If Aveeno Positively Ageless Warming Scrub were a salsa, its flavor profile would be medium-hot with a dollop of sour cream on top. Just as a robust, chunky salsa stimulates your taste buds, the instant heat from Aveeno's scrub kick-starts your skin. Judging based on sensation alone, most other cleansers would equate to a runny, tasteless dip.

But face cleansers serve a more important function than surprising your skin with temperature fluctuations. As the latest addition to Aveeno's Positively Ageless line, the Warming Scrub promises to leave skin not just clean, but younger-looking too. And the instantly self-heating blanket of creamy goodness that coats your skin really feels like it is opening your pores, while the lightly exfoliating beads banish dead skin cells. The ingredients list, however, tells a different story. At a first glance, I was ready to write-off Aveeno for green-washing...but then I began to warm up to this positively satisfying scrub.

Staring you down from the summit of Aveeno's mound of ingredients is PEG-8, otherwise known as polyethylene glycol. Besides contamination concerns of the carcinogenic 1,4 dioxane (which surely a green-minded brand like Aveeno would take careful purification steps to remove), PEG-8 is undesirable for its tendency to irritate sensitive skin and upset the skin's natural moisture balance. You'd be far better off with an innocent filler like water (and it's rare to wish for water at the head of the ingredients list).

Not far down the list past PEG-8, there is pure polyethylene, added to stabilize the emulsion and increase viscosity. A side effect of all polyethylene-related substances is enhanced penetration of the formula's other ingredients. Good or bad- PEGs don't discriminate. So does Aveeno's Warming Scrub save face?

As the leading cause of contact dermatitis, artificial fragrance is not something you want sinking deep into your skin, no matter how good it smells on the surface. Also, cetyl alcohol can mess with the skin's lipid barrier, triggering allergic dermal reactions aggravating existing skin conditions like rosacea and psoriasis. But, things are looking up with the inclusion of magnesium sulfate, a natural anti-inflammatory, and Di-PPG-2 Myreth-10 Adipate ( DMA), an emollient that has shown to reduce irritation caused by cosmetics. Both poloxamer 338 and distearyldimonium chloride are generally gentle synthetic cleansing agents.

The formula further redeems itself with ganoderma lucidum extract, the same curative Chinese shroom in Aveeno Positively Ageless Night Cream. This anti-aging and antioxidant-rich fungi is accompanied by lentinus edodes extract (the common shitake), which has antibacterial properties. The downside is that it is also potentially allergenic and even has a skin condition named after it in Japan- shitake dermatitis. More anti-aging power stems from algae extract, an active substance that adds vital oligo-elements to the skin, increasing surface hydration and suppleness.

Even though Aveeno's formula started off on the wrong foot,  it won the affection of my face with its combination of anti-inflammatory and anti-aging components. Every time I use this cleanser, my skin feels more moisturized than usual and looks positively glowing. The scrub's deeply penetrating warmth disappears as soon as its creamy beads are massaged into the skin, but the benefits of its active ingredients are noticeable. Those with extremely sensitive or already aggravated skin should beware, however, since the formula's fickle irritants might cook up an uncomfortable kind of heat.


PEG-8, Magnesium Sulfate, Poloxamer 338, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Polyethylene, Cetyl Alcohol, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Di-PPG-2 Myreth-10 Adipate, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Stem Extract, Lentinus Edodes Extract, Algae Extract, Fragrance, Stearyl Alcohol.