4 Extreme (and Bizarre) Beauty Treatments From Japan

Japan, the country that invented the ‘hug pillow’ for lonely Japanese women and vending machine dispensing used school girl’s knickers for kinky Japanese men, is a nation of people with talent for ‘the bizarre’. And while most of their creations are seemingly outrageous and completely mad, there is always a creative problem-solving sense that makes even the quackiest and totally absurd concept seem absolutely clever.

When it comes to beauty and skincare, certain Japanese treatments like the fish pedicure (which is common nowadays) and the bull semen hair treatment, that once seemed so foreign – has literally taken off as the latest trend in beauty treatments around the world.

In Western natural skincare, research looks forward where focus is placed on the advancement of technology and techniques to deliver beauty products as naturally as possible with maximum efficacy. In Japan, research looks backwards by resurracting ancient beauty rituals passed on from generations to generations.

While writing 9 Beauty Skin Secrets of Japanese Women (No Matter Her Age), I came across some bizarre yet organic Japanese facial treatments that made me want to write this post as well.

1. The Bird Poop Facial

Known as the Geisha Facial, the bird poop facial is literally applying bird shit on your face. But don’t go randomly scrapping bird shit off your car and putting it on your face.  It is not any bird’s shit. Only the droppings of the Nightingale, also known as ‘uguisu no fun’ meaning “nightingale feces“.

In Japan, the farming of nightingale excrement is an industry on its own. Uguisu no fun is harvested by feeding caged nightingales (bred under sanitary conditions) with organic feed. Their feces are scraped, collected, dried and sterilised. The dried organic droppings are then finely grounded, packaged and sold as a skincare product.

Logic behind the bizarre: Uguisu no fun got its name a long time ago when female entertainers like geishas wore elaborate heavy white makeup. This makeup was traditionally made from zinc and lead which often led to serious skin problems and diseases. Originally introduced by the Koreans, Japanese discovered uguisu no fun completely removed the makeup, and at the same time, served to condition and soothe the skin.

Victoria Beckham, who has always suffered with bad acne and acne-scarred skin, swears by this facial for healing and revitalising problem skin.

Suitable for: Oily skin. Skin prone to discolouration from acne scars and sun spots, blemish and acne breakouts, and rough ageing skin.

Where can I get this facial in Singapore: Ikeda Spa Prestige offers its Geisha Organic Facial for S$240 (90mins). Ikeda Spa Prestige is located at The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #05-22.

2. The Snail Facial

Snails are no longer just garden pests. These little creatures are slithering their way onto the menu of high-end spas around the world. If having slimy snails crawling all over your face sounds like a therapeutic way to eternal youthful skin, you may try this. And if this doesn’t sound wacky enough for you, know this – there are fully trained “snail therapists” who will guide the snails not to venture too close to your eyes, mouth and nostrils. And…the snails are not just any garden snail you pick up and place on your face. These creepy crawlies are treated as a special bred. They are fed a luxurious diet of organic fruits and vegetables and kept in a room set at 20 degrees Celsius to promote superior mucus-emitting ability.

Logic behind the bizarre: Snail mucus have potent anti-aging properties – a potent mix of protein, anti-oxidants and natural hyaluronic acid that helps skin retain moisture, soothe inflammation and remove dead skin. The treatment is usually followed by a facial massage and electric pulse machines and creams to aid full penetration of the mucus into the skin.

Snail slime is becoming a popular (and expensive) ingredient in anti-aging skincare products.

Suitable for: All skin types, particularly dry skin.

Where can I get this facial in Singapore: Live snail spas are not yet available in Singapore, but there are local places that sell snail mucus creams like Snail Street, The Skin Shop and Snail White.

3. The Gold Facial

A luxurious treatment of applying extremely fine layers of pure 24k gold foil as a mask. This treatment is serious business for wealthy Japanese women who swear by its anti-aging and skin rejuvenating effects. Today, the gold facial is a must-have treatment offered around the world in high-end spas, and undoubtedly, carries a hefty price tag.

Logic behind the bizarre: Gold has the power to draw out toxins and lock in moisture, keeping skin firm and inhibit the breakdown of elastin. Gold, as a metal, has antibacterial properties and is connected to electrons to skin cells that are sensitive to electric charges. When gold contacts skin, it activates ions that boost blood flow, improve blood circulation, transport oxygen molecules into the skin for cell rejuvenation and improve inflammatory skin disorders.

Suitable for: Mature, ageing skin. Skin lacking elasticity and prone to wrinkles and lines.

Where can I get this facial in Singapore: FIL offers its Premium Gold Face Therapy and Premium Gold Eye Treatment for S$258 (60mins) and S$150 (30mins) respectively. Bioskin also offers its Gold Deluxe/Platinum Face treatment, price not disclosed online.

4. The Silkworm Cocoon Facial

This treatment comes in the form of a scrub. Many people know that silk, the by-product of silkworms, is ultra smooth, soft and gentle on skin. But not a lot of people know that the silkworm cocoon is effective for skin care.

Logic behind the bizarre: The material of silkworm cocoons contain natural proteins that promotes cellular metabolism and gives skin radiance, elasticity and softness. These cocoons also contain a high concentration of Sericin, a water-soluble glycoprotein commonly used in commercial skin and hair care products. Similar to composition of our skin, sericin is quickly absorbed to provide hydration.  Like silk, silkworm cocoons are effective absorbers of excess oil from the skin and expels dirt easily and readily.

Suitable for: All skin types.

Where can I get this facial in Singapore: Not yet available. Silkworm cocoon facials and products are still relatively new grounds in the beauty industry. I did find Cocoon, a Singapore-based site that offers silkworm cocoon scrub products, price ranging from S$12 to S$30.

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