May 10, 2010

Beauty Most Unusual: Ick Factor, Ten Wicked Gross Cosmetic Ingredients

Needless to say I’m not a chemist and my rocket scientist degree never did come through so I’m not much in the know when it comes to ingredients in my cosmetics. Sadly, I don’t pay too much attention to what’s in the actual products I’m using. I think or at least I hope I’m not alone, that many of you aren’t conscious of what exactly is hiding in our eyeshadow and lipsticks.

I came across a rather funky article on disgusting things in cosmetics and I simply had to share it. It fits in rather perfectly with Beauty Most Unusual.


According to Relativity Online some really disgusting ingredients have made their way into your beauty products some of which may make you gag. While most makeup is tested and safe for the masses the ingredient least does fall into the Beauty Most Unusual category for shiz.

Total ick factor but did you know about these ingredients?

  • Human Placenta – wrinkle remover
  • Urea (Urine) – mouthwash, shampoo, deodorants, moisturizers
  • Ambergris – (waste from the digestive system of sperm whales) – perfumes
  • Fish Scales – nail polish , lipstick
  • Chicken Bone Marrow – face creams, moisturizers
  • Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper spray) – lipstick, lip gloss
  • Bull Semen – shampoo, conditioner
  • Human Foreskin – anti-wrinkle creams
  • Cochineal Beetles – coloring for dye, lipstick etc.
  • Used Cooking Oil – face creams, moisturizers

I dunno what has me more freaked out the beetles, urine, or semen….dude…

Next time you’re slathering on that wrinkle cream in hopes it’ll perfect your face perhaps think of human foreskin and you’ll second guess whether you really want to be that perfect anyway!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Aneka

    Human foreskin?! Whaaaaaaat. It doesn’t actually say it on the back though right?

  • kali

    Geez this is so disgusting. How is all this even FDA approved?? And I thought counterfeit products had crazy ingredients (urine in perfume) but now it’s even in you “real” beauty products??

    I really don’t pay attention to the ingredients in my products either even though I should. I think I’ll start!! LOL

  • kali

    P.S. Did you have the link to the article? I’d really like to read it.

    • the Muse

      just click the link in the article kali. Relativity Online has the URL embedded right in, click and you’ll be there 🙂


    LOL eww some of these are so nasty. I knew about uria and my moms swears by it lol. thankfully I use lush’s shampoo and conditioner which don’t have bull semen D:<

  • Anita

    Just wanted to point out that although urea is commonly used in cosmetics (foot cream, for example), it’s a synthetic version. So don’t worry, your moisturiser doesn’t contain someone’s pee!!

    • the Muse

      damn anita don’t disappoint me. I was kinda liking the idea of pee in my cream LOLROFL

  • Fabiola

    I had the same thought as Su! How would one go about collecting such things? It kinda makes me think about an article I read on a blog recently about a company which actually employs a “wand wizard” to design mascara wands. I wonder if there are people out there who have the “honour” of being semen or foreskin collectors? :-S

      • laura r

        i wanna be a wand wizard! how great does that sound?

        yea even though i knew about some of these substances, let me assure ya Musey, many of thm are synthetic, as Anita said. they are all purified and disinfected, for sure.

        a kid in my college years told me about Revlon collecting trucks full of used oils….at the time i didn’t believe him but now i am wondering!!!!

  • Angelique

    If e120 is included in the ingredients, that product contains cochineal.

  • Jo

    ambergris is actually really valued and expensive! My friends thought they found some on the beach once and were really excited…only to be very disappointed when it wasn’t!

  • Janet

    that thing about the fish scales in lipstick made me think of ursula in the little mermaid! 😀

  • Leelee

    I read on Vivawoman’s blog that there are some Chinese women (including a Taiwanese actress) who even EAT human placenta to have beautiful skin! Like, they eat their own placenta or they buy it from special markets or something like that. Crazy right?!

    • the Muse

      indeed true leelee 🙂 Not a gross one but Bird’s nest is also commonly eaten in soups, etc… 🙂

  • rowan

    disgusting D-: makes me glad i only get cosmetics from natural/vegan companies like lush, urban decay etc

  • Robyn

    i new about the whale vomit in perfumes as finding it on the beach is really valuble cuase there was a thing in the paperlike years ago i thought gadz thus ive always remembered it

    and i new the fish scales from some 1000 weird facts book or summit like that

    and i new bull semen frim work as the beautician was horrifyin us with stories lol

    but the rest i didnt eww placenta where the hell do the get it form is what im more concerned about and foreskin ? does the doctor ask the man “now sir would you be willing for your foreskin to rubbed in to the wrinkles of aging woman?” id pay to see the look on their faces

    btw urea isnt actually urine its found in urine (waste product of the breakdown of something protein or fat not sure)
    but it is a waste product which is filtered out by the kidneys if your kidneys dotn work then urea builds up and it is toxic or something… if that makes it any better

    yuck award for most interesting blog post this week goes to muse 🙂

  • Bionic Beauty

    I was looking at a drugstore Tinted Moisturizer a few months back and it contained Hannabis. Yup. Weed. Crazy! But not gross like semen, urine, etc. I always cringe when someone emails me raving about a new product and it has urea in the name. Yuck. I have a hard enough time thinking of putting that new-fangled emu oil on my face. No thanks! There are SO many alternatives!! 😉

  • Karli

    Wow. Thats really disgusting.
    I guess I believe that some of that stuff could work, though. My mother buys these little gel capsules filled with lamb placenta (and various vitamins and whatnot) to be used as a face/body moisturizer. She gets them from the Asian market. I didn’t really want to try it at first. I guess it sort of freaked me out that it very plainly says “lamb placenta” on the front of the bottle.
    But, for the love of skincare, I did suck it up and try them. And it makes my skin feel and look really great. I could sit here and rave about it for a while. I use them pretty often now. (And no, you don’t ever really get over the gross factor. I still feel awkward every time I cut open a capsule.)

