Does the Bird Poop Facial Really Work?

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Meredith must know…A couple of years ago I heard a lot of buzz about the Geisha Facial that uses bird poo to improve your complexion. What’s the science behind this? 

The Right Brain responds: 

I know that a lot of beauty claims are bullish*t but this one is literally birdsh*t! Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped modern spas from adopting this ancient Japanese tradition. Shizuka New York, for example, charges you $180 for the privilege of having bird poop rubbed on your face. Supposedly the poo brightens skin and evens out your complexion. Does it really work? Here’s the scientific scoop on bird poop.

How a bird poop facial is made

First, you get some nightingales (specifically Japanese bush warblers). Why nightingales and not other birds, you ask? Because they have a short digestive tract which allegedly allows their poop to maintain more of the chemicals that are good for your skin. Then you feed the birds a special diet of organic seeds. The seeds work their way through the birds and what comes out the other end is called “uguisu no fun” in Japanese. Yes that’s right. The actual Japanese expression for nightingale crap that you rub all over your face includes the words “no fun.” Ironic, ain’t it?  Next, the poop is scraped from the cages (and you thought YOU had a crappy job) and then sanitized with an ultraviolet light before being dried and ground into a fine white powder. This powder is reconstituted and used as a facial cream.

What does bird poop do for your skin?

Supposedly bird poop contains a high concentration of urea and guanine. Urea is one of the components of the skin’s Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF for short) and it’s added to a number of skin creams to improve moisturization. It really works but you certainly don’t need bird poop to get a good dose of urea! Plus, urea has to be left on the skin to provide a moisturization benefit. Leaving it for a little while and then washing it off does no good. Guanine is a naturally iridescent material that can make you look sparkly. But, again, it only works when left on your face. It doesn’t have any lightening or brightening properties other than being glittery. At least one source claims that uguisu no fun contains an enzyme that lightens skin. But we could find no evidence of this at all. Most sites report that guanine is an enzyme which it’s not.

Historically Geishas used bird poop to bleach stains from their kimonos. This makes sense since the bird droppings could have a high pH due to ammonia which could lighten the kinds of pigments used as fabric dyes. It won’t, however, remove melanin which is the pigment in skin that gives it it’s color.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Instead of wasting your money on a bird poop facial buy a good moisturizer with urea. And if want to get rid of acne scars or dark spots use retinol or a skin lightener that’s proven to work.

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New Years Resolutions – Good Habits for 2013!


Hands.Pen.Paper.DupontCircle.WDC.17sep05 (Photo credit: ElvertBarnes)

The Coming New Year is a great time to put new good habits into practice!

  • Drink more water
  • Wear sunblock
  • Wear a hat
  • Exfoliate once to twice a week
  • Exercise, take a walk
  • Mediate
  • Yoga – get limber
  • Treat yourself to a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure (look good feel good!)
  • Start packing your own lunch
  • Sleep more, get better quality sleep
  • Drink less Alcohol!
  • Get more sleep
  • Quit Smoking!
  • Eat more fruits, veggies, and fiber
  • Try going organic

Have fun with it make a list of good habits you would like to start to do and make it happen!

Half a glass of water(Photo credit: Jeff Youngstrom)


Oxygen Facials – The Benefits!


Oxygen facials for the beauty industry revolve around the use of medical grade oxygen as a delivery mechanism for active ingredients in to the skin. It is also used as a “wash” over the face in an attempt to stimulate or feed the skin so new collagen growth can occur.

As a delivery mechanism, the oxygen is compressed and sprayed at high pressure directly on to the skin surface. A “serum” of active ingredients such as nutrients or vitamins, are introduced to the oxygen stream just before the skin, and the combined oxygen and ingredients in the form of a high pressure jet forces its way past the skins barrier defense systems and in to the lower levels of the epidermis.

The popularity of Oxygen treatments appear to stem from the almost instant smoothing and plumping of the skins surface, a reaction that can have the effect of hiding any tiny imperfections and providing a warm “glow” to the skin.

Oxygen has incredible regenerative powers. For decades, doctors have not only recognized this fact but used it in the treatment of burns, gangrene and wounds that simply would not heal otherwise. Oxygen is essential for cell metabolism, and in turn, tissue oxygenation is essential for all normal physiological functions.  In an oxygen rich environment, bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections simply do not survive. Moreover, high concentrations of oxygen trigger the body’s own healing functions. If you are severely burned or cut, the skin will rapidly heal in such a favorable environment. It is these two very important functions of oxygen that inspired skin care experts to incorporate oxygen into esthetic treatments around the world.  Oxygen facials are especially great for smokers and asphyxiated skin!


