The beauty industry is an ever-evolving means to an end of looking #flawless. Fortunately for us, this means that we never have to wait too long to hear about the next big thing sweeping the beauty and skin care industries. As with fashion, celebrities are the trendsetters who bring the haute couture of beauty treatments into the public eye, filled with women like ourselves. Science hasn't yet caught up to our expectations, but it’s given celebrities some strange products and treatments to entertain us in the meantime. They’re bizarre, gross, generally-WTF beauty treatments that celebs swear by to maintain their je ne sais quoi—which, as it turns out, is probably just the afterglow of a bee venom intensive moisturizer.
1. Vampire Facials: Kim Kardashian
It's no secret that beauty is kind of a big deal to the Kardashian clan. Which is why we really aren't that surprised that Kim is willing to opt for a facial that makes her look like the lead from a slasher flick and carries a hefty price tag of $2,500 to boot. The facial makes use of a Dermapen, which contains acupuncture-sized needles that are rolled along the face to make micro punctures in the skin and help the serums used during the facial absorb more effectively. Mrs. Kardashian-West goes an extra step with the Dermapen treatment by including plasma platelets (taken from her own blood) in the regenerative treatment, which boosts collagen and elastin production in the skin. However, Dr. Brian Zelickson, Dermatologist and Founder of MD Complete Skincare, let us in on an interesting clinical find: “A recent study found that the use of platelet preparations in facial rejuvenation remains unproven.” According to Dr. Zelickson, topical fillers that use hyaluronic acid can achieve “significant results” minus the cost and blood-smeared face.
2. Foreskin Cell Face Cream: Oprah Winfrey
Oprah certainly got some heat several years ago for having endorsed this controversial moisturizer to her fans. SkinMedica's anti-aging TNS Recovery Complex contains a nutrient solution derived—you read it correctly—from foreskin cells. The company describes the solution as "Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media," a growth factor that reportedly corrects all woes of aging skin (like lines, wrinkles, age spots, dullness, and uneven texture). Various products from SkinMedica's line have been reviewed and loved by beauty editors far and wide, but we kind of cringe at the thought of adding this 0.63 oz skin serum to our shopping list for $179 a pop.
3. Snake Venom 'Botox': Gwyneth Paltrow
The Iron Man starlet swears by this synthetic snake venom complex that's engineered to be a non-invasive alternative to Botox. Paltrow is known to frequent Sonya Dakar Spa in Beverly Hills, where the complex is used in anti-aging facials. According to The Dermatology Review, Syn-Ake mimics the effects of actual snake venom by "reducing muscular contractions and cell movement, thereby keeping skin smooth," which is similar to how Botox functions. The Syn-Ake complex can be found in a variety of different products (and price ranges) in the beauty industry, so we're sure Paltrow isn't the only A-lister getting in on this five-ssstar beauty buy. But while there are similarities in the ways the two compounds function, Dr. Zelickson noted, “there are no well-done clinical studies showing the showing the specific effects of using snake venom topically on the skin."
4. Burning Off Split Ends With ‘Velaterapia’: Alessandra Ambrosio
This is a traditionally Brazilian hair treatment used by supermodels like Alessandra Ambrosio and Barbara Fialho. Velaterapia involves running pieces of hair along open flame to ‘trim’ the split ends and seal the split in the hair strand. It takes 2 to 3 hours at a time to do, and can seriously damage your hair. We chatted with celebrity stylist Peter Lamas (who’s worked with Hollywood legends like Audrey Hepburn) to get the verdict on what this treatment means for the long-term health of your hair. “Personally, the risk of setting the hair on fire is enough to deter me from using this method. The treatment itself seems over-the-top. Singeing off the split end will help temporarily make hair smooth, however Velaterapia will not make hair healthier,” he says. “As more and more split ends are removed, the hair will reach a certain point where it begins to look thin,” says Lamas. Yikes! Thinning hair is not a good look on anyone. Instead, Lamas suggests regular trims and heated hair masks to keep your hair at its healthiest and shiniest.
5. Bird Poop Facials: Victoria & David Beckham
We think it's safe to say that The Beckhams are the definition of power couple #goals. They both have wildly successful careers, the cutest kids ever, and… they get bird poop facials together? The treatment, more delicately known as a Geisha facial, utilizes the excrement of the Japanese nightingale to exfoliate and purify the skin. According to Shizuka Spa in New York City (where Tom Cruise reportedly goes to for his own Geisha facials), the unique properties of the enzymes in the droppings are proven to "brighten, heal and retexturize the skin."
6. Bee Venom Skin Care: Kate Middleton
Excuse us while we fangirl over how cool Kate Middleton is. She’s bonafide royalty on top of being an incredible philanthropist, a guest editor for the Huffington Post, and she has declared once and for all that leggings are indeed pants. She also set this beauty trend a few years back when she revealed it as a staple in her own beauty routine. Bee venom in beauty products touts the same benefits as Syn-ake (mentioned above) but with a few extra in tow. According to Rodial, the celeb-loved brand responsible for bringing buzz-worthy skincare to the public, their bee venom products also contain peptides that increase skin elasticity and firmness, as well as stimulating collagen production in the skin. Dr. Zelickson adds that purified bee venom has shown clinical results in reducing fine lines and wrinkles. “[It] causes an increase in Epidermal Growth Factor (the protein responsible for cell growth) and accelerates cell regeneration, leading to a higher level of skin elasticity and an increase in collagen production,” he says. Be wary, though; if you’re allergic to bees (or if you’re not sure), these products could pose some serious health risks.
7. Red Wine Baths: Terri Hatcher
In all honesty, bathing in red wine almost sounds normal compared the other celebrities’ beauty go-tos. The former Bond girl and Desperate Housewives star loves to add a bottle of red wine to her bath and insists that it softens and exfoliates her skin in the best way. But Dr. Zelickson isn’t convinced. According to him, the numerous health benefits of red wine don’t extend to topical skincare. “Though it has some exfoliating qualities, the attributes of red wine that have a truly positive impact on your health will not cross the dermal barrier into your skin when bathing. The best way to internalize wine’s antioxidants is through drinking (in moderation) or cooking with it,” he says. It looks like you’re probably better off saving the Cabernet Sauvignon for a glass, collegiettes.
As much fun as it is to read about the weird beauty rituals of the rich and famous, there’s a certain peace of mind to having a trusty skincare routine of your own. Would you be brave enough to try any of these crazy beauty treatments out for yourself?