The aim of exfoliating a sensitive skin is to engage a skin reaction gently,
but not irritate your skin
Want tips on how to exfoliate your skin?
Or maybe you want to remove stubborn flaky, skin cells that have adhered to the surface of your skin, without upsetting your skin too much?
The good news is, even if you have sensitive skin, you can restore it to a healthy glow without irritation.
Using either a gentle powder exfoliant or peeling enzymes helps to bring a dull, lifeless complexion back to life.
These tips on how to exfoliate your skin correctly, with the right modality will guide you on the best course of action:
Should I exfoliate my sensitive skin?
Yes, you should only occasionally, once a week at the most, and with the right products.
The goal is cellular turnover and renewal, not inflammation and aggravation of the epidermis, so gentle exfoliation with soothing and calming support is required.
We recommend avoiding most forms of exfoliation – that is until you have repaired your skin’s barrier function, and restored your skin’s acid mantle.
You should most definitely avoid the use of deep chemical peels. Instead, opt for powders, or gentle peeling enzymes will help reveal softer skin without physically irritating, with harsh textures like microbeads and walnut shells.
Abrasive brushes such as a Clarisonic brush may also irritate and should be avoided if you present sensitive skin conditions.
If you are suffering from sensitive skin and want to understand where this inflammation comes from, our article, the truth behind the triggers is worth a read.
The types of exfoliation on the market
Exfoliating is simply the act of sloughing off of dead skin cells to reveal newly generated skin cells; there are three types of exfoliating treatments you can choose from:
- manual exfoliation – with a scrub, powder, gommage, or washcloth
- chemical peel exfoliation – with acids like lactic, or glycolic
- mechanical exfoliation – with a machine like microdermabrasion
Manual exfoliation is our preferred method of exfoliation here at NC, especially if you have sensitive, delicate skin, you’re not tearing at your skin, but you’re still restoring brightness.
Powder exfoliation is a sensitive skins best friend.
Powders typically contain enzymes like papaya, pineapple, or bromelain. Enzymes soften, exfoliate, and gently release debris to promote healthy and natural skin turnover.
They work like pacmen on your skin, gently dissolving the glue between cells helping to regenerate, repair, and protect the skin in the gentlest way possible.
This powder-to-foam exfoliator does a beautiful job of super-gentle exfoliation, helping to sweep away dead cells without impairing the protective barrier or taking the skin’s beneficial bacteria with it.
How to exfoliate with a powder
- first, wet your face with lukewarm water
- next, dispense a small amount of product onto your fingertips
- spread it over the whole of your face, neck and décolleté
- gently massage, avoiding super sensitive areas, focusing instead on stubborn skin cells and blockages
- next, thoroughly flush your face with water
- Finally pat dry your skin with a towel, being careful not to overstimulate the skin by rubbing
Again you don’t have to overdo exfoliation; there is no hard and fast guide, only carry out exfoliation when you feel your skin requires a boost or has lost its youthful glow.
Gentle peeling enzymes
Gommage products or those formulated with natural fruit enzymes will gently dissolve your dead skin cells without disrupting your barrier function. The product is gently slouched off which stimulates your skin, bringing nutrients to the surface, whilst encouraging the cellular renewal process without speeding up the ageing process.
Once dry you can roll the gommage or peel off your skin, as it is removed, it picks up the dead skin cells, making it the perfect, gentle, exfoliating treatment for your sensitised skin, you can read more about this here.
Rosacea type skin
Because heat from the friction is one of the most common triggers for rosacea, most traditional exfoliators are out of play.
You can occasionally use powder exfoliant, but we recommend avoiding rubbing or scrubbing; instead, use your hands to wash with tepid water and use a gentle powder exfoliant. Then gently blot dry.
If you find this still too harsh, opt for not exfoliating at all and instead, use a cooling, soothing product like Quench ultra-hydrating water gel, this will not only hydrate your skin. Quench also contains Urea and Hibiscus, which will ever so gently exfoliate, whilst also bringing much-needed moisture to your skin.
If you are concerned that you may have rosacea and would like to find out more, this is an interesting read