Heidi Klum swears by drug store apricot facial scrubs, but experts say they’re aging

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As a “woman of a certain age”, I make it a somewhat regular habit to seek out beauty advice from my peers…oh, who am I kidding? I scour the web trying to find whatever fountain of youth celebrities my age (and CHER) are drinking from to stay so gorgeous.

I’ve always thought model-turned-reality show judge Heidi Klum is one such radiant woman and I’ve tried to emulate her style to no avail (she makes a ponytail look elegant, on me, it looks like I overslept – no matter how hard I try to make it look neat). The woman who tried to bring blue mascara back (did that ever end up being a “thing”? I never got to try it). revealed to E! News that one of the tools in her beauty arsenal is actually (gasp) affordable.

The 44-year-old model and cover girl for Ocean Drive magazine told E! during a Miami Swim Week event that “I do like a scrub.” She went on to say that “I believe it’s good to exfoliate twice a week. You know, it keeps your skin rejuvenating, making new skin over and over again.” Her scrub of choice is Aapri, which is available in drug stores in the United Kingdom (the US counterpart of it is St. Ives apricot scrub, which I currently have a tube of in my bathroom). She also claims that she wears minimal makeup, telling E!, “I try to keep it simple.”

Heidi may love her scrub, but the professional skin care community is at odds over its benefits and possible damaging effects. The Cut spoke with skincare experts and dermatologists, and here’s what they uncovered:

Skincare expert Paula Begoun believes:
“When you scrub skin with abrasive scrubs, they put micro-tears into skin. They make your skin more vulnerable to environmental damage, pollution, and sun damage.” (She added that the scrubs could lead to inflammation that will prematurely age the skin.)

Manhattan dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross is definitely not a fan:
“Scrubs are a primitive way to exfoliate. It’s like using sandpaper on your face. If you look closely at the sandpaper surface, you’ll see lots of scratch marks, and that’s what happens on the skin.”

Counterpoint, Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Howard Lancer (who lists Beyoncé among his clients): “I have all my patients get in the habit of using a physical scrub — what I call polish — every single day, as it actually teaches the skin cells to turn over more quickly, mimicking the action of youthful cells.”

[From The Cut]

So, the debate will rage on. The dermatologists who aren’t totally against scrubs just advise against using ones with large granules, like, uh-oh, St. Ives. I only use my apricot scrub on my body, as an exfoliant prior to applying self-tanner (don’t judge me. I’m Irish, pasty and get a sunburn in the shade). As much as I want to look Klum-esque, I’m still wary about using scrub on my skin. I’m sure Heidi uses lots of other more pricey products as part of her skincare regimen.

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72 Responses to “Heidi Klum swears by drug store apricot facial scrubs, but experts say they’re aging”

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  1. Esmom says:

    After using Aveeno exfoliating scrub (you can barely feel the roughness) for a while I used a St. Ives travel tube and I was in serious pain! Those granules are much bigger than I remembered.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      I tend to use the really fine exfoliators with a facial brush, not only does it really help exfoliate but you get a facial massage with is good for the muscles and circulation. Once a week I use an exfoliating mask that i keep on for about 10mins. But i guess its whatever works for your skin – i find i have problems with some of these scrubs as they can irritate.

    • Lexilla says:

      I call it St. Hives because that’s what I get whenever I use it.

    • Brandy Alexander says:

      I actually scratched my cornea with the st ives scrub a few years ago. On top of the scratch, I was mildly allergic to whatever shells they used, and my eye just blew up. I will never use it again.

    • TandemBikeEscapee says:

      Let’s get honest, why should we scrub out skins off? What did our face ever do that deserves punishment? A light scrub is fine for most skin types, no need to cause damage by something like shards of nut shells!

      • Betsy says:

        Its turnover slowed down, that’s what it did.

        Personally I “punish” mine with retinol and Pixi glowpotion (though not in the summer – I’m far too nervous about sun damage from the AHAs) and then I baby it with various substances. It looks happy.

