If you're a regular beauty magazine reader or like to follow the mainstream skincare fads, then you've probably bought a bottle of St. Ives Apricot Face Scrub - and you may have enjoyed its fresh scent and not-too-harsh exfoliating effects. This drugstore denizen doesn't set you back more than $4 and has charmed nearly every teen, beauty, bride, and health magazine editor under the sun. The problem is that all along the ingredients in St. Ives' seemingly natural scrub have been a far cry from healthy. Under that facade of fresh fruit, St. Ives has been hiding a few dirty secrets. And up until recently, those secrets have been swept under the carpet.

But with the company's latest makeover, the carpet's getting shaken out. Taking on an all-new "Natural Commitment," St. Ives has reformulated its product line, with fresh advertising and packaging to match. Not only does it profess to never test on animals, but it has also turned its back on parabens and phthalates. So now we know that parabens and phthalates have posed a problem for the company's conscious, but what else has been tucked away in the not-so-natural former formulas? A comparison of the original and updated formulas below reads like a shocking before-and-after photo.

OLD FORMULA-  St. Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub:

Water (Aqua), Juglans Mandschurica Shell Powder (Walnut), Glyceryl Stearate SE, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Zea Mays Kernel Meal (Corn), Cetyl Alcohol, Linoleamide DEA, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG 100 Stearate, Lanolin Oil, Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil (Apricot), Sambucus Nigra Flower Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Helianthus Annuus Extract (Sunflower), Chamomilla Recutita Extract (Matricaria), Ceteareth 20, Polysorbate 60, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance (Parfum), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891)

NEW FORMULA- St. Ives Timeless Skin Apricot Scrub Renew & Firm:

Water (Aqua), Glyceryl Stearate SE, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Juglans Regia Shell Powder (Walnut), Glycol Stearate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG 100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Zea Mays Kernel Meal (Corn), Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides, Jojoba Esters, Glycolic Acid, Ceteareth 20, Urea, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), PEG 12 Dimethicone, Caffeine, Polysorbate 60, Triethamolamine, Fragrance (Parfum), Carbomer, Arginine, Disodium EDTA, Phenethyl Alcohol, PPG 2 Methyl Ether, Methlisothiazolinone, Prunus Ameniaca Fruit Extract (Apricot)

St. Ives has made a rather drastic improvement, to say the least. Most notably, the preservative department has made some much-needed layoffs. A trio of parabens, along with their foul accomplice phenoxyethanol, have been replaced by generally harmless, food-grade preservatives like disodium EDTA. Giving the cleanser a creamy consistency, iffy emollients like petroleum-derived propylene glycol have been replaced with more natural alternatives such as glycerincoco-betaine, and capric/caprylic triglycerides (extracted from coconut oil).  The scrub's primary detergent agent has been softened up a bit: The lighter version won't bring along the unwanted side effects of dry skin and contact dermatitis since it doesn't change the structure of proteins as does its crueler cousin. Sensitive skin has also been spared repeated contact with an antibacterial preservative backed by a highly allergenic pedigree.

So what remains since the St. Ives marketing team went on its clean-up crusade? For starters, there's a potent biocide that has been linked to irritation, neurotoxicity, and Alzheimer's, as well as a multi-purpose ingredient that may be toxic to the skin, immune system, and respiratory tract. A high dose of synthetic fragrance, the number one cause of contact dermatitis, continues to trick the nose with traces of artificial apricot. St. Ives also hasn't been able to let go of perilous PEGs, which can cause severe skin irritation and possibly internal toxicity in the presence of impurities. It is not recommended to use products containing PEGs on broken or damaged skin.

Most of the innocuous ingredients (cetyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate SE, ceteareth-20) and many of the good ones (apricot extracts, walnut powder, ground cornmeal) stuck around for St. Ives Apricot Scrub 2.0. New additions include caffeine for an antioxidant boost, urea for deep hydration,  jojoba esters for skin-softening benefits, and glycolic acid for light exfoliation. There may still be glaring smudges in the revised formula, but the big picture is brighter.

St. Ives' newfound commitment to nature may seem a shock to some, but we detected tinges of greenwashing years ago. It took a quick once-over for Marta to outright reject St. Ives Elements Olive Cleanser, which is loaded with sulfates including formaldehyde-carrying sodium trideceth sulfate. Though for years St. Ives has gotten away with a pretense of all-natural goodness, its products are moving toward greener pastures at long last. The Apricot scrub is a cosmetic superstar compared to its fraudulent former self. It is refreshing to see that a beauty best-seller, ripped from the pages of countless bubblegum-colored magazines, is finally earning its stripes.