Likely the best-known face and body scrub on the market, St. Ives Apricot Scrub, has been used for decades by those hoping to reduce breakouts, slough off dead skin or to just get that after-scrub glow. St. Ives uses "100% natural walnut shell powder" in its product, which is intended to give mechanical exfoliation. But as consumers have become better educated about their skin, there has been increasing awareness of the risks of using products that contain such ingredients. In fact, in 2016 a class action lawsuit was brought forth that alleged St. Ives Apricot Scrub caused harm to consumers' skin through over-abrasion while encouraging the onset of acne, wrinkles, inflammation and loss of moisture. The lawsuit was thrown out in 2018 but many consumers are still wondering if walnut or apricot scrubs are bad for their skin. Let's walk you through it.
Basics of Exfoliation
- Chemical Exfoliation: use of a substance with a low pH to dissolve dead skin cells from the skin's surface
- Mechanical Exfoliation: use of a rough substance or tool to scrape dead skin cells from the skin's surface
As you likely already know, there are two types of exfoliation: chemical, which uses acid to dissolve dead skin cells, and mechanical, which requires physical force to remove dead skin cells. Walnut or apricot facial scrubs fall into the mechanical category. And while mechanical exfoliation can be effective, it also requires caution. Rough particles, such as ground-up seeds or fruit pits, can create micro-tears in the skin, which leads to skin inflammation and even infection. By their very name, facial scrubs give the impression that you must use them aggressively, but doing so weakens the skin's barrier, which can cause further problems, including dry skin, acne and more.
If you do want to use a facial scrub in your skin care routine, it's important that you rethink your approach to it:
1. Look for a facial scrub that includes gentle ingredients for exfoliation, such as sugar or silica. You want to ensure that the scrub uses round particles that are extremely small in size, as these present a lesser risk of skin damage.
2. When used on your face, a scrub should be applied as gently as you would a facial cleanser. Gently massage the product onto your skin and rinse. On the rest of your body you can be more aggressive but remember - the skin on our faces is thinner than the rest of the body and requires a lighter touch.
3. If you have sensitive skin, acne or another inflammatory skin condition, such as psoriasis or rosacea, it's best to skip facial scrubs, as these may exacerbate the condition.
Our Expert Advice
While the skin care experts at Lexli believe that use of a chemical exfoliator is a safer, gentle and more effective approach to exfoliation, we understand that sometimes you just want to use a facial scrub. Just follow the guidance presented here and you can likely avoid the potential for skin damage.
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