash

This fast-acting gel face wash removes daily impurities and pollution from the skin for a refreshed look.

Harry’s Face Wash

Harry’s face wash is made of refreshing eucalyptus and mint essential oils that helps to smooth the skin as it removes pore-clogging dirt and oils.

Garnier SkinActive Men’s Shine Control Face Wash

Men’s face wash is usually generic, and not made specifically for oily skin like this one.

Cremo Face Wash

This face wash will leave your skin feeling nourished, healthy and rejuvenated as it is pH neutral and helps to restore the skin’s natural balance without any oily feeling.

Duke Cannon Face Wash

Choose a face wash like Duke Cannon for men. Enjoy a citrus scent with grit to help get rid of that nasty grime and dirt. There’s Menthol, Jojoba, Aloe and Vitamin C to help energize.

MenScience Androceuticals Daily Face Wash

Not only will this facial wash leave the skin smooth and clean but it will also remove impurities and oily residues for healthier skin.

SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser

This is an extremely mild cleanser that is perfect for men with sensitive skin. The non-foaming face wash doesn’t contain harsh ingredients and will gently remove dirt while unclogging pores.

Lucky Tiger Liquid Face Wash

This soothing face wash is made with all-natural organic ingredients, that are made to deep clean after a long day.

Before We Begin…

Before you ever put anything on your face, it’s ABSOLUTELY crucial that you do one thing.

The patch test.

Find one patch of skin that’s discreet and won’t be easily noticed. Apply a test portion of your product there, and check it again in 24 hours.

Especially since you (probably) haven’t been regularly using these creams and soaps, you need to test your skin for any allergic or unseemly reactions.

If, after the 24 hours, you haven’t had any noticeable problems, you should be good to go.

Another important note when it comes to skin care products is that it’s very much a case of YMMV (Your mileage may vary).

Therefore, what can work for 75% of men may not necessarily work for you.  It’s always important to remember that you skin is a living organ.

Hence the important of the patch test.

How to Use A Face Wash

While using a face wash may seem rather intuitive, in order to get the best results, we recommend that you follow these steps:

1. After Shower / Before Shaving

Depending on your work environment, some men may decide to cleanse either once or twice a day.

When you cleanse, most skin care experts recommend that you do it after a shower or before bedtime.

Washing your face after a shower is preferable as the face wash will be more effective at unclogging your pores.

Beyond the time of day, using a face wash before shaving can help make for a gentle shave as it will help reduce any mild irritation or razor burn you may otherwise encounter.

2. The Right Amount

If it’s your first-time using face wash, simply using about a half-dollar size amount in the palm of your hand should be more than enough for some men.

Should you have thicker facial hair or a beard, more face wash may be required.

3. Generate Even Lather

Before a face wash is applied, make sure that you add a bit of water to the face wash and generate a rich lather.

When you go to wash your face, you will have an even coverage of soap.

This is important as it will not only help the overall complexion of your skin, but if you are also scrubbing one area with too much soap, it may lead to some irritation.

4. Proper Water Temperature

While you are washing your face, make sure that you don’t use water that is too hot or too cold.

While it may be a common claim that your pores will open or close with hot or cold water, this is wrong (source).

Pores don’t have muscles and can’t contract.

Skin care experts like to recommend that you go with a temperature that is somewhere around lukewarm.

Not only will this prevent your skin from being shocked, but overly hot water may cause the moisture in your skin to escape, which is detrimental if you are concerned with how your skin looks in the first place.

5. Work in Thoroughly

When cleansing your face, you will want to make sure that you wash long enough and properly.

Therefore, we like to recommend that men here wash their face for a good solid couple of minutes.

When washing you will also want to have your hands go in circular motions.  Circular motions are much gentler on your skin as opposed to going vigorously back and forth, which can cause unnecessary stress on the surface of your skin.

6. Rinse Out Completely

Once you have adequately cleaned your skin, you will then want to go ahead and rinse your face completely off.

Simply take a few handfuls of water and splash your face.

