Okay guys. Now you know I love you…. but it’s time for an ASI (Apricot-Scrub Intervention). I KNOW it’s in your medicine cabinet. I bet you’ve been using it since high school. I’m going to walk you through why you may want to re-purpose your Apricot Scrub for body skin only!
What Apricot Scrub does to the skin
Here’s the short version. Walnut Shells contained within the scrub are very harsh and abrasive. When rubbed into the skin, they actually create little micro tears which compromise the skin’s barrier function and allows bacteria to enter. This irritates the delicate skin and promotes inflammation. Inflammation most certainly always equals aging. If you already have any inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or rosacea then those conditions are only exacerbated!
The importance of good barrier function
In the Western World, we have this obsession with cleanliness. Oftentimes, it isn’t necessary, and it is even detrimental to our skin! The skin is our body’s first defense against the outside world. You may hear me talk about the skin’s “barrier function” again and again. I talk about it because it is absolutely essential to having healthy, glowing skin. On top of your skin you have a barrier layer called the “acid mantle”. This layer should remain at a pH level of 5.5 or slightly acidic. The pH level is important because it helps to fend off microbes and organisms that cannot survive in an acidic environment. If you are constantly stripping your skin by using harsh abrasives that are not at all appropriate to your skin type which irritates the skin and throws off the pH, you are chipping away at the barrier which opens up a whole host of problems. Irritation, inflammation, internal water loss (which means dehydrated skin!) and not to mention that now bacteria has a doorway to enter-which equals breakouts! Not what you want! You can read even more in-depth about the skin’s barrier function here.
Mechanical vs. Chemical Exfoliation
A mechanical exfoliation is when the skin is exfoliated physically using an abrasive (such as the walnut shells in Apricot Scrub) A chemical exfoliation is when the skin is exfoliated using enzymes or acids which break down the desmosomes between dead skin cells so that they can easily be sloughed off with removal of the product. (An example would be using the enzyme papain, which is derived from the papaya fruit and can be found in Peeling Vegetal from Phytomer.
Why Mechanical Exfoliation isn’t always appropriate
Most skin types can handle mechanical exfoliation, but not all. As I said previously, if you already have an inflammatory skin condition present such as acne or rosacea, you are going to want to pick chemical exfoliation every time. Certain Fitzpatrick skin types (see my previous post about skin analysis here) such as IV- VI almost always do better with mechanical exfoliation vs. chemical due to the risk of post-inflammatory hypopigmentation because the skin has more pigment and certain acids can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin where melanin is produced and cause a temporary trauma to the area. (I will actually be interviewing another fellow Licensed Aesthetician on treating skin of color which will be a later post! Stay tuned!) So, unless you have a Fitzpatrick of IV and above I usually will suggest chemical exfoliants only. These enzymes, when used at home up to twice per week, gently break down the desmosomes or “glue” that holds the dead skin cells together so that when you remove the product they are sloughed off and fresh skin is revealed.
Why Apricot Scrub is not appropriate for ANY facial skin
Walnut Shells are super abrasive, even milled down to powder form. The particles are extremely large. Combine that with our culture’s penchant for literally scrubbing our faces off, and you have some very compromised skin going on. Using it more than twice a week?! I may faint. Please don’t. You can use it on your body skin if you can’t stand throwing it out.
Switch your exfoliant routine to this
Twice per week, in the evening, apply an enzyme exfoliant of your choice to your skin. Leave on for the indicated amount of time on the packaging. Rinse off thoroughly with water and a gentle washcloth and follow this with a mask. I believe cutting out the scrub from your routine will do wonders for your skin!
Some of my favorite chemical exfoliants:
Not sure which type of exfoliation is appropriate for your skin type? See your Aesthetician to be sure!
Did you try removing Apricot Scrub from your routine? I want to hear about it! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org