Every now and then, there’s a supposedly revolutionary breakthrough in the beauty industry, with a bizarre ingredient being added to products, claiming to produce miraculous effects. The latest one is activated charcoal, the ability of which to absorb impurities is yet unproven; nonetheless, it’s become a bit of a rage.
In a report published by online journal Medical Daily, experts feel the popularity may just be a bandwagon effect, but a beauty company has claimed that activated charcoal can absorb “100-200 times its weight in impurities”.
A follow-up report by NY Daily News even quotes a dermatologist, Craig Kaffert, as suggesting that the products’ success despite lack of scientific proof is down to human fascination for the strange.
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“Using a pitch-black product to purify the skin sounds both intriguing and cool… the uniqueness of the ingredient itself, especially its colour, is likely the main driver behind the recent surge in popularity of activated charcoal facial cleansers and masks,” he says.
Whether or not the positive properties of activated charcoal are proved in the time to come, here’s a list of some unusual beauty ingredients that definitely have a host of benefits.
Creams, shampoos, gels, face packs and bath salts — they all have been making use of these algae because of their rich blend of minerals and vitamins. Seaweed is very effective as a moisturiser, and it soothes the skin. In massage creams, it is used to restore the skin’s elasticity and suppleness. While in all these uses, the seaweed is frozen and then crushed into a fine green paste to be added to products, it can also be ground or powdered. The latter method is used when making soaps, creams, sprays and powders. It is always used in limited quantities.
It’s used in numerous forms, each of which has different benefits. Coffee fruit has abundant antioxidants, while Coffea arabica is used in lipsticks to make them smooth and easily spreadable. Extracts of the coffee fruit are used in cleansers and creams that make the skin smoother by helping fend off free radicals. Green coffee bean extract has astringent qualities that repair damage caused by UV radiation. The antioxidant quality regenerates new skin cells, fights free radicals caused by pollution and the harsh sun which causes wrinkles, fine lines and age spots associated with ageing. And for the easiest fix at home, just mix ground coffee and egg whites for a rejuvenating face pack.
Who knew the prickly plant would offer so many benefits? Cactus flowers are known to have strong antioxidant properties that prevent fine lines and wrinkles. They also help to maintain natural moisture of the skin. Expect to see them in moisturisers, face washes, body butters and even lip balm.
|Ambergris: Chances are you’ve read this term on high-end perfume labels and not given it a second thought. It’s a fancy word, albeit, for whale faeces. Ambergris is valuable because it enables the scent to last a lot longer. Of late, however, perfumers have been looking for cheaper and natural ingredients to replace it.
Carmine: It sounds like just another element from the periodic table, but it’s actually the term used for cochineal beetles, which impart a bright red hue to lipsticks and hair dyes. The beetles are crushed after soaking in hot water and dried.
Ferrous oxide: Writing the scientific name definitely helps here, because if your bottle of calamine lotion reads ‘rust’, chances are that you won’t buy it. It is also used as a pigment in pink-coloured cosmetics, and may be listed as ‘pigment brown 6’ or ‘pigment red 101’.
Crystalline guanine: The material, obtained from fish scales or even bird droppings, gives a shimmer or pearly effect. You'll find it in items like eyeshadow and nail polish. In countries like Japan, facial treatments that use droppings from nightingales are popular because they impart a clear, bright skin tone.
Bull semen: As disgusting as it sounds, high-end salons in UK will describe this ingredient as ‘Viagra for hair’. Apparently, it has high protein content, and is used mixed with a plant called Katera. It is great for dry and damaged hair.
With inputs from Dr Blossom Kochhar and dermatologist Dr Snigdha Saran