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What Is The Best Exfoliator For Sensitive Skin?

by Nova CS December 07, 2021 6 min read


what is the best exfoliator for sensitive skin?

We understand how hard it can be to find products that are gentle enough for sensitive skin! What is sensitive enough for one person's skin might not be sensitive enough for another's.

So with the multitude of exfoliators available, how can you find the bestexfoliator for sensitive skin?

We're here to help you decide on just that!

Exfoliants are used for many different purposes: some work to remove dead skin cells, others to keep pores clear, and some both.

No matter what their purpose, exfoliants are a necessity for our regular skincare routine.

...Even if we have sensitive skin?


Should You Exfoliate If You Have Sensitive Skin? 

You should absolutely exfoliate even if you have sensitive skin! Why? The outer layer of our skin is the stratum corneum and it is made up of dead skin cells and lipids. These skin cells are constantly renewing themselves and moving upwards to the surface of your skin, where they die and fall off.

Over time, these dead skin cells get stacked on top of one another and can make your skin look dull. Exfoliation helps by removing dead skin cells, giving you brighter-looking skin.

By removing these dead skin cells, topical skincare products are also more effective because there is no 'barrier' between the product and your new skin cells.

"But, you don't understand just HOW sensitive my skin is! Won't exfoliation do more harm than good?"

We completely understand the hesitation.

Granted, sensitive skin is known for being easily irritated, but you don't have to live with dull skin or clogged pores just because of the sensitivity!


regular mechanical exfoliation is vital to keeping your skin in the best condition possible. however, waxing is also a superb way to achieve mild exfoliation while taking care of your hair removal needs.


There are many products available that use gentle forms of mechanical exfoliation to give you clearer and brighter-looking skin without the worry of irritation.

If your skin is particularly sensitive, chemical exfoliation might be a good option for you too.

The key to finding an exfoliator for sensitive skin is approaching exfoliation gently, no matter what form it comes in, mechanical or chemical.

Ok, so we know we need to exfoliate, but how often should we?

How Many Times A Week Should You Exfoliate Sensitive Skin?

If you battle with sensitive skin, it's best to only exfoliate one or two times per week, especially at the beginning of using a new exfoliation tool.

Gradually, you'll see how your skin reacts, and, if you need or want, you can increase your exfoliation regimen to a few more times per week, depending on the health of your skin.

You should never over-exfoliate! This is especially true with sensitive skin because it will have a harder time repairing itself from damage.

If you notice your skin is red and irritated after exfoliating, back off of the frequency until your skin heals itself before trying again. Very sensitive skin may need only one or two times per week of exfoliation, while more resilient complexions can tolerate three or more times per week.

Types Of Exfoliation

You have two main options for exfoliation, chemical and mechanical.

Mechanical exfoliation is where you're physically scrubbing your skin to remove dead skin cells. In contrast, chemical exfoliation uses ingredients that dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells to remove them by manual or water-based methods.

Let's examine different ways you can exfoliate your skin.



nova's exfoliating bath mitt is a great choice for mechanical exfoliation


You use these products to physically scrub away dead skin cells, usually through manual action with your hands or fingers. Some of these tools include: 

-Exfoliation Mitt
-Cleansing brushes
-Washcloths and Gloves


Most chemical exfoliators are products that contain AHAs, which is an abbreviation for alpha-hydroxy acids. This includes ingredients like glycolic acid and lactic acid.

Another form of chemical exfoliation you might encounter are BHAs, one of which is salicylic acid, and they are also referred to as beta-hydroxy acids. BHAs can help with problem skin because they penetrate through the clogged pores and exfoliate inside the pore and on the surface of your skin.

Some products contain both AHAs and BHAs, which is where you'll find ingredients like salicylic acid and lactic acid or glycolic acid and salicylic acid.
Also, keep in mind that AHAs are photosensitive, which means that when you're using them on your skin, you should always use sunscreen or protective clothing to avoid sunburned skin!

