Can Men Use Sugar Scrubs for Their Skin?

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Men need to invest in skincare and body products just as much as women do. However, for newcomers, the selection of skincare products can be daunting. And what on earth is a sugar scrub and can men use it?

Anyone can use sugar scrubs, as men’s skincare needs are similar to those of women. Therefore, men can benefit from the use of sugar scrubs. However, most men do not use sugar scrubs either because they are not aware of them, or because society has labeled them as a woman’s product.

While the majority of men do not currently use sugar scrubs, we’re going to detail why we think they ought to, what products they should investigate, and what possible alternatives there are that may provide the same exfoliating effect.

What is a Sugar Scrub?

Sugar scrubs are one type of body or facial scrub, also known as an exfoliator. An exfoliator is meant to remove dead skin cells that build up and clog pores causing blackheads or whiteheads.

Sugar scrubs are made of large sugar crystals. They are gentle exfoliators and can add hydration during the process of exfoliation. Some sugar scrubs combine sea salt in their formula.  Since salt can be harsh on the skin, a sugar scrub without salt will be gentler and more soothing.

How Do You Use a Sugar Scrub?

Sugar scrubs can be used on the overall body or the face, depending on the sugar scrub recipe. You would incorporate this exfoliant into your regular bathing/face washing routine. The idea is to massage these granules into the skin to remove any grime or dead skin cells.

Before using a sugar scrub, you want to clean your face or body with warm water and soap. Once your skin has been cleaned, you can apply a dime-sized amount of sugar scrub to your skin and very gently rub it over your skin. You may want to pay special attention to areas where you tend to get drier.

If you are using a sugar scrub on your face, you must be gentle because facial skin is delicate. It does not take much exfoliate and pressure to reap results. So, resist the urge to scrub hard.

Often men who use sugar scrubs will use it predominately on their beard line before shaving to gain a smoother shave. Once done using a sugar scrub, rinse your face completely with cold water. Make sure no little pesky granules of sugar get left behind. Pat your face dry and voila. What a smooth, shiny, manly face you’ll have!

Are Sugar Scrubs Safe to Use on My Face?

Skin experts are not in agreement on this issue. Sugar scrubs help to exfoliate.  However, some argue this process does not help the skin to smooth & moisturize, but rather dries the skin and leaves it slightly damaged.

We are going to investigate the pros and cons of sugar scrubs so that you can better decide for yourself whether you think a sugar scrub exfoliant should be added to your daily regimen.


While the idea of rubbing sugar on your skin may seem counter-intuitive, since we are warned off eating sugar to prevent breakouts, sugar is a surprisingly excellent skincare ingredient. Here are the top 3 reasons sugar makes for a great skin-helper:

  1. Natural Source of AHAs – Sugar contains glycolic acid, which is a powerful AHA. AHA’s are alpha-hydroxy acids that act as exfoliants that peel dead skin away (they dissolve it down.) Glycolic acid is also particularly good at improving damaged/aging skin.
  2. Superior Exfoliant Properties – thanks to the nature of sugar granules, sugar makes for a top-notch topical exfoliant. The particles of sugar very successfully help remove dead skin cells to clear the way for smooth, healthy skin.
  3. Natural Humectant – Sugar does a few magical things. Firstly, it acts as a natural humectant. Sugar naturally draws moisture from the environment into the skin. For this reason, products containing sugar help to moisturize the skin from within, because they are helping to hydrate by absorbing the moisture in the environment.

Where Sugar Scrubs Really Excel

Sugar scrubs are particularly successful when used on those tough parts of our bodies prone to dryness:

  • Knees
  • Elbows
  • Heels
  • Balls of feet
  • Hands/wrists

When used in the correct location (parts of the body that are not sensitive or thin), sugar scrub exfoliants allow for serums, moisturizers, and water-based toners to work more effectively by way of allowing for better penetration and absorption.

Why Men Should Use Sugar Scrubs

Most men do not lather on lotion every day. For this reason, problem spots like knees and elbows are liable to get super dry. Using sugar scrubs is much less of a commitment than having to use lotion every day, which most men are unlikely to do.

Not only that, but gentle sugar scrubs, like brown sugar, can help get rid of ingrown hairs caused from shaving. So, what are you waiting for!


One does run the risk of damaging one’s skin when using an exfoliant if not used properly. As we mentioned earlier, the skin on your face is terribly sensitive. If you over-exfoliate unnecessarily or by accident, you can experience adverse reactions to sugar scrubs.

