Sunday, October 2, 2011

Does "Ultra" Gentle Mean "Ineffectively" Gentle? With St. Ives Ultra Gentle Apricot Scrub It Does!

The Good: Gentle, Moisturizes somewhat
The Bad: So gentle it is ineffective, Smell is incredibly weak, Cleans less deep than most soaps.
The Basics: So utterly ineffective as to - at best - compete with running water for cleansing and exfoliating properties, the St. Ives Ultra Gentle scrub is useless.

I think that a great (and fair) litmus test for a health and beauty product involved with cleaning the body has to be "does it clean better than water alone?" Yes, this is the simple, bottom-line concept I wish to project as the most minimal standard for any sort of cleansing agent. Seriously, if one needs a cleaning agent so gentle that running water gets more stuff out of pores, one needs to ask how prepared that person is to exist in a real world with gravity and dirt. For me, there is something oxymoronic about "ultra gentle" scrubs. A scrub is designed to exfoliate skin some. If you need to do it that gently, one suspects that using a washcloth alone might be all you can handle.

I am particularly snarky about this because I opted to give St. Ives Ultra Gentle Apricot Scrub a chance. Actually, I had been so disappointed with the Gentle Apricot Scrub from St. Ives (reviewed here!) that I was seriously at a loss for how St. Ives could make a worse scrub. They managed with the completely ineffective Ultra Gentle scrub.

I picked up the St. Ives Hypo-Allergenic Ultra Gentle scrub to clean my skin a little deeper than with normal body washes. Honestly, I was having a breakout and I wanted to really clean my skin, but I didn't want anything so abrasive that it would tear me up. That is why I went with the gentle, sensitive skin formula as opposed to their maximum grit, brillo-pad in a bottle exfoliating cream that I have used before . . . when I couldn't find a pumice stone.

I originally found the ultra gentle apricot scrub to be so thoroughly underwhelming that it competes less with the Gentle Scrub than with running water. In all seriousness, I have found this product completely unable to get off any form of subsurface grime or dirt at all. Indeed, there have been some forms of dirt that this will not get off my skin and running water alone will! To be clear, I have put the product on my skin, rubbed and it has removed less dirt (and we're not talking sap here!) than running water alone. I am at a loss for who this product is targeted toward. And honestly, anyone with such sensitive skin who might need something so ineffectively gentle might need that extra layer of skin on them as opposed to exfoliating it!

In comparison to other body washes and scrubs, I found this one to be the least gritty and least able to clean. In all seriousness, it competes best with running water. With normal day to day use, I found no significant change in my skin quality or feeling of cleanliness when compared to showering and letting water alone wash me off (my was that a fun week!). The formula is so mild that it cleaned my skin equal or less well than running water alone.

For those unfamiliar with scrubs, this is a product that comes in a cream form (like skin lotion) and has grit to it, hard little bits of sandlike rocks that are designed to exfoliate the skin when washed off. This is seen as a great way to clean deep in pores, remove dead skin and stimulate new skin growth that is clean, elastic and clear. The ultra gentle sensitive skin formula that makes this apricot scrub ultra gentle uses smaller grit that agitates skin less. As a result, it takes off less dead skin, stimulates less new growth and does a mediocre job of cleaning the skin (far less effective than either body gel or Lava soap).

During normal, day to day use, I remained unimpressed by the apricot scrub for both its function (which was below average) and its scent, which was so mild as to be nonexistent. Facial scrubs tend to trade on the scent of the product and this apricot scrub smelled apricot the first time out of the tube and never since. It's like St. Ives puts apricot scent in the top of the cap and that's it. Having been on the shelf for a few months now, this tube has lost all scent. It does not smell at all coming out of the tube, when applied to the skin, not at all!

This is a liability for any health and beauty product, especially as the resulting description (lacking "apricot scented") is "greasy with a hint of microscopic sand." Regardless of how it may or may not interact with sensitive skin (I do not have sensitive skin), that its scent does not last, permeate or even present itself is a liability for this product that is trying to sell itself on its apricot scent.

Which leads me to my many wounds and scars. I've had a few cuts on my hands lately and I bought this for when I have finger cuts, dried skin and refuse not to work with some of my sewing projects. I took this tube out - it's a six ounce bottle with a flip top that is difficult to fair to use with one hand - thinking that there would not be a better time to see how this works than on atypical skin conditions like this. I tried it again as a facial scrub and remain disappointed.

After three days of using it on my hands, my hands remain slightly moisturized. The scrub seemed to have held off the dry - dehydrated - skin that I sometimes get on projects like I am doing now. This product did not agitate my cuts at all. It was so mild, in fact, that it did not have an effect on the skin around the wounds. In fact, as you might know, as a wound heals, the old, damaged skin will dry out and die off. Using this scrub kept the dying skin fairly supple, but did not remove it. Ultimately, this is an exfoliating product that refuses to exfoliate! Perhaps the grit in this is more jelly than sand . . .

I understand the need to make scrubs for sensitive skin that are not abrasive and thus facilitate cleaning skin that is has special needs. But there's a limit to sensitivity and this product is so mild as to be ineffective. It cleans, but not deeply and not with what one expects from a SCRUB.

Ultimately, the only thing I can recommend it for is cleaning wounds. It's great for not agitating skin as it tries to heal. Then again, most body washes would do the same trick and I do not have the same expectations for them.

The front of the tube advertises "radiant skin" which I do not see from this product. The best it ought to be promising is clean. It achieves that, though not better than water alone. This is definitely one to pass on!

For other skin care products, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Body Shop Papaya Body Butter
Dove Nourishing Hand Wash
Dial Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap


For other health and beauty product reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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