14 Weird Beauty Ingredients I Can’t Get Enough Of
Skincare has some seriously weird beauty ingredients (like snail slime), and I’m obsessed.
There’s something really fascinating about the human pursuit of beauty. I mean, we’re pretty much willing to rub whatever weird ingredients, slime, or substances we can find to feel like we’re making a positive impact on the level of pretty we feel. Do you ever just sit back and think about that? On a fairly regular basis we’re all shmushing berries we’ve never heard of into our pores, ground nuts onto our butts in hopes of ‘detoxifying’ our cellulite, and botulism into our foreheads in an attempt to freeze the evidence in our race against time. I’m not against any of it, because science (and obvi the love of weird beauty is endless in my little corner of this world).
I rounded up a bunch of my fave weirder-than-the norm skincare and beauty products to give you an idea of which weird things REALLY do something, because not all insect slime and forest pine needles are created equal in the eyes of your skin cells, it seems.
1. Snail essence. While Kenra Professional CC Cream doesn’t have any parabens, it does have loads of snail essence. What is snail essence exactly? It’s a bunch of proteins collected from snail slime that are said to improve the cells around it by plumping them up and reducing all sorts of bad stuff like cellular damage. Meanwhile, the package says no snails are harmed in the making of the snail essence cream, and that seems like a positive thing to note if you’re on the edge of whether to schmear snail slime onto your hair in the name of feeling pretty (and yeah, it’s a leave-in hair cream that leaves your locks silky smooth and frizzless). Available here.
2. Bee venom. While Manuka honey has been pretty popular for a while, bee venom (you know, the stuff you feared to nearly the same degree as quicksand as a kid) is quickly catching up in terms of weird beauty ingredient popularity. It’s said to help restore skin’s elasticity, radiance, and general ability to keep an even skin tone. The lovely bee-keeping people at Manuka Doctor make a relatively affordable Bi-Phase Oil for skin that is loaded with the stuff and looks extra cute on your vanity. While I’m into this oil, I still generally hate it when bees buzz around me while I’m trying to eat watermelon in my backyard.
3. Probiotics. They’re not just for your gut, it seems, because nasty bacteria can and do live just about everywhere. Sure, using probiotics for your digestive tract is great and all, but a lot of beauty experts are talking about using probiotics (you know, the good bacteria) in everything from shampoo to eye cream. Called “Mother Dirt” this line includes a mist containing Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB), and a shampoo and cleanser designed to effectively cleanse without harming the beneficial bacteria of the skin. Captivating weird beauty stuff, right? And it kind of makes me want to put my cookie down and get a yogurt instead. Available here.
4. Weed. I know what you’re thinking, especially if you live in Colorado. But no, this has nothing to do with smoking or ingesting anything, or frankly, even THC. Hemp seed oil is actually a pressed oil that has virtually no THC and almost magically features the same fatty acids as fish oils, making it a great vegan alternative to a lot of Omega-boasting products. On a personal note, I’m really into using hemp seed oil products during the super dry, cold days of winter and on my heels and toes, because ya know, dryness. I love this little tin of hemptastical butter by The Body Shop.
5. Schizandra. Apparently that’s not the name of a girl I went to camp with, but a super berry from Northern China that according to the Raw Complexions website, “detoxifies the liver, providing oxygen to skin cells and preserving moisture within the skin. Aids in the reduction of stress hormone, strengthening sex hormones in both women and men and improving sexual energy.” It’s an ingestible, and a lot of people are really into it. While berries themselves aren’t the weirdest beauty ingredients, super rare berries that are ground finely into powder so people on other continents can ingest them sort of are. Available here.
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6. Ho wood. That’s not the place behind your high school where you lost your virginity, so don’t get it twisted. Ho wood contains up to 98% linalool, which apparently is nature’s alternative to camphor. It’s supposed to be super soothing, making it a perfect ingredient for a post-yoga sesh soak. Pursoma makes one such soak that’s hard to match elsewhere, even if it’s a little pricey. Consider it a good gift item if there’s someone in your life worthy of de-stressing by way of ho wood. Available here.
