A List of 15 Gentle Exfoliants Great for Sensitive Skin

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Gentle Exfoliator

If you have sensitive skin you need to use a gentle exfoliator. This list of 15 gentle exfoliation solutions is just what the doctor ordered!

We talk about exfoliants a lot here, those scrubby substances that help to rid your skin of dirt and grime. But what if you have sensitive skin? What can you use to gently exfoliate? Here are some things to help your skin feel clean, but not scrubbed too much.

Gentle Exfoliators

Anything that helps to remove the evidence of daily life, like make up, dirt, sweat, pollution or pollen, is considered an exfoliant. Some are harsh, like ground walnut shells or coffee grounds, and they certainly get the job done. But some skin, like that which is irritated or sensitive, needs something more gentle. Here are a few herbs and other ingredients that are better for those types of skin.

Soaked Oats

Soaked oats are much more gentle on the skin than whole or cut oats.

Calendula Petals

Calendula petals hold their beautiful yellow to orange color, are a gentle exfoliator and have some healing ability.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is much less harsh than most other additives.


Sugar, like brown or white sugar, is softer on your skin than salt scrubs.


Clay, from kaolin to bentonite, provides gentle exfoliator scrubbing power.


Chamomile flower powder is gentle and calming.

Rice Flour

Rice flour is hypoallergenic for most people.

Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder provides antioxidants as well as gentle cleansing.

Green Tea

Green Tea leaves are a much more gentle exfoliator than other botanicals. And they provide antioxidants as well.

Rose Petals

Rose petals can help soften the skin as well as exfoliate.

Espresso Powder

Espresso powder has smaller particles than regular coffee grounds and can provide caffeine to the skin. It is thought that caffeine applied externally can help prevent premature skin sagging.

Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root gives a nice slippery feel that works as a gentle exfoliator and helps wash off grime without irritating the skin.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can help to draw toxins out of the skin. Mix with sunflower or safflower oil to help with the cleansing process.

Flannel Fabric

Flannel fabric can help gently wipe away the rigors of the day. While it’s not an ingredient, cotton flannel is soft and works wonders on the skin. Soak in a bit of your favorite cleansing wash and rinse well after.

Coconut Shreds

Coconut shreds are fun and gentle exfoliators. Choose the shreds rather than the chips for ultimate comfort. I only found sweetened, but that bit of sugar won’t hurt your skin.

Exfoliate Gently with Warm Water

Remember to use lukewarm water and gentle pressure. If the water is too hot, you can burn your skin, making it very sensitive. And with anything you use, if too much pressure is applied, it can also make your skin more sensitive than it usually is.

These are just a few gentle exfoliators. What are your favorites?


About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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