Splurge or Steal: MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator Versus Aveeno Positively Ageless Warming Scrub

Published in: Drugstore Beauty Finds, MAC Makeup, Skin Care


My skin adores MAC’s gentle Volcanic Ash Exfoliator. It makes my face and neck feel softer than a feather boa and smells yummy, too (like brown sugar and honey).


But the stuff ain’t cheap, that’s for sure… The tubes cost $20 a pop!

To put the price in perspective, that’s enough to get 13 Wet ‘n’ Wild 666 Brandywine lip pencils, yo!

Why exfoliate?

It removes dead cells dulling the surface of the skin while smoothing and brightening, and if you’re prone to pimples it can also reduce the frequency and severity of breakouts.

A drugstore option?

I love MAC’s Volcanic Ash but also want a cheaper alternative, so I’ve been haunting/hunting drugstore aisles up in my neck of the woods.

I think I may have found one — Aveeno’s $8 Positively Ageless Warming Scrub.

How it stacks up against MAC Volcanic Ash

It’s a fairly new exfoliating scrub for the face and neck that contains Shitake mushroom complex instead of volcanic ash. The company claims it promotes younger-looking skin.

NOTE: Positively Ageless Scrub’s packaging isn’t very specific about what “younger-looking” skin means. Typically, the phrasing refers to products designed to reduce the appearance of age spots, fine lines and wrinkles.

After using it for two weeks, I haven’t seen a notable change in my spots or fine lines — maybe after I’ve used it longer — but I still really like the product as a skin exfoliator.

Like the name implies, Positively Ageless gently warms when I rub it against my skin.


It’s mostly a tossup. I consider my combo-oily/dry skin to be sensitive and have to be careful about abrasive scratching.

Like MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator, Positively Ageless Scrub’s exfoliating grains are finer than sand, and both leave my face and neck feeling soft and hydrated, versus dry or taut.

Positively Ageless doesn’t smell as tasty as Volcanic Ash Exfoliator does (like a spring bouquet of flowers), but scent-wise I like ’em both.

Splurge or steal?

Yes and yes.

MAC’s $20 Volcanic Ash Exfoliator can get the job done, but you could get two of Aveeno’s Positively Ageless Scrubs for the same dough and be able to give one away as a gift. πŸ™‚

Exfoliating fun fact!

Skin will shed dead cells naturally, taking an average of about 28 days for new skin cells to kick the dead ones to the curb.

Most of it ends up as dust… Odds are that dust ball behind your desk is user-generated content, LOL! Gross!

Exfoliating tips

  • Don’t forget your neck (necks need love too).
  • Do you wear tinted moisturizer or foundation? Exfoliate once a week to remove trace amounts of foundation your daily cleanser may have missed.
  • Get a smoother application with moisturizers, foundation and blush on skin that’s been recently exfoliated.

Before there was emo, there was flannel

I’m four episodes into My So-Called Life. Ahh, to be a teenager during the era where plaid flannel ruled the world…



I’ve been feeling mayjah 90s nostalgia all day long and have been listening to Sound Garden and Stone Temple Pilots non-stop.

Remember this STP song? Listening to it reminds me of reminds driving home late at night after going to the clubs with my friend Jen.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 25 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Caitlin says:

    I bought the MAC warming scrub the other day…it spooked me with just how warm it actually got!! That being said, I really liked it, and my sink didn’t look too worse for wear. Definitely considering going back for the exfoliator…

  2. amy says:

    I think it is good to splurge for at least one tube of Volcanic exfloliator to see if you would like it. It is limited edition and MAC may or may not release it again. In general I really like it as a scrub because it is gentle and moisturizing but you are right it is expensive and there are not a lot of product in it. I am debating whether or not to pick up some more back ups or just save my moolah to try other things. It is good to shop around for some alternatives if you run out. I saw the Aveeno warming scrub at the pharmacy and I am curious to try too! Another gentle scrub I like is St Ives Olive scrub it has less scrub beads and is much more gentler and moisturizing than their Apricot scrub.

    Ahhh Jordan Catalano be still my heart!
    .-= amy’s last blog post… MAC Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amy,

      I actually use Apricot Scrub on my feet, hands and knees. πŸ™‚ It’s an oldie but goodie. I will check out the Olive scrub next time I’m at the store.

      LOL, I can’t look at Jared Leto without thinking about Jordan Catalano! I can’t believe he’s a singer now.

  3. I adore the Volcanic Ash Exfoliator so much so that I bought a backup. I never buy backups of anything. Another good scrub that I’ve had good luck with is St. Ives Warming Scrub. It is really nice and not abrasive — and cheap at less than $6.
    .-= Michelle (Lipstick Rules)’s last blog post… I’m a high maintenance woman =-.

