The well-meaning advice of my youth.
Before I get to why I’m crusading against scrubs, a story from my youth.
When I was 17, I read somewhere; some little tidbit of advice, that I could smooth away wrinkles by, 1) Heating the back of a dessert spoon and then, 2) Proceed to smooth over any offending wrinkles with said spoon. Violà! Wrinkles Gone!
Clearly, I started raising my eyebrows at life and all its conundrums at quite a young age, hence wrinkles at 17. But still, I was determined to banish these weird lines that had taken up residence on my forehead.
You’re probably having a bit of a chuckle at the idea of me ironing away my fledgeling wrinkles. In my defence I was only 17 and Cleo was my go-to when it came to beauty advice. But was it really sage advice? Ummmmm, maybe not so much.
In hindsight, of course, this idea was completely BONKERS!!
The advice just kept coming.
The other bit of advice that I took to with great abandon was to scrub my skin, the promise of clean, perfect, pimple free skin was all I needed to hear.
Again. What the hell? Oh hang on, we all did it, some of us still do. Suddenly, I don’t feel so bad.
But, actually, I do feel bad, what seemed okay at 17 now, as a fully grown up skin therapist, advice like this drives me to distraction.
If I hear of someone still scrubbing their skin to either, clean it, eliminate blackheads, or as a way of getting rid of dead skin cells in order to fight off emerging wrinkles, I feel nothing but dismay.
In fact, I feel so bad about it, that I’m dedicating this entire post to convincing you and your loved ones once and for all to give up the scrub.
Okay, so just to be clear, I’m referring to facial scrubs and I shall go out on a limb and include facial brushes in my crusade. The skin on the rest of your body can handle a little bit of gentle exfoliation if you must by using gentle physical exfoliation.
Let’s clear out your bathroom cabinet.
The abrasive scrub must go, but first, just in case you think I’m kidding and your belief is strong. I’m going to tackle a few myths taking up space in your bathroom cabinet.
Facial Scrubs clean your skin and clear away the debris trapped in your pores that would if left behind clog your skin.
It’s true if you have a particularly oily skin, then you’ll probably develop clogged pores. This happens when the amount of oil being produced by your sebaceous glands is excessive and the flow of oil to the surface of your skin becomes sluggish, trapping dead cells in the process and clogging up the opening of your pores. What you end up with are lumps, bumps and blackheads.
Of course, you don’t want that. Right?
So here’s the thing. Every time you strip the natural oils and lipids from your skin with the continuous use of scrubs, your skin will pump more oil to the surface while at the same time becoming increasingly dehydrated due to all your scrubbing.
So now, imagine this.
The opening of your follicles begins to fill with dehydrated skin cells, which become trapped. Oil flow becomes restricted, creating a build-up at the opening of your pore.
Bam, you’ve got yourself more of the problem you were trying to fix. Lumps, bumps and probably blackheads. Of course, all this can occur without your encouragement and there are ways to prevent it, But, why make things worse? Scrubbing will exacerbate the problem. Scrubs are not the solution.
Facial scrubs leave the skin feeling, fresh, radiant and glowing.
Sure, for about 30 minutes.
After you’ve scrubbed your skin, you’ll feel tingly, and all-a-glow. But really? You’ve just stripped your skin, and tomorrow it’ll look dull and lifeless once again.
In your frustration, you’ll do it all again, to get the same tingly fresh feeling and on and on it goes.
Think for a moment of a shell washed up on a beach, year after year, there it lies, the tides come in the tides go out, many years pass, and what was once a lovely shell has turned to sand.
So, now imagine your Acid Mantle, every day the delicate lipids and the very structure of your skin protecting you from the outside world become eroded by your scrub.
What you thought was helping is setting you up for a whole new set of problems, such as redness, irritation, and a weak, lifeless skin that has lost its ability to function properly and protect you from bacterial invaders.
Not only all this but an oilier skin will become oilier, more clogged and definitely out of balance.
No glow here.
Facial Scrubs remove dead cells to encourage cell renewal.
It’s certainly true, to keep your skin well hydrated, radiant, and help the turnover of skin cells, exfoliation is essential.
It’s just not going to be achieved very well with facial scrubs. Not now. Not ever!
Sure, you may remove some of the dead cells, but to hope you’ll achieve radiance and luminosity? I’m afraid it’s just not so.
As I have already mentioned, you’ll strip the skin, creating dehydration and you’re scrub has removed skin cells in a haphazard way.
But it gets worse.
You’ll create micro-tears in your skin. Not the result you want. Do you?
What to do, I hear you say?
Okay, well first. Go and check out your bathroom cabinet and remove anything resembling a facial scrub or brush. Gone? Phew, that’s a relief.
It’s a brave new world minus the scrub.
So what now? What replaces the abrasive scrub or brush?
The best way to exfoliate your skin is to seek out a liquid serum with specific exfoliating ingredients such as lactic, glycolic or salicylic acid. When applied to the surface of your skin, these serums and formulations will naturally unhinge the dead cells accumulating in your follicle, blocking the pore and the turnover of skin cells will be sped up.
I like to call these formulations, liquid or cream exfoliants.
Start with a mild solution, introducing it slowly into your regimen, maybe once or twice a week, ultimately building up usage to every day.
But, take care, go slowly so your skin becomes accustomed to these dead- skin-cell-busting-ingredients.
Enter AHA and BHA Acids.
What to look for?
Glad you asked. They’re by no means new, the first use of lactic, glycolic and salicylic acids dates back to the 50’s, gaining momentum in the last 10 – 15 years with many cosmeceutical brands creating take-home serums formulations.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) are the two key ingredients that exfoliate the skin.
AHA’s derive from sour milk, sugar cane, apples or grapes.
BHA’s on the other hand, only come from one source and that’s salicylic acid and derived from White Willow Bark.
Both AHA and BHA’s exfoliate the skin but in slightly different ways.
AHA’s are ideal for all skins, especially dry skin types.
My personal favourite is the AHA known as Lactic Acid. Not only does it remove the dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, but it’s an essential ingredient in stimulating the skin’s Natural Moisturising Factor. How cool is that!
BHA’s are most useful for oily, acne, problematic skin, with a triple action of exfoliation, bacteria control and reducing inflammation.
To get the best get result, look for serums specifically designed to exfoliate; ideally, your AHA serum will contain between 5 – 10% concentration to be efficient and BHA’s should include no more than 2% in your formulation. A sprinkling of these ingredients in your daily moisturiser or BB Cream, although nice, will not the best approach if you want amazing results.
If scrubs are so bad, then why do skincare brands produce them?
Great question. Because you want them is the short answer. Doesn’t mean they’re good for you. They are not.
And a little disclaimer, even some of the brands that I recommend on this site have exfoliating scrubs in their range, which is frustrating and I know seems a bit of a contradiction.
All I can say is, just take the good, throw out the not-so-much and if your favourite brand has a scrub within the range, just skip it. Your money is much better spent on products that do good. That’s all.
A hard habit to break.
So, I know for some of you this may be a hard habit to break, but I’ve always promised you the truth in how to care for your skin so, although a little controversial, taking scrubs out of the bathroom cabinet forever will, I promise, give you a much better skin.
Or, if you care about our beautiful planet, then you may also like to read why the microbead has been banned in my article: The Microbead Myth
If this post has provoked a bit of thought or a challenge to your long-held beauty beliefs and you need to know more just shoot me an email.
See you next time.