St Ives appear to be facing a $5m lawsuit by two women who claim the Apricot Scrub caused irritation. Er, hello.. if you rub crushed walnut shell all over your face, you can expect no less to be honest. And yet, St Ives Apricot Scrub is a best seller – I used it in my 20’s and was thrilled with how smooth it made my skin feel. In the days when we just didn’t question formulas in the way we do now, it was a staple in beauty regimes, such as they were.

St Ives is owned by Unilever, who should know better to be honest, but until now, the brand has taken an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude. The two women also contest the ‘dermatologist tested’ claim – I don’t think there is a dermatologist in the land who would suggest that abrasive walnut shell can do anything other than scratch your face (in micro form) and that’s their point – if they had known it could cause skin damage, they wouldn’t have bought it. Allure magazine features a derm quote from someone who is conflicted over upsetting Unilever with an outright ‘never, ever’, and while he doesn’t recommend it as such, he suggests that you can use it as a wash without actually ‘scrubbing’. But why would you not use the scrub aspect of a scrub.. better to buy an actual wash. The general derm consensus is that the micro tears that walnut particles can cause clearly aren’t good for your skin. Also, consider that St Ives uses their wording cleverly when it comes to ‘natural’ claims – ‘inspired by nature, bringing you the best of nature’ when a drill down of ingredients tells you that the ‘natural’ ingredients are sparse in comparison to the non-natural.

Peter Thomas Roth Peeling Gel

The problem for Unilever is that once the product has been bought, they have no control, despite recommendations, over how it’s used. You might get one person literally scrubbing it into their complexion daily as though their life depended upon it, and another using it in more gentle, skin respectful form. I like a scrubby scrub to be honest, but over the years have come to prefer enzymatic exfoliators, such as Peter Thomas Roth Peeling Gel (HERE) and Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel (on offer HERE) that are a mixture of the two. It’s interesting that many derms don’t recommend exfoliating at all – they say that good cleansing keeps cell turnover healthy but try telling that to the millions who love that smooth and fresh feeling that only exfoliation brings.

I’m interested, in the light of the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder suit, to see how this works out for Unilever and St Ives because it does raise the whole point about ‘dermatologist tested’ (for what? by how many? independently?) products and whether that claim causes more harm than good. Also on my radar (waiting for my product to arrive so I can test it for myself), is the Shills Purifying Peel Off Mask which has been getting some terrible reviews in forums.

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