St. Ives toutes itself as “America’s No. 1 scrub brand” on its website. The company's most popular product is its line of apricot facial scrubs.
Now, as TMZ reports, the company is facing a $5 million lawsuit from two woman claiming that Unilever, the parent company of St. Ives, advertisements toting the product as “dermatologist tested” is misleading because it does not mean it's approved by them.
According to TopClassActions.com, the plaintiffs in the case, Kaylee Browning and Sarah Basile, are filing a personal lawsuit as users of St. Ives Apricot Scrub. They are also filing a “nationwide Class consisting of all persons in the U.S.” who purchased the product.
The main point of contention is the product's inclusion of “walnut shell powder.” St. Ives says on their official website it is one of the “natural exfoliants we use to keep skin soft and glowing.”
Browning and Basile, however, assert that the walnut shell powder did the exact opposite of its intended effect. When the scrub was applied to their faces, it felt like “sandpaper” on their skin.
The lawsuit claims that St. Ives failed to accurately portray the risks of skin irritation and inflammation when using the scrub.
Top Class Actions summarizes the main points of the supporting evidence given by Browning and Basile that goes beyond their personal experience:
"Another dermatologist said using crushed walnut shells is like 'using sandpaper on your face.' It can cause inflammation and irritation that can accelerate the aging process, the dermatologist said.
Still another skincare expert interviewed in the New York Magazine article said that abrasive scrubs create 'micro-tears' in the skin, and that this damage makes the skin 'more vulnerable to environmental damages, pollution, and sun damage.'
The plaintiffs also quote a blog post from an esthetician, who explains that the tiny tears in the skin caused by walnut shell powder allow bacteria to enter. The scrubbing action causes inflammation of the skin, which itself makes pores swell and close, promoting the development of acne, according to this esthetician."
Their claim asserts, given this evidence, that “St. Ives is unfit to be sold or used as a facial scrub. The product is completely worthless.”
Independent Journal Review reached out to Unilever, which issued this response:
"As a general practice we do not comment on pending litigation. We can say that for over 30 years, consumers have loved and trusted the St. Ives brand to refresh and revitalize their skin. We are proud to be America’s top facial scrub brand and stand by our dermatologist tested formula.”
Along with the $5 million they are seeking, the pair hopes to stop Unilever from what they say is falsely representing their product by not accurately communicating the risks of skin damage.