Best Exfoliator For Sensitive Skin Body

The best exfoliator for sensitive skin all over the body is ourExfoliating Bath Mitt!

There is an infinite number of reasons why this bath mitt is such a successful exfoliator, but the aspect we're focusing on today is why it is so effective for sensitive skin.

Using rough brushes or scrubs can be very challenging to control the level of exfoliation you receive, making exfoliation a lot harsher on sensitive skin.

Our bath mitt is made of gentle materials and has a honeycomb design contributing to its ability to be non-abrasive. These are key factors in what you'd want to look for with sensitive skin.

Additionally, sensitive skin is often prone to breakouts or possible infections. However, this mitt is anti-fungal and antibacterial, providing a healthy barrier from your exfoliation contributing to any adverse side effects.

For more details on this mitt and why exfoliation is so crucial, please take a look at our
Exfoliation blog.

Another alternative exfoliator for sensitive skin is a soft washcloth.

You can also pair it with a gentle cleanser to use when washing your face or body, plus it's simple to use and doesn't cost much!

The benefits of this exfoliator include the fact that it is very gentle, and you maintain control over how much pressure you use when scrubbing your skin.

Chemical Exfoliator For Sensitive Skin

The best chemical exfoliator for sensitive skin would be an AHA like glycolic acid or lactic acid.

You can use these chemical exfoliators once a week to start and see how your skin responds.

AHAs are suitable for sensitive skin in particular because they can penetrate through the skin without causing any damage.

Glycolic acid is a humectant meaning it attracts moisture which is highly beneficial for those with dry or sensitive skin and those who live in colder climates where humidity levels can be low and lead to dried-out skin.

Lactic acid is known to be the most gentle of all the Alpha-hydroxy acids, and it also is one of the most hydrating. This means it's ideal for getting rid of the natural build-up your skin can accumulate, but it won't leave you with excessively dry skin which would lead to more irritation you could already be suffering from due to sensitive skin.

Ultimately, if you want to try out a chemical exfoliant but are a little nervous to see how your skin will agree, try out lactic acid once a week first and then you can increase the frequency or even change the type of AHA you use.

Waxing As An Exfoliant

Gentle exfoliation regularly is vital to keeping your skin in its best condition possible, and mechanical or chemical exfoliants can help with this.

However, waxing is also a superb way to achieve mild exfoliation while taking care of your hair removal needs.

Waxing occurs only every 4-6 weeks, so it supplies one with sensitive skin the opportunity to exfoliate gently over a period of time.

An important factor for waxing with sensitive skin lies with the type of wax you use.

Nova wax uses low melting points and natural ingredients to help with the flexibility of the wax, leaving a better experience for your skin. This helps reduce irritation and maximize the comfort during the waxing service, all things someone with sensitive skin needs!

Hence, if you have sensitive skin and you’re looking for effective exfoliation, don't forget to try waxing with nova's wax to get the mild and gentle exfoliation you need! You’ll achieve a clean and crisp wax all while leaving excess irritation behind! 


In Summary

Regular exfoliation shouldn't be an option in any of our books! Whether it's full-body exfoliation or gentle facial exfoliation, it is crucial for the health of our skin.

Even if you have sensitive skin or ultra-sensitive skin, there are exfoliation tools out there for you! It may just take a little trial and error and exploration to find what fits your needs best.

Nova's bath mitt and a washcloth are both fantastic options as mechanical exfoliators for sensitive skin. They both allow you to control the pressure you use during exfoliation and aren't abrasive or harsh on your skin like other mechanical exfoliators can be.

AHAs are the chemical exfoliants best used for sensitive skin since they aren't as penetrating or intense as BHA's.

Lactic acid is a great first choice as a chemical exfoliator for sensitive skin because of its gentleness and ability to hydrate while exfoliating.

No matter what exfoliant you choose, you CAN exfoliate with sensitive skin and see the glowing and radiating results you have always been looking for!

Nova CS
Nova CS