The Grooming Manual

Back Next article

Should You Exfoliate or Cleanse First?

Man touching his face

It's a question that has stumped humans since the beginning of time - Should you cleanse or exfoliate first? While there's technically no right or wrong answer, the order you follow can impact the benefits you get back. So can your skin type and application method. In any case, neither product should be skipped - both are essential to skin health.

Read on to learn more about the factors you should consider when deciding whether to exfoliate or cleanse first.

Cleansing Before Exfoliating

This is arguably the most widely-accepted practice in the ‘exfoliate or cleanse first’ debate. Generally speaking, people prefer to cleanse first, as it ensures their skin is primed and ready for the deep-reaching effects of exfoliation. But there's another question to answer here - do you exfoliate before or after washing off cleanser? It's usually best to completely rinse cleanser before applying another product. Take your time to ensure both treatments get into your pores and deliver their intended benefits.

Using face wash for men everyday keeps your skin clean and fresh. Think of cleansing as the first essential building block to healthy skin. Without a good routine of facial cleansing, the rest of your skincare regimen will not be as effective.

Facial cleansing has two main objectives:

  1. Remove dirt and grime. Throughout the day, your face collects all kinds of junk. Dirt, grime, sweat, and pollutants gather on your skin and can get clogged up in your pores. The result is dull skin with redness and blemishes.
  2. Reduce the amount of acne-causing bacteria. If you are not using the best face wash for men, you are not getting rid of these nasty bacteria. Leaving them on your face is a recipe for disaster - pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and other unsightly facial acne.


Cleansing Products to Try

Whether you choose to exfoliate or cleanse first, Brickell's line of cleansing products will ensure its half of the dynamic is more than taken care of. Take a look at these popular buys:


For Face

Purifying Charcoal Face Wash
Our Purifying Charcoal Face Wash is ideal for men who suffer with dry and sensitive skin.


Clarifying Gel Face Wash
Designed for normal to oily and combination skin types, this Clarifying Gel Face Wash will leave you feeling squeaky clean - or cleansed.


Acne Controlling Face Wash
Brickell's Acne Controlling Face Wash is specially-formulated for use on oily and acne-prone skin. Use it to get dirt and grime gone in a flash.


Redefining Anti-Aging Face Wash
If you want a cleanser that makes your skin look as good as it feels, try our Redefining Anti-Aging Face Wash.


Charcoal Face Mask
The Charcoal Face Mask is our most gentle cleansing product, suitable for virtually all skin types.


Daily Face Cleanse Routine
We created the Daily Face Cleanse Routine to provide individuals with oily skin the perfect combination of face wash, toner, and moisturizing cream.


For the Body

All in One Wash
Use Brickell's All in One Wash to achieve a deep clean on every part of your body, regardless of its skin or hair type.


Purifying Charcoal Soap Bar
You can make our Purifying Charcoal Soap Bar a regular part of your skincare regimen. Its formula is gentle enough to be used as often as you need, but powerful enough to detoxify your skin from the dirt and grime of everyday life.


Exfoliating Before Cleansing

Now, to the other side of the 'do you exfoliate or cleanse first' debacle. While you can exfoliate before or after cleanser, some individuals prefer the former. This approach makes the most sense in certain circumstances and with specific skin types. Take a look at three of its benefits below.

  • Deeper Cleansing

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, potentially making it easier for cleansers to do their job. By exfoliating first, you're essentially wiping away the old so that the new can get a truly deep clean.

  • Makes Physical Exfoliation Gentler

If you're using a physical exfoliator like a scrub or brush, you'll generally find that it feels less abrasive without cleanser. The skin's natural oils act as a buffer between the tool and your skin, making it more comfortable to use.

  • Some Exfoliators Are More Effective when Used Before Cleansing

There are some exfoliators on the market that work best when used before cleansing. Charcoal-based products, for example, can actually be more effective at drawing out dirt and other impurities from deep within pores when applied prior to cleansing.

Face scrub for men exfoliates your skin. That means it breaks away the top layer of dead skin cells covering your face. Unlike face wash for men, which cleans away impurities, face scrub reveals the fresh, new skin cells beneath the upper, dead layer.


Exfoliators to Try

For Face

Renewing Face Scrub

Fit for any kind of skin, our Renewing Face Scrub is designed to remove dirt, oil, and other residue without damaging your skin's delicate surface.


Smooth Finish Glycolic Acid Peel

Brickell's Smooth Finish Glycolic Acid Peel uses a formula of powerful and all-natural anti-aging ingredients to revitalize skin cells.


Smooth Finish Glycolic Acid Serum

Complete with AHA acid, the Smooth Finish Glycolic Acid Serum will help even out your skin's tone and texture. You can use it before or after cleansing!


Acne Controlling Spot Treatment

We created this Acne Controlling Spot Treatment with natural ingredients that help reduce the appearance of blemishes, while also targeting the bacteria responsible for breakouts.


For the Body

Exfoliating Body Wash

If you're on the alternative side of the 'do you cleanse or exfoliate first' debate, try this Exfoliating Body Wash. It will get the enrichment job done before cleanser comes into play.

