Tested on animals:No
While Lemon Sugar Facial Scrub does have a few pros (like moisturizing non-fragrant plant oils and fatty acids), especially for dry skin not prone to breakouts, the cons make this an overall disappointing entry into the scrub category. The most significant cons are a few questionable ingredient choices (an overly coarse scrub agent and citrus extracts) and the fact that it’s packaged in a jar. See More Info to find out why jar packaging isn’t a good idea for a product like this.
Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris) extract is the scrub ingredient in this product—but it’s a bit too good at its job and can cause micro-tears on the skin’s surface due to its irregular and jagged edges. The kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix) extract is also problematic due to its potential to sensitize skin, and this type of irritation can be exacerbated in a scrub formula.
What about their claim that sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) is a natural source of glycolic acid? That’s true. However, sugarcane contains only a small amount of glycolic acid, and that tiny amount won’t do much of anything for the skin. It certainly won’t be as effective as a true exfoliant product.
When well formulated, scrubs are a good option to facilitate the cleansing process (like using a soft washcloth with your cleanser or a facial brush like the Clarisonic), but they don’t replace a well-formulated AHA or BHA leave-on exfoliant in terms of anti-aging benefits, unclogging pores, and fading discolorations.
Andalou Naturals included manuka honey, which has some research (like many varieties of honey) demonstrating antibacterial and antioxidant benefit for the skin—which is true of many ingredients. Manuka honey is sometimes rumored to have benefit in treating acne, but we couldn’t find a shred of research supporting that direct relationship (and in a cleanser it is rinsed off before it has a chance to really work anyway).
What research we could find noted that manuka honey works, to a degree, on Staphylococcus (staph) bacteria, which isn’t the same or similar to Propionibacterium acnes, the type of bacteria that plays a role in acne breakouts (Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2011).
Rather than considering Lemon Sugar Facial Scrub, opt for the better-formulated (that is, more gentle) options available from other brands that don’t share this product’s problematic ingredients and packaging. Check out our list of GOOD to BEST Scrubs for our top picks. Better yet, check out our top AHA and BHA exfoliant picks from other brands on our list of Best Exfoliants.
Note: Please totally ignore the claims made about the fruit stem cell ingredients (see More Info if you wish to read the considerable details explaining why). While these ingredients aren’t harmful or irritating to the skin (and can have antioxidant benefit), there is no research to support the claims of regenerating skin or functioning like your skin’s own stem cells, which would push this product from its status as a cosmetic to a drug. The notion that plant stem cells can “renew dormant cells, repair damaged cells, or regenerate healthy cells” may be true for a plant, but it isn’t for human skin.
- Contains beneficial emollients for normal to dry skin.
- Includes a nice array of beneficial antioxidants and anti-irritants.
- Includes a scrub agent (bamboo extract) that is potentially irritating to the skin.
- The lime extract present can promote skin irritation and sensitivity.
- Jar packaging means the beneficial ingredients will begin to break down from the first use.
- Plant stem cells don't renew or generate human cells of any kind.
Why Jar Packaging is a Problem: The fact that this product is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won’t remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and most other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also present a hygiene issue because even if you wash your hands or use a spatula to remove the product, you’re introducing bacteria that causes further breakdown of key ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).
Stem Cells in Skin Care: Stem cells are cells in animals and plants that are capable of becoming any other type of cell in that organism and of producing more of those cells. Despite the fact that stem cell research is in its infancy, many cosmetics companies claim they are successfully using plant-based or human-derived stem cells in their anti-aging products. The claims run the gamut, from reducing wrinkles to elastin repair and cell regeneration, so the temptation for consumers to try these is intense.
The truth is that stem cells in skin-care products do not work as claimed. In fact, they likely have no effect at all because stem cells must be alive to function as stem cells. Once these delicate cells are added to skin-care products, they are long dead and, therefore, useless.
Plant stem cells, such as those derived from apples, melons, flowers, and rice, cannot stimulate stem cells in human skin, but because they are from plants these ingredients likely have antioxidant
properties. Actually, it’s a good thing plant stem cells can’t work as stem cells in skin-care products; after all, you don’t want your skin to absorb cells that can grow into apples or watermelons!
There are also claims that because a plant’s stem cells allow a plant to repair itself or to survive in harsh climates, these benefits can be passed on to human skin. How a plant functions in nature is unrelated to human skin, and these claims are completely without substantiation.
Another twist on the issue is that cosmetics company’s claim they have taken components (such as peptides) out of the plant stem cells and made them stable so they then can work as stem cells. This approach is not valid because stem cells must be complete to function normally. Even if you could isolate substances or extracts from these cells and make them stable, there is no published research showing they can affect stem cells in human skin.