The things we do in the name of staying beautiful! All over the world women pick beauty products from the shelf that contain strange ingredients in the hope it will moisturize, rejuvenate, give a healthy glow and stave off the signs of aging. And when I say strange, I mean strange. Some are strange because we wouldn’t think of them being used in such a way and others are “eww” strange. What might be in your beauty products?
1. Snail Mucus
Slimy snails provide a stuff called mucin to the beauty industry, a substance which belongs to a group of proteins rich in amino acids that have a great capacity for holding on to moisture - ideal for creating softer, smoother skin.
Carmine is produced from crushed insect shells that have transformed due to a chemical reaction. In the past painters used carmine on their canvases; the beauty industry now uses it in vibrant colored lipsticks.
3. Bee Venom
Continuing with the insect theme: bee venom boasts a minimum of 18 pharmacological active components that include a number of peptides and enzymes. These are used in skincare products to decrease wrinkles and fine lines. Bona fide research exists to support this claim, so it's worth investing in products containing bee venom.
4. Fish Enzymes
Enzymes that sit inside the sacs where baby salmon are created are used in skin care as a gentle means of exfoliating skin (instead of using chemical exfoliation with acids).
5. Cultured Human Skin Cells
Originally harvested to help heal burn wounds, cultured human skin cells are now used in the creation of skincare lines, containing a blend of proteins, growth factors and various other beneficial ingredients that help to enhance health of skin generally.
6. Shark Liver Oil
Commercially used squalene is typically taken from shark liver oil, although squalene is a fat naturally found in our own skin. It helps to hydrate and protect our skin barrier and for this reason, squalene is added to many moisturizers.
7. Fish Scales
Guanine is just a fancy word for fish scales, which are used in shimmering makeup such as nail polish, eye shadow and lipstick.
8. Rooster Combs
Hyaluronic acid (HA), which according to chemist and beauty expert David Pollock isn't actually an acid, can be found in nearly every cell of the human body. It is a major component in human skin, where elastin and collagen are embedded. HA has the capacity to draw moisture from the air and can bind one thousand times its own weight in water, providing a natural reservoir for our cells. Originally sourced from rooster combs, today's HA is made in labs from plant sources and via biotech processes.
To sprinkle caviar on a blini or smear it all over your face - that's the tricky beauty question. Apparently, it can make your skin more elastic and reduce wrinkles. Caviar - or fish eggs - are believed to be a favorite on Gwyneth Paltrow, Mick Jagger and Angelina Jolie's list of luxury skin-smoothies.
10. Wool Wax
Lanolin is an entirely natural and organic product sourced from wool grease. It has long been one of the beauty industry's favorite emollient because lanolin can help sooth dryness in skin, offer an effective protection barrier for chapped skin in cold weather and can even help to heal wounds. Don't fret: the process of lanolin extraction does not harm little lambs or their mums!
11. Hot Pepper Oil
Lipsticks containing capsicum, namely chili pepper, can make your lips appear plumper and brighter, giving you that pouty sex-kitten look and a slight tingle due to its spiciness.
12. Guano (yes, Bird Poo!)
Bird poo, or guano, contains urea, which is also found in urine. It moisturizes human skin. It also contains an amino acid called guanine, which is sometimes used in paints to create a shimmer effect. Together these two ingredients help to soften and brighten skin.
Although there are plant alternatives, the real placenta stuff is bloated with proteins that can help strengthen hair and skin; an ordinary plant just can't compete. The placenta used usually comes from sheep but human umbilical cord cells have also been included in some skincare products.
14. Infant Foreskin
Many will regard this as one step too far by the beauty industry: discarded infant foreskin from circumcisions is used to "promote new skin growth", according to Tim Schmidt, CEO of cosmeticeutical company SkinPro. It's only marginally cheaper than caviar...but you're probably better off not sprinkling it on toast!
15. Tallow (Mutton Fat)
People already used tallow, a processed form of mutton fat, in the Middle Ages to sooth and rehydrate chapped lips and sore hands, especially in winter.
Caffeine is not only good for giving your sleepy head a kick in the morning, it can also boost hair growth by sneaking into hair follicles and strengthening weakened hair roots stealthily. Affordable, delicious and not weird at all. What's not to like about beauty product coffee?
17. Pig Collagen
You know how important collagen is to your skin, keeping it elastic, hydrated and youthful-looking. You can boost it with products containing peptides – such as those extracted from pig collagen.
You eat garlic ‘cos it tastes good. You probably also know it has many health giving properties. But did you know it is also used in skincare? The active allicin in garlic aids in the reduction of spots, blackheads and blemishes thanks to its antiseptic and deep cleansing properties.
19. Horse Fat
Horse fat contains oleic acid and a-linolenic acid both of which protect skin cells from free radical damage and help prevent premature aging.
Some of these ingredients sound icky but science seems to justify them in our beauty and skincare products.
What’s the weirdest ingredient/product you’ve used?