The 7 Best Exfoliators for Sensitive Skin

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There’s something so satisfying about exfoliating—be it the cathartic act of sloughing off dead skin cells or the immediate reward of soft, velvety skin. But if you’re not careful, you can very easily overdo it, especially if you have sensitive skin. The good news is that you don’t have to avoid physical and chemical exfoliation altogether, as the newest generation of products lets you achieve clear, smooth skin without rubbing it raw. Below, we’ve rounded up the seven best.

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dermalogica daily microfoliant

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

This rice-based enzyme powder activates upon contact with water and almost feels creamy versus granular. But what makes the formula stand out is a blend of salicylic acid (most commonly seen in acne products) and soothing, anti-inflammation ingredients like green tea and colloidal oatmeal. Reviewers swear that it sloughs off dead and dry skin but is gentle enough to use even twice a day. And because it comes in a powder, it’s great for travel.

eminence strawberry rhubarb dermafoliant

Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant

Sure, it may sound good enough to eat but let’s stick to the topical usage, shall we? Rhubarb and strawberry enrich your skin with vital nutrients, while chickpea flour and lactic acid absorb excess oil and minimize the look of large pores.


June Jacobs Papaya Purifying Enzyme Masque

This whipped face mask uses essential oils and pineapple extract to soothe and hydrate skin, while papaya enzymes simultaneously digest dull skin cells for noticeably smoother skin and smaller pores. Word to the wise: The mask is thick so removing it takes some effort. Try applying it pre-shower and rinsing it off under the steady stream of water.

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barbara sturm facial

Dr. Barbara Sturm Facial Scrub

Leave it to Dr. Sturm to incorporate ingredients like horse chestnut (aims to stimulate circulation and strengthen blood vessels) and purslane (a power-packed herbal antioxidant) into her cult-favorite exfoliant.

tata harper regenerating cleanser

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser

This gentle exfoliating treatment acts as a four-in-one cleanser: It cleans, purifies, minimizes the appearance of pores and helps to protect the skin's natural hydration balance. Free of soaps, alcohols and detergents, it’s also great for those who are easily irritated.

suki exfoliate foaming cleanser

Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser

Nearly 23,000 reviewers agree: This foaming scrub works wonders. Infused with lemongrass and chamomile, it gets rid of dirt and oil while gently exfoliating layers of skin with nonabrasive sugar.

tatcha enzyme rice powder

Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder

According to Vicky Tsai, the founder of Japanese beauty brand Tatcha, “Purifying and polishing the skin each and every day is at the heart of any J-beauty skincare ritual.” So it comes as no surprise that the brand has created a non-abrasive formula for baby-soft skin. This very gentle physical exfoliator comes in an easily transportable powder, much like Dermalogica. Add a little water, and the formula quickly transforms into a milky lather with grains of soft Japanese rice bran.