Just some fun for this sunny Wednesday. In your career as a cosmetic chemist, you just might get the opportunity to work with some of these weird cosmetic ingredients.
Snail serum – There was a joke treatment on an episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullsh@t in which they had people let snails crawl over their face as some kind of new age facial treatment. It’s no joke now. Here is a story that shows snail serum can be an anti-acne ingredient. I also thought snail slime would make a good ingredient for hair shine.
Placenta – The life-giving uterus lining expelled after birth has been used in some beauty care products for years. Various manufacturers claim it helps stimulate tissue growth, reduces wrinkles and is good for your hair. Unfortunately, none of those claims have ever been proven. Certainly, there are other ingredients you could use that would work better.
Cow dung – It turns out you can make an incredibly pleasant smelling vanilla fragrance from extracts of cow dung. And you thought it was just for fertilizer.
Whale vomit – This material called Ambergris is useful as a fixative in perfumes. It has a sweet, earthy odor and is usually found washed up on a beach in South America or Australia. It has mostly been replaced by synthetic alternatives.
Some of the most fascinating ingredients are used to make fragrances!
Cochineal beetles – When you need a nice red color, you can drown a few of these buggers in some hot water, dry them out and pulverize them. The deep crimson dye is versatile enough to be used in skin creams, lipsticks and almost any other beauty product.
These kinds of ingredients are difficult to get a consistent color
Human breast milk – It could be a gimmick but some people swear by using human breast milk to make soap. I’d be surprised if any main stream cosmetic company would make a product using this ingredient.
Bird poop – Ever heard of a Geisha Facial? It features deep cleansing, $180 price tag, and a big scoop of Nightingale bird poop. Supposedly the uric acid is supposed to be great for your face. I doubt that smearing bird droppings on yourself is the best way to get uric acid however.
Bull semen - Want shiny hair? Then a few salons in Europe think they have exactly what you need. Protein from bull semen is supposed to give amazing results. I’m skeptical it will give you anything more than a stiff price for a hair cut.
Snake venom – One of the most ridiculous new ingredients for keeping wrinkles at bay is snake venom. Cosmetic makers who use this stuff hope that you’ll connect the Botox poison with snake poison and figure both must work wonders on wrinkles. Despite what Jamie Pressly might think, snake venom hasn’t been shown to have any positive improvement in wrinkle creams.
Chicken bone marrow – Supposed to be a good source of glucosamine but how that helps your cosmetic remains a mystery. People still use chicken bone marrow probably because it’s relatively easy to find a cheap source of it. I doubt anyone advertises it much.
Waste cooking oil – Scientists say that a surfactant can be made from spent cooking oil that will help regenerate damaged skin. It seems a better use of the material than just throwing it away. But I wonder if it makes your product smell like French fries.
Do you know of any strange ingredients used in cosmetics? Leave a comment below and add to the list.