The Best Gentle Exfoliators For Sensitive Skin

Granular exfoliators may have fallen out of favour in recent years , replaced at the top spot by acid-based formulas, but thanks to a whole host of new products, the humble grainy scrub is making a comeback. The best bit? The latest arrivals are made specifically for sensitive complexions, packed with soothing beads and nurturing oils. These are the ones to know...

Prone to redness, irritation and breakouts? Just because your skin is sensitive doesn’t mean you need miss out on the brightening powers of a granular exfoliator. As skin specialist Katie White explains, “The secret to finding the best exfoliator if you have sensitive skin is to find a formula with round beads. Anything that has sharp edges, such as ones with a natural grain, can create micro-tears, which damage the skin’s natural barrier. Jojoba beads are great for sensitive complexions, as are soothing oils such as sweet almond, apricot, avocado, rose, chamomile and frankincense.”

Want in? Try Pai’s hero Brightening Exfoliator, packed with skin-soothing ingredients, as well as Dr Barbara Sturm’s Facial Scrub, a botanical blend of bamboo, horse chestnut, antioxidants and vitamin A to gently remove dry and flaky skin and stimulate circulation.  

If you needed further convincing, facialist Kate Kerr  goes so far as to say that your skin is sensitive there’s even more reason for you to exfoliate on a regular basis. “Sensitive skin arises because the skin barrier function, which protects the skin from the likes of pollution and UV rays, is impaired and not functioning properly. Regular exfoliation can actually help to reduce inflammation and in turn sensitivity.”

Elsewhere, those with drier skin types should seek out Aurelia’s iconic Refine & Polish Miracle Balm, a genius blend of skin-brightening plant enzymes and organic oils. If budget’s no option, La Mer’s Replenishing Oil Exfoliator won’t disappoint – brimming with sugar crystals, sea salt and sea kelp, it makes light work of banishing impurities and dead skin cells for a more radiant complexion.

Just remember these golden rules and don’t exfoliate more than twice a week. “Over-exfoliating can lead to chronic skin irritation and inflammation, which can lead to accelerated ageing,” says aesthetics experts Dr Sarah Shah. “If your skin feels red or inflamed, scale back on how often you’re exfoliating but remember something as simple as using less pressure with your fingers can make all the difference. Always rinse with tepid water, too.”

Shop SL’s edit of the best exfoliators for sensitive skin below...

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