You’ve probably used St. Ives Apricot Scrub at least once in your life. Maybe it was your go-to exfoliator as a teen. Or perhaps it was a staple in your shower caddy while you roughed it in the dorms. Who knows, maybe you still reach for it in the shower when when you’re feeling extra oily. No matter when—or where—you’ve used the drugstore favorite, you should be aware of the recent controversy surrounding the scrub, as the product is at the center of a legal issue.
As TMZ (you know, the celebrity gossip site which is now moonlighting as a skin-care news hub, but we digress) reports, two women have recently filed a $5 million class-action lawsuit against St. Ives’s parent company, Unilever, after claiming the scrub caused irritation due in part to its “sandpaper”-like feel on the skin. But that’s not all: The lawsuit also claims the scrub may accelerate the aging process, as the remnants of walnut shells used in the formula can lead to inflammation.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of the whole scrub saga is that the suit says the product claims to be “dermatologist tested,” but some experts aren’t fans. We reached out to a real-life dermatologist, Bruce Katz, a clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, to find out his thoughts on the St. Ives legal trouble.
Katz, who doesn’t recommend the exfoliator because it is “too harsh,” says the scrub, if used too vigorously, “can cause fissures or tears in the skin, which can lead to infection if not cared for properly.” And those tears, which can lead to micro-tearing, are caused by the granules [used in the scrub], which have sharp edges and cut into the skin, explains Katz. “If the skin is scrubbed too hard, the tears can even be larger and lead to infections.”
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But this isn’t all to say the St. Ives Apricot Scrub should be banned from your shower completely. If you’ve found that the exfoliator works best for your skin (when used only once or twice a week, as exfoliating products should be used sparingly to avoid irritation), Katz recommends using the apricot-scented formula “gently” as a wash—rather than a scrub—to avoid inflammation. (Meaning, the St. Ives product can be used in lieu of your cleanser on the days you use it.) He adds, “I’d only recommend using it every second or third day, particularly in the winter months when the skin gets quite dry and is even more prone to irritation.” Sounds good to us.
When asked for a comment, a Unilever spokesperson gave Allure the following statement: “As a general practice, we do not comment on pending litigation. We can say that for over 30 years, consumers have loved and trusted the St. Ives brand to refresh and revitalize their skin. We are proud to be America’s top facial scrub brand and stand by our dermatologist tested formula.”
Now, find out how to make a scrub to target dark spots: