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A new lawsuit claims a popular drugstore face scrub is damaging your skin


St. Ives lawsuit
Photo: Stocksy/Duet Postscriptum

Although words like “apricot,” “invigorating,” and “gentle” on a label may evoke feelings of a clean and refreshed face, the reality for one drugstore beauty staple may be much harsher—literally.

Two women have filed a $5 million class action lawsuit against St. Ives and its parent company, Unilever, claiming that the brand’s exfoliating facial scrub is actually damaging to skin, TMZ reports.

They argue that, while the packaging says “dermatologist-tested,” it’s not actually recommended by dermatologists. And they cite dermatology research showing that exfoliating with walnut shells (which St. Ives uses in its scrub) leads to inflammation, which can result in breakouts and accelerated aging.

While marketed as “natural,” walnut shells are much sharper than other natural scrub ingredients and can create tiny tears on your face and irritate skin.

In a statement released Thursday, Unilever states, “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.”

While marketed as “natural”—and therefore not harmful to the environment like microbeads—walnut shells are much sharper than other natural scrub ingredients and can create tiny tears on your face and irritate skin.

A better (more natural) bet? Use gentle, refined ingredients, such as jojoba beads or raw sugar mixed with a shea butter. Or, you can always try honey as a face washClean, green 2017, anyone?

For some extra exfoliation, try this editors’ pick, guaranteed to slough off dry, winter skin. Or check out these 11 polishing face cleansers that are all microbead-free.