Facials that involve snake venom? Body treatments at way-below-Antarctic temps? Which (if any) of these weird facials and other spa and salon treatments are actually worth your time, money and—in some cases—your dignity? Here, we give you the deal on 10 super-strange ways some women are using to defy aging, and whether or not they’re legit.
1. Snake Venom Facial
Go for it. We were half-disappointed and half-relieved to find out that it’s not real venom in the renowned snake venom facials offered at Sonya Dakar’s Skin Clinic in Beverly Hills ($450 for 60 minutes). Instead, the spa uses a concentrated blend of about 14 anti-aging active ingredients, including Syn-Ake (synthetic snake venom) and green apple stem cells, to target fine lines and wrinkles. The “venom” slightly stings the skin, which is said to send signals to the nerves to produce chemicals to relax and strengthen facial muscles. It’s an (expensive) anti-aging facial, pure and simple. We’re behind any needle-free form of Botox.
2. Spermine Facial
Go for it. It sounds totally nuts—and you may have to be more than a little crazy to try it—but spermine, made from synthesized human sperm, is high in antioxidants that protect and repair your skin. During the paraben-free spermine facials ($125 for 60 minutes) at Graceful Services in New York, the goo is applied directly to your face like a “normal” serum.
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3. Bird Poop Facial
Skip it. Known for their porcelain complexions, the Geishas of Japan have used nightingale droppings as a cleanser for centuries.Now, spas like Shizuka Day Spa in New York are following suit with their bird-poop based Geisha Facial ($180 for 60 minutes) to lighten up complexions. You know what else the Geishas do? They stay out of the sun, going so far as to use umbrellas on a bright day. Ultimately, using a daily cleanser, weekly exfoliator and daily sunscreen protection of SPF 30 can keep your skin just as spot-free.
4. Evian Water Bath
Skip it. Offered at Miami’s Hotel Victor penthouse suite, the Evian Water Bath involves a tub filled with about 1,000 bottles of the iconic bottled water and sprinkled with rose petals. The promise: To leave you refreshed and revitalized. It does sound sort of lovely, but for $5,000? We don’t think so. Drink your 64 ounces of Evian, get your 7-9 hours of sleep each night and take a tap-water bath once in a while for the same results—and a much healthier bank account.
5. Cryotherapy Treatment
Go for it. Three minutes in a chamber sure to turn you into a human popsicle—temperatures bottom out at minus-270 degrees Fahrenheit, more than four times lower than the coldest days in Antarctica—are said to rejuvenate your skin and relieve irritations, get your endorphins rushing and improve joint and muscle function. While it’s not a pleasant experience to stand naked in a meat freezer on steroids, there seems to be something to it. Pro athletesagree, using the treatment to reduce pain and inflammation and speed recovery.
6. Ear Candling
Skip it. Slightly obsessed with those Q-tips? The alternative practice of ear candling takes cleaning out your ears even further. While you lie on your side, a hollow candle is inserted into the external canal of the exposed ear and lit. In theory, the combination of heat and suction is supposed to remove earwax—however, there’s no real evidence that the debris left in the candle was actually sucked out of your ear; some experts believe it could simply be pieces of the burned candle itself. Doctors strongly suggest not trying it, as there’s also a chance the candle wax and soot could get lodged in your ear (not to mention fire codes and all that).
7. Salt Meditation Rooms
Go for it. Several spas, like the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, now offer meditation rooms built with salt bricks, which are said to support healing of the skin and upper-respiratory conditions when you breathe in the salt air. Not only can meditation do a body and mind good, several studies concur that salt therapy, or halotherapy, may be good for peoplw with issues like asthma. Don’t worry; it won’t affect your daily sodium intake!
8. Butt Implants
Skip it. We all want J. Lo and Beyoncé’s bootylicious booties (or at least less of that midlife sag), but inserting silicone implants in your derriere? That’s pretty extreme. Let’s start with the risks: With any surgery, there’s a risk of getting a hospital-based infection—some of which are not just nasty, but life-threatening. And then there’s the fact that butt implants may shift and cause your behind to look asymmetrical. You know what’s worse than a flat butt? A crooked one that you paid several thousand bucks for. Instead, invest in workout sessions with a trainer to firm and lift your rear end—it’s a whole lot cheaper that way, too.
9. Fish Pedicures
Skip it. The practice of little fish nibbling on your dead foot skin is banned in most of the United States for good reason—ie., it’s not just creepy, it’s unsanitary. It’s really tough to clean out the fish tanks in between each client, and fish foot spas could potentially spread blood-borne viruses like hepatitis and HIV. And then there’s the fish themselves, forced to feed on unwashed feet. Enough said—get your peds buffed by a nail technician that uses sanitary practices, like disinfecting the foot basin after each client.
10. Beer Hair Treatment
Go for it. This old-time do-it-yourself treatment actually has benefit. Pouring a can of brewsky over your locks before shampooing can help bring outa healthy-looking shine and make your hair feel temporarily thicker. The logic behind the treatment is that the proteins in the beer boost the hair’s volume, while the sugars tighten the cuticle, inducing shine. Downside: You may smell like a keg party.