When your skin is delicate, easily irritated or frequently tight and uncomfortable, it can be tempting to avoid exfoliation all together. If you have a medical condition that affects your facial skin, like eczema or rosacea, you might be right to avoid it. However you just have sensitive, delicate skin, not only are you really missing out, you might even find that exfoliating helps your skin to become less reactive! Yes indeed – removing all that dead skin can better allow your natural skin oil and your added moisturisers to work better, which has an amazingly soothing effect on sensitive skin.
However, there are a few secrets to successful exfoliating when you have sensitive skin. The first is to pick the right kind of exfoliator. Chemical exfoliators, scrubs, face brushes and sponges are all popular ways to slough away dead skin, but for delicate skin you have to choose carefully. Personally I would avoid exfoliating sponges like konjac sponges because they create a lot of friction, even with a creamy product on them. They feel lovely, but I find my skin to be red and irritated after using them, and not very well exfoliated. Face brushes like the Magnitone or Clarisonic are a good option but they are expensive and it’s hard to know whether or not your skin will get on with one. Unfortunately they don’t make testers of these, so it’s a bit of a risky investment whenyou have temperamental skin! Chemical exfoliators can be a good option but you must be very, very careful with them. I’ve written a post already about how to use a chemical exfoliator when you have sensitive skin, you can read it here.
Finally, we get to scrubs. I find that when you choose the right scrub, they are the easiest, most convenient way to exfoliate delicate skin. You can easily control how deeply you exfoliate by the way you use it; how much of it, when, where, and even how you massage it onto the skin. I thought I’d tell you about my favourites and then give you a few general tips and tricks on using them; that way even if you find a different scrub that you’d prefer, you can still benefit from these exfoliation hacks for sensitive skin!
This is undoubtedly the richest scrub I have ever come across – the thick, creamy consistency contains small jojoba beads to very gently lift away dead skin and grime. The thickness of the cream protects delicate skin from the exfoliating particles, making it super gentle! It contains grape seed oil and honey to hydrate and soothe the skin, and it’s also perfect for dry skin types because of it’s nourishing, oil based formula. Tip: If you really want the gentlest exfoliation possible, try mixing a scrub with a creamy cleanser (like Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk). I was amazed the first time I tried this – I was expecting it to achieve absolutely nothing! But my skin was left super soft, clean and nourished. Get it here
This is my favourite scrub ever. It’s not quite as gentle as the other two, but I only exfoliate twice a week so my skin can tolerate it really well. The exfoliating particles are made from finely ground palm seeds, and the super-thick gel texture creates a buffer between the granules and yours skin, meaning that they aren’t nearly as abrasive as theysound. The gel itself is very calming and hydrating, it’s an aloe and coconut base infused with gingko and green tea. It smells utterly delightful, and leaves the skin perfectly clean and unbelievably soft. Tip: if there are areas of your skin that are more sensitive than others, try using your exfoliator only the places that actually need it – for me that’s places like my hairline, jawline and nose, whilst I tend to avoid my cheeks which are very delicate. Get it here
This is a total cult product, and I absolutely love it. It comes out as a powder that you apply to wet skin, where it transforms into a beautiful milk with very soft exfoliating granules. It contains a whole host of exfoliating ingredients, including rice enzymes and papain as well as salicylic acid. There’s also gingko, colloidal oatmeal (which you can totally smell when you use it!) and green tea to soothe the skin as you exfoliate. I know so many people with sensitive skin who love this, and I have never had an issue with it because the exfoliating enzymes are rinsed off (I can’t use any of them in products you leave on, but my skin loves them here). Tip: Massage your exfoliator in small, slow circles over your skin, applying light pressure. This means that your scrub will be less abrasive, because you will reduce the amount of friction between the granules and your skin, but it will still be just as effective. Get it here
I hope you found this little guide to exfoliating sensitive skin helpful! Let me know if you have any questions, or your own holy grail scrub to recommend!