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When you have sensitive skin, you know how tricky it can be to properly care for your complexion. That’s because the thing is, sometimes, certain skin care products or habits can cause your skin to end up looking and feeling worse than it did before—and that’s not exactly the result you want, right? If you have sensitive skin, it’s important to pay close attention to what you’re putting on your face, as well as be gentle while doing it! That’s especially the case when it comes to exfoliating. Consider this your 101 guide to exfoliation for sensitive skin.
Exfoliation is the process of sloughing off dead skin cells from the surface of your skin (these dead skin cells can cause skin to look dull). What’s more, 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 involves the use of salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, 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. While 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. Every skin type is different and requires different care, so keep that in mind before you exfoliate your sensitive skin.
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 derm, as he or she will be able to help you determine the right at-home exfoliator for your skin type.
How you exfoliate sensitive skin matters, too. The AAD states that mechanical exfoliation—i.e. using a facial scrub—may be too irritating for this skin type. So, you may want to reach for a mild chemical exfoliator or simply use a washcloth instead. 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.
Now you know the benefits that exfoliating can have for sensitive skin—but your work doesn’t stop there. Maintaining a consistent routine of cleansing and moisturizing for sensitive skin is important, too. The L’Oréal Paris Go 360° Deep Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin deeply cleanses skin and removes all traces of dirt, oil, and makeup. It’s fragrance-free and comes with a Scrublet™, a soft cleansing disk. To use, pop the Scrublet™ out, dampen the surface, pour cleanser onto it, then cleanse your skin and pop it back in.
After cleansing, follow up with a moisturizer that is suitable for sensitive skin, like the L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care for Extra Dry Skin, which is formulated with hyaluronic acid and aloe water to help provide long-lasting hydration and comfort. Apply it to damp skin to help lock in hydration.
In the morning, don’t forget to follow up 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 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.