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Put to the test: The gentle new oat-based exfoliant that actually calms sensitive skin


Put to the test: The gentle new oat-based exfoliant that actually calms sensitive skin
Beauty editor Megan Bedford puts this new gentle exfoliant, made with Oat Bran Extract and Coconut Milk, to the test to see how it fares on sensitive skin.

Exfoliating shouldn’t be scary.

Yet, ask anyone with sensitive, reactive skin or those prone to redness or rosacea (hey, that’s me!) how they feel about using a face scrub and they’ll likely wince. Traditionally these type of harsh products can only make the situation worse.

It’s why the prospect of a new exfoliator that not only works on sensitive skin without irritation, but also has ingredients that actively calm and soothe, is intriguing.

Gentle new arrival

Dermalogica’s new Daily Milkfoliant says it’s just that, a gentle option that gives the smoothing benefits of exfoliation but carefully created with key ingredients that nourish, rather than strip skin. And it’s not a scrub either, but a microfine powder, but more on that in a minute.

It’s fair to say Dermalogica, the globally successful, professional-grade skincare brand beloved by skin therapists, knows both sensitive skin and exfoliants. The brand has long formulated part of its range specifically to treat sensitivity and redness, and has a publicly stated goal of ensuring healthy skin for all.

This new arrival is also an offshoot of its previous, wildly successful powdered exfoliants. The original, Daily Microfoliant, was first created in 2001 and still a best-seller. It’s a rice-based powder you massage into damp skin, activating Papain, Salicylic Acid and Rice Enzymes, for a brighter and smoother complexion. The second version, Daily Superfoliant works in a similar manner. However its formula, that includes Activated Binchotan Charcoal, targets daily pollution build-up and counters environmental challenges that can further age skin.

Calming and smoothing

The new Daily Milkfoliant has been created for those that like the idea of those former releases, but also deal with more challenging skin that needs to be treated carefully.

The vegan formula promises to deliver the results we seek out from an exfoliant – softer, smoother and more healthy-looking skin with three main aims:

  • Calm skin with Oat Bran Extract and Coconut Milk, both ingredients known to soothe and hydrate
  • Polish away dead skin cells with Grape Extract and Papaya, rich in AHAs and BHAs
  • Replenish skin’s barrier with essential minerals and Hyaluronic Acid

The verdict: What we thought

As a beauty editor, I bravely volunteered my sensitive skin as tribute in order to try this new arrival.

I have dry skin and cheeks that occasionally get so sensitive they flare with sore red patches, particularly in winter. I work hard to maintain my skin’s natural protective barrier, known as the stratum corneum. In particular I favour gentle creams and face oils and generally avoid scrubs with physical particles. Instead, for any resurfacing I favour those using gentle liquid AHAs, so it’s great to see they are included in this formula.

AHAs are known for loosening what’s akin to the ‘glue’ holding dead skin cells together, sweeping them off the surface of skin. These dead skin cells contribute to dullness and visible texture and flakes on skin, for me particularly around the nose, which is why those of us with sensitive skin still like to exfoliate!

To test, I followed the directions for application, wetting both my face and my hands. I shook out a small amount of the cream-coloured, almost clay-like powder into one hand then rubbed both of them together.

The powder texture (above) of Daily Milkfoliant transforms into a soft, creamy lather when activated in your damp hands. 

Immediately it’s apparent that the finely-milled powder has very little grit involved. The dampness of my hands emulsified the powder and it transformed into a soft, creamy lather as I massaged it gently around my face with circular motions.  I concentrated on areas around my forehead and nose that needed some some extra attention.

Moving around my face, I was surprised that it felt so smooth. It feels like a normal cleanser, super gentle and lovely and soft to use, diluting into a milky texture as I splashed with water to start to rinse away.

What’s more, I loved its faint oaty smell from the oat bran extract. The familiar scent is so nostalgic and calming to me, the perfect accompaniment to make using this even better.

Surprisingly, after patting dry with a towel, my skin felt fresh and smooth rather than dry and tight. Applying the rest of my skincare, there was no stinging and my serum and moisturiser absorbed beautifully.

In the weeks since I first tried it, I have used the Daily Milkfoliant two to three times a week and leave it in my shower for easy application. You do have to be careful to keep it well away from the steam and water and put the lid on tight to protect the dry formula, but I find I like to use in the morning for a quick smoothing treatment before I start my makeup.

The best part is that even though it’s winter I haven’t experienced any extra irritation, redness or sensitivity as I usually would if I used an exfoliant that regularly. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone nervous about using exfoliants while dealing with reactive skin as I have found it to be so gentle while still giving visible smoothing results.

It’s become a regular part of my routine and as a little goes a very long way, I can see myself using it for a long time to come!

  • For more information on Dermalogica’s Daily Milkfoliant, $119, visit



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