    • KidV says:

      I used St. Ives off and on through my 20’s, then one morning I get out of the shower with a large scrape down my cheek. I looked like I was scratched by my cat. That ended that. I now use a Mia brush a few times a week with a gentle cleanser (Skinceuticals brand).

  2. MissKittles says:

    Damn I’m obsessed with that apricot scrub! I actually use it on my armpits in the shower to get the deodorant film off. I’ve always heard it’s been bad for the skin but I can’t stop. I feel like it’s the only way to get my makeup off. I use the green tea scrub on my face now. It’s a finer scrub… very sand-like.

  3. Baby Got Back Fat says:

    Exfoliating is so harsh on your skin. Try Dr. G’s Brightening Peel — it’s affordable and it works wonders! Also, if you’re trying to undo years of overexfoliating (raises hand), make sure to restore your facial skin’s natural moisture barrier

    • Psu Doh Nihm says:

      I wanted to add that O.R.G. Peel Is amazing. It’s like $20 for an 8oz bottle. Get the body version. The face is the same thing but twice as much.

      But It is a spray that you spray on your face and body. It sits for a few seconds and you literally wipe the dead skin cells off. Doesn’t hurt. Your face actually ends up brighter and lighter almost immediately and less red and splotchy than abrasive exfoliaters.

      I suffer from horrible ezcema on my legs and one day I decided to do the peel on them and oh my god the dead skin that came off was unbelievable. I could literally scoop it with an ice cream scooper if I wanted to. It was Morbidly satisfying.

      After I used Khiels lotion. I don’t know why I decided to try this but after 25 years of trying ALL THE THINGS to rid myself of itchy legs, this combo was magical.
      This is the best they’ve looked in 35 years. I can even wear shorts now.

      It makes sense when you think about it. Using a non abrasive non irritating peel to remove layers of dry dead skin and then putting a deep moisturizer on to relieve the itch.

      For anyone with red or discolored spots on their face. GET THIS

      For anyone with ezcema GET THIS and khiels now.

      Maybe it will change your life like it has mine.

  4. Natalie S says:

    Chemical exfoliation is where it’s at!

  5. Red says:

    THEN HOW DO YOU EXFOLIATE?? I thought that was something you need to do? How do I get rid of dead skin cells. I need help 😭

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      There are other products that you can use to exfoliate, there are peels and powders (you add water to the powder and wash your face with it).

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Chemical exfoliants. They are less abrasive on the skin. Get yourself a nice BHA/AHA toner or serum.

    • MissM says:

      I use a combo of chemical and psychical exfoliation. The No7 microdermabrasion scrub is good and cost effective and then I’ll use the Nip and Fab Glycolic fix pads. I use each of them once a week, just not on the same day.

    • magnoliarose says:

      I use a chemical exfoliant and then once a week a physical one but it is VERY gentle and not like that monstrous Aapri mess that damages the barrier. I never use them on the same day and I don’t use one every day. I do an AHA one day, rest, a BHA, rest, physical exfoliant, rest, AHA, rest, BHA and then an exfoliant mask. That is when my skin is healthy and looking glowy already but when it needs extra I cut down on the rest days and do back to back. I have drier/combo skin though and never had acne. For oilier skin, I wouldn’t do as many rest days but I wouldn’t advise using 2 types of exfoliant on the same day.
      AHA and BHAs work differently. AHAs are surface but BHAs go deeper.
      Asian skincare blogs explain these in detail and give excellent affordable options for buying good ones.

      • HeyThere! says:

        Is it weird I was looking for your reply?! 🙂 I need to go back and find the recent thread about the face care from Japan you were just talking about. If I remember correctly?

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Sooooo…Magnoliarose, I thought you should know that i am copying and pasting your comment to use for a future reference! I’ve heard so much about AHA and BHA, but I’ve been timid to jump in because my skin has dryness issues.