Sugar scrubs are indeed great at reducing dull, flaky skin on our larger parts of our bodies (like arms, legs, back, etc.) However, these scrubs can be too severe for some facial skin. For this reason, we do not recommend using sugar scrubs for your face as they are too harsh. We recommend seeking a different form of exfoliating alternative for your face.

It is also not recommended you use a sugar scrub (especially on the face) every day. If anything, you should start with a sugar scrub once a week or every three days.

Potential Side Effects to the Face from Sugar Scrubs

Sometimes the coarse nature of sugar scrubs can irritate sensitive facial skin. When this happens, these microscopic tears in the skin can cause irritation and micro-skin damage (especially if the recipe is made with regular baking sugar.)

The use of sugar scrubs on the face can lead to any of the following issues:

  • Excessive dryness
  • Irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Micro-cuts/lesions
  • Puffiness

Avoid Using Sugar Scrubs if

You should not use sugar scrubs if any of the following is true:

  • You have eczema
  • Skin dermatitis issues
  • Any inflammatory skin disease or health concern
  • If you are allergic to the contents in the sugar scrub
  • If you have traditionally sensitive skin / prone to break out or rashes

Sugar vs. Salt Scrubs

You may have also come across salt scrubs in your search for sugar scrubs and wondered, what’s the difference? Is one better than the other? There are a few important differences between salt and sugar scrubs.

  • Sugar is gentler than salt
  • Salt has more likelihood of causing microscopic lesions to the skin
  • Sugar is naturally hydrating as it pulls moisture from outside, in
  • Salt naturally dehydrates, stripping the skin of natural oils

For these reasons, sugar scrubs are superior when it comes to exfoliants that work to not only remove surface skin cells but to aid in hydration and moisturizing.

How to Choose the Best Sugar Scrub?

It can be daunting to find the right sugar scrub, as there are thousands to choose from. However, we recommend considering the type of sugar more than anything else.

Brown sugar is much softer than normal granulated sugar. For this reason, it is much gentler and better for sensitive areas like the face, forearms, or thighs. Raw sugar, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is coarser and is thus much better for the body (especially tough spots like knees and elbows.)

Making Homemade Scrubs

If you are feeling adventurous and want to make the sugar scrub yourself, you can do so easily by combining the following ingredients:

  • Brown sugar
  • Vegetable oil (olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, or argan oil)
  • A few drops of fragrance (peppermint, tangerine, or eucalyptus for a bright, manly smell)

Remember! You only need to use sugar scrubs once or twice a week, max!

Just a word of caution. Before applying oils or any homemade skin formulas, it is important to perform a patch test on your skin. Even if you have never had a prior history of any skin irritation issues you may find that concentrations and different mixtures may cause slight irritation like rashes, swelling, itching, or even burning. To learn how to perform a patch test on your skin CLICK HERE  

The Best Sugar Scrubs for Men

If sugar scrubs sound like your thing (and why wouldn’t they be), then look no further than these three top-rated, reasonably priced, manly-man sugar scrubs!

The Manliest Looking Facial Scrub You Can Find

If you are concerned about what others might think when they peak into your medicine cabinet, rest assured this Viking Sugar Scrub is very dude friendly. This 5 oz scrub comes in a rugged looking dark burnt wooden box and is labeled “Viking.”

No one can doubt you are 100% manly-man. This sugar scrub removes dead skin cells like nobody’s business and will leave your face looking bright and smooth. It also helps to use before a shave, to make your closest shave even smoother. You can use it as a daily face wash, and it works with both oily and dry skin.

Brickell Renewing Face Scrub

This is one of the most highly rated sugar scrubs for men and looks more like a manly jar of conditioner than a skin exfoliant. It comes in a travel size and sloughs away dead skin. It’s excellent for acne-prone skin and for use pre-shave. Got pesky ingrown hairs? This Brickell sugar scrub will help. 

Brickell’s is made with natural & certified organic ingredients, including aloe, avocado oil, vitamin E, and jojoba beads. Why is it man appropriate? It has been mentioned in GQ, Men’s Health, and Men’s Journal. It is pricier than other scrubs. However, the reviews say it’s worth it!