  4. CC says:

    omg I recognized that song but never knew who sang it!

  5. Christy says:

    I still love VAE & VATM. I got enough backups to last me about a year or 2. So I’m not worrying about finding a replacement until I’m out. Btw, only 1 more sleep til The Hills! I know you’re not loving that show, but its awfully fun to watch the love triangle between slimey Justin Bobby, Audrina & Kristin. πŸ˜‰
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… Sephora Haul: Oscar Blandi & Tarte =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christy,

      Sounds like you’ve got your MAC Volcanic Ash bases covered. πŸ™‚

      I dunno… I’ve never been a big fan of Kristin. It’s hard for me to watch a show where I don’t feel like there’s anyone there to root for. I can’t wait for The City, though!

  6. Chanel says:

    Are the Mac and Aveeno similar exfoliating to St. Ives Apricot Scrub? I have really weird combo skin, dry in places, major oily in other so I can only exfoliate like once a week. :\

    & Jordan Catalano!!! He went to the same college I went to and earlier this year he was there doing a Q&A. and I was soooooo sad I couldn’t go. ;_; missing a thesis class= down a letter grade. But I heard that there was TONS of girls waiting just to see him.

    Have you ever seen Freaks and Geeks(maybe you might wanna go back a little further in time hehe)? MSCL and Freaks and Geeks are like my all time favorite shows. πŸ™‚

  7. I am a big fan of both the MAC volcanic products. I liked the mask so much I too got backups so I am going to stick to it. I really like how hot it gets. =)
    .-= Kajal Couture’s last blog post… Current Addictions Available at Sephora =-.

  8. Ashley says:

    I really want to try the MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator but I don’t have the cash for it. I don’t even have the cash for the Aveeno Positively Ageless Warming Scrub! I hope by the time I make up the dough, I can get my hands on the MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator before it’s all gone for goo :[
    .-= Ashley’s last blog post… Lost my B-Card! =-.

  9. Nancy says:

    i’m a bit fan of exfoliating as well…i’ve been hearing so many things about the clarisonic, but can’t seem to shell out the dough for it. i researched a bit, and purchased the neutrogena healthy skin rejuvenator. it’s a fraction of the cost of the clarisonic, and i *love* it! you can get coupons for the kit, as well as the exfoliating refills, on the neutroten a website. i am a daily exfoliator, and this thing is the best. i noticed a difference in my skin right away, specically in the texture of my skin. i use it every other day, and use the scrubbing pads 2x’s (to save on cost). i still use my philosophy microexfoliating wash in the shower, but may have to give this aveeno one a try!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy,

      I’ve heard good things about the Clarisonic but just haven’t gotten around to trying it… it’s good to hear that the Neutrogena one is a good drugstore option though!

  10. NINA says:

    I exfoliate thrice a week…a bit OCD I agree but I cant help it. Ive been wanting to buy the MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator and I said if there were still stock available by November 1, I would. Ive been using the Biore Even Smoother Microderm Exfoliator, and loving it. I think its probably the same price as the Aveeno but Aveeno always makes me break out. The beads of the Biore scrub are finer and the scent of the product quite pleasant – plus its worked for me so far!

  11. Ada says:

    I wanted to buy the MAC scrub but couldn’t face the $$$. I’ve used the Olay mask in the past and loved it, so I’ll do the steal thing and go drugstore for a scrub.

  12. Marce says:

    We don’t have Aveeno here! Arrgghh! LOL I do like a local brands’ (VZ) exfoliator though, it smells like peaches and has Vitamin E, always good to know. I’m still thinking whether to get the VAE or not, it is a bit of a splurge! We’ll see… πŸ˜€
    .-= Marce’s last blog post… MAC Love That Look – Swatches & Review =-.

  13. Abbie Johnson says:

    MAC scrubs are fantastic, but they cost so much $$$$. I prefer OPI products from my salon for my best band for my buck.

  14. Beth says:

    I have to say Jared seems to be hot enough to carry off any look. Flannel – hot. Emo – maybe a little hotter. Either way, works for me!

    STP and Soundgarden sounds like an awesome soundtrack to me. Throw in a little Pearl Jam and a bit of Nirvana and you’ve got yourself a party!

    .-= Beth’s last blog post… Clinique Mini-Haul =-.

  15. Christy says:

    I can’t say I’m much of a fan of Kristin, but she sure is interesting to watch. She’s such a backstabbing little *****. She’s the one I love to hate, but keep watching anyway.

    As for the City, I found it hard to get into at first. I just couldn’t believe Allie and Adam. I couldn’t stand it, so I had to stop for a bit of last season. I have watched them over again because I do love looking at what they’re wearing for some inspiration.
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… Halloween Look: Lovely Lily, Mutiny, Platinum & Deep Blue Green Butterfly =-.

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