Did you know that in pre-historic earth, the earth’s atmosphere contained oxygen levels of up to 35%? The level of oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere has declined by over a third and in polluted cities the decline may be more than 50%. Today, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and deforestation, that number has gone down to 21%. And in some major cities, that number is even worse- as low as 17%! What does that mean for our bodies? Around 10,000 years ago, the planet’s forest cover was at least twice what it is today, which means that forests are now emitting only half the amount of oxygen and NASA reports that in the north Pacific ocean oxygen-producing phytoplankton concentrations are 30% lower today, compared to the 1980s. This is a huge drop in just three decades. Our skin, the protective barrier between us and the environment, gets hit with that pollution every day. A result our skin is not receiving as much oxygen as it should.  More damage to skin because of this will occur, and that damage will accumulate over time resulting in very stressed, pre-mature aged skin. Wrinkles, loss of elasticity and firmness are the result.

What Does Oxygen Do For Us?

Oxygen is essential to the health and maintenance of skin cells in the human body. With age, skin loses its ability to retain and utilize Oxygen for normal metabolic processes, such as repair and regeneration. When oxygen is lacking at the cellular level, our skin begins to age—sometimes prematurely.

The theory behind oxygenated treatments is that we all need oxygen for survival. Oxygen is what revives and replenishes the cells in our body. However, due to the pollutants in our environment today, our oxygen content has been greatly reduced. It is also true that as we age, oxygen does not reach our skin cells as efficiently, which is what leads to the aging process. The result can be thinner skin and the appearance of wrinkles and age spots. An oxygen facial will replenish the amount of oxygen that the skin receives, leaving it hydrated, plumper and younger looking.

The procedure involves spraying 98% pure oxygen, that is infused with a serum that contains essential nutrients, antioxidants, and skin soothing ingredients. An oxygen facial works by super-charging oxygen levels in the skin, resulting in better circulation and skin cell regeneration which, between them, leave the skin glowing. It’s good for making you look younger, reducing sallowness, rosacea, helping with the healing of damaged skin, and general wear and tear. A purifier, oxygen also kills surface bacteria which helps to keep skin clear.

The results of a properly done oxygen facial are can be seen immediately as can be attested by the many celebrities that endorse them.

An oxygen treatment can be used in conjunction with a chemical peel, microdermasbrasion, or photofacial for optimal results.

The Buzz About Bees In Skin Care!

Kate Middleton/Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine Elizabeth “Kate”; née Middleton) is the wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and a member of the British Royal Family.

Mentioned in Vanity Fair’s new profile on Kate Middleton, is those facials done with bee venom, a.k.a. Nature’s Botox (as they’re being purported as). Apparently she was turned onto them by the Duchess of Cornwall, who’s found them highly effective.

Deborah Mitchell has been treating the Duchess of Cambridge with her signature bee-sting facial ( since just before the Royal Wedding

Deborah, whose celebrity clients include Dannii Minogue and Victoria Beckham, is launching her new Limited Edition Heaven Golden Bee Venom Mask.

The new Heaven Golden Bee Venom Mask goes on sale in May 2012 along with the new Bee Venom Mask Black Label.

Does this really live up to the hype?

Via Wall Street Journal


The latest magic ingredient being added to skin creams, lip-plumping potions and sticky face masks has been creating buzz.

Known as “natural botox,” New Zealand bee venom has show-business celebrities and royalty clamoring for a sting. But the product doesn’t come cheap, as Lucy Craymer details on Lunch Break.

Bee venom, long used in ancient medicine, is being touted as a “natural Botox” that stimulates the body’s production of collagen and elastin to smooth, lift and tighten skin. The venom also contains a compound called melittin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Much of the clinical research into bee venom has focused on its effect on diseases like cancer and arthritis. Studies of its uses as a skin-care treatment have been limited.

“I couldn’t find any legitimate scientific studies of the benefit of bee venom either topical or injected,” says David Leffell, a professor of Dermatology and Surgery at Yale School of Medicine. “Within the world of anti-aging…every six months there is a new agent that comes on, but one of the things that is important is whether or not it can get through the skin.”

Dr. Leffell says he remains skeptical of the extent that bee venom could smooth or tighten skin. There is evidence, however, that the honey also in many of the products could be beneficial as a moisturizer, he says.

Still, demand has been strong since British tabloids reported that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, used bee-venom skin-care products before the royal wedding last year. More recently, actress Gwyneth Paltrow said on her blog Goop that she had “been given bee venom therapy for an old injury” and as a result the injury had since disappeared.