        My face has been changing this year, and while it is dry, I need way more exfoliation than before as I am getting dry flakes around my chin. So far I have been using Clinique’s exfoliating toner-stuff (#2), and that helps with the flakes, but I don’t think it is as good for my skin as a AHA/BHA routine.

        I bought “The Littles” collection from Drunk Elephant, but I haven’t started using it yet. I’ve also heard good things about Originals, but they are so simple I think I’d need guidance on how to put them together.

      • Jenn says:

        “Originals” — is this referring to The Ordinary? Because, yes, they’re great. You can inexpensively put together a really great combination of acids, including a retinoid, hyarulonic acid, and Vitamin C. They have a LOT of products though, which is why I’m leaving this handy-dandy link here: https://beautyeditor.ca/.amp/2017/08/04/the-ordinary

      • magnoliarose says:

        @Hey There 🙂
        The Japanese company I like is Matsuyama. They also have a line called Leaf and Botanic. You can get a starter kit to sample the line for nothing to see if it agrees first. Rice bran oil and believe it or not sake. Tunemakers, another Japanese company, make these serums, their ceramide serum is great for repairing skin. There are others but those two off the top of my head.

        @ Tiffany:))
        I would try some of the Asian style toners. I tend to be dry too so I found that if I layer the Asian style toners, my skin becomes moister and it cuts down on flakes over time. I know I harp on the barrier but a lot of crustiness and flakes can be an irritated barrier. I skip strong stripping products. One toner that can work is called Pixi Glow Tonic. You can get it at Target. It has aloe and ginseng. Or for very gentle Thayers alcohol-free Rose and Aloe Witch Hazel. I think it is soothing and softening. Hemp oil has been really great too.

        @Jenn The Ordinary has some Squalane I like. They have good price points.

        Which leads me to say how so many beauty products are overpriced for prestige but the ingredient list can be found for a fraction. CosDNA will give a list and you can compare and look for the ingredients you need. I look for Hyaluronic acid, ginseng, ceramides, aloe, rose, nourishing oils etc. Someone with acne might look for oils and ingredients that don’t clog pores- non-comedogenic. They want to steer clear of coconut oil. The site will tell you that too. It can help someone discover what ingredients their skin reacts badly to and save time repeating the same mistake.

        So many products are overpriced and can’t possibly deliver what they promise. If I spend 350 dollars on a face cream, an esthetician better pop out of the jar when I open it.
        A novella as usual but I hope it helps. 🙂

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Doh! Yes, I meant The Ordinary. Woops! Thank you for that link, it looks very informative.

        Thank you for all of the info, magnoliarose! Very helpful!

    • Happy21 says:

      My esthetician says a face cloth can do just as much good as a clarisonic and a scrub!

    • BeanieBean says:

      With a face cloth?

  6. Sienna says:

    I work in the medical grade skin care field and would definitely not recommend using an apricot scrub. The granulates while natural are too large and irregular in shape and can definitely damage the skin. If you like a physical exfoliant (and I do on my body) choose one with a smaller regular shaped bead. But a chemical exfoliant with an AHA, is a great way to keep from needing to use a a physical exfoliant.

    • Katie says:

      What about Olehenriksens macadamia nut facial scrub? Or their hot cold plunge one ?

      • Sienna says:

        I’ve heard of the brand but never tried it, as it is a cosmeceutical and not medical grade product. I prefer to stick to medical grade products as they have a much higher efficacy and are only sold through establishments that have a physician on site and commit to regular staff training to ensure everyone maintains a thorough knowledge of active ingredients/potential issues and how to pair product with other laser and light treatments.

  7. Rhys says:

    I’m pro scrub. I scrub my face probably every two-three days in the shower and then apply one of the several masks I have. I prefer gentle facial scrubs so the apricot kind that Heidi likes is not for me. I read that Jane Seymour exfoliate her face every day and she looks absolutely stunning.

