Lawsuit Claims St. Ives Apricot Scrub Causes Skin Damage


It’s a claim that will catch the attention of a lot of women: St. Ives Apricot Scrub may cause skin damage, according to a new class action lawsuit.

Courtesy: Flickr

St. Ives Apricot Scrub — which has been around for nearly three decades — has built a devoted following of customers who swear by its ability to scrub off dead skin, creating a deep-clean feeling. However, two plaintiffs in California and New York are suing the product’s parent company, Unilever United States, Inc., who claim the scrub’s exfoliating ingredients, which include crushed walnut shells, are too rough and cause skin damage.

A dermatologist, which the plaintiffs cite, said in a 2015 New York Magazine article that scrubs with “large, hard, and sand like rocks” like those in St. Ives Apricot Scrub are “too abrasive for the face’s thin skin.”

“Accordingly, St. Ives is unfit to be sold or used as a facial scrub,” the plaintiffs claim. “The product is completely worthless.”

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The plaintiffs allege that Unilever knows this about its product, since St. Ives Apricot Scrub is advertised as “dermatologist tested.” Despite knowing this, Unilever still failed to disclose that its product can cause skin damage or that it’s not actually recommended by dermatologists.

Courtesy: Flickr

“The problem with walnut scrubs is that the scrubbing beads have rough edges, which can cause micro-tears in the skin, lead to damage, and inflame comedones (blackheads),”  Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City explained in an email to Health.

Walnut scrubs are more likely to be problematic for people who already tend to get blackheads or have inflamed or sensitive skin. Some people may not experience any of the adverse side effects.

“If you’ve been using the product and haven’t had a problem with it, then there’s no need to stop using it,” Dr. Jaliman said. “These types of scrubs should be used once or twice a week in moderation, which is about how long it takes your skin to turn over.”

Danielle Tarasiuk

Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.