How to exfoliate super-sensitive skin?

I have very sensitive skin but it also tends to be dry and prone to eczema. I'm a bit scared of exfoliating as I think it's too harsh - any tips on whether to do it, how to do it or how often?
Asked by Judy-J

13 answers

Top answer
I too also had this problem for a number of years and I could never exfoliate as my skin was just too dry and the slightest acidic ingredient (even strawberries) would result in an outbreak so my advice to you would be not to even try and exfoliate. After trying lots of products, all advertised with miracle cures, I eased my problem skin considerably just by drinking plenty of water, healthy diet, a flaxseed supplement and would you believe E45 cream (probably the cheapest product on the market). After showering, I would never rub my skin, and would apply E45 when the skin was slightly damp. It worked. If you want to have a fragrance after your shower, I found the best way is to walk into a spray of your favorite perfume which does not allow the drying alcohol ingredients in the perfume to irritate or dry your skin even further. Hope this helps.


Thank you, I swear by E45 too! x
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Hi Judy, you need to have a thorough consultation. It's possible to exfoliate the skin, but to remember the physiology of ecema and make sure that you hydrate the skin afterwards too. Please feel to give me a call on 01633 462083
Seek the professional care of a licensed Medical Aesthetician if you can. Someone experienced with all types of skin and may have various protocols to chose from. I say this because you mention "I'm a bit scared of exfoliating"......Are you trying to exfoliate your own skin? It is not that you can't, it's just that when you're dealing with both ezema and sensitivity, you may want to seek professional help. They can also offer you the proper home care, as well. Products formulated to address both concerns. Or, prescription products, as needed.
For clients with sensitive skin I use Jean Marin grain free melting scrub. It still exfoliates, but has no abrasive particles. The gel texture turns into an oil which is very gentle and feels lovely and soothing.
Hope that helps.
Hi Judy, I don't want to confuse you, as there seem to be a number of replies recommending that you exfoliate, and a number that don't! As a practitoner, I would not recommend that you exfoliate.
If your skin is dry, it needs to be treated as a de-hydrated skin with the appropriate products for that condition. Once your skin has been treated for a little while in this way, you will find that the hydration levels in your skin will naturally improve, and the dry, flaky skin that you are experiencing now will gradually subside.
Exfoliating an already inflamed or imbalanced skin will aggravate rather than calm the condition, which will make you feel quite frustrated, as it won't address the problem at all.
We work with a range of products at our clinic which are formulated to normalise the skin and protect the skin's moisture barrier. With regular use, the appropriate Environ products will have a positive effect on your skin. We have seen some really wonderful results for our patients who have come to us with similar skin conditions.
I would recommend that you find a clinic or salon near you that offers the Environ range, and ask for a consultation. These are usually free, and give you the opportunity to understand more about how your skin works, and how your particular concerns can be treated successfully within a relatively short time.
I would opt for clarins exfoliaters every time - they are great for the most sensitive of people as they don't aggravate the skin. Why don't you go to your local Clarins and ask them if you can try a trial size before you buy, they'll tell you which one best suits your skin type.
Hi judy you do need to be a little careful but you can exfoliate do you have a muslin cloth? they can be purchased for a couple of pounds, wrap a handful of oats porridge rough oats are fine in the muslin cloth tie the top so you effectively have a round bag and whilst in bath or shower wet and work over face and body in circular motions, the liquid from the oats has a well known beneficial effect on eczema and psoriasis and the muslin will gently exfoliate off dead skin leaving you smooth & glowing nb. a handful of oats to a warm bath is great for dry skin relief :)
I would recommend Dermalogica Gentle Cream exfoliant. You put on like a masque and rise off and the AHA's melt away dead skin
or Daily Microfoliant is really gentle
Hi There
Defently try the natural live yogurt I use it in my treatments for clients and see really great results and great for sensitive skins, just be a bit careful when adding certain fruits strawberries are great but only use a little as it can either stain the skin or some people can actually be allergic to citric fruits. It a natural exfoliator and contains latic acid which at lot of skin peels are derived from.
I also like the triology gentle exfoliator I have put a link below to my blog where I describe a bit more about the product, which is great again for all skin types maybe do this once a week or every 2 weeks depending how sensitive your skin is. If you are prone to broken capillaries maybe avoid scrubbing as will make the problem worse.
If you suffer from eczema try taking your omegas this helps keep moisture inthe skin helps prevent eczema & inflammation as well as many other benifits
For more questions you can email me at
A really natural and gentle way to exfoliate is to make your own exfoliator using natural products. Mash up some strawberries and add natural yoghurt once you have a thickish consistency then add some fine oatmeal which you can buy from supermarkets or health food stores. Mix into a thick paste that you can apply to your skin and gently massage. Rinse off using a flannel soaked in cool water. This is an excellent exfoliator that all my clients use and you will also feel a nice toning effect on your face. Its cheap, natural and gentle on your skin
Susanna x
Dear Judy, if you have sensitive skin and are prone to eczema you should not use any exfoliators or harsh products at all but aim to moisurise your skin appropriately and regularly.
Hi Judy,
The best way to exfoliate sensitive skin is with a product by Guinot - Gommage Biologique:
For more top tips in all skincare have a look at my salons facebook page & website:
Mary Gillmore
I'd really recommend Live Native's Essential Earth Cleanser, it's completely organic and raw vegan. It's primarily a cleanser but it's texture gives a very gentle exfoliation. I use it every day but you could start using it once a week and see how you go. Most exfoliating products should not be used every day (just in case you go with something else), once a week is plenty, but as a cleanser Live Native's is fine for every day use. It's also super nourishing so would be great for your dry skin and my clients have had fantastic results with Live Native's Essential Woman with Frangipani moisturiser for getting rid of their eczema.
We've got 15% off all Live Native products at the moment if you're local. Have a look on our website and like our Facebook page to see all our latest offers, news and events. Or if you're not local here's Live Native's website and you can buy direct from them but unfortunately without the 15% off - good luck!