  8. Astrid says:

    If Heidi is an example of what a scub does, then no thank you. She looks old and harsh for 44, IMO

  9. me says:

    I tried exfoliating but stopped after The Body Shop stopped making the Vitamin E scrub I liked (it was super gentle). I now just use diluted (with water) apple cider vinegar (the organic kind with the “mother” in it). I just dip a cotton ball in it and gently put it on my face. I guess to each their own.

    • Christin says:

      ACV with Mother is a great toner and can reduce skin issues. The strong odor goes away quickly.

      I tried AVC on one of those slightly raised sun/age spots that looks like it is stuck-on, and the spot completely went away after three weeks.

    • Dara says:

      @me – I was going to recommend the Aloe Exfoliator from Body Shop, but it looks like that one has been discontinued too! I’m in a panic now, I just used the last of mine a few days ago.

  10. Juliette says:

    My go to exfoliater is Exfolikate by Kate Somerville. It’s a really fine grain and you can leave in for up to a minute for extra affect. It came in my Fab Fit Fun box and was hesitant to try because of my sensitive skin but fact this didn’t make my face react is a win!

    Between that and Micellar water, I have seen a marked improvement in my skin. Less redness, not as many eczema outbreaks.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Micellar water was something we used in fashion but it is making it to the mainstream. It is something I have had in my arsenal for over a decade and I can’t imagine skincare without it. Koh Gen Do, Neogen and Son and Park make good ones but if someone wants to try one for around 5 dollars, Simple makes one that can be found in drugstores.
      I can’t imagine skincare without it. It removes all the makeup and debris gently without ripping off eyelashes and abusing the skin. When I was 19 I didn’t care, rip away but over 30? No.

      • Juliette says:

        The Micellar water I use is by Cerave. It is the only lotion i use on my body (never on face) that actually moisturizes and doesn’t cause a reaction. I have only really used the Micellar water for the past couple of months but love it. It is for sure now going to be part of my daily routine.

        I saw many on this site (good old CBer’s!) talking about it for the longest and time and decided to give it a try, I am hooked now. I didn’t really pay attention to my skin in my 20’s but now I am very careful about what I use.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Cerave has been a savior for a lot of people with serious skin problems. Someone I know had a skin fungus and the only thing he could use was Cerave.
        You will cry if you run out and have to go some days without your micellar water. lol

  11. mx says:

    I use rice enzyme powder as a daily scrub – the granules turn into a foamy face wash. Love it!

    • magnoliarose says:

      I can’t think of the brand but they are really nice. Rice powder is so gentle.

  12. Valiantly Varnished says:

    This may sound harsh but I actually think Heidi’s looks older than she is. Her skin doesn’t look all that great to me. And Im suspicious of any derm that would recommend a facial scrub. Especially considering the myriad of chemical exfoliants that are gentler on the skin.

  13. Chloe says:

    I’ve been using the Clinique exfoliating scrub on my face once or twice a week since I was in college (sooo for the last 12-14 years?). I also swear by it! It’s one of the only things that helps clear up my acne.

  14. fortune100 says:

    Sugar scrubs are nice. I have read that younger skin can handle scrubs, but older more mature skin turns over more slowly and you should only do occasional scrubs.

    Honestly, once I cut out sugar and junk carbs out of my diet and used only natural oils/fats on my face, my skin glows and is so soft. I am almost 50 and have white white Norwegian/German skin. I also don’t use sunscreen unless absolutely necessary. I use a hat and or get a bit of miring/afternoon sun on my my face. Most sunscreens out there are nasty, worse than a bit of tan. Give me a healthy wrinkled face over a daily chemical bath full of hormone-inhibitors.

    Google tallow cream, it is amazing! The reason companies put out these expensive chemical concoctions is because they can’t up charge you or patent tallow or olive oil.

    • Cate says:

      Yes, diet is, in my experience, way more important to good skin than any product. Anytime I’ve upped my vegetable consumption and cut back on processed foods, my skin starts perking up within a couple of weeks. About a year ago I had to do a major overhaul of my diet and now eat minimal sugar/junk carbs and LOTS of green vegetables and my skin has never looked better.