[image] Mills Farm Marina’s Apiary Ltd.After bees ‘sting’ a glass plate, above, venom can be collected by scraping it with a razor blade.

One gram of venom from New Zealand, a major producer, is the equivalent of 10,000 bee stings and costs about $304—more than eight times the current value of gold, according to industry sources. Venom produced outside of New Zealand is sold at lower prices.

Judith Salisbury, who owns cosmetics maker Abeeco Ltd., says prices for New Zealand venom are up 33% in the past 12 months. The Auckland-based company sells a full line of bee-venom products, including a lip plumper that costs $29.

Heaven, a line of skin-care products based in Shropshire, England, includes the venom in its eye cream (about $85) and mask (about $100). Another company, Manuka Doctor, sells a line of bee-venom products that it says targets blemishes and reduces the appearance of scars and wrinkles. Prices range from $13 to $67.

Christchurch bee keeper Allister Maclean, who operates Sensational Bees, says his bees had been producing honey for around six years but he moved into venom a couple of years as a sideline business.

“We supplied [Abeeco] with pollen and the bee-venom capsules and so when they wanted it for the cream we got a bit more venom for him,” says Mr. Maclean.

Bee keepers have various methods to harvest the venom, but most use a “collection frame,” a frame wired with electrodes and covered with a piece of glass. The frame is mounted in a bee hive. When the bees come in contact with it they receive a mild electrical shock and sting the glass. The bees return to the hive unharmed and the venom is collected to be used in creams.

“It looks like salt on glass, and we scrape it off with a razor blade,” says Philip Cropp, an electrician by trade who owns Nelson Honey & Marketing Ltd. in Nelson, New Zealand. In some products the venom is purified before it is added to cosmetics. When applied to the skin, bee venom is said to occasionally tingle depending on the consumer’s skin but has no lasting effect.

Bee-venom products are also finding their way into salons and spas.

Ina Bajaj, owner of Australasian day spa franchise East Day Spa, based in Auckland with spas around the region, offers a 30-minute and 60-minute bee-venom facial that costs between $65 and $95.

“We really started using bee venom when the whole Kate Middleton fad happened,” Ms. Bajaj says. “Initially there were one or two players on the market and then there was a lot more.”

A version of this article appeared June 28, 2012, on page D2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Latest Skin-Care Buzz: Bee Venom.

Scraping Massage

Click here for a great video of GUASHA

Like with all facial massage it:

• Reduces wrinkles, lines, and folds
• Promotes collagen production
• Increases skin firmness
• Accelerates skin rejuventation
• Promotes blood circulation – activates Qi
• Helps eliminate toxins and increases the metabolism
• Strengthens immunological functions
Guasha Therapy is the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) art of facial and body scraping for beauty, health, and wellness; similar to acupuncture treatment, but without the use of intrusive needles. The Guasha technique helps to restore and re-balance the vital energy system in the body, which eliminates pathogenic factors directly. It has been practiced for more than 25 centuries by the Chinese people and is a precious heritage of traditional Chinese medical science and massage therapy. Like Acupuncture and Feng Shui, Guasha Therapy is recognized for its positive energy, and its ability to repair aesthetic problems. Be careful not to be to vigorous and damage, bruise, or break the skin.

Chinese Guasha Facial massage is performed by applying gentle scraping with unique shaped Jade or ceramic plates, and essential oil, oil, or cream on specific points and meridians/meridian points on the face and body. The Guasha technique is based on meridian scraping theory. In TCM, there are 14 meridian pathways with corresponding acupuncture points distributed throughout the body and connected to each organ system. The face has direct meridian connections to nine of the major meridians of the body.

Via Dr. Oz

Scrape Away Pain: Gua Sha

When I was finishing my undergraduate coursework, I was working part-time in a hospital research department. My co-workers knew I had my eyes set on Eastern Medical training. On rare occasions, questions concerning Eastern Medicine would arise, and these questions would always be directed toward me.


Young, naïve and inexperienced, I was just as curious as they were. One morning, I had an email sent to me, with a web link to a forum for cardiologists. A picture depicting the back of a gentleman was displayed on the website. His back was scraped and bruised in a specific pattern unlike anything I had ever seen before. Under this picture, a simple caption read “What is this?” and I was utterly dumbfounded. As it turns out, gua sha is what it was.


