A recent surge across New York for the Geisha Facial, whose main ingredient is bird poop, signals an increasing consumer desire for more exotic beauty treatments.
An article in The New York Times published July 4 examined the desire for more and more obscure ingredients as females search for the secret to eternal youth.
Reporter Alix Strauss tested out a mask containing nightingale droppings whose enzymes are said to break down dead skin cells. The excrement is sanitized under ultraviolet light before being blended with rice bran, an exfoliant and brightener.
"Though turning to animal ingredients isn't the newest concept, it categorically popped out of nowhere," explained Jeanine Recckio of beauty trend forecaster Mirror Mirror Imagination Group.
"Consumers are gravitating toward their exotic or shock appeal."
Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty analyst of the NPD Marketing Group, added that the fastest-growing segment of the prestige skin-care market in 2011 was cosmeceutical brands, which include biologically active ingredients like those derived from animals.
Other such ingredients to have caused a stir of late include the Bee Venom mask, which famous names such as Britain's Duchess of Cornwall are said to be fans of -- bee venom reportedly freezes muscles to create a smoother appearance. Meanwhile, South Korea-developed mask-based skincare line Masque*ology's Cell Renewal Mask contains snail secretion filtrate and is available at sephora.com.
Another shocking ingredient came courtesy of Hari's hairdresser in London, England, back in 2009. The salon made the headlines for its 45-minute intense conditioning treatment using thoroughbred semen from Aberdeen Angus bulls in a farm in Cheshire.