Cheap Apricot Facial Scrub is Mauling Your Face

A few days ago, Birchbox Man mentioned using some run-of-the-mill apricot scrub during a recent trip to Spa Castle in Queens. This set off a firestorm of warnings and finger wagging from our super-knowledgeable female editing team. It turns out this stuff isn’t so good for you.

When we asked about their beef with cheap apricot exfoliators (one brand in particular), the Birchbox editors started in on science and research that made our head spin, so asked for their advice in writing. The very informative results read like something out of a pamphlet one might receive at the doctor’s office. Or maybe the back page author blurbs from an airport paperback thriller dealing with the dangers of cheap apricot scrubs. At any rate, it’s more than enough to make you think twice before reaching for the cheapest apricot-smelling exfoliator in the drugstore next time. We certainly will.

“I'm big on exfoliating, but harsh scrubs do no favors for your skin. Not only can they damage your skin and cause redness, but they can even make enlarged pores worse. Eeek. Instead, when I really want to slough-it-off, I use a scrub that has natural exfoliating ingredients—think rice, sugar, oatmeal—that dissolve as you massage them into your skin. It’s just as satisfying as your old apricot scrub, just less aggressive.”
—Meredith, Editor & Content Strategy Manager

“As soon as I told my brother apricot scrubs are no bueno, he flipped on me because he's been using it for years. ‘Why have you never told me this?! This is a skin disaster!’ Fun fact: exfoliation doesn't have to just come from a scrub. These 2-step Dr. Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel pads work brilliantly (and relatively gently) to remove dead skin, too. Plus they're totes manly—you never have to put weird-looking cream on your face—so naturally they’re going into my bro's bathroom cabinet, stat.
—Candice, Associate Editor

“Overexfoliating can actually aggravate skin troubles like redness and sensitivity. There are way gentler exfoliating ingredients like lactic acid and rice bran—it pays to do your research.”
—Mai, Copy Writer

“Somewhere along the line, one guy heard that it was a good idea to use apricot kernels to scrub his face. And he told another guy. And that guy told another guy until…Every single guy we know has a tube of this shall-not-be-named face exfoliator in his shower. Apricot kernels have no business anywhere near your face, since they're naturally harsh and sharp and pokey—it's like taking a handful of gravel and scraping it all over your skin. Why would you do that? I did what any caring girlfriend would do and swapped my boyfriend’s terrible face scrub and replaced it with Billy Jealousy’s Liquid Sand. It smells good, gets the job done, and even helps with razor burn. Plus, I can use it too, so I don’t have to clutter up his shelf with my products.
—Mollie, Editorial Director

I'll admit I'm a bit of a skincare snob, but all I can think when I see this in a guy's bathroom is 'haven't you bought a new scrub since the 90s?' It makes me think they've grabbed the only brand they recognize on the shelf, regardless of the fact that the product's really not suited for their skin and the packaging is cheesy. Upgrading to something that's around $15 like Kiehl's Ultimate Man Body Scrub makes a huge difference.
—Lorelei, Associate Editor

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