Dermatologists are begging you to please stop using walnuts to scrub your face


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Photo: Sasha_Suzi

When it comes to exfoliating your face, there are about as many different options out there as there are feuds between Real Housewives cast mates. In other words, there are a lot of ’em.  There are chemical exfoliants, which slough off dead skin using acids, and then there are the physical ones, AKA the scrubs that get the job done manually. And within each category, there are a number of different options to choose from. But according to dermatologists, there is only one common exfoliating ingredient that should never find its way into your routine (in the words of Taylor Swift: like, ever) and that’s walnuts.

There have been a lot of conversations over the last few days surrounding a new “gentle” scrub from a brand that rhymes with Shmylie Shmosmetics that uses “fine walnut powder” to help resurface your skin, but the Internet has been quick to call BS on the stuff… and dermatologists seem to vehemently agree. “Definitely don’t exfoliate with walnut,” confirms board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of BiaLife Shasa Hu, MD. “The pieces are harsh. The perfect exfoliant should be perfectly round and spherical so it doesn’t cause microscopic abrasion to your epidermis.” Walnut particles are obviously not perfectly shaped, so they risk cutting up your face with little micro-injuries, which will make you more prone to sensitivity and environmental pollutants. Plus, you may not be able to tolerate antioxidants as well, which means your usually soothing serums could have the opposite effect.

So walnuts are a definite no-no on the exfoliation front, but what about the other common ingredients for scrubbing? “Sugar is okay, but salt is definitely not good, especially if you have sensitive skin,” says Dr. Hu. In general, physical exfoliants give you the instant gratification of an immediate glow, but they also come with the potential of seriously overdoing it, which is why Dr. Hu and her co-founder, Dr. Janelle Vega, MD, generally recommend that you stick with a chemical exfoliant instead. True, they may take a little bit longer to give you that radical smoothness you’re looking for, but they won’t leave behind microscopic wounds on your face, which feels like a win.

If you are going to opt for a physical exfoliant (and I’m going to be honest–I personally love the feeling of it so much I don’t think I’ll be able to ever fully scrub that step from my own routine), Dr. Vega suggests using a brush device instead of an actual scrub. “You don’t want to abrade your skin,” she says. “I personally like the Clarisonic or one of those to exfoliate, because you don’t have to go deep—you just have to get the dull cells, and whatever topical you’re using should help that process along so that you don’t have to use one of these harsh scrubs.” There’s also the European style of exfoliating called gommagewhich uses tiny powder particles to help you ditch dead skin while also hydrating and brightening the skin that’s left behind.

So whether you opt for a chemical exfoliant, a Clarisonic, a gommage, or some combination of the three as your exfoliating go-to, just please, please don’t opt for walnuts.

This enzyme-packed fruit serum will help you exfoliate without causing trauma to your skin (spoiler alert: the active ingredient is pineapple). Plus, why a plain ol’ wash cloth is secretly the best way to slough off dead skin from head to toe. 

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