STRANGE THINGS: WEIRD SKIN CARE INGREDIENTS FOUND IN BEAUTY PRODUCTS
The search for everlasting youth and beauty is one quest that we will never get tired of pursuing. But while the mythical fountain of youth remains elusive, there is a plethora of nature-derived ingredients that could very well stand in its place, promising us radiant, younger-looking skin in spite of the tests of gravity and time. And sometimes, unbeknownst to most of us, these ingredients come from the most unexpected sources. You might even say they are downright bizarre. Below, we discuss some of the weird skin care ingredients found in beauty products and find out if they are truly worth the hype!
Snail Slime – Most of us have outgrown our childhood fascination with bugs and all things slimy by now, but snail mucus just might force you to rethink that. Although snail slime has gained fame through its popular use in Korean skin care, the use of snail secretions actually dates back to ancient Greece. This icky, gooey substance is loaded with elastin, protein enzymes, and glycolic and hyaluronic acids. It claims to aid in—excuse the pun—slowing down skin-aging. However, slime-infused products often vary in concentration and formulation, which makes proving how effective snail mucin really is a bit tricky. Another factor that could deter you from jumping on the snail slime bandwagon is the process by which it is sourced, especially if you prefer your skin care products to be cruelty-free. According to the manufacturers of POLY-HELIXAN, an active ingredient extracted from snail mucus, “the snail mucus extraction process is carried out after submitting the gastropods to extreme stress conditions for a period of time.”
Sheep Wool Grease – More commonly known as lanolin, this ingredient is obtained from the grease that accumulates on the sheep’s wool. Thick, waxy, and waterproof, it mainly protects the animal from insect bites and extreme weather conditions. However, people have also been using it for centuries, putting it in lotions, ointments and salves, and soaps. Among its most popular uses are alleviating itchiness and irritation, moisturizing and softening skin, and treating sore nipples from breastfeeding. That said, lanolin does come with some concerns regarding its safety, particularly in how and where it was sourced and whether or not it is toxic (as sheep are regularly sprayed with pesticides).
Horse Oil – If you read “horse oil” and found yourself swearing that this is where you draw the line, we wouldn’t blame you. After all, it’s pretty hard to imagine these majestic animals sacrificing their lives for the benefit of our skin. Horse oil—another hero ingredient in Korean skin care—is a byproduct of horse meat, which is consumed as food in several countries (such as in China, Kazakhstan, and European countries like Germany, France, and Belgium). So while horses are not being raised so their fat can be turned into a jar of moisturizer, the consumption of horse meat is already controversial on its own. In most countries, it’s even considered taboo.
Horse oil claims to help moisturize and restore the skin’s barrier as its composition is said to be similar to human sebum. However, actual documentation on its skin benefits is still quite limited.
Yeast and Bacteria – It is probably pretty clear to everyone by now that Korean skin care is chock-full of weird skin care ingredients. Fermentation is a metabolic process that involves using microorganisms—yes, like yeast and bacteria—to break down carbs and turn them into other substances. Think wine, yogurt, and kimchi. In skin care, fermented ingredients are good sources of antioxidants and boosts production of hyaluronic acid. While some skin care brands hype their use of fermented ingredients, only a few have been proven to actually work.
Snake Venom – If you’ve been having second thoughts about Botox or are simply needle-phobic, then perhaps snake venom can be an alternative. It turns out, the same toxins that immobilize prey have also been found to inhibit muscle activity in the face. This effect is said to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles and smooth out complexion. That said, slathering your face with the real thing is still dangerous. Thus, skin care innovators have turned to creating a safer synthetic version called Syn-Ake. Claimed to mimic the anti-aging effects of real venom, it’s often used in moisturizers, face masks, and serums. However, definite proof on the effectiveness of Syn-Ake alone is yet to be presented. Not to mention, as Syn-Ake is a synthetic product, it may not be able to replicate the same substances that make real snake venom unique and effective.
Bee Venom – Speaking of deadly ingredients, bee venom is another hair-raising ingredient that’s been generating a lot of buzz. Bee venom is said to boost circulation, repair damaged cells, and aid in collagen synthesis. Products infused with bee venom often deliver an instant tightening effect, which is why most skin care brands also tout this ingredient as a Botox alternative. However, the jury is still out as far as its claims of boosting collagen production is concerned. This is because most venom-infused products don’t contain enough of the substance to produce definite results.
On the other hand, another skin care ingredient sourced from bees is manuka honey. It has been shown to play a role in wound-healing and cell renewal, particularly when delivered to the skin in more potent formulations. The Oceanic Gold USA skin care line takes pride in using manuka honey in its purest form with Bio Active 20+, which research shows is the optimal activity level to use for healthy skin. (Learn more about manuka honey ratings and labels here.)
Dragon’s Blood – No, we’re not talking about Khaleesi’s dragons here. Dragon’s blood or croton lechleri is derived from the red sap of the sangre de drago tree. For centuries, it’s been prized for its medicinal benefits and was used to stop bleeding and heal wounds and intestinal problems. It’s also rich in flavonoids and is known for itsanti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Clay – You could argue that compared to the rest of these weird skin care ingredients, clay is pretty tame. Still, some of us may not be too excited about covering our faces with what many would easily dismiss as, well, dirt. Clay has been used since prehistoric times as a natural remedy. It provided relief to a number of ailments that range from skin irritations to food poisoning. Today, skin care experts cannot get enough of clay-infused products like scrubs and face masks as the earthy minerals in clay act like magnets to draw out impurities and toxins as well as absorb excess oil. They also contain antibacterial properties.
Pearls – Traditional Chinese medicine uses pearl powder to fight inflammation and detoxify the body. In skin care, crushed pearls are lauded for their brightening, firming, and antioxidant benefits. It is rich in amino acids, minerals, and calcium carbonate crystals. It also contains conchiolin, a type of protein secreted by mollusks, that gives this semi-precious stone its characteristic pearlescent shine. Conchiolin also helps in the treatment of acne and pigmentation.
You can find Australian kaolin white clay and conchiolin in Oceanic Gold’s Crushed Pearls Facial Scrub. Infused with amino acids, antioxidants, Manuka Honey Bio Active 20+, and jojoba beads, it rids your skin of pore-clogging dirt, helps refine scars and blemishes, and protects skin from early signs of aging.
OCEANIC GOLD USA’S CRUELTY-FREE SKIN CARE
The star ingredient of Oceanic Gold USA’s skin care line is manuka honey, which is harvested from the hives of bees that gather nectar from the flowers of the wild manuka bush in New Zealand and Australia. Manuka honey is known for its darker color and more vibrant taste, but it’s also a prized skin care ingredient. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and beta-carotene and is known to have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. A natural moisturizer, manuka honey’s skin-soothing qualities is well-known among the Maori people who have been using this superfood for centuries.
While manuka honey is itself an animal product, Oceanic Gold USA maintains and upholds its cruelty-free status by employing only the highest sourcing standards and ensuring that no harm or testing is done on animals, insects, and most importantly, the bees that give us this wonder ingredient. Just as important as Oceanic Gold USA’s commitment to brighten, hydrate, and nourish your skin—with highly effective products infused with unique, natural, and nutrient-rich ingredients—is the brand’s promise to never use ingredients that would cause any harm to any animal.
If there’s one thing that our quest for youthful skin has taught us, it’s that knowing which ingredients work best (or don’t) for our skin is half the battle. But with the constant introduction of skin care fads and trendy ingredients, it’s important to educate ourselves on the hows and whys of these ingredients and to do our own research before letting ourselves get carried away by the hype.