People are willing to do a lot of weird things to keep their skin looking healthy and young. A lot of really, really weird things. From bloody facelifts to slimy serums, some folks experiment with oddities in order to achieve a fresh look. But with all of the bizarre options for skincare treatments on the market, it can be hard to suss out the miracle ingredients from the wacky wives’ tales. Here are a few funky facials and the weird science behind them.
In the world of extreme facial treatments, it doesn’t really get any more intense than the so-called vampire facelift. The vampy procedure was brought into the spotlight when Kim Kardashian posted a bloody Instagram selfie from the spa. This treatment is not for the squeamish. After a pretty standard facial cleansing and exfoliation, a doctor draws your blood, processes it and uses it with a special Dermapen. The microneedling treatment allows platelets from the applied blood to penetrate your facial skin, hence Kim’s bloody mess.
Vampires never age, and this vampire facelift is meant to make your skin as immortal as Nosferatu’s. Cute. It’s a form of platelet-rich plasma therapy intended to use your own platelets to plump sallow skin, induce collagen production and create a radiant glow. An article published in the Journal of Aesthetic Nursing, however, highlights some concerns around the procedure, saying that sufficient research has not been done to confirm the safety of the treatment. A New York Times article echoes this unease, going so far as to say the F.D.A. has not approved the procedure. Until more research confirms the safety and efficacy of the vampire facelift, it might be best never to let this one see the light of day.
Imagine half a dozen snails slowly sliming their way across your face, leaving behind a stringy trail of mucus in their wake. Sounds like a relaxing day at the spa, right? If the thought of gooey gastropods doesn’t sound appealing, perhaps the scar-fading, skin-plumping, acne-fighting benefits that a snail facial is meant to have will inspire confidence in the little mucus-y mollusks. Marie Claire touts snail mucin as a skincare ingredient that’s “basically magic.”
While it might not be magic, there is some evidence that the mucin from certain snails might be beneficial for your skin. A study published in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology found antibacterial activity in the mucin obtained from the body of the African giant snail. It’s thought that snails have this antibacterial quality so their soft, slimy foot is protected from infection caused by cuts when it glides across rough surfaces. A paper from the Department of Pharmaceuticals from the University of Nigeria confirms these antibiotic properties, claiming that a combination of snail mucin and honey healed wounds in rats completely in 13 days. This same super-healing activity, when applied to human skin in the form of a facial or serum, is thought to even skin tone, reduce scarring and heal acne spots. Just don’t go digging in your backyard for snails to heal what ails you. Look to professional products and services that get the right mucus from the right snails in the right amounts.
It’s not just snails that are getting the skincare love in the critter kingdom. Bees are being employed to make ingredients for facials and skincare products as well. The most stunning might be bee venom, plucked from stingers and put into skincare and cosmetics. The buzz around bee venom (pun very much intended) comes from the promised plumping quality the ingredient is said to have. The theory is that when mildly irritating bee venom is applied to skin, it essentially tricks it into thinking it’s been stung. This causes skin to swell up a little and, voila, plumper looking skin. Dermatologist Mona Gohara told Refinery29 that bee venom is a “potent combination of enzymes, peptides and amino acids.” It’s botox from a bee.
Not a lot of research exists to back the claims, however. Bee venom contains melittin, a fatty acid stimulator with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties have been used to fight lyme disease and yeast infections, as well as in arthritis treatments. While there’s not a lot of literature about bee venom in skincare specifically, it has been shown to irritate guinea pig skin, which would support the plumping claims. Honey from true honey bees, however, is much more common in skincare and is packed with proteins, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes and minerals. According to a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, honey’s antimicrobial qualities are good for dressing wounds and treating dandruff, diaper dermatitis and psoriasis. It keeps skin looking young, prevents wrinkles, regulates skin’s pH and can prevent infections. Delicious and good for skin!