Those who know their skincare ABC are probably already trained to read the labels and spot ingredients that are relevant to their skin issues and woes, especially when it comes to the naturally-derived holy grails.
But have you heard about some of the lesser known ingredients that can be equally effective in improving the overall appearance of your skin?
Check out our list of unusual skincare ingredients that might be worth a try.
Even though donkey milk only recently resurfaced in the sphere of modern beauty products, it has actually been used for cosmetic purposes since the ancient times.
For example, it’s a well known fact that Cleopatra used donkey milk for her luxurious baths, while Hippocrates, the famed ancient Greek physician, was fond of prescribing it for a number skin-related issues.
Nowadays, donkey milk has been increasingly present in cosmetic products, in great part thanks to its rich proteins and fatty acids, which can noticeably improve moisture in the skin.
Moreover, due to its markedly gentle properties, products containing donkey milk could be beneficial for people who suffer from dry skin, flakiness or even eczema.
Most of us are familiar with sake, the delicious Japanese rice wine we all like to treat ourselves with after a round of sushi.
However, did you know that this liquor is also a powerful multi-purpose skin care ingredient?
And its popularity is on a steady rise, both in Japan and internationally.
Why is that?
Well, for one, it is said that the yeast found in sake is laden with minerals, amino acids and vitamins, all of which can greatly contribute to supple and more balanced complexion.
What’s more, sake essence also reportedly contains powerful enzymes that can act as natural exfoliants without robbing your skin of its natural moisture.
If you want see if this magical ingredient from the East is really all that it’s cracked up to be, you’re in luck: sake extract can now be found in both Japanese and Western skin care lines, ranging from serums to exfoliations to shower gels.
We all know that caffeine is a life-saver for those of us who suffer from insufficient sleep or chronic fatigue, but did you know that this powerful ingredient can also energize your skin care routine?
This all-natural ingredient is chock-full of antioxidants, which are the number one weapon in the battle against fine lines and loss of elasticity in skin.
Due to their effective properties, caffeine-infused products have the power tackle the free radicals that are accelerating the aging processes in your skin and eradicate them. Sounds pretty neat, no?
Moreover, caffeine is a godsend for sleep-deprived individuals as it can successfully reduce under eye circles. Anti-inflammatory properties of caffeine can help soothe your under eye area and eliminate the annoying puffiness you might experience in the AM.
In recent years, bee venom has become one of the most buzzed about ingredients in the world of beauty and cosmetics.
It first gained traction when it was reported that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, used it to achieve that luscious glow she was sporting on her wedding day.
Throughout the history, honey has been used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, due to its incredible antibacterial and moisturizing properties.
Bee venom is said to share some of these skin-boosting benefits, while also being rich in enzymes, peptides and amino acids that can help accelerate cell turnover and increase collagen production.
This is why bee venom-infused skin care products can be a valuable addition to your day-to-day routine if you want to combat premature signs of aging and keep your complexion plump and radiant.
Throughout the history, activated charcoal has been used for medicinal purposes due to is ability to quickly absorb harmful toxins before they enter the bloodstream.
These same properties have caused activated charcoal to take the beauty world by storm: these days, you will find it in a variety of cosmetic products, from hand washes to rinse off masks.
So, what are these superpowers that activated charcoal possesses?
First and foremost, this potent ingredient is next to unbeatable when it comes to sucking out all the pollutants that are causing your skin to look dull and break out.
Not only can activated charcoal help eradicate all those damaging substances that are harming your skin, it can also help with dehydration and signs of aging.
Activated charcoal and products that contain it are ideal for people who live in big cities, as their skin tends to be more exposed to various toxins due to traffic and pollution.
The slimy green stuff found at the bottom of the sea (or the top of a lake) might be the least appealing ingredient on this list.
And yet, so many brands, including the super-fancy ones, are using algae in their skin care lines.
There must be a good reason for this, right?
Absolutely. Research shows that algae (and seaweed) can help improve your complexion in many different ways.
First, algae are packed with Vitamin E, as well as humectants, both of which replenish your skin with moisture and help lock in the hydration.
Next, this marine ingredient is rich in Vitamins B and C, which can help brighten up dull skin tone and reduce signs of aging.
Finally, goodies found in algae, such as magnesium and zinc, will help form a protective shield for your skin and keep it safe from environmental pollutants.
