Depending on your skin type, finding an effective yet gentle exfoliator can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack: frustrating and seemingly impossible.

Unless, that is, you have three aesthetician fairy godmothers to guide you.

So we posed the issue to the pros, specifically celebrity aestheticians Renée Rouleau, Shani Darden and Angela Caglia (all hailed for their skin prowess and star-studded clientele). Here are their top picks, in their own words:


Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel $87

Rouleau: “The Triple Berry Smoothing Peel is a great one for sensitive skin because it’s only recommended to use once a week, and for sensitive skin types, you’ll only leave it on for five minutes. In fact, it’s so gentle (yet amazingly effective) that I have all of my celebrity clients use it the night before a big event because it completely smoothens the skin and creates a beautiful radiance — with no risk of irritation. Ever seen Demi Lovato at the Grammys or the VMAs?”

Is Clinical Tri-Active Exfoliant $60

Darden: “Another great exfoliant for sensitive skin is IS Clinical’s Tri-Active Exfoliant. It combines powerful botanical enzymes, salicylic acid and eco-friendly microbeads, which provide ideal exfoliation. It helps to smooth, brighten and soften your skin. “I recommend using this product one to two times per week, depending on your skin type. I am not a big fan of rough scrubs, because it is easy to overdo it, which can contribute to redness. You’ll want to apply this product to your skin, leave it on for five minutes, then rinse.”

Angela Caglia Skincare Dream Exfoliant Mask $140

Caglia: “This mask is great for sensitive skin because it’s a lightweight gel and strategically balanced for the skin’s pH — right between 3.5 to 4.2 — so it won’t overstrip or sensitize your skin. It is delicately and naturally scented with rose distillate and a light percentage of glycolic acid to gently exfoliate and give the skin an immediate glow. Plus (thanks to purple sweet potato extract), the formula is a pretty, natural shade of pink and feels soothing to the skin. It’s gentle enough to use up to three times a week.”

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner $39

Rouleau: “Exfoliating by wiping a liquid acid over the skin is a concept that is growing in popularity. This one can be used once a day and will gently dissolve cellular buildup for sensitive skin types.”

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peels $88

Darden: “Exfoliation is essential if you want a healthy complexion, and at-home exfoliants are key to keeping your skin bright and glowing. I recommend using Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peels once a week. Just make sure you go with the ‘Original Strength’ formula, which will be best for sensitive skin. The two-step treatment has powerful ingredients including glycolic and lactic acids, along with green tea extract and vitamins A, C and E to protect from environmental damage.”

Yon-Ka Gommage 305 Exfoliator $44

Caglia: “This one by Yon-Ka (a dreamy Parisian skin care brand) is an effective exfoliating and clarifying gel made for both dry and/or sensitive skin. It’s expertly formulated with nettle flower and lime oil. To peel it off, you’ll just gently rub it with your fingertips.”