How to Exfoliate Sensitive Skin

Apart from removing the dead layer of skin and making the skin look luminous and fresh, exfoliation enables quicker cell regeneration and allows moisturizers and creams to penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin. This helps delay the aging of skin.

Like other skin types, sensitive skin needs to be exfoliated, but women with sensitive skin need to pay special attention to methods of exfoliation as they can easily damage their skin. Here are some tips on how to exfoliate sensitive skin in a safe way:

Methods of Facial Exfoliation

There are basically three ways to exfoliate sensitive skin: manual methods, chemicals and enzymes. Chemicals can be very abrasive for sensitive skin and professional advice is a must.

For instance, your dermatologist might suggest a mild glycolic peel. However, don’t go out and buy a chemical peel or a cream containing glycolic acid without asking your doctor first.

Chemicals Used for Exfoliating Skin

It is helpful to know where chemicals used for skin exfoliation come from. The following are known as AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids):

  • Glycolic acid – sugarcane
  • Lactic acid – sour milk
  • Malic acid – apples
  • Tartaric acid – grapes

Skin Exfoliation with Enzymes

Certain enzymes are ideal for exfoliating sensitive skin as they can dissolve dead skin cells without irritating the skin. These enzymes come in the form of masks, cleansers and powders. The enzymes bromelin derived from pineapple and papain from papaya, are typically used for skin exfoliation.

Exfoliating Sensitive Skin Manually

You can safely use a soft washcloth or soft facial brush to exfoliate sensitive skin. Just make sure that the cloth or brush is kept clean so that it is free from bacteria.

Peels for Sensitive Skin

You can try masks that are simply peeled off after a couple of minutes or more, taking with them dead skin cells. It is a good idea to look for exfoliating masks and peels made from plants and fruits grown without the use of chemicals (organically grown).

Some masks to try are: Green Apple Sensitive from Juice Beauty, Avalon Organics Exfoliating Enzyme Scrub for Sensitive Skin, Eminence Organic Rosehip and Maize Exfoliating Masque and Pangea Organics Egyptian Geranium with Adzuki Bean & Cranberry Facial Scrub.

Homemade Exfoliating Scrubs for Sensitive Skin

Probably the best way to exfoliate sensitive skin is to use natural substances from your kitchen. Oatmeal, strawberry, papaya and grape contain enzymes that dissolve dead skin cells.

Make sure you leave the masks on for 20 minutes before rinsing off. Exfoliate your skin once a week.

  • You can use yogurt which contains a mild alpha-hydroxy acid (lactic acid).
  • You could use oatmeal as a scrub. Add a little lukewarm water to 1 or 2 tablespoons of oatmeal, apply to your face, and rinse off after 20 minutes. The oatmeal also softens and soothes inflamed skin.
  • Strawberries can be mashed and applied to the skin.
  • You can rub a sliced grape into your skin.
  • A paste of ripe papaya can be used for exfoliating sensitive skin.
  • You can use fine grain rice powder mixed with lukewarm water.

Test the Mask or Peel

To ensure that your sensitive skin is not irritated by the enzyme or chemical in the product, do a patch test on the inside of your wrist or in the elbow crease. Leave the substance on for 24 hours before rinsing it off. Of course, if your dermatologist is going to do a chemical peel for you, you don’t need to do a patch test unless he asks you to.

While you can safely exfoliate sensitive skin with a washcloth, facial brush or fine rice powder, it is better to do a patch test if you are using an enzyme or chemical on your skin.


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