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How to Exfoliate When You Have Sensitive Skin

Skin Care Concerns

How to Exfoliate When You Have Sensitive Skin How to Exfoliate When You Have Sensitive Skin How to Exfoliate When You Have Sensitive Skin

When you have sensitive skin, you know how tricky it can be to properly care for your complexion. That’s because, sometimes, certain skin care products or habits can irritate your skin and cause it to end up looking and feeling worse than it did before—and that’s not exactly the result you want, right? That’s especially the case when it comes to exfoliating, which is why it’s so important to use a gentle exfoliator for sensitive skin. So, with all the options out there, from chemical exfoliants to face scrubs, what is the best exfoliator for sensitive skin? Consider this your ultimate guide to sensitive skin exfoliation.


Exfoliation is the process of sloughing off dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. When these dead skin cells, in addition to excess oil and debris, build up on the surface of your skin for too long, it can lead to things like skin dullness and breakouts. As such, exfoliating is beneficial for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

When it comes to methods of exfoliating, there are two ways to do it: mechanically or chemically. Mechanical exfoliation involves physically scrubbing your skin’s surface with a scrub or dry brush, while chemical exfoliation uses acids—like salicylic acid and glycolic acid—or enzymes to chemically break down the surface buildup.


While exfoliation has its benefits, how often you should be doing it varies from person to person. Whereas some people are able to handle exfoliating every day or a few times a week, others may only be able to do so once a week.

When you have sensitive skin, it’s particularly important to pay attention to how your skin responds after exfoliating so that you can determine what works best for you. If it gets bright red and blotchy, you know you’ve scrubbed too hard, or you’ve been doing it too often. Every skin type is different and requires different care, so keep that in mind before you exfoliate your sensitive skin. Pay attention to your complexion’s reactions to different exfoliants and go from there to determine the ideal skin care routine for you.


First things first, look for the right exfoliating product for sensitive skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), fragrances, soap, and alcohol can all be potential irritants for sensitive skin, so it’s a good idea to avoid these in your skin care products. You may even want to consider visiting your dermatologist, as he or she will be able to help you determine the right exfoliating routine for your skin type.

Regardless of what type of exfoliator you choose to use on your sensitive skin, the AAD recommends being gentle. Use small, circular motions, then rinse off with lukewarm water, as hot water can strip your skin of essential oils.


Looking for the perfect product to exfoliate your sensitive skin with? We love the L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Nourish & Soften Cocoa Scrub, which cleanses skin and removes all traces of dirt, oil, and makeup. Formulated with finely crushed cocoa, coconut oil, and cocoa butter, this face scrub will polish skin without drying it out. To use the face scrub, smooth a small amount onto clean, dry skin, making sure to avoid the eye area. Massage over your face with wet fingers, then rinse off with warm water. For best results, use three times a week.

Editor’s note: This gentle face scrub can be used on your lips, too! Don’t you just love double-duty products?


Now you know why and how to exfoliate sensitive skin—but your work doesn’t stop there. Maintaining a consistent routine of cleansing and moisturizing is important, too. Here’s what to do.

Step #1: Cleanse. To get completely clean, try using micellar water. Saturate a cotton pad with the L’Oréal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water Complete Cleanser Waterproof - All Skin Types and sweep it over your skin.

Step #2: Moisturize. After cleansing, follow up with a facial moisturizer that is suitable for sensitive skin, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle + Firming Moisturizer Fragrance Free. Formulated with Pro-Retinol and centella asiata, this moisturizer provides non-greasy hydration while helping to resist signs of aging like wrinkles and sagging skin.

Editor’s tip: In the morning, don’t forget to round out your routine with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Spending prolonged periods of time in the sun without wearing protection can lead to damage, which can show up as visible signs of aging, like dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles, down the road. Not only that—you can still get burned even on cloudy days, so it’s key to apply sunscreen every day, year-round—regardless of the weather. And this goes for everyone, whether you have sensitive skin or not! Double up on your sun protection and moisturizer by using the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30.

Next: 7 Skin Care Rules for Sensitive Skin