If you frequent the comments section of skin care websites and blogs like I do, you’re bound to come across some strange things that people do for beauty.
On the topic of my acne, I also get some bizarre unsolicited advice. Random people recommend strange things such as using period blood, urine, feces, and semen. Suffice to say I’m not brave enough to try any of them, and wonder if enduring the procedures would even be worth the result!
At the end of the day, every person has an image of their ideal beauty, which shifts and changes, and sometimes they are even willing to do extremely strange things to embody this image of beauty.
In Japan, some women swear that using Nightingale poop in their facials (uguisu no fun) creates a glowing, youthful appearance. In fact, people who use these facials report softer, lighter, and brighter looking skin.
A Nightingale is a Japanese bush warbler, birds which are farmed for this very purpose. Their poop is collected, sanitized with UV light, dehydrated, and ground into a powder. The powder then gets mixed into things like face washes and facial exfoliants.
Recently the products have appeared in the Western world; even Victoria & David Beckham have used it!
Nightingale poop contains a high concentration of nitrogen-rich urea (also found in urine). Urea is common in cosmetics because it helps the skin hold in moisture, although synthetic urea is typically used today. The poop also contains high amounts of guanine, an amino acid which creates a shimmery, iridescent effect.
Sometimes medical instruments, such as the external fixator, a limb lengthening device for polio and congenital limb defects, get misappropriated. Enter the trend of leg lengthening, practiced predominantly in China.
In this painful procedure, a doctor breaks the patient’s legs and inserts steel pins into the bones just below the knees. The pins are rigged to a metal frame, and every day for months the patient tightens the knobs a small amount, lengthening the bones over time.
Anyone who has ever had corrective jaw surgery knows that a procedure like this is no walk in the park. Healing time is around 6 months, and some people even suffer permanent disfigurement at the hands of unauthorized beauty clinics.
Thankfully the procedure is now banned in China after a flood of botched operations, although similar procedures can still be carried out in hospitals strictly on medical grounds.
Although I was once told to rub human semen on my face to clear my skin, this strange beauty ritual has to do with non-human semen. Cod sperm is used in lotions for its water-binding properties, and in some U.K. salons bull semen is applied in a mixture to the hair. Allegedly this revitalizes damaged tresses and gives it a shine that no other substance can match.
The use of semen in cosmetics isn’t a new trend. Semen contains a powerful antioxidant called spermine, which skin care companies suggest may be effective in moisturizing and protecting your skin.
Ancient Romans not only loved public baths, they also loved urine and goat milk to keep their teeth white and clean.
Because the ammonia in urine makes it useful for disinfection and lifting stains, pee was collected from urinals, and shipped in jars from Portugal (the Romans thought that Portuguese urine was somehow a more powerful cleansing agent than Roman urine).
This was practiced mostly by wealthy Roman ladies, so much so that the product became wildly popular, forcing Roman emperor Nero to place a tax on it!
I’m seeing a pattern with bodily excrement here, aren’t you?
In ancient times, Greeks and Romans used crocodile dung in their mud baths. This mixture of earth and croc poop wasn’t the only use; it was also used to make whitening and anti-aging face masks, and to kill parasites like chiggers, lice, and crabs.
Of all the strange things to do for fleeting beauty, this has got to be the silliest one yet.
This practice likely stemmed from the concept of bloodletting, an ancient system of medicine which involved the withdrawal of blood to allegedly cure illness and disease. The loss of blood results in a pale appearance that was highly sought after during this time.
Aristocratic women in the 6th century who wanted to attain the porcelain look subjected themselves to systematic bleeding, draining all the natural color out of their bodies.
I can’t imagine that this fad lasted very long, however, especially once cosmetics enabled women to achieve the look much easier.
In the early 20th century while radiation was still relatively new and not well understood, radioactive cosmetics were all the rage in France and to a lesser extent in England. Companies began marketing products containing radium and other radioactive chemicals, which included a night cream, rouge, compact powder, vanishing cream, hair tonic, soap, and others.
Advertisements claimed that they could stimulate “cellular vitality”, firm skin, cure boils and pimples, stop aging and retain a fresh and bright complexion.
And because things are getting really dark on the Internet, a bonus one:
Real foreskin. In a face cream. These strange things are just getting stranger.
When I learned that skin care companies are using foreskin fibroblasts in cosmetic creams and collagens, supposedly to reduce wrinkles, I nearly spit out my tea. Apparently, it’s being used in mainstream skin care today, recently appearing in the spotlight on an episode of Oprah.
What do you think about the strange things people do for beauty? Would you – or have you – ever tried any of them? Let us know below!