7. Pat Dry Your Face

When drying your face, make sure that you simply pat your face.

Unlike the rest of your body, the skin on your face is much more delicate and thinner.

Vigorous rubbing may lead to premature wrinkles and overly dry skin.

Face Wash vs. Cleanser vs. Face Scrub

Here’s a primer on how a face wash differs from other products including face cleansers and face scrubs:

Face Wash

No, your face wash isn’t a shampoo substitute when you’ve forgotten to buy it last time at the store.

Face wash is designed for your (shocker, I know) face.

The key factor that makes a face wash different is that it foams up when you put it on. It’s a soap that cleans your skin and needs to be rinsed off with water.

The reason it suds up is the addition of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS. SLS is used in many cleaning products like shampoo, toothpaste and normal detergents. It breaks down the surface tension of those nasty dirt molecules, and it makes it easy for the soap agents to access the skin.

But SLS can be harmful to sensitive skin. Most gentler soaps advertise their products as sulfate free. Other products normally found in face washes include:

  • Salicylic Acid
  • Glycolic Acid
  • Glycerin
  • Allantoin
  • Propylene Glycol

So, if you want to remove all the daily gunk your face builds up, start with a face wash first thing in the morning. It sets the right tone for your skin, and keeps it clean from too much build up deep in the pores.

How to use Face Wash

The best way is every day. You can remember it with that rhyme. Or you can remember this: Your teeth, your face, your junk. Whatever works.

Start with a good face wash after you brush your teeth, but before you hop in the shower. That gives your face a gentle, refreshing clean from your sleep, and it gets into the pores to empty out whatever you collected during the night.

If you work in an environment that exposes you to pollution or you have to apply products to your face (clowns and mimes, I’m talking to you), end your day with a good face wash as well.  

Ideal Skin Types

  • Oily
  • Combination
  • Normal


The big difference between a face wash and a cleanser (because they often get mixed up) is that a cleanser doesn’t foam.

Foam? Face Wash.

No Foam? Cleanser.

It will feel milky and smooth.

When you apply a cleanser, you’re replenishing and moisturizing your skin while also providing a very gentle cleaning.

Soaps can strip away the natural chemicals your body builds up. A cleanser helps restore all that with a gentle hydrating compound. Again, using a cleanser is best when done every day.

Cleansers will include each of these elements:

  • A soap or detergent – a gentle removal of (surface only) dirt. This soap is quite mild because the purpose of the cleanser isn’t to strip anything away.

Cleansers contain glycerine soaps that are hygroscopic. That means that the soap attracts water molecules and binds them together on the skin’s surface.

  • A moisturizer – A type of oil-based compound. It actually forms a thin film on your skin to seal in the moisture.

Usually, you’ll find the moisturizing agents in cleansers are natural like cocoa butter or sunflower oil. This, along with the glycerol, retains the moisture of your skin, adding to your skin’s healthy appearance. A healthy, moisturized skin looks younger and feels smoother.

How to Use Cleanser

Because you’re adding moisture and hydration to your face, try to make this a nightly routine. In fact, you’ll see why it’s so important when we talk about scrubs in just a minute.

Apply it at night, get ready for bed and then simply wipe it away. Because it doesn’t have any suds, there’s no need to rinse it off.

Ideal Skin Types

  • Dry
  • Normal
  • Combination
  • Sensitive

KEY POINT: Because a cleanser ADDS moisture, don’t use this if you have a natural oily skin. You’ll increase the problem by adding an extra moisture layer to an already overly-hydrated face. I know this because I slathered it on when I DEFINITELY shouldn’t have. Lesson learned.

Most cleansers are made for those with normal or dry skin. However, there are exceptions as there are some cleaners suited for men with oily skin. These cleansers will contain a BHA agent that unclogs the pores. Don’t worry, we’re getting to the BHA/AHA discussion portion of this guide soon.  Remember, while a face wash or a scrub strips away from the face, a cleanser adds to the face. What you find in the ingredient list of a cleanser could either be synthetic or natural. If you have sensitive skin, read the labels and be diligent about what you’re adding to your skin.

