Kylie Jenner’s new walnut-based face scrub could be dangerous: experts

Click to play video: 'Critics roast Kylie Jenner’s new walnut-based face scrub'
Critics roast Kylie Jenner’s new walnut-based face scrub
WATCH: Critics roast Kylie Jenner's new walnut-based face scrub – May 15, 2019

Kylie Jenner has announced that she’s expanding her beauty line to include skincare, and one product in particular — the walnut face scrub — is already causing a stir.

The scrub is set to hit shelves along with the rest of her new line, aptly called Kylie Skin, on May 22.

In a promotional video posted to Twitter, Jenner calls the scrub her “secret to a fresh face.”

She also says it’s gentle enough to use every day, which worries experts.

“It really comes down to how the walnut powder is built. You can have larger, less uniform powder and you can have finer, smaller, more uniform powders,” said Dr. Julia Carroll, a dermatologist at Compass Dermatology

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The theory is that larger, less uniform walnut powder can cause micro-tears in the skin, which can promote inflammation and leave you vulnerable to infection.

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“If you’re using scrubs, particularly for acne, which is a common use of scrubs — one of the hallmark features of acne is inflammation, and if you use a scrub on top of that, that’s going to increase inflammation,” said Carroll.

“You can actually compound the problem and make it worse.”

The problem, according to Carroll, is that there’s no way to know if the product will be damaging to a customer’s skin until they try it.

“That’s something you wouldn’t be able to tell by feeling a product,” said Carroll.

“It’s something that you would only know as a manufacturer or if you were able to look at it under a microscope. It’s information that is difficult for the public to access.”

Carroll is wary about the quality of the ingredients used in Jenner’s skincare line.

“It really does come down to the quality of the product and how those different ingredients are milled,” she said.

“The issue with the Kylie Jenner scrub is that it hasn’t been released yet so… we don’t know the details on what type of powder it is.”

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Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist at DLK on Avenue, expresses similar concerns about the scrub and its use of walnut-shell powder.

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“The issue is this: not everyone is ideal to use that product and not everyone is ideal to use that product daily,” said Kellett.

“To say that it’s great for everyone… that’s a blanket statement. For some people, it would not be appropriate.”

Ultimately, the effects of this scrub will vary from person to person — but Kellett warns that people with underlying skin diseases should stay away.

“People with a history of eczema or atopic dermatitis… people who have very active acne… this product could irritate them and cause an irritant reaction,” she said.

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This isn’t the first time a beauty company has made headlines for using walnuts in a skincare product.

In 2016, St. Ives was the subject of a class-action lawsuit worth $6.8 million because of their apricot facial scrub — which also uses walnut-shell powder.

The two claimants, Kaylee Browning and Sarah Basile, argued that the scrub caused tears and was not fit for use.

Unilever, the company that makes the cult-favourite scrub, stood by its “dermatologist-tested formula,” but the case started a heated debate among dermatologists about use of the ingredient.

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According to Top Class Actions LLC, the case was ultimately dismissed.

Carroll hopes Jenner has learned from the mistakes of the beauty industry’s past.

“Hopefully, she’s gone to higher-end ingredients, and they’re finely milled… but we won’t know until we get our hands on it,” she said.

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In Carroll’s experience, people who suffer from chronic acne often reach for an abrasive scrub because acne is associated with “clogged skin” — but it’s not always the right way to go.

“I think that a lot of people feel that acne comes from dirty, clogged skin, and they may actually go towards a scrub because they feel like they can clean the acne away,” she said.

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“While this combination can be helpful for acne, I think a lot of people, in desperation, overdo it.”

However, if you happen to have a bad reaction to a scrub after use, Carroll wants to be clear that the damage is probably temporary.

“Your skin cycles every four to six weeks, depending on your age… so if you do damage with micro-tears, not all is lost — it will repair itself,” she said.

The only thing to worry about are “channels” in the skin.

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“If you’re using other products, like acid (which is very common for people suffering with acne), you’ve given it more access to your skin,” Carroll said.

“Where your skin’s natural barrier might have protected you from some of these (harsh) ingredients, now you’ve got a little tear. It’s essentially a channel that allows that product to go deeper into your skin.”

This may not cause any problems, but it can be an issue for people with sensitive skin or acne.

Instead, she recommends looking for ingredients that “naturally dissolve” — like silica.

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“It’s essentially sand… that is really finely milled. It’s very round, it’s very small but it doesn’t damage the skin,” Carroll said.

In her view, silica is a great way to replace microbeads, which were cast aside by the beauty industry when they were discovered to be extremely bad for the environment.

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Both Carroll and Kellett recommend consulting a dermatologist before trying anything new on your face.

“That’s why it’s always important to get the help of a board-certified dermatologist… Often, people come in with very complicated routines, and it’s just a matter of cleaning up their routine to get them on the right track,” said Carroll.

“I feel sad for people who blame themselves for their acne. They come in with a lot of guilt and a lot of shame, but it’s a medical condition that often needs a medical treatment by a dermatologist.”


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