  • Tracy

    Hahaha! I work in a high school and there’s a science lab where kids dissect Owl Pellets to look for bones. Now, these Owl pellets are actually Owl Puke/Vomit. And yup, someone does this for a living: collects owl puke. I thought that was an awful job until I saw this!

  • Mollie

    This is why I use vegan products… I don’t wanna sound like a know-it-all but none of this info is new to me. I’m a vegetarian, not a vegan, but I am one when I use skin care/cosmetics stuff. LOL.

  • Betty

    Thanks for sharing! Too bad they don’t list the super huge scientific names so we know what to look for! I was aware (at least I’ve heard) of a few of the ingredients in certain beauty like the placenta, urea, beetles (i think they are in a lot of reds/purple even MAC IIRC..that’s why some of their shadows aren’t vegan), and fish scales.
    Ugh I actually remember seeing urea on a high-end moisturizer once. Might’ve been Dior but now it’s discontinued…=/ Also had some kind of oil that cars use as well O_O I swear!

  • Kharina

    I ran and ehecked my stuff and sure enough…my Victoria’s Secret Lotions say UREA on the ingredients list… O_O oh well…a few less things on my bathroom counter..

  • Kathi

    Urea is NOT urine…a commonly made mistake. It´s synthetically produced (solid, odorless and colorless) and is a very potent humectant and helps a lot in treating skin conditions like excemas etc.
    It´s a substance found in urine, yea…but water is too and I am sure noone thinks that water is gross! I love my Urea creams!

  • lacey starr

    I think I’m most grossed out by used cooking oil. I can’t imagine that having any benefit for my skin.

  • LorraineER

    I actually knew about a lot of these. Honestly it doesn’t worry me that much because these things may sound really nasty ( and they do- eww) but these are mostly natural as opposed to really freaky scary chemicals that would be used if they didn’t have these things. I really don’t like the anima-based ingredients though especially from the whales. It’s not so difficult to avoid cosmetics that are tested on animals but avoiding things that contain animal by-products is really tough.

  • Tinkerchelle

    The placental thing reminds me of that South Park episode where Christopher Reeve was eating fetuses in order to get better! Little did they know….. Yikes!
    Also, many people don’t realized this, but urine is sterile and actually does have healing properties. I know a girl who got pierced in her nether regions and the piercer (piercist?) told her to run urine through the hole to help it heal! Crazy, right?

    • the Muse

      LOL omg chelle yes! ew! lol kinda like pee on yourself when a jelly fish stings ya!

        • the Muse

          LMAO Chelle indeed LOL they should bottle it and sell it in its pure format LOL

  • mayrei

    This reminds me of a few weeks ago and I was browsing… came across a nice-sounding hair cream, then noticed the ingredients included “horse oil”…..!

  • Fuuka

    I knew about pepper and cayenne in plumping glosses, but HUMAN placenta? Are you sure? I know about using animal(rabbit) for hair masks, but human sounds iffy to me.

    • the Muse

      fuuka was an article on a site I came across so def NOT sure about any of it 😀

  • PJ

    Dude, this is disturbing, esp. the used oil. I had heard about the beetle being used because there is some compound in their abdomen that acts as a purple/blue stain. I’ve seen it in lip balm and lipsticks. Even worse they use it in food as a dye, like for blueberry and raspberry yogurt to give it that tinted color.

  • Amy

    Most of these are synthetically produced. So they take the genetic information of the Peptides that form these parts of a human and make copious quantities. There would never be enough human placenta’s and foreskin’s naturally derived for the demand (thank god!) plus no one would want to use the products as they would have the “ick” factor. They usually take a small sample of the real thing and study it to death in order to replicate it and/or use certain methods to multiply the sample – like with skin grafts for example.

  • Amy

    Oh I’d also like to point out that Urea is not Urine. Urea is simply a by-product from breaking down of amino acids (deamination) from when we eat protein and give the urine its colour but urine is a composite of many other parts apart from urea. Sorry to be boring but I don’t want people to be misled!

  • Gia

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m more thick skinned or something. But it’s all probably purified and put through so many filters before it’s put in any kind of product. And besides the cooking oil I guess on the plus side most of this are natural ingredients!!

    And did anyone else read Ambergris,waste from the digestive system of sperm whales, and think of that Futurama episode where whale throw up is used for a really expensive perfume?? Or am I just a dork?

    • the Muse

      of course gia for sure 🙂 LOL I remember that episode!!!!!!!!!! OMG too funky! you’re not a dork at all lol

  • Maria

    I will never pick up perfume with Amber in it because I read about it awhile ago. Grrrrooooosssssss!

  • Potatisbruden ~ Michilicious

    … Human foreskin…? W… T… F… O.O
    And urine in mouthwash!? Dude I don’t think it’s dangerous but I don’t wanna walk around with pee in my mouth…
    So I’m possibly washing my head with semen? … Great >.< Cochineal beetles is also used in those little Zoo jelly candies so I'm not grossed out by that 😛