Scrubs & Exfoliators

Besides being an excellent TV show, scrubs are important for a guy’s skin.

I like to use a scrub, (or an exfoliator as it can be called) because it makes me feel manly. The rough, grainy texture of a good scrub feels good and strips away dead skin cells.

To me, this is the one product that you can notice is working immediately after using it.

Let me put this caveat here. You’re going to enjoy using this because you’ll notice a difference. All guys like seeing instant results. BUT it’s not a daily product. You WILL be tempted to use it often.

Resist that temptation. It is wrong.

I’ll tell you why in a minute…

A scrub will look and feel grainy. It may have a soap or cleansing agent in it. Or it may not. But it probably will have some active agent doing the heavy lifting.

Now is as good a time as any to create a side note here. Let me break down Alpha and Beta Hydroxys for a moment. There’s a LOT to learn, but that will have to be another post for another day.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid: (glycolic, lactic, or mandelic acids) AHAs are added agents that basically ‘detach’ your loose particles. This could be dead skin cells or clinging dirt molecules. It strips away those particles using a form of acid that ‘unglues’ the dead cells to make your skin feel noticeably different. (Detach. Unglue. These are all technical terms that you shouldn’t concern yourself with too much).

AHAs don’t cut through oil, so don’t use them on oily skin types. Humectants in AHAs add moisture to your skin after your dead cells are washed away.

AHAs commonly use glycolic, lactic or mandelic acids, and although it sounds odd putting acid on your face, the results are worth it.

Besides that feeling of being clean and clear, your face will noticeably look different as well. Your little lines and rough skin patches will improve with consistent use. It firms your skin up and can remove colored spots and blemishes.

If you’re in the sun, or your skin looks like it’s been through the wars, AHAs are a MUST as a foundation to nurture a better skin.

Beta Hydroxy Acid: (normally salicylic acid) BHAs are for deeper results. They break down the pores and eliminate everything inside that shouldn’t be there. You’ll find BHAs in face washes and cleansers advertising deeper cleans.

Salicylic acid (the common active ingredient in BHAs) is great at breaking down oils. While an AHA is water-soluble, meaning it isn’t effective on an oily skin, a BHA contains the salicylic acid compound for precisely that reason.

If you’ve been suffering from excessive oils (See: Acne) and the signs are on your face, choose a BHA agent. It’s not a treatment for that excessive sebum on your skin, but it’s great at treating the symptoms of it.

Acne can produce bumpy skin and scarring. A BHA helps smooth out that skin by eliminating the clogged and gunked-up pores. It smooths out the signs of acne on your face.

Back to the scrubs.

How to Use Scrubs and Exfoliators

This is NOT a daily product. I repeat again, even though I said it before, do not use this every day.

The AHAs in a scrub cause your skin to become extremely sensitive to UV rays. You’re going to want to use this at night, right after you use your cleanser. Go to sleep after using a scrub so that you aren’t exposing your exposed and raw face to harmful sunlight right after using.

Simply scrub, but not too vigorously, every area of your face. Pay close attention to any flaky or scaly sections. Then, simply rinse away the scrub and you’re done.

Like I said, it feels great and you’ll enjoy the noticeable result.

Ideal Skin Types

  • Dry (AHA agents using lactic, mandelic, or glycolic)
  • Normal
  • Combination
  • Oily (BHA agents using salicylic acid)
  • Sensitive (Start out with once a week. Please use discretion and judgment)

Face Soap

If you took a liquid face wash and solidified it, you would have the face soap.

Face soaps are a great pick for those men who like the form factor of a standard bar of soap or are packing for a trip.

Not only are face soaps compact, but they are still effective at lifting dirt and other pollutants from your skin in a gentle manner.

When using face soaps, it’s important that you pay extra attention to the lathering process as they require a bit more effort on your behalf to match the lather thickness of a standard bottle of face wash.

How Face Wash Fits into A Proper Skin Care Routine

Earlier, we discussed the different face washes you could try out.

