My last exfoliator, which I got from my Christmas wish list, ended up hardly making any difference in my skin texture.
On the quest to seek out my soulmate-exfoliator, I decided to give Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Gentle Exfoliating Facial Scrub a try, a budget find I picked up off the shelf at a local pharmacy store.
On the back of the package, it claims to deliver the following skin benefits:
- Cocoa & shea butters: deeply moisturize and nourish
- Micro-fine cocoa beans: buff away dead skin cells to brighten skin
- Vitamin E: powerful antioxidant
- Aloe vera: soothes and calms skin
- Milk proteins: helps improve skin’s texture and tone
- Evening primrose: soothes stressed skin
Now that I’ve been using this product for more than two months, I do see a difference. I still have plenty of whiteheads and the occasional tiny acne, but overall skin texture seems more even, and I think it has a deep cleansing effect that my acnes appear less frequent. What I love most is that even when I go gentle when massaging my face, with just a little slab of this scrub, I can already feel the fine beads penetrating deeply into my pores. Because the beads are so chunky, they work to remove the excess oil I always have by the end of the day, without drying off my skin or causing any rashes. Over time, say about three weeks of use, they start control shine throughout my day. For my oily/combination and sensitive skin, the rough, finely-crushed beads are perfect, though I suspect they might be quite harsh for other skin types.
My main concern? It contains parabens, the notorious chemical that may, to a certain degree, be toxic for your health.
Parabens are inexpensive preservatives widespread across cosmetic products, and their main job is to prevent bacteria growth during storage. It’s effective to prevent microbes from growing on the tubes, especially when you keep your products in moist, warm environments. Three most common types of parabens that keep appearing on the ingredients label of your products are butylparaben, propylparaben, and methylparaben, three of which are present in this exfoliator.
Since the early ’90s, researchers have speculated that parabens might be a culprit to the global rising rates of women developing breast cancer. Parabens mimic estrogen when in contact with the human body, and this effect disrupts the natural levels of the female hormone, a symptom linked to reproductive concerns and developmental defects.
In the scientific literature, long-term estrogen exposure has been linked to breast cancer development for decades. University of Reading researcher Philippa Darbre, Ph.D, made quite a stir in the beauty industry when one of her studies discovered that parabens are ubiquitous in malignant breast tumors. In response, cosmetic manufacturers start reproducing (and repackaging) their products and labelled them “paraben-free” due to consumers’ concern.
But the fact remains that Darbre’s study did not prove any causal effect of parabens on breast tumors, as she didn’t have samples of paraben levels in noncancerous tissue. It was merely shown that 19 out of 20 biopsies from breast tumors contain parabens.
Though researchers are still unsure whether the human skin can absorb and eventually store these chemicals through topical contact, plenty other contradicting studies found that parabens do mimic estrogen, but does so weakly.
With all these facts in mind, let me end with an affirmative note: I’m not going to go crazy about 100% paraben-free cosmetics, but I’m watching the ingredients label closer from now on, lest I harm my health when all I want is an even skin tone and texture.
Moving on to find my exfoliating miracle …