Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Japanese & Korean Beauty How-Tos? (Part 2 - Of Bird Poop & Rollers)

Yep you read that right. I said Bird Poop. Kind of hard to relate that to the conventional idea of beauty and skincare right?

Uh..yeah, I guess.
Today I'll share a couple of these titbits that could, possibly, maybe, inch you and me towards our beauty ideals~ Maybe.

As we say in Asia, it's easiest to earn a womans money. When it comes to beauty, I guess we're especially susceptible. Korea, Japan and China are up there in the rankings when it comes to producing, or reintroducing, these weird and wonderful thingamajigs. Let's take a look shall we?

Item numero uno!

  • Nightingale Droppings / 鶯の糞 (Uguisu no Fun)
If you've read Memoirs of a Geisha, you will recall the part where our protagonist Chiyo mixes pigeon droppings into Hatsumomo's prized nightingale dropping cream. In fact, many other floating world novels and autobiographies mention the use of nightingale droppings in geisha skincare.

Image from Chidoriya, a New York-based Japanese skincare and accessories company originated from Kyoto, Japan. Fyi, their products are available at the Ikeda Spa in Singapore. (Not advertising for them, nor have I purchased from them. This is just an example photo with a reference for more information~) =)

The cosmetic use of Nightingale (the Japanese Bush Warbler to be exact) droppings dates back to ancient Japan (Edo era) and was not just limited to geisha and maiko. Like the geishas, kabuki actors also used the excrement to combat the zinc and lead poisoning from their makeup. The droppings were used for their cleansing as well as whitening effect.

Why nightingales you say? Apparently, this is because the nightingale has a short intestine, thus its droppings contain proteins and enzymes that whiten and even out skin tone. Also, the urea content serves to lock moisture in the skin.

Interested? I chanced upon a review on the Nightingale Dropping facial at Ikeda by NinjaGirlsSG. Check out their video:

All in all, I'm inclined to believe that the stuff works given its history but whether it maintains its superiority to all the modern-day products? Jury's out on that one.

  • Japanese Face Rollers
I'm sure you've seen many versions of these by now. From the small portable pen-sized ones for smaller areas to the big 3 pronged knobbed rollers for the face, tummy or thighs, versions range from the 100yen stores to S$500 luxury 'scientific' versions. 100 yens are usually of the plain plastic variety whilst the spiffy luxury versions boast a multitude of ions, natural ores or microcurrents to help roll away the wrinkles, tighten the skin, induce detoxification..etc.

Qoo10 Listing photo of a generic plastic face roller (Image from here)

While I'm not a believer in miraculous results, I do believe that the rolling action will help increase blood circulation and in turn encourage skin cell renewal and detoxification. Slimming is also possible since the general principle is not unlike the Tanaka Facial Massage explored some posts back. The constant massaging should help stimulate and break down fats as well as reduce water retention. If you have one of these contraptions, make sure you make it a daily routine to see and maintain results~

  • Jade Face Roller
You may be wondering why this roller has a category all to itself. Well, it's because I actually HAVE ONE!!

I got this from my grandmother (bless her soul) who did have nice skin for someone in their 70s. If you detect a slightly frosty look, it's because my roller lives in the freezer. I use this after my sheet masks, rolling in broad upwards strokes all over my face to massage the remaining essence into the skin. Jade maintains its cool very well too so it also helps to close the pores~ It just takes a few extra minutes after which my skin feels nicely cooled and taut.

Jade has been well-regarded among asians not just for their monetary value but also for their use as a healing / skincare / beauty aid. It's said that Chinese empresses would roll polished nuggets of jade (said to exfoliate, detoxify, tone and lift skin) over their faces to maintain a youthful glow. Oil on the skin adheres to the jade's cool surface and brings dead skin cells with it, this light exfoliation + massage is supposed to encourage skin detoxification and renewal. Many Asians also bank on the spritual healing properties of jade for helping with respiratory, glandular and heart problems among others. I understand that this gemstone is used in spa treatments too.

HK blogger Queenie is really fun and her lifestyle blog has lots of fun beauty bits~ It doesn't hurt that she's easy on the eyes too! Unfortunately it's all in mandarin or cantonese so if you're english-speaking then you're missing out a little~ Here's her video on how to use the jade face roller:

Do you buy into the amazing properties that jade may have on skin? I'm not sure and I can't seem to find anything scientific to back it up but it certainly makes for a very soothing and pore tightening after-mask massager, plus its coolness is really welcoming in our muggy weather!
  • Snail Slime / Crema de Caracol
Remember this? It hit the Asian market big time some years ago and seems to have retained its popularity among fans though the exposure has died down quite abit. Originating from Chile around 1995 after Chilean farmers noticed frequent snail handling helped heal cuts and smoother hands (Sounds like the SKII commercial =P), the boom in Asia came from Korea.

Snail slime, secreted in large amounts when snails are stimulated, contains proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans, glycoprotein enzymes, hyaluronic acid, copper peptides, antimicrobial peptides and trace elements of copper, zinc and iron. Simply put, it's packed with glycolic acid, elastin, collagen, hyaluronic acid and protein. Given that snail secretion protects its host from bacteria, cuts, UV rays PLUS the fact that Hippocrates (the Father of Medicine) noted an effective combination of crushed snails and sour milk to sooth skin inflammations, this product seems believable enough.

Many online reviews have also attested to the effectiveness of snail cream especially on damaged skin, scarring, keloids etc. Since the immense popularity of this cream, many Korean brands (Etude House, Missha..etc) have released products revolving around it. They are targetted at skin brightening, healing, cell renewal, anti-photoaging, reducing pock marks, acne, scarring and the list goes on.

I have to say, I'm not sure if the stimulation (labelled 'safe mechanical stress') is exactly snail-friendly. I'd hate to be applying tortured secretions from a living animal on my face >_< I'm a meat eater and all but if it's not necessary, it's not necessary y'know? Although most companies say the raw product needs to go through some refinement before use, I read that trail slime from garden snails had produced the same effect without stressing the snails.


So that's it for this installment. Spotted anything you've been using? =)

Information Credit: