Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Gentle Exfoliators For Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin affects about 50 percent of American women and 40 percent of American men. It’s been a topic that has puzzled dermatologists for decades because there are different types of sensitivities. Wind, chemicals, pollution, laundry detergent – all sorts of things can irritate and trigger sensitive skin, especially exfoliants.

But even the most sensitive skin requires a good exfoliation every now and then. The outermost layer of our dead skin cells need a good sloughing so pores don’t get clogged (which can lead to acne), and you need to make room for new skin cells to generate. 

Plus, it makes your skin feel super smooth as it evens out your skin tone. The only caveat is that you have to find the right product, otherwise you could suffer from red, irritated skin.

One thing to keep in mind is that those with sensitive skin should only be exfoliating about once per week to start. Depending on your skin’s reaction, you may be able to gradually work your way up to exfoliating two to three times per week. But that is all dependent on finding an exfoliator that works well for you!

We strapped our boots on and set out to find the best exfoliators for sensitive skin and here is our list of favorites:

  1. e.l.f. Cosmetics Gentle Peeling Exfoliant – $10.00

This might not be the first brand you think of when you hear the word exfoliant, but this drugstore gem is actually a great option for more glowing skin. Papaya, tangerine, and licorice root are the main ingredients that harmonize to kiss those dead skin cells goodbye. 

Many fans of this product are ditching their expensive exfoliators and switching to this affordable option. Your skin will feel so silky smooth after just one use. There are a lot of fruit enzyme exfoliators on the market, but this one works ever so gently as not to disrupt the skin (and make it angry!). Users especially love the $10 price point.

  1. SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight – $80

On the flip side, some sensitive skin sufferers are so fed up and exhausted with trying products that don’t work, that they find money is no object when selecting a gentle skin exfoliant. 

This luxury brand formula is made with 10 percent of glycolic acid to improve the appearance of skin tone and texture. While this is more of a cream and less of a traditional exfoliant, it definitely goes to work on sensitive skin to promote a brighter, clearer-looking complexion. This powerful face cream is complete with two percent phytic acid, natural oils, and botanicals that promote skin clarity and deep hydration. 

The sensitive crowd will be relieved to know its alcohol-, oil-, fragrance- and dye-free. Hang on to your seat though, this splurge-worthy item is a whopping $80.

  1. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum – $90

Drunk Elephant certainly didn’t mosey into the beauty game, they came at it full force! Now, everyone is obsessed with their amazing products. This T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Serum is just one example of smart beauty technology. 

This alpha-hydroxy serum is a must for those who are acne-prone and have sensitive skin. It’s a lightweight formula but it certainly packs a punch. Most serums with salicylic acid can burn and irritate skin – which is no Bueno if you are already sensitive. The raspberry infusion helps soothe and calm the skin while it kicks all those dead skin cells to the curb and helps unclog pores. 

This multi-purpose serum also targets fine lines and wrinkles. Rave reviews all around, fans of this product don’t mind hashing out the $90 it costs to reap all the amazing rewards.

  1. Renée Rouleau Mint Buffing Beads – $34.50

I don’t know about you, but when I exfoliate I want my product to feel a bit gritty and exfoliate-y. In general, sensitive skin folks probably should veer away from scrubs, but this one uses natural jojoba beads to buff off the dullness of dead skin cells. 

The beads are ultra-soothing so you won’t feel the harshness of other scrubs. The result? No more bumps, the skin is evened beautifully and your glow will be sensational. At $34.50, it’s not so ridiculously priced that you can’t treat yourself to a nice little at-home spa experience.

  1. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion Exfoliant – $29.50

If you’re new to exfoliating, this is a great place to start! This is an easy-to-use chemical exfoliator that contains eight percent glycolic acid and combines with gentle plant botanicals for incredibly soft skin. You’ll get all the skin clearing and hydrating benefits without irritation or inconvenience. Just a little goes a long way so the $29.50 price won’t seem so awful when you’ve had it for a while.


If you’ve been gun-shy about exfoliating because of your sensitive skin, worry not. These are all great products that won’t get your skin jacked up and can still improve the appearance.

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