How To Exfoliate Sensitive Skin

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.

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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!

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Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream – £20

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

Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub – £23

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

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant – £48

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!

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Spring Skincare Favourites

While I don’t believe in changing your body in preparation for warmer months, I do think there’s a lot we can do with our skin. In colder weather the skin can wind up dull, dry, lifeless and clogged, and unfortunately it’s often ignored because full coverage foundation and concealer are much easier to slather on in 7am half-darkness while you’re still basically asleep (this is how I spend my winter mornings, don’t know about you). I get a red nose in cold weather too, so there’s no point even thinking about going foundation free! In the spring, all I ever want to do is take a layer of makeup out of my routine, but to do that and feel confident, I need radiant, smooth and soft skin. Over the past few months I’ve been using some amazing products that have renewed and rejuvenated my complexion, so I wanted to share!

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The first product I wanted to talk about is Caudalie Vine[Activ] Glow Activating Anti-Wrinkle Serum. This serum contains a complex of four anti-oxidants that increase your skin’s ability to product anti-oxidant enzymes by 255%, thereby helping protect the skin from pollution and stress. which for someone who works in central London, doesn’t sleep very well and is stressed all the time, is an absolute lifesaver. I’ve been using this for four months (one bottle lasted 2.5) and I have never seen a product work such wonders on my skin – it literally glows from the inside out, as well as being super hydrated, calm and smooth. It absorbs immediately, smells gorgeous and is 98% natural. It’s oil and silicone free, contains an exclusive anti-oxidant patent created by Caudalie, and is just about the highest quality product I’ve ever used. Get it for £36.

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Next up is Aesop’s Parsley Seed Cleanser. I adore this thick, gel cleanser and it’s gentle exfoliation from lactic acid. It leaves my skin soft and ready to absorb my skincare. I’ve been using it for quite some time now and it is honestly the best cleanser ever for helping to boost your skin into ‘only wearing BB cream’ territory. If you’re worried about pollution, using this together with the Caudalie Vine[Activ] Serum is the absolute dream team, because the Aesop Parsley Seed Cleanser helps to slough pollution particles away from the skin at the end of the day, while the serum defends your skin from the free-radicals during the day. Get it for £27.

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I feel like I’ve been looking for a BB Cream that won’t make my skin react or break out since the beginning of time. The Bobbi Brown BB Cream is the only one I’ve found that has a good SPF without containing any of the ingredients that my skin hates, and I absolutely love it. It’s so important to use an SPF everyday, so if you want to use a lighter product than your usual foundation and you have sensitive skin, this is PERFECT. The formula gives much higher coverage than I expected, and I feel like it evens out my complexion flawlessly – obviously it doesn’t cover blemishes completely, but I actually don’t feel the need to use concealer under my eyes, which is a bloody miracle. The coverage lasts all day and my skin feels nice and soft when I use this too. They have 9 shades and definitely don’t serve the darkest skin colours, so I wouldn’t usually recommend it, but my skin is SO picky and this really works for me. Get it for £29.50.

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Pixi’s Makeup Fixing Mist has become my favourite part of my morning ritual. It’s gorgeous light scent and fast-drying, refreshing consistency is absolutely perfect for perking my face and my mind up. I feel like it puts me in a positive mood whenever I use it, and it helps my makeup stay put ALL day. Seriously, it’s soooo good. My skin also loves it as a primer to help prepare for a full coverage face, but recently I’ve just been using it over the Bobbi Brown BB Cream and it’s leaving my skin looking smooth and radiant every day. Get it for £16.

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The last product I’ve been obsessed with over the past few months is Jurlique’s Skin Balancing Face Oil. This stuff is perfect for when your skin is just losing its mind, which always happens to me at the change of the seasons. It contains a blend of herbal extracts including marshmallow (protects and soothes), evening primrose oil (heals), macademia oil (nourishes without being heavy) rosehip oil (anti-wrinkle, healing) and chamomile (calming). I find that when I use this at night, dry patches and areas of irritation disappear. The scent of this product is absolutely unbelievable, it smells like a fragrant meadow in the sun, which just makes it even more perfect for use in the warmer months! It might not be suitable for hypersensitive skin types though, as it’s heavy on the essential oils. But I absolutely adore it. Get it for £38

What are your spring skincare essentials?