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How To Use a Face Scrub For Brighter, Healthier-Looking Skin

The benefits of exfoliating with a facial scrub include helping you achieve a more radiant complexion. Ahead, learn how to use face scrubs for smooth skin.

Face scrubs are among the most misunderstood skincare products. Google “is face scrub good for your skin” and the search engine will return more than 267 million results, with answers ranging from “face scrub is great!” to “face scrub will ruin your life.” It’s a little confusing—and that’s ignoring the fact that scrubs only encompass one form of exfoliation.

Here at Kiehl’s, we believe exfoliating your skin is an essential part of a healthy skincare routine, but it’s crucial to know how to use face scrubs properly. Since there are so many different formulas (and opinions) out there regarding the use of physical exfoliants, we put together a guide to help you choose the face scrub that’s most fit for your skin. Whether you’re looking to boost brightness, reduce breakouts, or improve your skin’s texture, there’s a facial scrub that can help. Keep reading to learn more about what face scrubs are, how they work, and what you should look for when choosing a scrub for your skin.

What Is a Face Scrub?

A face scrub is a treatment used to exfoliate the skin. It contains a physical abrasive, such as powdered fruit seeds or crushed shells, to buff away dead skin cells and promote a healthy-looking glow.I Many facial scrubs also contain additional ingredients, such as cleansers, hydrating oils, or mild acids, to remove dirt and oil from the skin’s surface. An ideal facial scrub should be gentle and shouldn’t irritate or dry out your skin if used properly.

What Are The Benefits of Face Scrubs?

Exfoliation is an integral part of an effective skincare routine. Removing dead skin cells can help enhance the absorption of other skincare products and give you a softer, smoother canvas to work with. Using a face scrub can help clear and prevent clogged pores (a common cause of acne breakouts), and help brighten the complexion over time.

How Often Can You Use a Facial Scrub?

How often you should use a face scrub depends on several factors, including your skin type, your desired results, and the strength of the abrasives used. Generally speaking, those with oily complexions or thicker skin can handle using a face scrub more frequently, while those with dry or sensitive skin should start slow in case of irritation.II Steer clear of exfoliating when your skin is irritated or damaged (aside from not being great for your skin, it’ll probably be pretty uncomfortable). If you’re not sure how to start, follow the directions on the face scrub you’re using—it should tell you how often you can use it.

How Do You Choose The Face Scrub Most Fit For Your Skin?

Choosing the right face scrub for your skin can be challenging if you’re unsure what you should be looking for—there are so many different types to select from. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Most important is what type of scrub it is: When choosing an exfoliator, you should make sure that it’s a scrub for face (not body) skin since facial skin is delicate and requires a softer touch than the rest of the body.

Also important is what abrasive the scrub uses. At Kiehl’s, we’re fans of scrubs with gentle, naturally-derived exfoliants in them, such as powdered shells, crushed oat bran, or volcanic ash—the finer, the better. Similarly, we avoid microbeads, as many states have banned these because of their harmful effect on the environment.IV

That said, different skin types have different needs, and your face scrub should reflect those needs. Keep reading for our picks for the face scrub to match your unique complexion concerns.

For Dull or Dry Skin

Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub

If your skin is dehydrated, damaged, or tired, it may appear dull. Boost brightness with an antioxidant-rich exfoliating face scrub, such as Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub. This fruity facial scrub stars a medley of naturally-derived ingredients, including powdered apricot seed powder, aloe vera, and sweet almond oil. It gently cleanses the skin and buffs away dead cells. The hydrating, creamy formula is also suitable for all skin types and mild enough to use daily. Use it alone as an all-in-one facial cleanser or after your go-to face wash for a brighter, more radiant-looking complexion.

For Uneven or Aging Skin

Pollution, sun exposure, and unhealthy habits can wreak havoc on your skin and cause premature aging. While the only way to help prevent this type of damage is to wear sunscreen and maintain healthy skin habits, there are things you can do to give your complexion a boost. Starting with using a daily brightening face scrub, such as Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser, to help promote a younger-looking complexion. This brightening treatment contains antioxidant vitamin C and white birch extract to help improve discoloration and clarity for a healthy-looking glow.

For Rough or Textured Skin

Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion

There are many causes of textured skin, including dryness, certain types of acne, and aging. We recommend opting for a refining treatment to improve skin tone and texture, such as Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion. This gentle yet effective facial scrub contains micronized shells and willow herb. It efficiently exfoliates for smoother, younger-looking skin. It’s a more intensive treatment than our daily scrubs, so we recommend using it only three times per week (after washing your face with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt and oil).

For Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

If you’re looking to beat that midday shine or keep blackheads and whiteheads at bay, we recommend Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser. This detoxifying facial cleanser and scrub features Amazonian white clay and diatomaceous earth to efficiently remove dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from clogged pores for a smoother, clearer-looking complexion. It’s safe for all skin types but especially beneficial to those with oily skin, as the clay helps to absorb excess oil and minimize the appearance of pores. Use it morning and night for the best results.

For Men

Guys, you should be exfoliating, too. For your skin, we recommend Oil Eliminator Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Face Wash, a gentle face scrub formulated exclusively for men. This oil-free formula stars crushed apricot seeds to deeply cleanse and exfoliate the skin without over-drying. Use it daily for soft, healthy-looking skin.

Another excellent option for men is Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub. This invigorating facial scrub contains caffeine and menthol to stimulate and energize the skin. It provides a deeper exfoliation than our daily facial scrubs, so we recommend using it two to three times per week after cleansing for the best results.

How To Use a Face Scrub

Once you’ve found the right face scrub for your skin type and determined how often to use it, all you need to do is incorporate it into your skincare routine. With most scrubs, you’ll want to wash your face with a cleanser first to remove any dirt or debris since exfoliating isn’t meant to cleanse the skin—it merely removes buildup on the skin’s surface.

While your skin is still damp, squeeze the directed amount of your chosen face scrub into your palms. Using your fingertips, apply the scrub to your face, starting at your chin and working your way upward and outward. Gently massage the scrub onto your face in circular motions for about 30 seconds to one minute. Make sure you scrub your T-zone (chin, nose, and forehead), which is generally the oiliest part of the face. You’ll also want to focus on any problem areas, but take care to avoid the eye area—you do not want abrasives in or near your eyes.

When you’re done, rinse it off with lukewarm (not hot) water and follow up with your preferred toner, serum, and moisturizer (and sunscreen, for daytime). Most experts recommend only using one type of exfoliant at a time, so avoid applying any strong acids or retinol after scrubbing your skin.

Next: Now that you know how to effectively use a face scrub, check out Your Guide To Body Exfoliation.

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