Gentle Exfoliants That Won't Leave Your Skin Raw

Exfoliating your face is kind of like going to the dentist: It's something you know you're supposed to do regularly, but it's still kind of scary. This is especially true if you've got sensitive skin. The typical scrubs and exfoliants can be incredibly irritating and even go so far as to physically scratch your skin. Ouch.
Luckily, there's a friendlier batch of exfoliants out there, and they're about to make your day. They don't resemble typical skin-smoothers; in fact, there are only one or two gritty scrubs on the list we compiled. But, they'll still buff away those dead skin cells, leaving you with zero irritation and a smooth complexion. Gentle, maybe, but these products pack a punch. Click on to shop these new, not-so-scrubby scrubs.
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Honey is more than an incredible cleanser — it's also a powerhouse for exfoliation because it's so gentle. "Harsh exfoliants can hurt more than they help and can, in fact, wound your skin," says dermatologist Dr. Erin Gilbert. Since honey is so soothing, it actually works to cushion your skin while still scrubbing it clean.

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While on a trip to Norway, one of the developers at Restorsea noticed how smooth the salmon breeders' hands were. Turns out, the enzyme that salmon release as they hatch has anti-aging and exfoliation benefits. So, the brand harnessed it to create Aquabeautine XL, which is present in the Restorsea line. "It gently exfoliates without causing irritation," Gilbert says.
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"I like fruit acids — particularly citric ones," says celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas. "They lighten and brighten the skin while exfoliating it." Vargas also notes that citric acids accelerate cell turnover and increase collagen, all while buffing you gently.
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"Look for a lower percentage of glycolic acid to combat irritation," advises Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, codirector of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. A smaller amount of product means less irritation, but it will still get the job done well.
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If you want some grit with your scrubs, look for brown sugar. "Its antimicrobial properties are a bonus," Gilbert says.
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Lactic acid, found in milk and yogurt, is gentle and exfoliating as well. "It's also anti-inflamatory," Vargas says. "It's great because it won't irritate the skin, but it leaves your skin smooth and glowing." Dermatologica's version is in cream form, so it's doubly soothing.
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Don't ask us to pronounce it, but galactoarabinan acid is incredible at removing dead skin cells. "It will also brighten your skin and increase cell turnover for healthier, more youthful-looking skin," Vargas adds.
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