Here we wanted to take a step back and explain how a face wash fits into your overall skin care routine:


One common question that a lot of men have when they start exploring a skin care routine is understanding the differences between a common face wash and exfoliator.

While they are both applied to your face, their properties and effects vary greatly.

As we outlined just recently, some of the best exfoliators for men have a higher concentration of an abrasive ingredient that will do the heavy lifting – even more so than a face scrub that we covered above.

An exfoliator’s core purpose is to use this abrasive ingredient to completely remove all dead skin cells from your face and make way for your fresh, new skin to appear.

Unlike face washes that can be used twice daily, an exfoliator should be used no more than three times per week.

In addition to the physical removal of dead skin cells, exfoliators can also be chemical-based and are often sold in pads.

Typically relying on either salicylic acid (BHA) or glycolic acid (AHA), they will remove deep set oils and dirt with very little effort.

Many skin care experts like to recommend these particularly as part of an anti-acne regimen as they are effective at unclogging pores.

Caring for Your Eyes Properly

While a quality face wash will gently rid your skin of environmental pollutants and excess oils, the area around your eyes is much more delicate than the rest of your face.

Therefore, when taking care of your eyes, you will want to tread much more lightly here.

In addition to a gentler wash, you will want to apply an eye cream afterward.

Eye creams are specifically formulated to fight dark circles and fine lines.  So, if you are in your late 20s or early 30s, these products can shave years off your appearance by keeping crow’s feet at bay.

Click here for a full review of the best eye creams for men.

Facial Moisturizers After Your Done Washing

A man’s skin naturally looks about 10 years younger than that of a woman at an equal age.  The only problem is that men often do a poor job taking care of their skin regularly.

Therefore, what we recommend for men in their 20s and beyond is to work in a face cream that has been specially formulated for men.

A quality face cream will not only add an additional layer of moisture to your skin that acts as a protective barrier, but it will also act as an anti-aging cream.

Daily use of a face cream will make you look far younger and fresher towards the later years of your life.

Click here for a full review of the best face creams for men.


The importance of sunscreen is critical to overall skin health.

No matter your ancestry, you should get in the habit of applying some sunscreen daily.

While it’s true that some facial moisturizers do include some sun protection, a dedicated sunscreen will always be a much better and effective choice as it won’t be diluted at all.

What’s Going on With Your Shaving Routine?

While it’s not technically part of a skin care routine, shave cream still plays an important part of your skin’s health.

Many canned creams are quite bad for your skin since they lack any true moisturizing properties.

Instead, many of them focus on the antiseptic qualities given that you will be taking a razor across the surface of your skin.

While these antiseptic qualities are of course important, we do recommend that men upgrade to a more formal shave cream – one that compliments your face rather than sterilizes it.

Whether you are using a cartridge razor or safety razor, a quality shave cream like a few that we outlined here will make a world of difference when it comes to both shave comfort and skin feeling post-shave.

Beyond the shaving cream, two other important components that can help deliver moisture to your face (and deliver a much more comfortable pre/post-shave feeling) is pre-shave oil and aftershave balms.

Containing very similar ingredients, pre-shave oils and aftershave balms often rely on carrier and essential oils to achieve desirable results.  Pre-shave oils will help add an extra layer of lubrication allowing the razor to glide effortlessly with each pass.  Aftershave balms, on the other hand, will help to close your pores and moisturize your skin.

FYI: Aftershave balms aren’t the same as aftershave splashes or lotions (they contain alcohol).  See a full write up about these differences here.

How to Identify Your Skin Complexion

Typically, your skin will fall into one particular type. This is genetics, and you can either thank or curse your parents for what category you fall in.

  • Normal
  • Dry
  • Oily
  • Sensitive
  • Combination

By learning what your skin type is, you’ll know which products to use, and which to avoid at all costs.


If you’re blessed to have a normal, or balanced, skin type, consider yourself lucky. You aren’t prone to any naturally occurring skin problems. You don’t get pimples or acne, but the occasional blackhead will pop up. You have a smooth skin that looks free from any marks or blemishes. It feels dry (but not too dry) and healthy.

