Does this iconic skincare scrub actually work? Experts come clean on exfoliants



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This might come as a bit harsh: Your favorite exfoliator might be too abrasive for your skin.

Exfoliating scrubs, specifically, the St. Ives Apricot Scrub, have earned a controversial reputation — diehard fans refuse to relinquish their holy grail skincare product, while experts adamantly advise against it.

While it can make you feel squeaky clean, physically scrubbing at the skin to exfoliate — whether using a tool or a product that contains beads or grit — can be too harsh, especially on your face where the skin is more sensitive.

You may be tempted to scrub at your face to achieve baby soft skin, but dermatologists say not so fast. LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS – stock.adobe.com

This can leave your complexion red and irritated or even worsen conditions like acne, experts tell HuffPost.

“I tell patients to avoid using scrubs with large particles to avoid causing any negative reaction such as irritation, redness or flakiness,” Dr. Howard Sobel, a New York City dermatologist, told the outlet.

While other areas of the body may benefit from some extra attention with a scrub — such as rough heels — it is generally unnecessary on the face. After all, the skin naturally exfoliates itself, sloughing off dead skin without the help of a third party scrub.

On the face, dead skin can build up and clog pores, so those with oily and acne-prone skin could benefit from a gentle exfoliant on rare occasions.

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Abrasive scrubs with grit and beads can cause micro-traumas to the skin and irritate it further, leaving your complexion red and potentially worse-off than before. tatyanarow – stock.adobe.com

“I would advise people to use gentle sponges and washcloths, rather than a physical scrub,” said board-certified dermatologist Jinmeng Zhang, who is based in Arizona. “I find that products with beads or small granules and brushes are too abrasive.”

People who can’t quit exfoliating cold turkey should at least refrain from it before spending time in the sun, as it makes the skin more prone to burns. You also shouldn’t exfoliate over broken skin or bug bites, per HuffPost.

Another option is chemical exfoliators, which are better-tolerated on the skin than physical scrubs because they use acids to unclog pores without causing trauma to the skin.

Chemical exfoliants tend to be better tolerated and gentler on the skin to achieve the desired result. Veronika – stock.adobe.com

According to Sobel, chemical exfoliators are serums, toners or other products that contain ingredients such as glycolic, lactic and citric acid, also known as aloha hydroxy acids (AHA), or beta hydroxy acids (BHA) like salicylic acid. Retinoids can also be prescribed by your doctor to achieve the same result.

After exfoliating, The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends following with a moisturizer.



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