Skincare Freakshow: Samplehimes Spooky Spectacles

9:01 PM Moi Sanom 0 Comments

Hey guys!
This is Sample Hime from over at Today I'm doing a spooky blog swap with my good friend Ms. Moi Sanom in honor of Halloween. Moi and I have a knack for weird and creepy things so we thought this month would be the perfect time to highlight some of our favorite Korean skincare ingredients that aren't so common to westerners, and also dispel some of the hype surrounding some of these additives.

Thank you Moi, for allowing me to guest post on your blog! If you're not already following my blog, check out my blog for dark lip swatches, darker BB creams, and tons of oily skincare reviews.

Moi and I picked 6 different creepy ingredients each to introduce--you can view her 6 over at my blog. Without further ado, let me tell you a little bit about each one!

1. Bird Poop

Yes, you read that right. People put bird shit on their faces...and I guess they like it. Supposedly geishas have been using nightingale poop as a way to treat hyperpigmentation, as well as to clear their face after heavy makeup wear. Although I haven't personally verified this myself with real bird poop, apparently nightingale (uguisu) poop contains both urea and guanine, basically because the bird excretes everything (#1 amd #2)  out of the same hole. Um, ew...Urea is apparently a good skin softener and may help with lightening skin. If you care, Kerry from Skin and Tonics actually reviewed it on her blog a while back.

You can buy the original Uguisu Poo (Uguisu no Fun), which comes from Japan as a dried and UV-sterilized poop powder, or  you can purchase a Korean version such as Tonymoly's Natural Bubble Bird's Dropping Foam Cleanser. Unfortunately, upon inspecting the English ingredients list at the store I found that the active ingredient (urea) is actually plant sourced, not poop sourced. For all you weirdos out there who were excited to try it, I'm sorry to say that Tonymoly totally tried to pull a fast one on us.

My Picks: Pass. Go buy something with urea in it instead.

2. Syn-Ake

Photo credit: Rahul Alvares

This is one of the least understood ingredients in the "know" within the Korean skincare community. I constantly hear "yes, it's REAL SNAKE VENOM" on blog and forum posts. As lovely as it sounds to put a poison on your face, unfortunately it's not even remotely true. Syn-ake is a lab-synthesized compound that is intended to mimic some of the affects of the cutie Temple Viper's venom (there's a male and female in the picture above!). A quick Google search will yield the product information direct from the manufacturer, Pentapharm. For this reason, I think that it's necessary to take the information with a grain of salt.

According to the pdf, Syn-Ake is a synthetic peptide derivative that basically prevents your facial muscles from contracting as much, thereby reducing the amount of wear and tear on your skin. Repeated facial movements cause wrinkles. Supposedly this product does work (according to a one-month long study...HMMM), but it also states that the participants used 4% concentrations of the product. I don't honestly believe most affordable Korean skincare products have a high enough concentration, plus if you keep scrolling they mention that the product must be maintained at a certain pH as well as its relatively short shelf life.

It's just my opinion based on a couple creams I tried, but I doubt these honestly work as well as they're made out to. Perhaps a more direct preparation would convince me?

My Picks: Posh Spice tip: don't smile (and don't waste your money on Syn-Ake).

3. Molds

Credit: EdTechLens

While you may think "eww that blue stuff on bread" when you hear the word "mold," you might forget that things like yeast and mushrooms are also considered molds/fungi (though those are actually two different but related things). One of my absolute favorite ingredients in Korean skincare is something called beta glucan. While it can be derived from cereal grains, it's also found in some bacteria, fungi, and mushrooms! Many of my favorite eye creams include beta glucan, and apparently the helping effects, can actually be attributed to science--not just speculation and hype! In a study from the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, they delve into the anti-inflammatory, anti-carginogenic, and even anti-viral properties beta glucan can have on the body.
"Beta-glucans are naturally occurring polysaccharides. These glucose polymers are constituents of the cell wall of certain pathogenic bacteria and fungi. The healing and immunostimulating properties of mushrooms have been known for thousands of years in the Eastern countries. These mushrooms contain biologically active polysaccharides that mostly belong to group of beta-glucans. These substances increase host immune defense by activating complement system, enhancing macrophages and natural killer cell function."
To put it simply, beta glucans stimulate the immune system by activating your body's response system, in turn enhancing the cells that kill pathogens. For whatever reason, I've noticed that this immune system stimulation always helps me with my under eye lines, and theoretically this could also help with other skin issues such as acne!

Although it is usually explicitly labeled as beta glucan on ingredient lists, you might also look for mushroom extracts such as chaga mushrooms, oats or barley extracts, and especially for sacharromyces (baker's yeast) products which have recently been trending. Nature Republic anyone?

See? Not too scary! Plus, they don't smell.

