The Most Disgusting, Heinous Things We Put On Our Skin In The Name Of Beauty

Bird droppings, placenta, snail slime…. It’s not a page from Papa Smurf’s spell-casting playbook, but a list of what could be, should be or is part of your beauty regimen. Plenty of companies synthesize substances—snake venom, human sperm—to put in products, but these six grody ingredients are the real yucky deal.

  • Bird Poop: A favorite of Victoria Beckham’s, a Shizuka NY Geisha Facial involves slathering your face in bird poop for 50 minutes at $180 a pop. Uguisu no fun (“no fun”… for reals)—sterilized nightingale droppings—are said to “brighten and soften the complexion with their natural enzymes.”
  • Placenta: And we thought the last time we’d be coated in placenta was when making our planetary debut… J. Lo, Eva Longoria and Simon Cowell keep their skin looking as smooth as a baby’s bottom by slathering on masks and creams containing placenta, with proteins said to moisturize and accelerate skin regeneration. Some companies use animal placenta, but most use placentas donated from women after giving birth. Ew.
  • Snail Slime: Like the starfish of crustaceans, Chilean snails make a protein that can repair injuries in their shells. The goo contains collagen, elastin, glycolic acid and peptides, and the two products (De Tuinen Snail Gel and Elicina) claim it can help with fine lines acne, rosacea, stretch marks, scars and hyperpigmentation. Aimee Adams, a celeb make-up artist with clients that have included Madonna, Sienna Miller and Rachel Weisz, swears by it.
  • Ramen Noodles: Not just for broke-ass college students anymore. At Japanese spa-themed park Yunessun you can take a dip in a pool of ramen. Spa staff says the pepper collagen in the broth improves metabolism as it cleans the skin. To meet sanitation requirements, the spa uses noodle-shaped floaties rather than the eggy, floury goodness, but the pork broth comes from a neighborhood noodle shop. Other baths have included sake, coffee, curry and wine.
  • Beetles: Lipstick, eyeshadow, blush, body lotions… lots (and lots) of cosmetic products on the market contain carmine pigment: crushed shells, wings, and eggs of the Cochineal Beetle. People have been using it for centuries because it gives products (and your lips and cheeks) a nice, rosy tinge. If this freaks you out, best to avoid all kinds of ingredient lists; it’s in your food, too.
  • Bull Sperm: One four-legged mammalian money shot can give you lovelier locks. At Hari’s Hair Salon in London, (purified) sperm of organically raised Angus bulls is massaged into the scalp and heated for 20 minutes. The high-protein treatment makes hair shiny and bouncy because it, er, penetrates better than other conditioners.