Yuzu (or yuja in Korean) is a citrus fruit that grows in East Asian countries, namely Japan, China and Korea.
It is similar to grapefruit, only smaller in size.
In the East, yuzu has been used for all sorts of purposes, mostly because of its stress-relieving fragrance and aromatic flavor.
Recently, yuzu’s popularity as a skin care ingredient has been on the rise as well. This is in great part due to its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be incredibly beneficial for people who have dry, sensitive and irritation-prone skin.
Moreover, yuzu is packed with vitamin C, which can be of great help in combatting hyperpigmentation and evening out skin tone.
When these benefits are taken into consideration, it is no wonder that products containing this all-powerful fruit just keep popping up on drugstore shelves.
If you want to test out the powers of yuzu, you can try out one of the many K-beauty products (like ampoules, serums and moisturizers) which contain this sensational citrus.
Once a favorite subject in the works penned by the American poet Robert Frost, these days it is the skin care aficionados who are singing words of praise to birches.
This tree species, which mostly grows in northern Europe, has become all the rage in the beauty world due to its amazing, multifold cosmetic benefits.
Namely, birch sap (also known as birch water) is rich in amino acids, minerals, antioxidants and proteins, making it a potent agent in reducing inflammation, but also soothing the skin and replenishing it with moisture.
This is why products containing birch water are generally recommended to people whose skin is prone to irritation and breakage.
As obscure as birch sap in form of beauty treatment may sound, it is not unusual to find it on the ingredient list of many skin care products. This forest-derived remedy was pioneered by the Korean brand COSRX, but it can now be found in skin care lines put out by a variety western brands, including Origins and Dr. Hauschka.
A king among wacky skincare ingredients, snail mucus has long been popular on the Korean beauty market, where in recent years it even reached cult status among cosmetics enthusiast.
Stroll through the aisles in one of Korea’s many skin care shops and you will notice all sorts of products branded with snail slime, including serums, moisturizers and toners.
This sudden rise in products containing slime essence is not unfounded, either.
Mucin, substance found in slime that snails excrete from their body, is said to be chock-full of nutrients that can instantly boost your skin’s moisture levels, but also slow down signs of aging.
Among these skin-charging goodies are proteins, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, all of which can sooth the skin and promote hydration in the cells.
So, it’s no wonder that more and more women are curious to try out this unusual skin care substance.
However, if you are still feeling too squeamish to commit to an entire packaging of snail slime-infused product, you can always ease yourself into it by trying out a mucin-enriched sheet mask.
Licorice, a root derived from a legume of the Latin name Glycyrrhiza glabra, has been used since the dawn of time in both East and West due to its intense medicinal properties.
Its value as a skin care ingredient was first noticed by Geishas, who used this natural remedy to brighten up their complexion and remove dark spots.
Today, the power of licorice as a cosmetic ingredient is becoming more and more recognized on the beauty market.
Due to this ingredient’s calming and gentle properties, products containing licorice root (such as serums and masks) can be a great natural alternative for people whose skin tends to be on the more sensitive side.
Moreover, licorice extract can also be powerful for reducing dark spots, melasma and improving the overall texture of the skin. This is why licorice-infused products can be incredibly beneficial for people who suffer from hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.
Bamboo is tree-like grass species which has the ability to grow anywhere, but is mostly associated with East Asia.
In countries like China and Japan, it has been used for centuries as a powerful medicinal tool with anti-bacterial and soothing qualities.
Recently, bamboo’s healing capabilities have been gaining more traction in the world of beauty and skin care, too.
Namely, bamboo’s anti-inflammatory properties make this ingredient a welcome addition to beauty regimen of anyone who has sensitive or damaged skin.
Moreover, bamboo extract is said to contain lots of antioxidants, which are crucial when it comes to reducing or eliminating fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.
And with this, we complete our list of some of the most curious ingredients that have been gaining the attention of beauty enthusiast around the world.
If you tend to stand firmly in the conservative skin care camp, this roundup has probably helped cement the fact that beauty experimenting is not for you and that you would rather stick to the good ol’ tested stuff.
On the other hand, we may have tickled your curiosity and prompted you to go out and try some of these cosmetic obscurities. Who knows, perhaps it turns out that it was birch sap or donkey milk your skin has been aching for this entire time!