      I used the St. Ives stuff a lot in my 20s but stopped in favor of oil cleansing, which got me way better results. Eventually I got sick of having oily film in my sink and switched to just a warm wash cloth, and honestly, that was just as good! I used to get frequent little pimples/breakouts when I was using St. Ives, that pretty much stopped completely once I switched to oil cleansing/wash clothes

      I’ve heard that some of the smaller bead exfoliants aren’t so good for the environment b/c the beads don’t break down and essentially become a pollutant. I’ve also been trying to cut back on the amount of packaging in my life generally so I now just prefer to skip all the commercial cleansers and stick with my washcloth+warm water!

  15. SequinedHeart says:

    I must admit I use the St Ives apricot scrub, but I’ve always preferred a rough scrub (only once a week though). A gentler one I used to use when I worked for them was Clinique’s 7-day scrub. Much like the Vit E scrub from the body shop. very gentle, very creamy. Leaves your skin feeling like a baby’s butt!
    Also, Vanity Planet make a wicked spin brush and you don’t use a scrub in conjunction with that. Just your cleanser. Awesome and under $50.

  16. Vanessa says:

    I had a skin professional tell me that it’s the fact that the granules are jagged that make apricot scrub so damaging. So I stayed away from it after that and went to other scrubs that have smooth rounded granules. I could never give up face scrubs; I love how they make my face feel.

    • Clancy says:

      Yes. An esthetician told me to stop using the St Ives apricot scrub because the shards are not perfectly circular and can scratch and create tiny cuts in your skin. She recommended exfoliants with perfectly circular micro beads, as they are gentler on your skin. Although, I understand that there can be environmental impacts if the beads don’t dissolve..?

  17. amadabasura says:

    I mix equal parts granulated sugar and vegetable glycerin and use it in the shower. It has never damaged my skin and makes me glow. If I am dry I add a few drops of oil.

  18. Happy21 says:

    I used that on and off for years and then on of the granules got in my eye and scratch the crap out of it. I immediately threw it away!
    I have a clarisonic I used every other day and I also have the 7 day scrub by Clinique that is very mild. I use that about once every two weeks.

  19. Anna says:

    You need to treat your face with kid gloves especially in terms of anti aging. I don’t think scrubs are good in general unless you have a certain skin type.

  20. brooksie says:

    Skinceuticals’ Micro-Exfoliating Scrub has become my go-to. It’s changed my skin entirely!

  21. Jaded says:

    I’m cheap so I use rosewater and glycerin mixed with baking soda. I buy a bottle of rosewater at my local Indian food store, a bottle of glycerin at the drug store, and always have baking soda in the house. I’ll mix about a tablespoon of rosewater with a teaspoon of glycerin and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in to a paste, massage it onto my face. leave it for about 5 minutes then rinse. Presto, soft smooth skin.

  22. Twinkle says:

    I don’t believe the nay sayers. I’ve been using an apricot scrub for over twenty years. Everyone compliments me about my skin. The first expert that claims it causes micro tears, well what the hell does she think microneedling or even lasers like Pixel and Fraxel are? They’re all causing trauma to the surface of the skin to stimulates the skin cells to turn over. As for Dr. Gross, I like some of his products, but think about it, he has a skin care line to promote. He’s not going to tell the reader to buy a $3 scrub.

    • Mrs. Darcy says:

      Interesting point re:microneedling etc! I used St.Ives a lot when I was younger but stopped using kernel scrubs a long time ago because of the advice it was too rough, but like you say lasers and things can’t be any more gentle! I have to be a lot more careful now though what I put on my skin because I get thread veins, I have had them zapped/lasered a few times and it does work but new ones come back so easily.

  23. Meggles says:

    I use the Ordinary, but I have to say when my skin completely spirals out of control I do a baking soda scrub which every expert says is terrible for your skin. I don’t do it often (maybe once or twice a year) but when I have runaway oiliness and constant breakouts (hormonal flareup, maybe?) I find it just does something to sort of re-set my skin.

    Just did my first terrifying blood facial, so we’ll see how that goes.

    • magnoliarose says:

      It might be the pH. It is high in baking soda and maybe your skin was too active and needed an alkaline?

  24. Adrien says:

    St. Ives is great for exfoliating your feet.

  25. Ash says:

    The last dr, Lancer, in the article makes a great gentle fine scrub. I use the Ordinary too! Plus Drunk Elephant. The littles kit is amazing if you want to try DE. The Ordinary is so reasonable it’s awesome although to me kinda confusing! I’m pretty sure the FDA has outlawed the artificial granules that were in scrubs in the past. I hope so anyways. Are we sure Heidi is 44? Im 43 and I feel like she’s looking a decade older and that’s not saying I look way younger. I feel she has to be older, or you all are right with the sun and smokes

    • Jenn says:

      Ah!!! I left a link to an explanation of different Ordinary products waaaay upthread as a reply to another comment. In short, SOME of their stuff is the best you can get, no matter the price point. SOME is not. I know, there’s just so much stuff!!

      Heidi Klum is beautiful but, as a smoker (and I sure wish I had never started), I agree that she appears to smoke. I was recently in Germany, where I learned smoking is socioculturally somewhat endemic—I imagine this makes the habit a lot harder to give up?

  26. K says:

    There is no one answer for everybody because we live in different environmental climates and have different skin types and sensitivity levels.

    I have sensitive, milky white skin (that doesn’t tan, it only turns lobster red and freckles) and growing up got picked on by girls who were snobby about tanning, but I never understood why they felt compelled to comment. I think it’s beautiful that humans come in all shades. Those tanning devotees might have felt they looked better than me then, but cut to our mid-30’s and I look younger than most of them because I’ve avoided a lot of sun damage and never became a smoker. Exfoliating lightly about every other week and moisturizing every day, getting vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables, eating healthy fats but avoiding excessive sugar and fried foods, plus drinking water all day means I’m often told I look young for my age. Also, getting enough sleep is crucial (even affects how my hair looks!) Expensive skin care products never impress me. But that’s my body, others are different.

  27. OkieOpie says:

    There was a lawsuit involving St Ives a couple years ago, something about the skin being damaged by the scrub. I use glycolic peels. Sooooo far above a scrub.

  28. Nicegirl says:

    Dr Jart has some masks at Sephora, and at the drugstore I like Freeman’s charcoal and black sugar mask, which I use as a facial scrub.

  29. raincoaster says:

    The most important thing about the apricot and other seed-based physical scrubs is that they don’t have the plastic microbeads that are polluting the water. They’re truly biodegradeable. That’s very important. Lots of people with the expensive scrubs use plastic microbeads, which are rightly getting banned.

    My favourite used to be the adzuki bean scrub from teh Body Shop years ago, but they stopped carrying it. I guess I could just buy some of the beans in Chinatown and grind them in a coffee mill, come to think of it. It was fantastic, and completely oil-free.

  30. spargel says:

    Been using St Ives Apricot scrub for nigh two decades now. For nigh two decades now people fall of their seats when I tell them I’m 47. Maybe what “ages” us is in the genes (or the UV, if we don’t use SPF face creams, which I also started using in my 20s).

    I’m allergic/sensitive to everything but St Ives is my friend.

    PS Many folks in the professional skincare biz disavow *anything* you can get cheap at the drugstore because they want to sell you the expensive lines they purvey. I’d maybe trust a dermatologist who doesn’t have a sales rack/exclusive line. I stopped taking what aestheticians tell me on faith, however, because it’s all about their much more $uperior in-house product.

  31. missmerry says:

    so if you scrub your skin and it causes micro abrasions it’s negative…but people use those rollers that can make you bleed to create micro abrasions and that’s positive for your skin…