You have the gold standard of skin, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care for it. Maintaining a normal skin can depend on the seasons and the weather conditions outside. Long hot showers can dry your skin out, and too many chemicals can leech out the oils that you naturally produce.

Doing too much to your normal skin can be a bad thing.

Your key word is “Moderation”. Sunlight in moderation. Junk foods in moderation. Active ingredients in your soaps in moderation.


The word ‘dry’ can be deceiving. It’s not that you lack water on your face; you lack oil. Your natural oils help retain water (moisture), but if you don’t have enough, your skin gets exposed to the elements and air, drying out faster.

It can look rough or flaky. You could have premature lines or wrinkles. Cold weather can give you a red face faster than that time you accidentally sent that text meant for your girlfriend to your Mom.

Sun and dry air are NOT your friends. They will age your skin and make you look older than you are.


Oily skin is a symptom of overactive glands producing the natural sebum oil your skin needs. Basically, you’re making too much of a good thing.

Oily skin types get acne more often. In fact, if you have oily skin, you silently curse whoever told you that only pubescent teens get pimples. It seems that your pimples never got that memo. A shiny appearance on your forehead, nose and cheeks is a good sign that you have oily skin.

You may have the benefit of looking younger, but at the cost of blackheads, clogged pores, and constant acne.


Normally, people with sensitive skin have another type mixed in. Sensitive skin is commonly not really a type, but more of a condition. It can be something that develops over time, due to where you live, how much you expose your skin to the outside elements, or over-using harsh chemicals. However, many skin care products use the term “type” so it’s valuable to note if your skin has these traits.

You will find that people with sensitive skin react more often to medications and food. They notice those side-effects of eating too much chocolate or taking a certain blood pressure medication.

Your key word is “Diligence”. You need to be aware, more so than other skin types, of what you’re eating, what medicine you’re taking, and what soaps you use on your skin.


Hey, congratulations.

If you have combination skin, you have a bit of everything. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Most combination skin types aren’t rigidly in one category, but can change with the weather, the season, and what your diet looks like.

Maybe you’ve heard the word “T-Zone” before:

This area, that is your forehead and down your nose, forms a natural ‘T’. This skin can get oily while the remainder of your face can remain healthy or dry. It means that require care for two different conditions on different parts of your face. Pay attention to what different parts of your face require.

If you can identify your skin type, that’s the first part of understanding how to use all those mystifying facial products. You’ll see results faster, and you’ll be caring for your skin, a part of the body that sadly, most men tend to neglect.

But as you’ll see in a minute, it’s a lot easier than it appears. But before we get into that, let me give you a tiny bit of background on what common problems your skin faces.

Common Skin Aliments That Face Washes Help With

Sebaceous Filaments: If you’re ever bored on a Friday night, I definitely recommend you get on YouTube and search for pimple popping videos. It’s not for the squeamish, but it’s immensely rewarding and satisfying watching other people squeeze their pimples and bumps.

If you’ve watched these videos, or maybe attempted to squeeze a pimple yourself, you might find these long yellowish strands come shooting out of your pores. They are mainly found on your nose, but they can appear in other oily parts of your skin.

Hope you weren’t eating just then.

These are sebaceous filaments. They help disperse sebum (the oil your body produces) on to your skin. It’s essentially a wick that soaks up oils and gets it on to your face.

The problem is that they look a lot like blackheads. Sebaceous filaments are no real threat to your skin, and shouldn’t be treated like you would a blackhead.

They can be treated with a BHA agent using salicylic acid.

More on this in a minute…

Blackheads: Every pore on your body produces sebum. (Add ‘sebum’ to the list of words that you cringe to say like ‘Moist’ and ‘Nickelback’)

That oil can get clogged in your pores if it isn’t expressing out correctly. If that oil gets stuck, it oxidizes, much in the way copper turns green after it gets exposed to the air, and turns black.

That’s your blackhead.

