Updated 20 May 2014

Whale vomit and other strange ingredients in skin products

Poisonous venom from sea anemone, oil squeezed from shark livers and whale vomit – all things you might be putting on your face and not know about.

As the popularity of medical products inspired by nature continues to thrive, some of the latest additions to beauty treatments and skin products might be enough to make your skin crawl.

We compiled three of the strangest you may be using on your skin without realising:

1. Sea anemone venom

One of the latest innovations comes from the sea plant, the starlet sea anemone and its poisonous venom used to paralyse its prey.

This venom has been harnessed, in as environmentally-friendly a way as possible we are assured, to be developed into a new skin care treatment called Inocyte.

Husband and wife research team Dr Tamar and Dr. Amit Lotan of the Hebrew University, who are also founders of StartletDerma, say the micro injectors used by the sea anemone to inject venom into their prey may also be useful in cosmetic skin products and have included it in their anti-wrinkle and brightening creams.

2. Shark liver oil

This is known as “squalene” and is found most often in facial moisturisers, sunscreens, lipsticks and bath oils. As the name suggests, it is quite literally the oil squeezed from the liver of a shark and has been hailed by beauty experts for its easy absorption.

The main reason for squalene’s popularity in skincare is its rewarding effect on skin as an emollient and antioxidant, and for hydration and its anti-tumour activities.

Fortunately many ethical cosmetic companies are now shying away from using it due to environmental concerns, but it is also found in nature in smaller amounts in oils such as olive oil, palm oil, wheat-germ oil, amaranth oil, and rice bran oil.

3. Whale vomit

Vomit as a beauty treatment? Very strange, but true. Otherwise known as “ambergris” this waxy substance is actually common in cosmetic products, sometimes eaten as a delicacy, and highly sought-after.

In its raw form it is a dead gray, solid, wax-like substance formed in the intestines and digestive system of sperm whales. Despite the yuk-factor however, it is high in demand and can cost thousands to purchase.

So, if your expensive perfume lists “ambergris” as an ingredient you should consider yourself rather spoiled.

Amy Froneman (ACE-Certified Personal Trainer, The KettleBelle Personal Training), May 2014

Read: Is semen the secret to sexy skin?

Image: Shutterstock

Jewish Business News ; ; US National Library of Medicine; Whale

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