Snail Slime, Sheep Grease & Other Incredibly Weird Ingredients in Your Beauty Products

Be warned: These odd beauty ingredients might creep you out a little, but at least they're all-natural

Snail Slime

“Snail slime contains Mucin extract, which is a complex of proteins, glycolic acids and elastin. Mucin is said to have regenerative properties and aid in moisturizing skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Gary Goldfaden. Sometimes used in facials, snail slime is believed by practitioners to minimize scars and pigmentation. 

Sheep Grease

Lanolin from the fur of wool-bearing animals is used in lotions, make up removers, and many lipsticks. “Studies have shown that the emollient action produced by lanolin is prominent and lasts for hours. Applied directly to the skin, it can reduce roughness and cracking and continued use shows overall increased skin smoothness,” says Smithtown, NY-based dermatologist Dr. Marina Peredo.

Bird Poop

Nightingale poop, most commonly featured in the infamous Geisha facial, is said to cleanse the skin and give it a glow. The songbird's poop differs from that of other birds because nightingales have only one hole, called the cloaca, through which they excrete both liquid and solid waste. “The poop contains nitrogen-rich urea and guanine, an amino acid. Urea helps to bind moisture to the skin thus making the skin look and feel hydrated,” says Dr. Goldfaden.

Infant Foreskin

Arguably the most shocking ingredient found in skin care products is infant foreskin. It’s been dubbed the “Magic Fountain of Youth,” and Oprah Winfrey swears by a product derived from it. The use of beauty potions created using discarded infant foreskin remains controversial and Winfrey has received a lot of backlash in response. “The foreskin, obtained from circumcisions, promotes new skin growth,” says Tim Schmidt, CEO of cosmeticeutical company SkinPro. And it’s not cheap: SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum, rings up at $260 per ounce.

Fish Scales

In everyday life, you may know guanine better as fish scales. “Used in shimmery makeup like lipstick, nail polish and eye shadow. This helps add a shimmer to a number of cosmetics. It’s also been known to help hide blemishes,” says Dr. Peredo.

Oil From a Shark's Liver

Squalene is a fat naturally found in our skin, which serves to protect and hydrate our skin barrier. It is added into many moisturizers for this reason. While the squalene molecule in the skin is the same as others, the commercially used squalene is commonly taken from shark liver oil,” shares Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research, Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Rooster Combs

“It sounds crazy, but Hyaluronic Acid is not really an acid. Hyaluronic Acid [HA] is found in almost every cell of your body. HA is a major component of our skin, in which collagen and elastin are embedded and has the ability to draw moisture from the air, binding one thousand times its weight in water, acting as a reservoir for cells,” says chemist and beauty expert David Pollock. HA was originally derived from rooster combs, but today is actually made in the lab using plant sources and a biotech process.

Lamb Fat

Tallow is a form of processed fat from mutton. “It has soothing and hydrating properties, making it an ideal ingredient for skin care products,” says Dr. Zeichner.

Bird & Mink Oil

Some shaving creams, sunscreens and hairsprays contain oil from minks or from the giant flightless bird known as the emu. "The oil is obtained by scraping fat from the back of the hide of the animal,” says Schmidt. The ingredient contributes to the silky, conditioned feel you experience after applying the product.

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