A good way to determine if that mark on your face is a sebaceous filament or a blackhead is to look for this color. The blackhead also forms a raised bump on your skin.

You should never just squeeze out a blackhead. That can infect the pore and aggravate the skin. The best way to remove blackheads are to use a BHA agent that gets right into the pores. The salicylic acid in the BHA loosens up the clogged pores and naturally allows you to cleanse it away.

Side note: You’ll find products that claim that if you apply a pore strip on your nose, it will rip out all those pesky blackheads. Those products lie. They are deceptive and should be treated with contempt. They only remove those sebaceous filaments, making it look like you did something when the problem is never resolved. Do NOT go there.

Acne: Acne is a disease that so many people have. I’m not giving you the entire birds and bees talk here, but as a teenager, your body goes through changes. It starts to produce oils on your skin. Acne is the excessive production of those oils. Up to 85% of teenagers between 12 and 24 experience this disease in some form.

People misunderstand when they say that pimples or blackheads are ‘acne’. Pimples and blackheads are the symptoms of acne. Acne is too much oil on your face.

Acne can be treated, although it can take many months. Popping a zit or squeezing a pimple isn’t solving the problem. Treatment should be prescribed from a dermatologist with much more experience than me. It can be as simple as an over-the-counter medication.

Those with acne still need to care for their skin and the products I’ll talk about in a minute can aid with the symptoms of pimples and blemishes.

Common Questions Men Have About Face Washes

Can I use a face wash on my beard or facial hair stubble?

Should you be using a face wash for your facial hair or full-on beard, we would like to recommend that you check out beard washes or shampoos instead.

These products are made to not only clean the surface of your face but also accounts for the much different properties found in facial hair.

What face wash do dermatologists recommend for acne?

Everyone is unique, and delivering a straight answer would be tough.

However, if you want a face wash that targets acne, we would recommend getting one that contains either one of the three ingredients:

  1. Salicylic Acid
  2. Glycolic Acid
  3. Benzoyl Peroxide

These active ingredients do a terrific job at dissolving oil and clearing up acne for a lot of men.

During our research, we came across this great article from Dermstore that we wanted to share as there was some good info in here.

What are some easy wins to a clearer face?

While spending a lot of money on skin care products is a marketer’s dream, the reality is that you don’t need a whole lot.

While we outlined some of the essential staples, face wash included, the quickest way to clearer skin is through simple lifestyle changes.

We recommend that you are diligent in your face washing regimen.  Make sure you get into the habit of washing daily.

Secondly, environmental pollutants such as those found in dense urban areas influence your skin.  Therefore, cleansing regularly will become even more important for you.

A healthy diet and plenty of water will make marked improvements almost immediately.  Healthy eating for a couple of weeks can completely transform the appearance of your skin.

Lastly, if you apply colognes and body sprays to your face, stop immediately.  They contain a high concentration of alcohol and will dry out your skin.

Is a certain product bad for my skin?

We see these accusations all the time on popular forums like /r/skincareaddiction, Quora and countless others.

It’s worth repeating that your skin is a living organ.

How a simple product like a face wash performs for your skin will be completely different from that of another person.

Therefore, by and large, we recommend that you take other claims with little weight and test for yourself.

You know your skin better than anyone else.

If your skin is severely sensitive, then of course you need to proceed with caution.

What are some good antibacterial face washes?

One company that we saw recommended from others was Uncle Harry’s Natural Antibacterial Face Wash.

Much like Brickell and Jack Black, it too also relies on a largely natural ingredient profile.

Furthermore, it is also pH balanced in order to make for better results for your face.

Brickell vs. Jack Black: Which is better?

This is hard to pick a winner and will come down to your own personal preference.

However, we can say that both brands are not only priced similarly, but also will typically rely on uncompromising natural and organic ingredients.

They both do a great job of delivering results in a non-abrasive way.


There you have it gents — the best face washes for men.

We are confident that the information contained in this guide will help to provide you with all the important information needed in order to find the perfect face wash to fit into your daily regimen!

About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.

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