"Beauty is pain," or so the saying goes. But what if beauty was actually lamb placenta facials and snake massages? Yeah, you read that right — those treatments actually exist in the world, along with plenty more bizarre procedures, serums, and accessories. Here are 10 of the strangest beauty treatments around the world that use "natural" ingredients (and by natural, I mean literally animals from nature), most of which I just can't see myself ever trying.
Apologies in advance if any of these make you queasy, though I can't say I blame you. (Just be thankful I didn't include urine-as-teeth-whitener on this list ...)
If you've ever dreamed of getting one step closer to James Bond, Cleopatra, or King Midas, here's your chance. That's right, 24-karat-gold facials are officially on the menu at several spas around the world. Alleging anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and acne-fighting benefits, covering your face in gold leaf is certainly one (very expensive) way to seriously pamper your skin.
Bull Semen Hair Treatment
"Lather, rinse, apply bull sperm." Not exactly a hair care tip you hear every day, but it very well could be soon. Dubbed "Viagra for hair" by the London salon that originated the treatment, bull semen is like conditioner on crack when combined with the root of protein-rich Katera (a plant from Iran). The treatment promises to strengthen the hair shaft, promote growth, and leave your mane silky and shiny ... but I think I'll stick with my DIY coconut oil masque.
Whether you're at a spa in Asia letting a half-dozen crawl across your face or donning a secretion-filled sheet mask in the privacy of your home, snails (and their slime) are having a moment in the beauty world right now.
Dating back to ancient times when the Greek physician Hippocrates was said to have used crushed snails and sour milk to cure skin inflammation, this substance is secreted when snails are stressed, and is said to contain nutrients, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid — all beneficial for your epidermis. Basically, snail mucin promises that "glow" everyone's after.
It's the latest "It" ingredient to come out of the South Korean beauty boom, but there's no science to back up the claims, so proceed with slimy caution. I'll admit I've tried a mask and didn't hate the results, but I'm not in any rush to go for round two.
Ophidiophobics beware! In Israel, a hybrid farm/spa offers snake massages (apparently there's a long waiting list for an appointment) that involve non-venomous slithering masseuses. If you can get over the utter terror of having snakes moving around on your back, the massage is said to relieve tension and stress, with larger specimens kneading out knots with their movements, and smaller ones "fluttering" across the skin to calm and caress.
Why eat blinis when you can rub the caviar all over your face? That's right, folks. Fresh fish eggs are rich in peptides and amino acids that, when massaged into skin, promise to do everything from reverse aging to cure acne, all while promoting cell regeneration. Pun intended, this treatment seems less fishy than many others on this list, mostly because we know just how great omega-3-rich seafood is for skin.
Bee Venom Mask
Marketed as a natural, organic alternative to Botox, covering your face with bee venom-infused cream cream supposedly leads to lifted, tightened, and firmed facial muscles. How does it work? The cream tricks your skin into thinking it's been stung with melittin, the principal active component in bee venom, which then causes increased blood flow to the area ... more blood flow equals fuller, rosier skin.
I don't know about skin care, but bee venom has been used successfully in the treatment of HIV, cancer, and other autoimmune diseases, so maybe there's something to be said for adding it to your beauty routine.
One of the more invasive practices on this list, a butter massage is a traditional Ethiopian treatment that involves nudity, a smoking hole in the ground, and, you guessed it, butter. After a head-to-toe rubdown, butter is applied everywhere (in and out) and women are instructed to squat above a smoke hole in the ground until the butter melts. Typically performed after giving birth, the practice apparently tightens, cleanses, and repairs vaginal muscles.
Uguisu No Fun Facial (aka "Nightingale Feces")
Once a favorite of Japanese geishas and Kabuki actors, this one involves using sterilized nightingale poop to lighten and balance skin tone. Chock-full of the amino acid guanine and its enzymes, the avian excrement is supposed to cleanse and soften skin. As the guano is harvested from caged nightingales in Japan, the birds' diets are controlled to produce the most nutrient-rich product.
Lamb Placenta Facial
Pretty much exactly what it sounds like, this facial involves having lamb placenta smeared on your face and then pricking the skin with tiny needles so the stem-cell fluid can better penetrate. Recipients allege instant results: lifted, tightened, firmed skin and fast cell regeneration.
It's not news that eating your placenta after birth is a growing trend as a way to replace vitamins and nutrients and recover faster from labor, but using animal placenta as a beauty treatment takes the idea to a whole new level, one I'm not sure I want to be on.
Vampire (Blood) Facelift
Saving the best for last, the "vampire facelift" involves taking blood from your arm and injecting it back into your face. It's a little more complicated than that (the plasma in your drawn blood is enriched with platelets before being returned via acupuncture needles), but the effects are supposedly meant to "rejuvenate the face" and erase wrinkles. But if Kim Kardashian's foray into sanguine beauty treatments is any indication, the procedure is incredibly painful and also downright bizarre.