Sometimes it’s hard to follow the rules.
Take exfoliation, for example. You know you gotta do it, but if you have sensitive skin, that ain’t so easy. Your skin turns red when you look at it. It screams in pain when you wash it.
How can you go the extra mile and get those dead cells off without traumatising your skin even more?!
I hear ya, girlfriend. And I’m here to help. Exfoliating sensitive skin is hard but doable. Here are your three best options:
1. Best Exfoliant For Mildly Sensitive Skin: Lactic Acid
If your skin can take exfoliating acids, go with lactic acid. It’s an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHAs) that dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together and hydrates skin to boot. Out of all the AHAs, it’s the gentlest.
The only problem? It’s hard to find an exfoliant or serum with just lactic acid. Usually, it tags along with his other AHAs friends, like glycolic acid. You could use those too, but you may find they irritate your skin.
FYI, just because lactic acid is gentle, it doesn’t mean you should abuse it. Once or twice a week is enough. Your skin can’t take more exfoliation than that.
- The Inkey List Lactic Acid Serum (£7.99): available at Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
- The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (£5.50): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
Related: Glycolic Acid VS Lactic Acid: Which One Is Right For You?
Want to get the most out of your skincare products? Click on the image below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive the “How To Combine Actives Like A Pro” cheatsheet.
2. Best Exfoliant Sensitive And Acne-Prone Skin: Salicylic Acid
Cursed with both sensitive skin and acne (cos, you know, bad things never come alone)?
Then your best bet is salicylic acid. It’s a superexfoliant that gets inside the pores and removes all the crap that clogs them up and makes you breakout. It also has anti-inflammatory properties so it can soothe your sensitive skin too.
When you’re dealing with sensitive skin, less is always more. Use small doses (no more than 2%, but 1% is better) once or twice a week.
- Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief 1% BHA Lotion Exfoliant ($27.00): available at Feel Unique and Paula’s Choice
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% Bha Liquid ($29.00): available at Cult Beauty, Paula’s Choice, and SpaceNK
- The Inkey List Beta Hydroxy Acid (£9.99): Available at Cult Beauty, Feel Unique, Look Fantastic, and Sephora
Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Spot-Free Skin
3. Best Exfoliant For Super Sensitive Skin: Washcloth
When all else fails, try a washcloth. It’s by far the gentlest option there is. So gentle, even most people with sensitive skin can use it daily. But if you find your sensitive skin can’t take even that, cut back to once or twice a week.
How do you use a washcloth? Simple. Apply cleanser as usual and remove it with a washcloth. Don’t forget to apply moisturizer afterwards.
Just make sure your washcloth is completely dry. A damp washcloth may seem innocent enough, but it’s actually a playground for bacteria. Those pesky little nuisances thrive in humid environments!
Related: Should You Use A Washcloth To Cleanse Your Face?
How do you exfoliate your sensitive skin? Share your tips and fave products in the comments below.
Nice suggestions. I use the washcloth you show in the picture with whatever cleanser I have at the time daily / twice per day, and once a week I do an AHA/BHA peeling.
My acne discoloration does lighten up with time, so I keep this up religiously.
Marianthi, I like to use washcloths with cleansers too. They help cleanse skin better and perform a gentle exfoliating action too. I’m glad your routine is working so well for you.
The Paula’s Choice 1% is also amazingly gentle.
Kem, it is. I’m a big fan, too.