I always get yelled at by manicurists for the poor state of my cuticles. “When was the last time you got a manicure?” is the question I’ll always hear when I step into the salon. The sad thing is, I’ve been getting them pretty regularly and swear up and down to them that my cuticles are “just like that.” When I went to Red Door Spa recently, the nail tech told me I need to up the ante on moisturizing. She proceeded to apply an exfoliating scrub and paraffin treatment that had my skin glowing. I decided to keep it up, I need to take matters into my own hands…no pun intended.

Thymes had sent me some products and I dug out their Thymes Essential Hand Scrub ($16). It had tiny exfoliating beads made from pumice and walnut shells and nestled in a creamy base that smells delicious and does some heavy duty skin renewing. While I felt my skin looked smoother and healthy, after digging through the ingredients though, I was a little surprised.

It contains cleaning agent disodium laureth sulfosuccinate made from a coconut base and moisturizing glycerin. I was not familiar with saccharomyces ferment, but found the saccharomyces are a family of fungi. It contains live enzymes that help break down odors and is more or less a safe ingredient. That’s all fine and well but the problem I found was that the scrub contains irritants in the from of acrylates copolymer, cocamidopropyl betain, trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate and even a fairly strong irritant: sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide has been classified as “expected to be toxic or harmful” and one or more animal studies show brain and nervous system, metabolic, and sense organ effects at very low doses and there are warnings regarding using this ingredient around the eyes or mouth. This might not be used around either but it still makes me a little hesitant.

It doesn’t stop there. The scrub also contains phenoxyethanol, a common cosmetic preservative which the FDA points out “can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea”.

While I had thought my test would lead to a cuticle-saving solution, I was taken aback by such a natural-sounding brand as Thymes would include so many ingredients to be cautious about. It’s enough to keep me searching for a better solution.


Water, Sodium Coco-Sulfate¹, Pumice, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate¹, Acrylates Copolymer, Glycerin², Cocamidopropyl Betaine¹, Walnut Shell Powder, Saccharomyces Ferment², Fragrance, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Citric Acid², Sodium Hydroxide, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol
Source: ¹Coconut and/or Palm, ²Mixed Plant