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Apricot walnut physical exfoliant eight saints

Yes, Apricot and Walnut Scrubs Are Bad For Your Skin - Here’s Why

If you grew up in the ‘90s or early 2000s, chances are you’ve used - or at least heard about - the cult favorite St. Ives apricot scrub. And it hasn’t just been a go-to for the skincare uninitiated - everyone from Gigi Hadid to Jennifer Lawrence has talked about the scrub at one point and talked about how it’s their “drugstore go-to” for clearer, fresh-feeling skin.

Over the past few years, though, dermatologist and skincare experts have practically pulled their hair out at the idea of people using this product, and moguls like Kylie Jenner have received major flack for incorporating fruit pits and nut shells into their own skincare products. There’s even been a $5 million lawsuit against St. Ives’ parent company Unilever claiming that the scrub damages the skin and is “unfit to be sold or used as a facial scrub.”

So is it actually as bad as they say it is? Yes. Here’s why and what ingredients you should use instead.

The Problem With Apricot Pits and Walnut Shells

apricot pits walnut shells bad for skin

Apricot pits and walnut shells -- or fruit pits and nut shells more generally -- are commonly used as physical exfoliant particles, meaning they’re used to physically slough off dead skin cells.

And they’re really popular because they seem to work fast. After just a few seconds of rubbing the scrub on your face, your skin will feel smoother and look shinier and more even.

The problem? This is just an illusion, and these particles -- and others like them, including salts, volcanic rock, and synthetic beads -- are actually too rough and jagged to actually help your skin. Instead, they’re much more likely to create micro-tears and in the skin (super small cuts) which can:

  • Introduce bacteria into the skin, which can cause infection and acne
  • Aggravate allergies
  • Cause skin irritation
  • Cause surface-level inflammation

This is especially true for people with eczema, rosacea or sensitive skin. That said, even if you don’t have conditions that lead to physical issues, it’s important to keep in mind that these scrubs are always causing micro-tears and undue stress on the skin. So while you are exfoliating, you’re also making it more difficult for your skin to fight off acne and compromising your skin’s natural barrier.Kind of a lose-lose.

Physical Exfoliant Particles That Work

The good news? You don’t have to swear off physical exfoliation altogether. As a practice, physical exfoliation is great for:

  • Sloughing away dead skin cells
  • Getting rid of dirt and debris
  • Preparing your skin to absorb active ingredients

You just have to use products with physical exfoliant particles that don’t harm your skin. Look specifically for ingredients that are small, round, finely milled, and gentle on the skin. These include:

  • Jojoba beads
  • Bamboo flour
  • Sugar
  • Oat flour
  • Rice bran

You can read more about each of these ingredients and why they’re great for exfoliation here.

Ready to get started? Zen Out of Ten is a gentle, ultra-effective bamboo detox exfoliant that will accelerate cell turnover, deliver antioxidant benefits, and reveal healthier, smoother-looking skin.