The Craziest Beauty Ingredients That Have Been Used Over The Years
The beauty industry has come a very long way when it comes to the ingredients used to make our eyes defined, lashes long, and skin glowing. Back in ancient Egypt, people would use kohl around their eyes to protect them from the sun and use green paint from malachite powder to make their eyes look bigger. In the middle ages, people would use white lead paint to lighten their skin, but little did they know, it was toxic and slowly poisoning them.
Now, we all have our specific beauty routines, whether it involves using a chilled jade roller in the morning or applying Glossier’s Boy Brow and calling it a day. But some people have taken their beauty regimen to another level with trendy (and sometimes controversial) ingredients and procedures. Some of these ingredients are relatively new, while others have been around for decades, if not longer. Here are some of the weirdest and honestly grossest ingredients you can find in beauty products and skin care treatments.
Yep, the alleged wrinkle-reducing foreskin facial is a thing.
It’s been raved about by celebrities like Kate Beckinsale and Sandra Bullock. According to Men’s Health, it involves applying liquified baby foreskin to your face. But why on earth would you use baby foreskin? Apparently, it contains human growth factor proteins that stimulate the regeneration of cells and collagen production.
Snails aren’t just a delicacy in French cuisine — now, they’re used in tons of beauty products.
Snail mucin (aka snail slime) has become more and more popular for its hydrating effects. According to The Strategist, snail mucin in skin care is gathered from common garden snails. Although there hasn’t been much research on snail mucin, their slime contains moisturizing ingredients such as glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid.
There’s a superstition that being pooped on by a bird means good luck, but did you know that bird poop can lead to glowing skin?
In Japan, bird poop has been used in facials, such as “Uguisu no fun” and the geisha facial, according to Byrdie. You won’t get the benefits from just any bird poop, though — night nightingale droppings are key to brightening and exfoliating your skin. So how does this bird poop facial work? Japanese Bush Warbler droppings are collected, sanitized, and turned into powder, then mixed with water to be used as a skin care treatment.
It’s also known as lanolin.
Wool grease is a wax-like substance naturally produced by sheep, according to Dermstore. Lanolin has been used for thousands of years and is still an ingredient you can find in beauty products today, such as body creams and lotions. Because lanolin has high-fat content, it keeps water contained when applied to skin and can make you feel extra smooth.
This less-than-appealing beauty ingredient is commonly found in high-end perfumes.
Ambergris (the technical term for whale waste) is formed in a sperm whale’s intestines and is excreted rather than vomited. However, it’s still commonly referred to as whale vomit, according to National Geographic. Although the ingredient has been used as far back as ancient Egyptian times, it’s been banned in the U.S. since the 1970s.
How can we forget the time Kim Kardashian-West revealed she ate placenta after giving birth to Saint West?
In a blog post, which has since been deleted, Kardashian-West clarified that she didn’t “fry it like a steak and eat it,” but rather had it freeze-dried and turned into pills. “Every time I take a pill, I feel a surge of energy and feel really healthy and good. I totally recommend it for anyone considering it,” Kardashian-West wrote. It’s not just Kim who loves placenta either. Cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson told Harper’s Bazaar that it’s “loaded with proteins that can help strengthen the skin and hair. There are plant alternatives but the efficacy is not quite the same.”
Bee venom is found in the stingers of bees, and contains enzymes, peptides, and amino acids.
One of the main components of bee venom is melittin, which is suspected to have anti-inflammatory effects that made it so popular in the beauty community. Bee venom treatments also claim to “rejuvenate, reduce scars, heal acne, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles,” according to Express. It even caught the attention of Kate Middleton, who allegedly swears by the “natural botox” treatment.
Caviar is not only fancy and pricey to eat, but you can also add to your skin care routine.
According to an interview with Elle, New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner said that caviar can help slow down the appearance of aging skin. “It’s loaded with vitamins and amino acids that provide building blocks for skin cells to function optimally,” Zeichner said. So next time you see caviar at a fancy restaurant, remember that it could easily be part of a successful skin care routine.
One woman, Stella Ralfini, made headlines when she revealed her skin care secret involved putting human urine on her face.
According to The Sun, Ralfini learned about urine’s anti-aging benefits when studying medicine in India. It all started when she developed a rash and was advised to dab her pee on it. Ralfini said that within a week, the rash was gone. She claims that urine can be used to treat skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis, but again, this is just coming from her.
Do you ever get a tingle on your lips when you apply a plumping lip gloss?
That could be because it contains hot pepper (also called capsaicin) to stimulate blood flow and make lips look more full, according to Beautylish. Lip plumping products might also contain other spicy ingredients such as cinnamon or menthol, which also help to give you that full, puckered look. Who would’ve guessed?
Apparently, bull semen has been used as a special ingredient in hair-conditioning treatments.
In 2009, London salon Hari’s was offering the treatment using semen from Aberdeen Angus bulls, according to Naturally Curly. As part of the treatment, the salon combined the bull sperm with a protein-rich plant and massaged it into the client’s hair after shampooing it. The client then sits under heat to allow the treatment to soak in. Finally, the hair is blown out.
If you’re into beauty, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of hyaluronic acid.
It’s naturally produced in our bodies and plays a key role in keeping skin hydrated, according to Today. But did you know that the ingredient originally came from rooster combs? (Note: rooster combs are the fleshy growths on top of their heads.) Nowadays, hyaluronic acid is made in labs from plant sources and genetic modification.
Whether or not you’ve realized it, you’ve probably encountered a beauty product with fish scales in it.
You can find them in anything from lipstick to skin care products. No, you won’t find “fish scales” on the ingredients list, but rather the ingredient “guanine,” which is a crystalline material made from fish scales. Why use fish scales? Apparently, it adds a nice white color to products and can be used in makeup to hide pigmentation or blemishes.
Shark Liver Oil
Squalene can be found in moisturizers, serums, sunscreen, and lipstick, but did you know that “squalene” is just another word for shark liver oil?
That’s right, a lot of moisturizing beauty products keep your skin hydrated and your skin barrier protected thanks to sharks, according to Discovery. Unfortunately, this means that sharks are often killed for their liver oil, which isn’t exactly a practice we want to support. “French conservation organization Bloom estimates that more than 3 million sharks are caught each year for their liver oil,” Discovery adds.
It’s pretty gross to think that beetles are used to make some beauty products, but it’s true.
If you see “carmine” on the ingredient list, that beauty product got its color from cochineal beetles, according to Tree Hugger. The beetles, which are native to Mexico, are crushed to release a red dye. Specifically, according to Washington Post, 70,000 insects are crushed to make a single pound of this dye.