Best Korean Exfoliator for Sensitive Skin: Top Picks for 2021

Finding the best Korean exfoliator for sensitive skin is one of the top ways to remove dead skin cells from your face.

I know, I know; sometimes skin sensitivity is so severe that you wish you didn’t have to exfoliate at all.

We’ve got to do it, though if we want brighter skin and better skin health.

Don’t worry, though, for there is a Korean product with your name on it. 

Let’s start with a quick look at our top picks, then keep reading for all the glorious details.

READ MORE: Best Korean Exfoliator for Blackheads

Best Korean Exfoliator for Sensitive Skin Top Picks at a Glance

If you see the value in these products and choose to purchase via my referral links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Check the table below for a side-by-side comparison of our favorites!

WINNER!
Preview
DERMALOGY by NEOGENLAB CALMING CICA TREE (Cica Micellar Pad)
Top Benefit
Infused with Centella Asiatica extract that soothes inflamed and sensitive skin
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Best Chemical Exfoliant
Preview
[BY WISHTREND] Mandelic acid 5% Skin prep water, gentle facial exfoliate, aha toner, 120ml, 4.06oz | Smooth skin texture, Helping pigmentation
Top Benefit
Doubles as a gentle exfoliator and toner
Check Latest Price
Best Cleanser/Scrub
Preview
Korean Beauty (SRB) Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Face Wash and Scrub, Cleanses, Exfoliates, Brightens - 70 grams
Top Benefit
Over 50 different nutrients and enzymes derived from rice bran
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5 Best Korean Exfoliator for Sensitive Skin [Review]

Exfoliators are kind of my forte! I’m not going to lie; I love exfoliating. The way the skin feels right after you’ve used a gentle exfoliator is just one of the best feelings ever!

Tell me you feel the same? Whether you’re into physical exfoliation or chemical exfoliation, Korean skincare products offer you a wide variety of options for your consideration.

And, of course, you have me to tell you which is the best of the best. Here are the top 5 exfoliators that remove dead skin layers, flaky skin, and rough skin to reveal skin that radiates and glows. 

1. Dermalogy by Neogenlab Real Cica Pad (Overall Winner) 

Neogen makes some of the best Korean exfoliating pads for users with all skin types, and this one, in particular, is meant for those with hypersensitive skin.

DERMALOGY by NEOGENLAB CALMING CICA TREE (Cica Micellar Pad)

Features

These pads are soaked in Centella Asiatica (aka Gotu Kola) extract, which is quite popular among Korean skincare products.

It doesn’t cause skin irritation and is mild enough for use on highly sensitive skin types. 

The formula helps reduce skin inflammation and redness and also promotes collagen production and cell turnover.

It is further infused with sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid, key players in the Korean skincare business that adds hydration to the skin. 

The product is made completely with natural ingredients and free of harmful chemicals such as parabens, mineral oil, and artificial fragrance.

The pads have a low pH of 5.83, meaning they are gentle enough to be used for daily exfoliation.

You get 90 pads in the tub, all soaked up with the goodness of several feel-good ingredients.

BenefitsDrawbacks
Ready-to-use gentle exfoliant.Can cause whiteheads.
Infused with Centella Asiatica extract that soothes inflamed and sensitive skin. Pads can dry out after some time.
Hyaluronic acid for skin hydration. Some say the pads are on the thin side.
Free of harmful ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and artificial fragrance. 
Can be used every day for gentle exfoliation. 
DERMALOGY by NEOGENLAB CALMING CICA TREE (Cica Micellar Pad)

How it compares to other products and why?

If you have sensitive skin prone to acne, you will love this product for sure, thanks to its skin-friendly ingredients that exfoliate and don’t aggravate the skin.

Expert Tip

The best part? They’re ready for use. Just take them out with a spatula or clean hands and rub them all over your clean face. Saying goodbye to dull skin never felt better. 

2. Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel (Loaded With Fruit Enzymes) 

Up next in our list of the best Korean exfoliators for sensitive skin is the Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel.

Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel, Glowing Smooth Skin,

Features

Loaded with tannic acid found in apples, the gel rescues troubled skin and provides a brightening effect for healthy skin.

Other ingredients include papaya enzymes, gypsophila paniculata root extract, lemon, orange, and bilberry leaves extract.

Vitamins, apple acid, and sugar from apple extract help give a healthy glow to your skin. 

BenefitsDrawbacks
Loaded with the goodness of natural extracts. Consistency of the product is light.
Gommage peeling type gel that removes keratin, sebum, and bodily waste. Contains parabens.
Can be used once in a week or two weeks for sensitive skin types. 

How it compares to other products and why?

The Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel is power-packed with fruit enzymes that gently remove dead skin cells, skin wastes, and sebum.

Expert Tips

Applying the gel is kind of fun. You take a little bit on your fingers and apply it all over your clean face.

You then rub and roll the gel smoothly over your skin for 1 to 2 minutes and let the gelly granules roll up. When the two minutes are up, you wash it off with lukewarm water and say hello to clearer skin. 

Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel, Glowing Smooth Skin, Elasticity, Natural and Mild Peeling with Gentle Exfoliation, Tone Correction and Deep Cleansing 120ml, 4.1 fl oz
  • Elasticity
  • Natural and Mild
  • Gentle Exfoliation and dermatologically tested formula
  • Tone correction effect
  • Deep cleansing in skin pores

3. Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water (Best Chemical Exfoliant) 

This gentle exfoliator by Wishtrend is on the list of my favorite best Korean chemical exfoliator that has done wonders on my sensitive skin.

Mandelic acid 5% Skin prep water”]

Features

Mandelic acid, one of the top active ingredients in this product, is a form of alpha-hydroxy acid that provides gentle exfoliation without being too harsh on the skin.

Other ingredients include panthenol, beta-glucan, and Centella Asiatica extract that soothes and hydrates the skin after gently exfoliating.

This product is free of harmful ingredients such as ethanol, parabens, silicone, and steroids.

It is also cruelty-free and 100% vegan friendly. 

BenefitsDrawbacks
Doubles as a gentle exfoliator and toner. Can cause breakouts.
Loaded with 5% mandelic acid, a gentle dead skin remover. Can cause allergic reactions on some skin types.
Free of parabens, silicone, artificial colors, and fragrance. 

How it compares to other products and why?

Chemical exfoliation gently removes dead skin cells, promotes cell turnover, and lightens dark spots, all without causing allergic reactions on skin types such as yours.

[BY WISHTREND] Mandelic acid 5% Skin prep water, gentle facial exfoliate, aha toner, 120ml, 4.06oz | Smooth skin texture, Helping pigmentation
  • A hydrating and nonirritating exfoliant that can be used daily, pH : 5.0 ± 1.0
  • Formulated with Mandelic Acid, which can be used without any irritation even on sensitive skin, the Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water is an exfoliating treatment that improves the skin tone and texture while boosting the effectiveness of other products.
  • Helps with pigmentation to improve the skin tone and texture. As a mild exfoliator that works on the surface of the skin, safe to use even for sensitive skin to avoid the use of harsh chemical exfoliation.
  • Mandelic acid As one of the AHA ingredients, it has a large molecular size which causes very little irritation to the skin. It helps to improve pigmentation as well as to restore aged skin.
  • Package RENEWAL - Slight difference to wording, design, color |120ml, 4.05 oz, Cruelty-free, Vegan friendly, Ethanol-free, Paraben-free, Silicon-free, Steroid-free, Artificial coloring-free, Artificial fragrance-free

4. SKINFOOD Rice Mask Wash Off (Best Budget Buy) 

SKINFOOD is renowned for making some of the best masks for hypersensitive skin, and this one is no exception.

SKINFOOD Mask Rice 100g - White Rice Exfoliating Scrub Wash Off Face Masks for Darken Skin

Features

This wash-off mask is made with 20% Cheorwon Odae rice bran water that brightens the skin tone and clarifies dead skin.

It effectively removes skin impurities and bumpy skin and radically improves skin condition.

The 5% Cheorwon Odae rice powder works to provide gentle exfoliation that is safe for use on most skin types, even oily and acne-prone skin.

BenefitsDrawbacks
5% Cheorwon Odae rice powder for gentle exfoliation. Brightening effect is temporary.
Infused with 20% Cheorwon Odae rice bran water for clarifying skin. Fragrance can seem too strong.
Can be used once or twice a week by users with hypersensitive skin. 

How it compares to other products and why?

The Cheorwon Odae rice powder mildly exfoliates while brightening and softening complexion.

Expert Tip

The mask is meant to be applied onto a clean face and left for about 5 to 10 minutes. After the allotted time is over, users wash it off with lukewarm water, and voila! Hello, beautiful skin. 

SKINFOOD Mask Rice 100g - White Rice Exfoliating Scrub Wash Off Face Masks for Darken Skin - Facial Cleanser, Pore Exfoliator, Brighten and Soften Body Skin - Safe For Men and Women (3.52 oz)
  • Rice Food Mask - A wash-off mask allows you to give self-administered home care every day differently depending on skin concern and area. Pure and active ingredients of Cheorwon Odae rice are excellent in providing healthy and smooth skin.
  • Instant Clear & Radiance Effect - 20% Cheorwon Odae rice bran water helps brightens the skin tone and clarifying dead skin immediately after application and 5% Cheorwon Odae rice powder provides gentle exfoliation by fine rice powder particles.
  • Safe For All Skin Type - Bouncy mochi-like texture gently adheres to the skin for a softer massage. Our food masks are excellent, gentle, and safe for dry, normal, oily, and sensitive skin.
  • Easy to Apply - After cleansing, remove water, apply to the entire face, and after 5-10 minutes, rinse off with lukewarm water. For fresh and total glowing body skin, it is best to have SKINFOOD active skincare beauty products.
  • Authentic Korean Beauty Products - Korean Beauty products like SKINFOOD lead the world with their top-tier beauty and makeup products. We are the first cosmetic brand to root itself in food since 1957, as we believe that the highest quality nutritive food results in healthy, beautiful skin to create a healthier lifestyle.

5. Stabilized Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Wash (Best Cleanser/Scrub) 

Korean Beauty (SRB) Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Face Wash and Scrub

Features

The Stabilized Rice Bran Enzyme Powder wash doubles as both a cleanser and a gentle exfoliator.

The advanced formula has over 50 different kinds of nutrients and enzymes derived from rice bran.

It is also infused with Grape Seed and pollen extract.

Rice water helps in reducing the appearance of pores.

The hypoallergenic formula ensures that it is safe for use on hypersensitive skin. 

BenefitsDrawbacks
Doubles as a cleanser and physical scrub.May not work for oily skin.
Over 50 different nutrients and enzymes derived from rice bran. Can dry out sensitive skin.
Hypoallergenic formula free of parabens, glycerin, artificial colors, and pH regulators. 

How it compares to other products and why?

The product helps soothe inflamed skin with the cooling effects of rice. The rice powder gently removes dead skin cells and debris to reveal healthy-looking skin.

Sale
Korean Beauty (SRB) Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Face Wash and Scrub, Cleanses, Exfoliates, Brightens - 70 grams
  • ADVANCED FORMULA contains at least 50 different kinds of nutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants derived from rice bran and rice germ. This product contains more than 10X the amount of rice extract found in traditional rice water and is also infused with Grape Seed and pollen extract to provide large doses of factors such as GABA, Lycopene, Carotenoids, folic acid, phytic acid, B vitamins, and Co-Q10 among others. This formula is guaranteed to leave your skin both healthy and radiant.
  • SOOTHES SKIN due to the naturally anti-inflammatory and cooling effects of rice. Many studies have shown that rice contains natural anti-inflammatory agents such as triterpene and sterol ferulates. A 2002 study from Brussels University even showed that patients with atopic dermatitis who took consistent rice water baths showed a 20% improvement to the healing capacity of damaged skin.
  • GENTLLY EXFOLIATES dead and built up skin creating the perfect starting point for applying makeup or simply removing oil from your face. For men, use before and after shaving to ease shaving and relieve skin after shaving. Rice powder gently exfoliates while papaya extract (Papain) proteolytically breaks down gunk and debris. Rice water has been shown to reduce the appearance of pores and tighten skin and can to promote cell growth, stimulate blood flow, and keeps skin smooth and bright!
  • HYPOALLERGENIC FORMULA makes this product perfect for people of all ages, genders, and skin types… including people with easily agitated or sensitive skin. Product does not contain preservatives such as glycerins, artificial colors, pH regulators, parabens, etc. This product is perfect for sensitive skin!
  • BEST VALUE compared to brands which are either more expensive for the same or similar amount, or have much less advanced formulas with fewer ingredients. Take advantage of this lesser known beauty secret from South Korea, home of the K Beauty industry and the epicenter of advanced skin care development!

Check out this helpful video:

FAQs

Should you exfoliate if you have sensitive skin? 

a woman exfoliating her face with a gentle scrub

Yes. All skin types get dead skin cells over time that must be removed with chemical or physical exfoliators. In doing so, one can better their skin texture and get smoother skin.  

How often should I exfoliate sensitive skin?

Some exfoliators can be used every day. However, others may be harsh on sensitive skin. It depends on the product that you’re using. But, once or twice a week is a good place to start. 

Is hyaluronic acid safe for sensitive skin? 

Yes. Hyaluronic acid works on all skin types to provide hydration to parched skin. It is used by products that work on oily skin, too, since oily skin types need hydration as well. 

What is the best exfoliator for sensitive skin? 

We love the Neogen Real Cica Pad, a ready-to-use product for gentle exfoliation on hypersensitive skin. Other favorites include the Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel and the Stabilized Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Wash for gentle exfoliation. 

Final Thoughts

It can be easy for one to forego exfoliation if one has susceptible skin. I know, I’ve been there.

You don’t want to aggravate your skin condition and apply something that may further increase redness and irritation.

However, it is easy to find an exfoliator that works well with your skin type and skin concern with the right Korean skincare products.

As with all things, do not overdo it, though. Also, make sure to stop exfoliating if you feel like your skin is getting thinner or more sensitive.  

Our Recommendation

References

  • Dr. Axe. 2020. “The Fiber That Supports Heart, Gut and Immune Health.” Dr. Axe. April 18, 2020. https://draxe.com/nutrition/beta-glucan/.
  • Frothingham, Scott. 2019. “Benefits of Papaya for Your Skin and Hair.” Healthline. Healthline Media. November 24, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/papaya-benefits-for-skin.
  • “GOTU KOLA: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews.” 2017. Webmd.com. 2017. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-753/gotu-kola.
  • Morse, Royce G. 2019. “Does Washing Your Face with Rice Water Help Your Skin?” Healthline. Healthline Media. January 18, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/rice-water-for-skin.
a lady with best korean exfoliator for sensitive skin mask sheet and holding two cucumbers

For you, what is the best Korean exfoliator for sensitive skin? Please share your pick with us below!

About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and FACEBOOK

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