Who hasn't done something a little bit out there in the name of beauty?
Demi Moore has said she detoxifies her blood with the help of leeches. Gwyneth Paltrow has reportedly tried Chinese cupping. And Eva Longoria may be using a placenta-based cream to keep her skin looking gorgeous.
Bizarre beauty treatments are nothing new, but the very bizarreness of some of the latest beauty treatments is. And they're not just for celebrities. For instance, you too can try something peculiar to make you prettier. How about applying some bull semen for your hair or perhaps nightingale droppings for your face?
Shizuka Bernstein owns the Shizuka Day Spa in Manhattan and has been offering something called the "Geisha Facial" for about five months.
"I remember my Japanese mother in Japan telling me about nightingale droppings when I was in middle school … and I forgot about it for years and years. And then I remembered and I did some research and the ingredients really work," said Bernstein.
The nightingale droppings contain enzymes and the amino-acid guanine, which is supposed to exfoliate your skin and give it a pearl-like luster.
"Kabuki actors and geishas couldn't remove their thick, white makeup easily and so they tried everything and one of the things they came up with was nightingale droppings," said Bernstein.
The squeamish needn't worry though. The droppings come in a sterilized powder form.
Perhaps feces facials aren't your thing. Or maybe you're looking for a treatment that will add some body to your hair.
Hari's salon in London has just the thing -- a bull semen hair treatment. To be more specific, it's Aberdeen Angus bull semen. The idea came when Katharine and Hari Salem, who own and run Hari's Salon, sat down to dinner with some friends. The Salems were looking for an organic, protein-rich hair treatment and the friends just happened to breed pedigree bulls. Voila! The idea was born.
Katharine Salem said their customers were a little leery about the process at first but it's "odorless" and that allayed some fears. The sperm is "applied as a mask to wet hair, along with a root plant called Katera," said Salem. The gel is applied to freshly washed hair, massaged in and left for 30 minutes. The Salems swear the treatment works and is a "best seller" for the salon.
"The results speak for themselves, the hair is soft but not lank," said Salem.
Of course, it's generally celebrities who start the buzz about beauty trends.
Moore recently caused a stir on David Letterman's show when she announced she had undergone a detoxifying blood treatment in Austria involving leeches.
Paltrow has been photographed with circular bruises on her back that seem to have been caused by the ancient art of cupping.
"In America we raise eyebrows and say 'what?' But some of these treatments have been around for thousands of years," said Melisse Gelula, editor in chief of Luxury SpaFinder Interactive
Cupping has been practiced by the Chinese for thousands of years to treat aches and pains and ease stress. The treatment involves placing heated cups over the skin that causes a suction and stimulates the flow of blood -- apparently jump-starting the circulatory system.
As for leeches, in the 19th century the wormlike creatures were all the rage for blood-letting. A leech can suck up about a bit less than a teaspoon of blood in about 10 minutes. In rare instances, doctors still use leeches today in some specialized surgeries.
Moore recently told Letterman in an interview that she went to Austria for a leech treatment to "cleanse" and "detoxify" her blood.
But don't look for leeches on your local spa menu any time soon. "We all know leeches have been around for centuries. The 19th century approach was we will draw the toxins out of you with a leech, but nowadays spas have much more sophisticated methods of achieving that. So you would be hard-pressed to find an American spa offering leeches. … I'm just not seeing that," said Gelula.
After nightingale droppings, bull semen and leeches what could possibly be next?
How about a mani/pedi with some skin-eating fish? Garra rufa fish, or "Doctor Fish," eat dead skin and have been used in European and Asian countries for years to nibble the epidermis of patients suffering from psoriasis.
In 2006, the Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari spa in Tokyo started offering a "Doctor Fish" spa treatment at its hot springs bath. The spa claims the fish will nibble your dead skin cells and leave your skin feeling smooth.
And if those smooth hands are looking a little too "old" for your liking, don't worry, because cosmetic surgery has just the thing -- hand deveining.
Some women who have treated their faces cosmetically to look younger, don't want to have their "ropy looking" hands give their age away, according to Neil Sadick, a clinical professor of dermatology in private practice in Manhattan. Sadick developed a laser procedure to get rid of hand veins that, apparently, aren't all that important.
"Hand veins don't play a vital role. … The only concern would be if you removed every vein in your hands and arms," said Sadick. And, if your deveined hands are still a little thin, said Sadick, cosmetic fillers can "add some volume."
Leslie Baumann, a professor of dermatology at the University of Miami, urges some caution for women and men seeking the next new thing in beauty.
Some beauty treatments may not work but some might actually be harmful. Take the current trend for gold leaf facials.
"I noticed Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach started to do a 24-carat gold facial. It's a terrible idea. Gold can actually cause a lot of allergies and can lead to skin diseases. It can really be dangerous on your skin," said Baumann.
Dangerous or not, it's doubtful people will put the brakes on their willingness to try anything that promises to make them look more beautiful any time soon.
"People want to chase the next new thing without caring about the data. Retin-A is still the only anti-aging skin care cream approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] but people don't want that. … They would rather spend some $300 on some lily extract from Ecuador. They bind to the story more than the science," said Baumann.
And, when it comes to beauty, a story about nightingale droppings, bull semen and skin-eating fish beats out science every time.