As I was finishing my clinical training in Beijing, I would find myself smiling at the memory of that picture; something that once seemed so dumbfounding had become something I was so commonly administering to patients.  Gua sha is a common practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and an invaluable technique in an acupuncturist’s armamentarium.


Gua sha is an ancient healing technique used by many clinicians of TCM. In this procedure, a lubricating medium, such as massage oil, is applied to the skin of the area to be treated. A smooth-edged instrument is used by the acupuncturist to apply short or long strokes on the skin, typically in the area of pain or on the back parallel to the spine. This stroking motion creates raised redness (petechiae) or bruising (ecchymosis).


Pain, both acute and chronic, is the most common indication for gua sha. In the TCM tradition, pain is oftentimes caused by the stagnation of blood in the local area of discomfort. The guiding principle behind gua sha is that this technique has the ability to break up stagnation, to promote the smooth flow of blood in the area, thereby relieving pain.


While gua sha is most commonly used to treat pain, it can also be utilized by TCM clinicians to address conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, fever, heatstroke, fibromyalgia, strains, sprains, and muscle spasms.


There are several theories that may explain why this ancient technique works: gua sha increases blood flow (microcirculation) in the soft tissue, potentially stimulates the body’s natural pain-relieving opioid systems, and it may block the pain response pathways so you feel pain relief.


Some view gua sha as folk medicine, but the scientific research community may beg to differ! Researchers from institutions like Harvard and Beth Israel Medical Center are demonstrating both efficacy as well as offering insight on why gua sha works. A study published in a 2011 edition of Pain Medicine demonstrated that gua sha decreased pain for chronic neck pain sufferers, noting that “neck pain severity after 1 week improved significantly better in the gua sha group compared with the control group (heat therapy).”

As the Seasons Change Get a Facial!

People ask me all the time when to get or how many facials should they be getting.  While ideally I would say get a facial every one to two weeks, not everyone can afford this, to them I say once a month or at the very least once a season (Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall).  Like the seasons  skin changes.  It can be drier due to the cold air, indoor heating, or lack of moisture in the air.  It can be oilier and have  sun damage due to heat, sun exposure, and excess moisture in the air.  By having a facial at least once a season you can fix the damage caused to your skin from the previous season and prepare your skin for the next season.

A Facial mask. Português: Uma Máscara facial.


Benefits of Facial Massage

A facial massage can be a wonderful thing, just like anywhere else in the body the face can hold tension.  Relieving tension is not the only benefit to a facial massage.  Depending on the technique, Western or Eastern, a facial massage can:

  • Relax the facial muscles
  • Improve circulation
  • Provide physical and psychological relief
  • Improve muscle tone
  • Release toxins and impurities
  • Relieve facial pain, headaches, eye strain, neck tension, premenstrual symptoms, puffiness,  nervous disorder, and sinus congestion
  • Stimulates the Meridian points located on the face
  • Correct Gall Bladder and Liver imbalance


The next time you go to get a facial or a massage ask for a facial massage to be added to your treatment if it is not already included.  Many people don’t think to ask for this service or they receive a shortened version when they receive a facial.  Ask for a full facial massage which typically lasts 15-20 minutes it feels wonderful and you will look wonderful as well.  Make sure that the Esthetician or Masseuse is gentle to the skin on your face not pulling and stretching it.


When to have a Microdermabrasion or Chemical Peel before a Special Occasion!

I cringe when someone says of I’m going to (insert your special occasion) in a week, a couple of days, or tomorrow and they want a chemical peel or microdermabrasion. Even worse is if this going be their first time getting this service. Don’t get me wrong, I love what microdermabrasion and a chemical peel do for the skin! However, both treatments need to be done several times over the course of months to give you the results you are looking for. With microdermabrasion and chemical peelings you need at least 6 treatments typically and then follow up with a treatment once a month for maintenance. Allow one to two weeks between treatments to allow your skin to recover. A chemical peel, depending on its strength, can cause irritation, redness, tightness, dryness or a sunburn feeling. While microdermabrasion doesn’t usually cause the side effects like a peel can, for a few hours to a day you can have a few red streaky lines where the machine is applied to the skin. Microdermabrasion isn’t good for acneic skin I would recommend a chemical peel instead.

I recommend not to have any treatment done to your face up to six weeks prior to your special occasion with the exception of a facial that is designed to be soothing and a makeup application. Even then if you tend to have sensitive skin or tend to be allergic to skin care products I would not even have a facial before the special occasion.

You don’t want to have any kind of adverse reaction right before your special occasion!

Don’t deviate from your normal skincare regime by adding products that you have never used before more than four weeks prior.

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