The Best Exfoliators For Dry, Sensitive Skin

If you’re dealing with stubborn dry skin, it can be tempting to reach for those gritty exfoliators and try to buff your problems away. But please, take a minute to read what we have to say before you reach for that apricot scrub!

The roughness associated with dry skin is a result of a lack of moisture and natural oils being produced by the skin; causing flaking and dullness. Most people with dry skin will also unfortunately have a damaged skin barrier, which means moisture will easily escape from the skin and struggle to penetrate deep enough to provide the long-term hydration needed to keep skin soft and supple.

Exfoliation can help to speed up this process and remove dead skin cells, but too much abrasion can also damage the skin’s protective barrier, which, in turn, can cause dry skin, redness, irritation, breakouts and it also makes skin more sensitive to UV damage.

So, what’s the solution? Finding the right balance is the key to breaking this cycle, to end up with smoother, brighter and softer skin. Exfoliate enough, but don’t overdo it! Most people will only need to exfoliate once or twice a week, and with dry skin, a gentle-yet -effective exfoliator packed with all the ingredients that dry skin loves, will do just the trick.

Scroll to meet our top 8 best exfoliators for dry skin…


Dry skin, listen up! Packed full of with multiple forms of acid-based exfoliants, Skincare By BEAUTY BAY’s 5% Glycolic Acid + 1% PHA Toner works to target different layers of the skin to clear pores and accelerate cellular turnover. AHAs (glycolic acid) work to chemically exfoliate the skin to refine, help brighten and improve uneven and dull skin tone and PHAs (gluconolactone) deliver gentle exfoliation to promote softer and smoother skin. The results? Clearer, smoother and brighter complexions.

Up Circle Beauty Coffee Face Scrub - Citrus Blend For Dry Skin

Dry, rough skin is no match for the Up Circle Beauty Coffee Face Scrub – Citrus Blend For Dry Skin. Gentle (and sustainable, this fruity, rosehip-infused formula is a must-have for buffing away dead skin cells, while shea butter offers a burst of post-scrub moisture. The results? Dry skin is left feeling soft, smooth and glowy.

Avène Gentle Exfoliating Gel

If you like a gel textured scrub, then the Avène Gentle Exfoliating Gel is for you. Designed to deeply cleanse the skin, remove dead skin cells and impurities without aggravating or drying it out and leave your skin more radiant and healthier looking, this exfoliator isn’t one to sleep on.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA

Commonly referred to as a ‘chemical exfoliant’, lactic acid is a gentler and less irritating alternative to physical exfoliants (scrubs) or glycolic acid as its molecules are larger and cannot penetrate as deeply. Lactic acid is especially beneficial for dry skin as it’s also a humectant, so it helps to draw moisture into the skin, meaning The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 5% + HA is an essential addition to your dry skin routine.

Dermalogica Hydro Masque Exfoliant

Only got five minutes a week to fix in an exfoliator? Meet Dermalogica’s Hydro Masque Exfoliant. Enriched with exfoliating bamboo, snow mushroom, jojoba ester, amino acids, and cucumber extract, this skin-loving, exfoliating face mask smooths, renews, and hydrates the complexion, whilst strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier. 

Dr. Jart+ Pore Remedy PHA Exfoliating Serum

A great alternative to harsher AHAs and BHAs, PHAs are a wonder for dry skin as they are humectants, meaning they attract water to hydrate dry skin. The Dr. Jart+ Pore Remedy PHA Exfoliating Serum uses 7% PHA to instantly smooth the skin’s texture and make pores look smaller, while panthenol moisturises.


If you have dry skin and want to try an exfoliating mask, then this one’s for you. Enriched with a dry skin-loving blend of fruit enzymes, alpha hydroxy acids with PHA, azelaic acid, and willow bark extract, this exfoliating mask works deep into the skin to reveal a softer, smoother and more even looking finish.


Want the benefits of both chemical and manual exfoliation in one product? These exfoliating cotton pads are made from 100% pure cotton and are infused with powerful extracts, lactic acid, glycolic acid plus lemon and orange extracts, making them perfect for removing dead skin cells.