7. Donkey milk. I’ve written about donkey milk for skin extensively as of late because honestly, I can’t wrap my head around it. I need to know everything, like, who was the person responsible for the discovery of donkey milk being great for skin? Apparently the not-that-creamy stuff has the exact perfect balance of proteins, fats, and lactic acid to gently exfoliate, hydrate, and nurture simultaneously. Kudos to the crazy (but likely beautiful) farmer who discovered that jazz.
8. Astragalus. Apparently this ingredient goes buck wild on molecules that are trying to make us (and our skin) age. Not cool, and there’s some interesting research to back up the idea that it may reduce some signs of aging, although the jury is out on an official scientific level. I’m still a sucker for a good face mask though, and Wei makes one complete with astragalus as an ingredient, so why not? As I’ve documented before, I’m also a sucker for scaring the crap out of my kids with my weird beauty pursuits, so, double win. Availablehere. Don’t even begin to be jealous of how badly I scared my neighbors by taking this photo outside, okay?
9. Ice plant. What is an ice plant, anyway? According to botanists and such, they’re a particularly hardy daisy-looking flower that has cells sturdy enough to support even icy conditions. The thinking is that these mega strong cells will somehow support our skin structure, too, and that’ll leave us all feeling extra pretty and such. While I’m not entirely sure that my leg cells have been rejuvenated, I do totally love the Dr. Hauschka Ice Plant Body Care Lotion.
10. Air plant. Laneige makes a gel-type eye cream that features tillandsia, more commonly referred to as an air plant. I think it’s a pretty interesting as an ingredient and also really speaks to how the product works. Air plants pull moisture from the air and then seal it in, which is essentially what the product does. Pretty cool, and as far as luxe beauty products go, I can appreciate this one being sold at Target, here.
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11. Dragon’s blood. God, I wish this was real, mostly because then dragons would be real and I’d really have a lot to say about that. It sounds like a super weird beauty additive but, Dragon’s Blood is really just the sap from a tree in the Amazon that apparently has all sorts of regenerative properties. Nip + Fab makes a whole dragon’s blood inclusive line of products, but I’m particularly fond of the mask and just the general concept of feeling like this as close to the beauty vampire lifestyle as I’m going to get. Available here.
12. Swertia chirata. Say that three times fast while spinning around and you’ll instantly take years off your face. JK. This herb from the Himalayas is said to reverse signs of sun damage, fine lines, and a host of other ugh-I’m-getting-old type skin woes. Skin Authority is a pretty user-friendly brand that packs a bunch of the swertia chirata concentrate into a bottle so you can serum your face up with happiness. It smells pretty good, too. Available here.
13. Camel milk. I really want to know how this was discovered though. Like, imagine yourself in an arid North African desert devoid of any watering holes, shea nuts, or even enough olive oil to spare for your beauty routine… but you do have this one camel named Belinda, and she’s loaded with milk and you’re just trying to feel pretty. So, boom, you cover yourself in camel milk and life is somewhat instantly better. That’s how I imagine the discovery of camel milk for skincare going, anyway. The lactic acid concentration in camel milk is supposedly 3x more potent than any cow’s milk, so, there’s something to be said for exfoliation and skin brightening. Shea Terra Organics makes a mostly natural line of skincare chock full of camel milk because life is short and you should try new things. They also have a bunch of other weird beauty type products that work really well and leave your guests totally confused when they find camel milk products proudly displayed on your vanity. Available here.
14. Marshmallow. No, not the poofy white sugar balls you pop into hot cocoa and cheap-but-delish breakfast cereals from childhood. The plant, and yes — it’s actually a real plant, is used medicinally to calm swelling and inflammation, both of which are super common complaints when it comes to overworked, tired skin. Sure, it’s a weird beauty ingredient, but one I can really get behind. Lancer makeup removing wipes are made of gentle, non-irritating bamboo fillers and infused with calming aloe, cucumber and marshmallow Extracts plus Vitamin E. Not bad, and I like the idea of a marshmallow that doesn’t turn into cellulite. Available here.
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