Brown Sugar Body Scrub – Peppermint

For a gentler exfoliant, with a delightfully tingly sensation and bright smell of peppermint, this brown sugar scrub is the best. It makes your skin ultra-smooth, without the risk of ani micro-abrasions to the skin (thanks to the softer brown sugar.) It comes with an eco-friendly wooden spoon and is excellent at getting rid of ingrown hairs. The jars come handcrafted, guaranteeing that no chemicals or artificial ingredients make their way into the scrub.

The above are just a few of which there are many other good quality and very popular sugar scrubs that you can find online at Amazon.

Alternatives to Sugar Scrubs

If sugar scrubs are proving too harsh for your skin, be in your face, or full-body, there are many other alternatives that will be gentler.

We recommend always testing these products on someplace like your forearm first to test your body’s reaction.

The following elements help to exfoliate the skin without the use of scrubbing particles.

AHAs – Alpha Hydroxy Acids

AHAs are forms of acids that help to remove dead skin cells to improve the skin. These acids include citric, lactic, glycolic, and hyaluronic acids. Acids like AHA’s help to dissolve dead skin cells versus scrub them away. AHA’s are excellent at improving skin tone. BHAs – Beta Hydroxy Acids

Most people might not recognize the term Beta Hydroxy Acids, but they might recognize salicylic acid, which is what BHA is. It, like AHA’s, work to dissolve dead skin. This is why many skin products, not just scrubs, use BHA. However, if you do use a BHA product, be sure not to use it alongside other products containing BHA. Or if you do, use them one day at a time, not layered on top of one another, to prevent skin irritation or dryness.

Exfoliant Tools

As opposed to using beaded exfoliant scrubs, you can use a normal facial cleanser alongside a mechanical tool that poses as an exfoliator. Such tools as washcloths, cleansing brushes for the face, and other such handheld objects can achieve a similar exfoliating effect.

Coffee Scrubs

Like sugar scrubs, coffee scrubs partly consist of coffee grounds. Coffee scrubs are some of the most popular skincare products on the market (and they naturally smell delicious, no added fragrance needed!)

Coffee scrubs are recommended for both oil and dry skin. Coffee scrubs are especially great for exfoliating your lips! Who would have thought? Coffee scrubs are for both full body and face and serve the same purpose as sugar scrubs: to exfoliate and remove dead skin.

Try this coffee scrub product: Arabica Coffee Scrub. It’s made with premium quality arabica coffee. It will aid in detoxifying the skin by drawing out toxins, pollutions, and bacteria.

We also love this Tree Hut Mocha & Coffee Bean Sugar Scrub, infused with natural shea butter to help moisturize the skin while exfoliating. It also contains moisturizers such as safflower oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, macadamia seed oil, and orange oil.  This scrub is paraben-free and smells deliciously of coffee, with a hint of nuttiness.

Charcoal Scrubs

Activated charcoal has been used in Japan for many cleaning products, skincare included, for centuries. Charcoal is naturally anti-toxic, so it draws out toxins, bacteria, and free radicals. Think of it as a magnet that pulls them from the skin. Charcoal scrubs are quite ideal for acne-prone skin.

We especially like this M3 Naturals Activated Charcoal Scrub. It’s infused with collagen and stem cells to boost skin cell longevity. It makes for a great anti-aging scrub. It helps to reduce the appearance and frequency of acne and blackheads.

If you want a little bit of charcoal and sugar, this Activated Charcoal Salt + Sugar Scrub provides deep cleansing, anti-aging properties, and aids in breakout prevention. It is made in the USA and is sulfate, paraben, and fragrance-free.

Walnut Scrubs

Another body scrub worth purchasing are those made with ground-up walnuts. You can find delicious smelling, silky walnut & lemon scrubs that will exfoliate your knees, elbows, and heels to no end. However, walnut scrubs are not recommended for the face as the walnut granules are too large and jagged and can do more harm than help.


Facial and body exfoliation is not just for women. If anyone tells you otherwise, just have them touch your baby-soft face. I guarantee after they go “That is some smoooooth skin!” they will run out and buy some sugar scrub for themselves.

Our society likes to engender certain products as a marketing tool. However, men need to exfoliate, moisturize, and take care of their bodies just as much as women do.

Remember, some sugar scrubs and other exfoliants (like salt scrubs) can be irritating or too harsh on your face, so always test it on your skin elsewhere first. No need to overdo it. Once or twice a week of sugar scrubbing is more than enough!