My absolute favorite beta glucan products you should check out include Missha Time Revolution Night Repair - Science Activator Ampoule and Wish Formula Aesthetic Reparative-K cream (which I received in a Memebox).

4. Pig Collagen

Of all the ingredients on my list, I actually think this one creeps me out the most.
Pig're basically slathering the corpse of a pig on your face. It's a little bit too much "Carrie" for me. Still, I've been there and done that via Elizavecca's Green Piggy Collagen Jella Pack, and I recently received the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Elastic Pore Cleansing Foam which also contains pig collagen. Basically in the Korean skincare world they're still trying to convince everyone that you can "absorb" collagen through your skin, when in fact the molecules are too large--and no they can't be "patted" in for absorption. Sorry to bust your bubble guys. The whole collagen thing is a sham. :(

One positive that people can attribute to pig collagen, is that it has humectant properties which in turn may keep you feeling a little bit more hydrated. Other than that, you're probably receiving benefits from the other ingredients in the product. Go eat some bone marrow soup if you really want the benefits of collagen.

My picks: If you are looking for a non-stripping, non-foaming cleanser, however, I do recommend the Elizavecca foam I linked above. It has charcoal in it, too, which can be helpful on acne skin.

5. Snail Mucin

Everyone has heard of snail cream by now. Okay, when I say everyone I mean pretty much everyone in the Asian beauty community. It seems like people don't really understand why snail works though, and for that I do bring some info for you!

Snail mucin is said to have healing and anti-inflammatory components.
Because snails don't have a complex immune system, they produce a naturally antibiotic secretion in their mucin to protect themselves from pathogens. It's interesting to note that snail mucin has been found to work against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria. (Gram positive/negative refers to the gram stain we use to look at the bacteria under the microscope.) According to Dr. Macrene Aleiades-Armenakas:
"Snail mucin extract is a complex blend of proteins, glycolic acids and elastin. It has been recognized for many years-as far back as Ancient Greece-as an ingredient that reduces inflammation. The extract is renowned for its regenerative properties, and facilitates the restoration of damaged tissue and replenishes moisture in skin. It is also effective in treating acne and scarring."
Further research into the subject shows that snails secrete nutrients like hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes, antimicrobial and copper peptides, and proteoglycans to protect their "foot" while padding along rough terrain. Apparently in vitro studies (not on humans) have shown that:
"research suggests that snail slime will stimulate the production of elastin and collagen, increase fibronectin protein production, and stimulate increased proliferation of fibroblasts."
Pretty cool right? The combination of anti-bacterial slime hyaluronic acid, and other growth factors truly do help with acne and other skin troubles. In fact, snail cream is the biggest reason I turned onto Korean skincare.

My Picks: Anything and everything Mizon followed by Missha's Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Skin Treatment and Cream. Or if you just want to try a bit of everything, pick up Beauteque's Head to Toe Snail Bag before it's gone! If you use my blog's code SAMPLEHIME-SNAIL they'll give you an extra sheet mask with your bag. :)

6. Bacteria

Recently probiotics have become a "thing" and people are finally starting to recognize that poor, misunderstood bacteria are not all bad! I've touched on this before on my blog, but it's worth talking about again. Your body is host to all sorts of bacteria, and every bacteria has a home. We get infections and illness when the bad bacteria move into the neighborhood and take over the good bacteria's space. This is where probiotics come in. Recently, researchers have been finding that bacteria play an integral part in the wellness of our bodies, both internally and externally. By now you have probably heard about internal probiotics, and the need to replace "good bacteria" particularly after taking antibiotics. The same may be true for our skin! Supposedly even things as simple as actual yogurt (kefir or greek yogurt) may improve our skin quality.

Dr. Whitney P. Bowe, MD, FAAD recently spoke about the different benefits of probiotics in skincare, most notably related to acne and rosacea. Detailed in a recent American Academy of Dermatology article, she notes that probiotics may be used as "bacterial interference" to prevent our skin from recognizing "bad" bacteria and creating an exaggerated immune response (inflammation, redness, pus, or in some cases rosacea). Good bacteria may also be used to fight bad bacteria, in that some bacteria secrete substances that are toxic to bad bacteria. In the same way lactobacillus produces lactic acid to maintain vaginal health, other bacteria may secret substances that will help maintain our skin.

As far as uses in Korea, bacterial ferments are all the rage this year. Pretty much every store came out with some form of fermented line this year, or multiple! Hopefully in the next year they will start introducing live culture probiotics as a form of skincare.
I will be the first to snag it up!

My Picks: Moi Sanom is actually covering the fermented aspect more in depth in her post on my blog so please go read more if you're looking for more info and recs!

As lengthy as that was, I hope you  I hope you enjoyed reading about all these buzzworthy ingredients.  
Have you tried any of these ingredients, and if so what did you think of them? I'd love to hear about your experiences and even some recommendations!

Have a safe. scary, and insanely fun Halloween everyone!