Polishing Body Scrub

Polishing Body Scrub will help your skin feel softer and smoother. This body scrub also helps remove dead skin cells, dirt, and oil.


So, Do You Cleanse or Exfoliate First?

The common answer would be to cleanse first, but that doesn't mean exfoliating first is bad. No matter what you choose, make sure to prepare a men’s skincare regimen that is suitable for your skin type. Don’t just mimic somebody else’s routine; select skincare for men products that get you the best results.

Getting back to exfoliator vs cleanser: what’s the difference? Why the different schedules and distinct products? What's the difference between face wash and cleanser?


Can You Exfoliate and Cleanse at the Same Time?

Forget deciding between the use of cleanser or exfoliator first - why not enjoy their benefits at the same time? Our soap scrub bar is just one example of the many products capable of doing both jobs at once.


Try a Routine with a Cleanser and Exfoliator

Brickell is proud to offer a wide range of skin care routines for men. The Daily Advanced Face Care Routine I and Daily Advanced Face Care Routine II are great options to start with. Our Daily Elite Face Care Routine I and Daily Elite Face Care Routine II contain natural ingredients like aloe vera and jojoba oil that you'll definitely want to try. There's also our Acne Controlling System, specially formulated to combat pesky breakouts. Rest assured that whichever you choose, you'll end up getting top-quality products that are as good for your skin as they are effective.


Cleanser vs Exfoliator: The Major Differences

You already know that you need to use face wash for men every day. For most guys, once in the morning and once before bed is ideal.

And you know that exfoliating with face scrub for men is important too - though it’s not a daily thing. One to three times each week is all you need for the best results.

So, what's really the difference between cleanser vs face wash? Here's a recap of major differences between a cleanser and exfoliator:


Cleansers remove dirt and bacteria. Exfoliators get rid of dead skin cells.


Frequency of Use

You should use face wash for men daily. Exfoliate just once a week (or even less in some cases) if you have dry or sensitive skin. Normal and oily skin should be scrubbed one to three times weekly.


Each product’s ingredients are linked to their intended use. For example, natural face scrub for men contains pumice, jojoba beads, and other organic ingredients to dig into the top layer of dead skin and get to the bright, fresh skin cells below.


How about Face Wash vs Cleanser?

Amid all of the confusion we just parsed through, the last thing you probably want to hear is that there is also a difference between cleanser and face wash. But don't worry - it's not a hard distinction to make. While both products are intended to clean the skin, face cleansers specifically purify, hydrate and smooth with a creamy or even watery formula. Face wash, on the other hand, works to clean the pores on a deeper level.


Products that Help with Cleansing and Exfoliating

Whether you have chosen to try to exfoliate or cleanse first, it's always best to start gradually, and observe how your skin responds to determine the best routine for you. Some people may prefer more frequent exfoliation, while others may opt for a gentler approach. Additionally, the type of face wash you choose will depend on your skin type and concerns - whether it's dryness or excess oiliness that requires attention.

After you’ve applied a cleanser or exfoliate first, your skin is better able to absorb other products.

For example, shaving after using face scrub will give you the closest, cleanest shave possible. Instead of getting caught beneath dead skin cells and becoming ingrown, your facial hair will naturally stand away from the skin. Use natural shave cream for men after exfoliating for the best experience.



Enough worrying about whether you should exfoliate before or after cleansing - it's time to talk about balancing toner. This helpful product can regulate your skin's pH levels and prepare it for the absorption of moisturizer or other skincare products. Use a cotton pad to apply toner to your face while taking care to avoid the eye area.



Whichever side of the 'exfoliate or cleanse first' argument you're on, everyone can benefit from a little bit of facial serum. Anti-aging, antioxidant, and repairing serum formulas contain concentrated ingredients that can help hydrate and rejuvenate skin. After cleansing, apply a few drops of the serum to your face (avoiding the eye area) and pat it in until fully absorbed.



Should you exfoliate before or after cleansing, be sure to use a good face moisturizer along the way. It's important to shop for products that are suitable for your skin type to ensure the best possible results. Moisturizers are available in light lotions, thick creams, and oil varieties - something for everyone!


Add a Protective Layer

Especially if you do exfoliate after cleansing, it's essential to finish off your skincare routine with an SPF sunscreen. This will protect your freshly-revitalized tissues from damaging UV rays. It's best to apply last so that the sunscreen is not rubbed off or diluted by other products.


Depuff Eyes

Do you exfoliate before or after cleansing the eyes? That decision is up to you - as long as you use a restoring eye cream that's designed to deliver tangible results. Ours can be applied as part of a morning or night-time routine and can help to reduce the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines.


Choose the Right Products Whether You Exfoliate or Cleanse First

Cleanser and exfoliator are quite different. But whether you decide to exfoliate or cleanse first, they are both essential.

Don’t be fooled by typical drug-store brands that claim to have “natural” ingredients. Be smart - check the label and see what’s really in there. Truly natural, organic products are safe for your skin. They offer short and long term benefits without the worry of what synthetic chemicals your skin might be absorbing.

Take good care of your face. Use natural face wash for men and the best face scrub for men. Select products designed for your skin type. And use them as intended - everything in moderation. You’ll see results that make adding these products to your daily skincare routine well worth it.

Back Next article