Exfoliating: Scrubs and AHAs

Hello Beauty Brains,

I just read an interview with Paula Begoun (the Cosmetics "Cop") where she stated that she doesn't sell or believe in exfoliating scrubs for the face. She says that exfoliating scrub cleansers create micro-tears in the skin which can damage the surface and make the skin more susceptible to sun damage.

I've used scrubs on and off for years, everything from micro-beads to walnut shells. I am currently using the CVS dupe of St. Ives apricot scrub which uses walnut shells. And yes, I've read your post "Don't be duped by drugstore dupes of brand-name products" but I suppose that on the day I bought it I was either feeling cheap or wanted to see if it was just as good. 

I've also been using Studio 35 (Walgreens' brand) Alpha Hydroxy cream, a 7.8% concentration, which has excellent reviews by customers on many sites. I'm using it about 3x a week, alternating it with a nighttime moisturizer. I've had this cream for about 6 months now. A good number of people say it stings a bit at first. I think it stung maybe the first time I used it but now, not at all. It comes in a jar.

My questions are, should I be using an exfoliating cleansing scrub at all, particularly one with large "beads" such as walnut shells? Can I use this in conjunction with an AHA cream? And, is there any way that an AHA can lose its effectiveness or "go bad" after a time since it's in a jar and it's continually being exposed to air?

Thank you!

The Dead Skin Destroyer  


  • We've seen a number of complaints that walnut shells are too rough to use on skin. But if you've been using them for years and haven't seen a problem then I'm not sure it's an issue. 

    AHA's can sting so anything that helps them penetrate skin better (like a strong scrub) could just make the stinging worse. 

    Based on studies like this one http://journal.scconline.org/pdf/cc1997/cc048n04/p00165-p00174.pdf I believe that AHA's are pretty stable.  
  • Thank you, Randy.

    As far as the walnut shells go, I don't think I've seen any damage to my skin over time, however, I'm not sure how I would know or even if I would know that the damage was due to the walnut shells. 

    The stinging has gone away when i use the Walgreen's AHA I've been using. My concern was that because it has stopped stinging, perhaps the active ingredient has degraded somehow so it's not working any more. But, you've said it's pretty stable so perhaps my skin has just gotten used to this cream.

    Thanks again!

  • It's very common for people to get used to the stinging sensation caused by ingredients like retinol and AHA. I wouldn't take that as a sign that the ingredient has degraded. 
  • I use salicilic acid 30% for my back and hand spots. It works wonders and I never got any weird spots from tanning.
  • I recently read a review on REJUVODERM scrub cleanser a innovative skin care treatment. It completely removes oils and impurities from pores to prevent blemishes and other skin imperfections. It also removing dead, dull, and damaged cells from the epidermal layer to revive and refresh the entire skin surface. You may try this.
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