Animal Beauty Treatments That Put The Wild Into Your Look

Oh, what we humans won't do to stay looking young and fresh. Case in point: these bizarre animal beauty treatments, which illustrate just how far people are willing to go to maintain that youthful glow. These beauty regimens all involve using animals in some manner, whether the animal is alive or dead, or it is something that comes directly from the creature. Yes, it may sound strange, but what's wrong with a gross beauty treatment if you come out the other side looking like you've shaved a few years off your age?

People have been undertaking beauty treatments involving animals for centuries. Ancient Roman and Greek civilizations bathed in mud that contained heaps of crocodile poop. During the Enlightenment, beef lard helped tease those powdered wigs into glorious, towering updos. In the 19th century, the "tapeworm diet" took England by storm; its name is exactly what it implies: ingesting tapeworms to gnaw at your insides in order to lose weight. These strange phenomena have continued into the 21st century.

Photo: Karelj / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Fish Pedicure
    Photo: Astrawhitetrash / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Fish Pedicure

    Fish pedicures have been au courant in Turkey for some 400 years, but this fishy foot treatment has just started to spread in popularity to the rest of the world. What you do is plunge your feet into a fish tank and let the tiny Garra rufa fish nibble and gnaw the dead skin off. The fish act as a sort of high-powered, sentient loofah, and the treatment often works, too.

    Afterward, you'll likely notice your feet are considerably smoother. There are drawbacks, however. Namely, the fish aren't the most sanitary creatures; they can transmit a certain bacteria that causes skin infections. Oh, and that water you're putting your feet into is also the fishes' powder room, so it's not exactly clean.

  • Bull Semen Hair Treatment

    Utilizing bull semen as a hair conditioner is a phenomenon that started gaining traction around 2009. A Norwegian cosmetics company first devised the idea of using the protein-rich fluid as a way to strengthen and repair hair. This company, Maritex, allegedly introduced codfish sperm to their treatment arsenal in 2002, and from there, others began to experiment with the fluid from other animals.

    Some salons use special products that contain a shot of bull semen, while others boil down the bull testicles to make a broth that is then used as one ingredient in a conditioner. It's apparently not sticky or stinky, and many are impressed with the results.

  • Snake Massage
    Photo: WingedWolfPsion / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Snake Massage

    Snake massages are popping up at more and more locations around the world. Originally started in Indonesia, this treatment involves a giant python writhing over your body, all in the name of relaxation and rejuvenation.

    A salon in Germany and a zoo in the Philippines also offer python massages, and while there have been no reported ill effects from the treatment, the risks are obvious. A dangerous, 100-pound reptile shouldn't be that close to any human. As Terry Phillip, the curator of Reptile Gardens in Rapid City, SD, told the Huffington Post, "This is carnival kind of sh*t. The snake is just doing what is natural for it - it's not a real massage."

  • Eel Bath
    Photo: Carpenter0 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Eel Bath

    Originating in China, the eel bath works on the same principle as the fish pedicure: You let a tankful of animals nibble away at your flesh for maximum exfoliation. With an eel bath, you lay your whole body in a tank of eels, and they work their magic on your dry, flaky skin. The squirmy fish are relatively thin and small, about the size of a pencil.

    Still, there are dangers associated with sharing their tank. In 2011 a man in China undergoing the treatment had an eel swim up his urethra.

  • Bird Poo Facial
    Video: YouTube

    Bird Poo Facial

    Since the 17th century, Japanese facialists have used nightingale poop. In 2008 this unusual treatment made its way to the rest of the world. A spa in New York City will rub your face with nightingale feces - which comes to the salon in powder form before they mix it with rice bran - for a price tag of $180. An enzyme in the poop is supposed to smooth and soften the skin, and many people have walked away singing the treatment's praises.

  • Leech Therapy

    Leeches have a long and storied history in medicine, stretching back as far as ancient times. Their natural tendency to suck blood when placed on human skin was thought to prevent blood clots and improve circulation.

    Now people are using leeches for beauty treatments, and proponents say the little suckers leave skin tighter and brighter. First, the practitioner puts a leech on your skin to draw out a sizable portion of blood. Then, they extract your blood from the leech and apply it to your face, like a facial. After 20 minutes, they remove the blood. Celebrities like Demi Moore and Miranda Kerr have both discussed their love of leech therapy.