10 Weird but Effective Anti-Aging Ingredients for Your Skin
Disclaimer: Some of these are prrretty bizarre.
As we age, a lot of different things can happen to our skin. It gets thinner, age spots appear, and elasticity just isn't what it used to be. Unfortunately, no one has found the fountain of youth yet, but the world of anti-aging products comes pretty close to making it look like we have.
With so many choices out there, trying to find the holy grail of anti-aging products is exhausting—but if you're anything like me, you're open to trying just about anything in the name of younger-looking skin. If you're willing to take a step outside of your comfort zone, you're in the right place. Here are 10 bizarre ingredients that might be exactly what your complexion and curiosity need.
Yep, you read that right. Snail mucin, the slime that snails secrete when they’re under stress, is actually something some people seek to incorporate into their skincare routine—and with good reason. When applied topically as a serum, the mucin’s zinc, manganese, copper peptides, and vitamins A and E have reparative and protective properties that hydrate the skin, reduce inflammation, and support collagen production, says Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Westport, Conn. For maximum absorption, Dr. Robinson suggests applying snail mucin serum to clean, dry skin. We like CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($25; ulta.com), which has a lightweight, non-sticky texture.
(Disclaimer: If you’re allergic to bees, skip this.) Skincare products that incorporate bee venom into their ingredient list provide all the benefits of the venom—with a heavy discount on the sting. Normally, bee venom is something most people try to avoid, but in the skincare world, very low concentrations of it can be highly beneficial for its anti-aging properties. According to Dr. Robinson, when bee venom (also known as apitoxin) is applied topically, it causes the skin to try to repair itself, which means an increase in collagen and elastin production, plus a reduction in fine lines. Try Rodial Bee Venom Moisturizer ($167; amazon.com), which works in synergy with plant stem cells to help improve skin tone and elasticity.
You won’t need to take a trip to Barkley Square with Frank Sinatra for this one. Bird excrement from the Japanese bush warbler (nightingale) is rich in uric acid (also known as urea) and guanine (an amino acid). When you combine uric acid’s hydrating and plumping properties with guanine’s shimmery, glow-like appearance, a topical application of nightingale excrement fits the bill as an anti-aging regimen, says Tsippora Shainhouse MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills, Calif. Try Uguisu Poo Uguisu No Fun Illuminating Mask ($30; amazon.com), which has been UV sterilized and purified to remove any funky odors.
When you hear the word “yeast,” your mind might initially wander to a bakery or brewery—but yeast actually has tons of other uses and benefits, including its probiotic effects and skin-hydrating qualities. Besides improving the skin’s overall moisture-retention, yeast is a great source of vitamin B, says Howard Sobel, MD, FAACS, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin in New York City. While vitamin B helps regulate skin cell metabolism, yeast’s other components, like its amino acids, proteins, and antioxidants, help the skin produce more collagen.
Take a trip down the skincare aisle in almost any pharmacy, and you’ll probably notice caffeine as a recurring skincare ingredient. As it turns out, caffeine is good for more than your morning cup of joe. Adding caffeine to skincare can help constrict blood vessels, reducing inflammation and improving redness while simultaneously soothing the skin, says Dr. Sobel.
Our own placenta
Many women and doctors swear by this. After giving birth, some women consume their placenta (which is typically the form of a capsule) to benefit from its high concentrations of amino acids, proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants. As a result, most women see improvements in their skin, hair, and nails. According to Rhonda Klein, MD, MPH, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Westport, Conn., these improvements can be attributed to the placenta’s ability to help produce new skin cells and support collagen creation.
We know avocados contain many nutrients, but their health benefits reach far beyond being a great toast spread. The oil found in avocados contains beta-carotene, protein, lecithin, fatty acids, and vitamins, which can aid in moisturizing, protecting, and healing the skin. By nourishing the skin’s top layer, the oil leaves behind a protective barrier that can help prevent UV damage and aid in speeding up the treatment of wounds, says Dr. Sobel. (Studies back this up as well.) Try Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping Mask ($49; sephora.com), which combines avocado with encapsulated retinol for a superpowered anti-aging formula.
Also known as Rhodophyta seaweed, red algae extract is rich in antioxidants, like beta-carotene, that can contribute to skin brightness, elasticity, and moisture retention. Dr. Sobel recommends his red-algae-infused Sobel Skin Rx 35% Vitamin C Face Serum ($105; sephora.com), which treats dullness, wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines, and other skin issues.
Plant stem cells
Plant stem cells are super important in the process of repairing and regenerating injured plants. Similarly, when applied topically, the active extracts from the stem cells and its antioxidants are also beneficial for our skin. In addition to the plant stem cells’ smoothing and firming qualities, they also stimulate collagen and elastin production, says Dr. Sobel. Sobel Skin Rx Plant Stem Cell Day Cream + SPF 30 ($75; sephora.com), for example, takes the stem cells from apples to combat free radicals and promote healthy, youthful skin.
Our own blood
You might have already heard about the “Vampire Facial.” If you haven’t, it’s the one where your own blood is drawn and slathered across your face—but truthfully, it’s not nearly as bad (or as painful) as it sounds. The process starts by drawing blood from the patient and isolating its platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which promotes growth. Then, a microneedling pen is used to create “controlled injury and columns of delivery for the PRP to penetrate,” Dr. Klein explains. “Together, the treatment can spur collagen synthesis to boost skin texture and tone, while improving surface level issues like depressed acne scars and hyperpigmentation.”