Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan and creator of Kylie Cosmetics, sent the internet into overdrive when she announced the expansion of her beauty empire to include a line of “vegan, cruelty free, paraben, and sulfate free” skincare products. Packaged in millennial pink bottles, the inaugural collection includes a vanilla milk toner, foaming face wash, vitamin C serum, face moisturizer, eye cream, as well as a very controversial product. A walnut face scrub.
In a video posted to Kylie Skin’s Instagram page, Kylie says that her scrub isn’t too abrasive and is gentle enough to be used every day. But the internet isn’t buying it. They’re even comparing it to St. Ives Apricot scrub, which was the subject of a 2016 class-action lawsuit. In the suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the “use of St. Ives as a facial exfoliant leads to long-term skin damage that greatly out-weighs any potential benefits the product may provide.” But can Kylie’s scrub cause similar damage?
Kylie’s scrub is made primarily of powdered walnut shells, which many, including experts, believe is too harsh. Physical exfoliants with coarse ingredient create microscopic tears in the top layers of the skin and can cause pores to close due to inflammation. When this happens, p-acne bacteria gets trapped in the skin and is given an oxygen-free environment to grow and cause more breakouts.
While exfoliation is an important step is anyone’s skincare routine, it shouldn’t be done “every day” like Kylie states. Over-exfoliation lead to loss of hydration, increases inflammation breakouts. Depending on skin-type, people should only be exfoliating once or twice a week, especially when using a physical exfoliator as harsh as walnut shells. A gentler alternative is a chemical exfoliant such as salicylic based cleanser, which can remove impurities without damaging the skin.
But Kylie does have some supporters in her corner. One of them being Debra Jailman M.D, a New York City- based dermatologist who spoke with Health magazine about the potential benefits of the product. “I looked at the walnut scrub ingredients and she has things like glycerin and squalene”, which are very moisturizing. She also says that physical exfoliants, including walnut shells, can be beneficial for people who suffer from eczema and rosacea since they don’t respond as well with chemical exfoliants. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC echoed Dr. Jailman’s statement, saying that while walnut shells exfoliants have been traditionally frowned up, the issue was primarily with how finely ground they were. He noted that this isn’t specific to just walnuts. “To my knowledge, there is no real data showing that walnut-shell powder is any more harmful to the skin than other forms of manual exfoliation."
So does this mean we should boycott Kylie Skin? No. What we need to do is our research. Only we know how our skin reacts to products such as these.