Are Facial Scrubs and Peel-off Masks Damaging Your Skin?

Clare McLoughlin
By Clare McLoughlin

Clare McLoughlin is an Independent Nurse Prescriber and advanced procedure aesthetic nurse and trainer with more than 16 years’ experience.

As we age, our skin becomes less efficient at shedding old skin cells, causing them to build up and give the appearance of a dull and lackluster complexion.

Gentle and light exfoliation can help to clear away some of this build-up to reveal the more radiant skin beneath, but exfoliation can also cause skincare problems – especially if it is done too vigorously or using abrasive ingredients that are too harsh on the skin.

In 2016, two women in the US filed a $5million class-action lawsuit against Unilever (parent company of brand St. Ives) over its Apricot Scrub, which contains remnants of walnut shells designed to exfoliate the skin(1).

The claimants stated that the scrub caused irritation and inflammation, as the exfoliating particles could tear the skin and lead to infection.

I have to say that the name ‘scrub’ doesn’t help – encouraging men and women to vigorously rub these products into the delicate skin of the face in the name of beauty and anti-ageing.

do facial peels damage your skin?

That’s not to say that a little gentle exfoliation, a couple of times a week, isn’t beneficial for your skin – we just need to carry out this manual exfoliation gently and sensitively, applying dermatologist-approved products lightly to the skin, and avoiding the delicate eye area.

Alternatively, if you are concerned about exfoliating yourself, speak to an Aesthetic Nurse or Cosmetic Doctor about clinical alternatives that can be carried out by an experienced and qualified medical professional (like Chemical Peels, Microdermabrasion, Hydrafacial etc.) to manually exfoliate the skin safely and effectively.

Facial Scrubs aren’t the only skincare product that can actually do more harm than good! Those charcoal ‘peel off’ masks that were all the rage last year can also damage your skin.

If you saw any of the videos doing the rounds on Facebook and YouTube of people removing these masks, you’ll have noticed one thing – the shrieks of pain! In my opinion, a home skincare treatment shouldn’t be a painful experience and is a sign that these people weren’t just lifting dirt and grime from their pores, but the whole top layer of skin cells and the tiny hairs that protect the skin.

In addition, these peel-off masks strip the skin of the essential oils that our skin needs to stay healthy and protect against external pollutants and infections, leaving you open to irritated and inflamed skin.

are peels and scrubs actually damaging your skin?

When it comes to looking after your skin and trying to slow down the visible symptoms of ageing, the key is to apply appropriate skincare products gently!

If you aren’t sure what skincare products you should be using, I recommend seeking advice from aesthetic practitioners in a medically-led clinic who would be happy to help you find the most appropriate skincare products for your own unique skin.


If you want to read more, the experts at Consulting Room really know what they're talking about and have put together some Chemical Peels, Microdermabrasion, Hydrafacial, and specialist skin creme treatment FAQs just for you. 

If you have more questions, you can use the Chemical Peels, Microdermabrasion, Hydrafacial, and specialist skin creme treatment questions feature to talk to our panel of trained medical experts. 

If you're keen to get started with treatment right away then you're in luck - those clever folks also have a list of trusted, accredited Chemical Peels, Microdermabrasion, Hydrafacial, and specialist skin creme clinics in your area.

Many thanks to the author of this blog Clare McLoughlin who founded Appearance Based Medicine in 2004, driven by a desire to provide advanced facial rejuvenation solutions and aesthetic treatments to patients in Marlow, Buckinghamshire and the surrounding areas. 

People choose Appearance Based Medicine because of the top-quality and personable service that they receive, and always leave the clinic with a welcome boost to both their inner confidence and outer radiance. 

Call Clare McLoughlin now on 01628 303 020 or visit

Thanks to the author

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