This $11 Gentle Cleanser Is the Only Exfoliant I Trust On My Ultra-Sensitive Skin

It gave me a glowy complexion after just one use.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

fulvic acid exfoliant
Photo: The Inkey List

I love my skin-care routine. All eight luxurious steps of it make me feel like the glowing goddess of my bathroom, and even though it takes a hot minute to get through, the results are 100 percent worth it. But TBH, I wasn't always this excited about my regimen.

In fact, before I became a beauty writer and actually learned about what I was putting on my face, I hated trying out new products, especially when it came to acne-reducing cleansers. I, like so many people with sensitive skin, can't handle the exfoliating ingredients that come in some basic acne face washes: benzoyl peroxide makes me sand-paper dry, and even salicylic acid leaves me looking like a blotchy red mess for hours. And on top of all that, I still had huge patches of pimples and dull skin. So after years of trial and error, you can probably imagine my excitement when I finally found this gentle cleansing formula from The Inkey List.

The Inkey List Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser (Buy It, $11, theinkeylist.com) uses the antioxidant fulvic acid as its star ingredient. According to a 2019 study published in The Indian Practitioner, when fulvic acid is applied topically it can decrease inflammation and support the skin's barrier function. While not quite as strong as other acids like citric and glycolic, fulvic acid can produce some similar benefits like the reduction of acne, fading of discoloration and scars, and overall brightening by removing dead skin cells. Plus, this formula in particular also includes hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to nourish and maintain moisture in the skin.

fulvic acid exfoliant
The Inkey List

Buy It: The Inkey List Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser, $11, theinkeylist.com, sephora.com

I bought my first bottle while doomscrolling away a Sunday night on TikTok, and honestly forgot about it until it arrived a few days later. After reading reviews from other shoppers with sensitive skin, I decided to give it a week and then decide if it should earn a permanent spot in my skin-care routine. After the first wash, I was immediately impressed by how non-drying it felt on my face. The lightweight gel-like texture emulsified evenly, and even after leaving it for a full sixty seconds, I didn't feel like I needed to put on a moisturizer immediately after. Moments later, my face developed a dewy glow that I was obsessed with, so much so that I decided to permanently bench my normal cleanser in place of this one. (BTW: This list has some of the best exfoliating products for sensitive skin.)

In addition to giving me brighter skin, this cleanser took care of other skin-care woes I had all but given up on. For instance, the scarring on my cheeks from a bad bout of maskne is less noticeable than ever, and even my pre-period breakouts have calmed down significantly. Even better? This bottle of magic is only $11, less than a third of the price of my morning SoulCycle class (at least that's how I think of it). If you struggle with combination skin that's super sensitive, I highly recommend heading to The Inkey List site and getting this beyond-incredible cleanser.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles