I Don't Want No Scrub
Much like the R&B ladies of TLC in 1999, we don't want no scrubs. Abrasive facial scrubs, that is.
St. Ives is under fire for their famous Apricot Scrub, which contains particles of walnut shells to "exfoliate" the skin. The plaintiffs in this class action lawsuit explain that they never would have bought the scrub, had St. Ives' marketing indicated the potential for skin damage from using such a harsh scrub.
In response to the lawsuit, many dermatologists have nodded to confirm that yes, this scrub can damage and tear the delicate top layer of the skin. Exfoliation can be a very good thing, but one must remember to never be too greedy -- this principle holds up regarding exfoliation too. Exfoliate too much, and you'll be doing more harm than good.
But I thought the top layer of skin is dead and needs to be removed? Well yes and no. Truly dead skin cells should be removed, or else they run the risk of clogging your pores and causing a breakout. However, most of the top layer of the skin is actually alive and well, and these cells function as signaling devices that send messages to the bottom layers of the skin. If you scrub and scrub, the top layer of your poor skin is going to send a message to the bottom layers of your skin that says:
"HEY IT'S CRAZY UP HERE. Do yourself a favor and stay down there where it's safe."
This reduces cellular turnover and is the beginning of breakout-causing hyperkeratinization. This is the exact opposite of your initial goal.
Soooo...what should I do instead? Most skin experts recommend a light chemical exfoliation (as opposed to a harsh, mechanical exfoliation). Chemical exfoliation is best achieved through a healthy application of products that are rich in Vitamin A and fruit acids. An absolute must for daily exfoliation is Clear by GR8/SKN. Clear is packed with the high performance exfoliants mandelic acid and willow bark to decrease breakouts and help prevent new ones. It is also a great non-drying toner because it doesn’t contain salicylic acid.
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