Facial exfoliation tips for sensitive skin

exfoliating for sensitive skin

I often get questions about exfoliation from those with sensitive skin. Because of their skin profile, they do not want to use mechancial exfoliation via a facial scrub or chemical exfoliation using AHAs, BHAS, retinoids, fruit enzymes, salicylic or glycolic acid as they find such products too harsh for their skin. So for these women, what are the options? 

Following are exfoliating tips for sensitive skin based on what I’ve read as well as from personal experience:

Using a wash cloth
Some skin care experts such as Leslie Baumann actually suggest that people with sensitive skin should not exfoliate and instead, use a soft wash cloth to slough away build-up and dead skin.  This works well but just remember to keep your wash cloth clean and free from bacteria.

Using a diluted facial scrub
In her book, The Japanese Skincare Revolution, Japanese skin care guru Chizu Saeki recommended this technique of diluting the regular facial scrub with facial soap and a few drops of lukewarm water to whisk away dell skin cells on our face.  By doing so, you will find that the scrub is less abrasive for your sensitive skin.

Using gentle skin peeling products
Products such as the Living Nature Cleansing Clay Peel or the Cure Natural Aqua Gel may be solutions for those who do not want to use any form of facial scrubs. In the former, all you need to do is to apply the Cleansing Clay Peel, wait a minute or two and then use your fingers to roll the slightly damp clay off. I’ve used the product as well as others similar to it and I always find my face glowing afterwards. As for the Cure Natural Aqua Gel which I’ve not tried, I understand that it is a safe and gentle exfoliation gel comprising 90% water and is very suitable for sensitive skin. How it works is that the product regularizes your skin turnover by gentle peeling, removing dead skin and necessary proteins, making your skin smoother, brighter and softer.

Using homemade remedies
I often recommend yogurt to those who want to exfoliate their face without using any facial scrubs because although it contains lactic acid which is an alpha-hydroxy acid, the ingredient is so mild that even sensitive skin can use it. You can also make a very simple scrub with oatmeal or strawberries that have a natural acid that helps to dissolve dead cells. Just mush it all up, rub it on then rinse off.


  1. Taylor says:

    Good tips for facial exfoliation. These tips could be useful and helpful even to people whose skin is not sensitive. I’d try some of your tips especially using homemade remedies.

  2. prettybeautiful says:

    i have read somewhere that they mentioned about peeling is actually gentler to sensitive skin. but i really wonder how true is that tho. rubbing off the deadskin is gentler than scrubbing?

  3. Blovet Beauty says:

    i have sensitive skin and I can’t use clay mask or any wash cloths …. they dun agree with me , AHA work better on my skin surprisingly …. but i still ur skincare articles, they are very informative!

  4. CY says:

    using yoghurt?

    that’s definitely a good idea..never thought of it. Yoghurt’s a bit expensive in these parts though (Malaysia, that is.) but cheaper than those expensive scrubs or something.

    Yeah, i use something like wash cloths. i guess they work as well as scrubs, and they don’t cost much in that sense.

  5. sesame says:

    Hope they’ll work for you.

  6. sesame says:

    It is gentler but it depends on the user too. Some may not be using such peeling cream correctly and rub rather than roll off the mask. In this case, the skin could be stretched. It’s a bit tricky…I have sometimes rubbed a bit harder than I should in the past. :p

  7. sesame says:

    I guess it all depends…if AHA works well for you, that’s good.

  8. sesame says:

    Yogurt is nice…it keeps the skin supple too and definitely cheaper. ?

  9. Connie says:

    thanks for the strawberry idea! sounds interesting ? At least now I’ll know what to do with the strawberries that don’t look good enough to eat

  10. sesame says:

    Yeah, don’t waste the fruits…

  11. Jyoan says:

    I have sensitive skin, and my beautician recommended me peeling. I have no problems with the jojoba peeler that she recommended. But it cannot be bought outside.

    I think Cure Aqua is a good idea. Same like NuTeen Acne Away Gel or Ginvera Marvel Gel. Both of the latter, I really love, and have no problems with either. =)))

  12. zhenling says:

    sensitive skin here! using aqua cure gel and loving it! fancl’s new skin renewal pack is much gentler and more hydrating. but its too expensive.

  13. sesame says:

    Not sure about NuTeeh or Ginvera but I thought Cure Aqua is good cos it comprise 90% water and there were many good reviews on it.

  14. sesame says:

    Glad Aqua Cure Gel is working great for you.

  15. Nikki says:

    Enzyme Mask from fruits, milk, honey can be alternatives to gently lift and remove old skin cells. Such solution is great not just for sensitive skin but also dry and very matured skin. There are natural / organic solutions which are more gentle than the synthethic chemical ones. The function of Enzyme mask is similar to AHA. The result of which may not be as bright as the Clay Peel, however, for readers who are concern with using the clay, such can be alternatives.

  16. sesame says:

    I like the idea of using natural ingredients too. You’re right that they do not just work for sensitive skin…in fact, any skin type can use them as they’re cheap and effective. I tried using kiwi and quite like it.

  17. crystal says:

    Can I ask you for the oatmeal + yogurt scrub (I used it w/ Egg whites and it hurt my skin – burned it till it became SO RED, I’m not sure if it is an allergic reaction)…

    For Oatmeal and Yogurt scrub, do you do this before cleansing your face and can you do this once a week plus with a face mask (I am using Boscia Clay Mask) but I want to try something more “natural.”

  18. crystal says:

    Oh, BTW I received your gift (from the giveway) Thank you so much! I will want to feature it in my blog – I have a mini blog but have not took the pictures yet. Thank you so much!

  19. sesame says:

    You should use this after cleansing your face. After that, you can rinse it off and moisturize as per normal.

    Oh dear, egg white burned your face? That’s bad! I find that I can’t leave egg white for too long on my skin.

  20. sesame says:

    You’re welcome! Hope you’ll enjoy them!

  21. Laura Lehmax says:

    I will Follow these tips for sensitive skin to keep my skin healthy and prevent skin problems. Thanks!

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