What is St. Ives?
When I ask clients during skin care consultations what their routine is like, I often hear “well, I use the St. Ives Apricot Scrub and…” and they continue to tell me how their friend’s sisters Instagram follower recommended it to them and it’s been their holy grail since. I cringe every time before explaining to them that they are making a big mistake by using this.
If you haven’t heard of the popular St. Ives Apricot Scrub that claims to clear acne, good. I’m glad you haven’t because you need to stay far, far away from it.
Let’s dive right in and take a look at the scrub’s ingredients.
Water (Aqua, Eau), Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Powder, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Meal, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetyl Acetate, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Polysorbate 60, Ceteareth-20, Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Fragrance (Parfum), PPG-2 Methyl Ether, Phenethyl Alcohol, Limonene, Linalool, Methylisothiazolinone, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Fruit Extract.
What’s The Problem?
First, it’s filled with a bunch of pointless ingredients (fillers), but the main issue with the St. Ives Apricot Scrub is the walnut shell powder. It is extremely abrasive and not suitable for the facial skin at all. Your body may be able to handle it, but please keep this ingredient off of your face. Walnut shell powder is actually so abrasive, that it causes micro-tears in your skin. Which results in a damaged acid mantle and exposes your skin to even more bacteria, as well as makes it super dry. Ironic that a scrub marketed for acne-sufferers can actually result in more acne.
If you are new here, I wrote a post about the dangers of damaging your acid mantle. Essentially, when you destroy your acid mantle whether through over-exfoliating it chemically or physically, you make your skin susceptible to acne-causing bacteria and other pollutants because there is nothing acting as a guard to keep them out any longer. By using St. Ives Apricot Scrub, you also reduce your skin’s ability to retain moisture, making it dry and age quicker.
Also, when you scrub your skin harshly, this causes it to become inflamed. Inflammation means you’ve irritated your skin so badly, to the point where it is raw and extremely sensitive. Ouch. Your pores also swell up and trap in acne-causing bacteria, which means you breakout even more. If you have acne or are acne prone, the last thing you want to do is use a scrub. It is not helping in any way or form, it’s actually exacerbating your problem.
So Why Is The St. Ives Scrub So Popular?
Before St. Ives reformulated this scrub, it contained salicylic acid in it. Salicylic acid is known for its effectiveness in treating acne. What you thought was the scrubbing action getting rid of your acne, was actually the salicylic acid working; which, by the way, can be found in products that won’t cause microtears in the skin. The only logical explanation for its popularity and faux effectiveness is the salicylic acid that was in it.
If you have sensitive, excessively dry, or oily/acne-prone skin, a salicylic acid and walnut shell powder SCRUB is your worst nightmare. Salicylic acid is already quite drying, using it in conjunction with an abrasive scrub? You may as well use sandpaper to exfoliate. Now that the new St. Ives Apricot Scrub formulation no longer contains salicylic acid, you are literally tearing your skin for absolutely no reason.
This scrub gaining popularity through beauty influencers is proof that readers need to be very selective of who they take skin care advice from. Not every blogger or social media beauty influencer *really* knows skincare. This is evident in all the natural methods many influencers in the beauty community promote that can actually damage the skin, such as lemon to treat dark spots or milk of magnesia as a makeup primer for oily skin. Read carefully and always verify any skincare advice you read before trying it out on yourself.
What Are Some Alternatives?
Acne absolutely sucks. Trust me, I’ve been where you are. Over years of research and trial and error, in my professional opinion, chemical exfoliation is more effective than physical for acne. You don’t need a scrub. It’s time to graduate from physical exfoliation to acids. Sounds scary, I know. But I promise your skin will thank you in the long run, and causing micro-tears in your skin sounds a tad bit scarier to me. With physical exfoliation, you run the risk of possibly causing micro-tears in the skin, while not even seeing results for years or even setting your progress back as a result of a damaged acid mantle. Chemical exfoliation, when done consistently and properly, will help you reach your skin care goals without exposing your precious skin to bacteria. Here are great beginner chemical exfoliants: