Every skin type requires exfoliation to stay healthy and function at its best, but those with sensitive skin need to take extra care when it comes to exfoliating. Traditional scrubs can leave sensitive skin red and irritated, and even cause tiny tears. But the best enzyme powder face washes for sensitive skin use a combination of active enzymes — which naturally break down dead skin cells and other impurities — and fine, smooth powders to gently buff them away while you cleanse.
Enzyme powder cleansers are exactly what they sound like: a powder intended to be used in place of your regular face wash. They're designed to be applied to a damp face, using damp hands, and when they come in contact with water they dissolve into a rich, low-foaming lather with just a touch of totally customizable grittiness. For a milder exfoliation, thoroughly foam just a bit of powder with water in the palm of your hand before applying. Or, for a deeper exfoliation, you can dampen the powder for just a moment before massaging it into your face.
When you buy a liquid, foam, or gel face wash, you'll usually find that the first ingredient is water. That means that the largest share of the bottle is being taken up by — you guessed it — water. Because powder washes contain no water, these super concentrated formulas go much farther than their liquid counterparts. And, because they're dry, bacteria and mold have a very difficult time growing in them, so it takes a very long time for these multi-tasking miracles to go bad.
And, if I haven't managed to convince you yet that these are a godsend, let me just point out that these are TSA friendly and much less likely to burst on the plane than liquid cleansers.
These seven enzyme powder cleansers are great for sensitive skin types looking for a thorough, gentle cleanse with the added benefit of light chemical exfoliation.
1. This Cult Favorite Rice Powder Cleanser With Japanese Indigo
Tatcha's quartet of enzyme cleansers have developed a super dedicated fan base, and it's because they are amazing. Like really, really amazing. The Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder was designed for sensitive skin, and includes soothing Japanese indigo in the formula — which turns this powder a lovely shade of blue. I've been using this powder cleanser as a morning cleanser for months and I absolutely love it. A little powder really goes a long way, and I'm nowhere near finishing the bottle.
This sulfate-free cleanser uses rice bran to gently exfoliate even the most sensitive skin and Colloidal Oatmeal, green tea, and Japanese indigo to soothe reactive faces and minimize irritation.
2. A Powder Made From Finely Ground Oats, For A Deeper Exfoliation
The Erase Exfoliating and Brightening Powder contains just three simple ingredients: nonfat milk powder, finely milled whole grain oats, and magnesium carbonate. Milk contains gentle enzymes which help the oat powder exfoliate skin deeply, as well as a plethora of nutrients to nourish skin. Because this powder is grittier than most, LUE recommends using it just twice a week.
3. This Affordable K-Beauty Option That Exfoliates With Corn Starch & Papaya Enzymes
Despite not being sulfate-free, this powder wash provides a gentle cleanse and a light exfoliation with corn starch and papaya enzymes. Yes, this isn't the fanciest option out there, but Tosowoong's Powder Wash is a great, affordable option for anyone who isn't sensitive to sulfates. It was even given a 5/5 rating on Fifty Shades Of Snail, a Korean beauty blog written by Jude Chao, a woman who's tried just about every product out there and really knows her stuff.
4. These Incredibly Popular Individual Packets Of Cleanser
These individual packets of cleanser have become insanely popular in Japan, and worldwide thanks to the internet. They claim to contain enough cleanser for a single use, but in my opinion, the generous helping is more than enough. The formula contains gentle cleansing agents, soybean milk filtrate — which is responsible for the enzyme action — as well as silk powder to soften skin.
5. This pH Balanced Rice Bran Powder Wash With Collagen & Papaya Enzymes
In order to function at its best, skin needs to maintain a slightly acidic pH balance of about 5.5, but cleansing with water (which has a pH of about 6.5 to 8.5) can cause skin's pH to become imbalanced — one culprit behind that tight feeling you might be getting after cleansing. So, it helps to use a pH balanced cleanser that can counteract the water's effects.
The Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Face Wash, from Korean beauty brand, SRB, is a pH balanced cleanser that uses corn starch, rice bran, and papaya enzymes to gently exfoliate. The formula also contains collagen, allantoin, and aloe juice to soothe and brighten skin.
6. An Enzyme Wash That Clears Breakouts With Salicylic Acid & Pumpkin Seed
Murad's Transforming Powder is a perfect cleanser for acne prone, sensitive skin types because it doesn't contain sulfates or alcohol, which can cause irritation, and the powder gets an extra exfoliating boost from Salicylic Acid and an active enzyme called "Bacillus Ferment." The formula also contains niacinamide, which helps improve skin's natural barrier function over time, something acne sufferers can benefit from greatly, and jojoba esters that hydrate and protect skin from drying out while you cleanse.
7. Exfoliate Skin With Argan Shell & Rice Powders, Plus A Cocktail Of Natural Extracts
Josie Maran is known for their sensitive skin friendly products that will make you glow, so it's no surprise that their Argan Exfoliating Cleansing Powder is all about gentle exfoliation and natural ingredients. This powder exfoliates with finely ground argan shell, rice powder, and papaya enzymes, and it's totally free of harsh cleansing agents that can strip the skin. If the gentle exfoliation isn't enough to make your skin glow, this cleanser also includes Salicylic Acid, grapefruit oil, and extracts from Ginko Bilboa Leaf, tea tree, and green tea for extra brightening power.
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