St. Ives Apricot Scrub Lawsuit: What You Need to Know

Chances are HIGH that you’ve probably used St. Ives Apricot Scrub at least once in your life.

Perhaps it was your go-to skin exfoliator as a teen, or maybe it was a staple in your shower caddy while you roughed it in the college-dorms. Who knows, maybe you still reach for it when when you’re feeling extra congested? No matter when or where you’ve used the perennial drugstore favorite, you should be aware of the recent controversy surrounding the famous scrub, as St. Ives Apricot Scrub is currently the center of a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

As TMZ (the celebrity gossip site that sometimes [apparently] dabbles in skin-care news) reports, two women have recently filed a $5 million class-action lawsuit against St. Ives’s parent company, Unilever, after claiming the scrub caused irritation due in part to its “sandpaper”-like feel on the skin.

But that’s not all: The lawsuit claims the scrub may accelerate the aging process, as the remnants of walnut shells used in the formula lead to inflammation and wrinkle-formation.

Perhaps the most interesting bit of the whole scrub saga is that the suit says the product claims to be “dermatologist tested,” which is misleading because although the product may have been tested by skin doctors, it is not recommended by dermatologists. 

Naomi Fenlin, owner of Philadelphia’s About Face Skin Care, has been wary of St. Ives Apricot Scrub for years. She never recommends the exfoliator because she believes it too harsh and violent for the skin. “The scrub contains very sharp granules, when rubbed vigorously against the skin — you are causing hundreds and hundreds of micro-cuts and tears. These wounds can lead to infection, break-outs, and unnecessary irritation.”

However, this isn’t to say the St. Ives Apricot Scrub should be banned from your skincare routine entirely…

If this is a product that you have used before and you love it, there are some ways to tweak your application to safely keep it in your skincare rotation. Instead of using it like a scrub, try diluting the mixture and using it as a cleanser instead. This way you’ll still get some of the exfoliating, brightening benefits — safely. When you are getting ready to use this product, just add a little water (or your favorite face-wash) to the mix, and then use it to gently cleanse your face, every second or third day. No extended rubbing!

Fenlin adds that if you want to continue using this product, applying it as recommended above, in addition to only using a few days a week — is especially important to your skin now. “It is during the cold Winter months that your skin is the driest, and the most irritation-prone.”

When asked for a comment, a St. Ives spokesperson gave Allure Magazine the following statement: “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.”

Finally though, something* that Naomi and TLC can agree on: No Scrubs.

* One of Naomi’s favorite hobbies? Chasing waterfalls.