The world’s weirdest, wildest and wackiest beauty treatments
Suddenly the vampire facial sounds like a vibe…
Editor / October 11 2022
We’ve all walked into a waxing appointment (or the fear-inducing like) mentally chanting the ‘beauty is pain’ mantra. Because hey, sometimes it is – boiling wax doesn’t exactly feel fantastic being peeled off the skin, you know?
But just how far are we willing to take the saying? Well, judging by the levels of danger, discomfort and all-around eccentricity people are enduring around the world right now (all in the name of beauty), we’re apparently down to take it right to the ends of the earth.
And that’s exactly where we’ve searched to narrow down the weirdest, wildest and wackiest beauty treatments of all. Let’s just say whoever coined the whole ‘beauty is pain’ phrase was probably thinking more ‘slightly uncomfortable hair removal’ and less ‘setting your face on literal fire’.
So whether we’re talking genuine physical pain (toe operations?!), the risk of it (fire facials?!), or just the toll of fear that comes along with some of the quirkier spa sessions on offer (reptiles as muscle relaxants?!), here are the seven treatments going in our ‘freakily fascinating but not worth the worry’ file. A classic Swedish massage never sounded so good.
The live snail facial
Hailing from: Japan
Designed to: smooth and calm the skin
Emily Ratajkowski crediting a snail mucin essence for her baby-soft skin was one thing but having the critters (in all their alive-and-well glory) literally slinking over your skin is in a whole other kooky neighbourhood. And yet that’s just what some Japanese spa patrons are enduring in the name of anti-ageing. These aren’t just any old sidewalk snails, though – they’re generally treated as (mini, shelled, slimy) celebs within the salons, raised from birth and fed only all-organic carrots, mustard spinach and Swiss chard. So, if you’d rather a moist trail of slime on your face than fine lines, then hey, escar-go for it (sorry). The scientific evidence may be tricky to nail down, but mollusk mucin took off in topicals, so why not treatments?
Image via: Ci:z.Labo/Alamy
The face slap session
Hailing from: Thailand
Designed to: shrink pores, combat wrinkles and tone the face
Judging by the reaction to this years’ Oscars incident, it seemed fairly agreeable that slapping is never a good move. And yet, some people are literally paying to be slapped silly (in an effort to smooth and sculpt the face). Don’t think you can get a ‘good’ slap session at just any salon, though – there are only 10 humans on Earth that know the secret technique of ‘Massage Boxing’ (with only two of them residing outside of Thailand). And get this: the effects from a sole 15-minute session are allegedly able to last up to six months. As for the pain? It’s said to be akin to a ‘little ant bite’.
Image via: The New Paper/ The Moving Visuals Co.
The snake massage
Hailing from: Israel
Designed to: soothe skin and relieve tension
Liken the idea of snakes crawling across your naked body to a nightmare? Oh, how naïve of you! It’s self-care, of course! In fact, in select Israeli spas, serpent massage ‘therapists’ are quite in demand. While the snakes used (ranging from corn snakes to California kings) are all non-venomous (um, we would hope so!), different sized variations are harnessed for different pressure levels. For example, larger snakes help alleviate deeper muscle tensions while smaller ones create a lighter ‘fluttering’ effect. Apparently (we’ll take their word on this as we shan’t be trying it), the kneading effect (and the cold compress-like pressure that these cold-blooded reptiles offer) is rather relaxing. Because, sure, why wouldn’t you feel zenned out with snakes slithering over your back?!
Image via: Getty Images
The ‘Cinderella’ surgery
Hailing from: America
Designed to: reshape toes to comfortably fit into high heels
So apparently ‘toe-besity’ is a thing to worry about now – when will it end?! ‘The Cinderella surgery’ (also referred to as the equally bone-chilling ‘stiletto surgery’) is a strictly cosmetic procedure (AKA not necessarily recommend, you know, health wise) that narrows the foot and reshapes the toes to allow a more seamless fit for your favourite pair of heels. There are variations available based on need (or want, really), with two of the main players including toe-shortening (precisely what it sounds like – eek) and fat injections (where a ‘cushion’ of fat is pulled from another area, like the abdomen, and injected into the sole for added comfort). We’re not even sure stiletto-superfan Carrie Bradshaw would go to these lengths. Flats forever.
The ramen bath
Hailing from: Japan
Designed to: boost collagen levels and metabolism rate
Ever had a bowl of ramen so good you wished you could swim in it? You’re in luck! That very adventure is only one short (okay, long) flight to Japan away! The ‘ramen’ bath that’s all the rage in Hakone contains a pork-based broth (that is allegedly packed with collagen), and utilises the ‘float and marinate’ format to ensure every nook and cranny of your body absorbs it – nice, right? The word on the street is it’s also ace for boosting the metabolism – basically, the more ramen you bathe in, the more you can eat! The best bit about this treatment? It’s a group activity. Not only will you get to experience the glamorous life of a noodle (dreams do come true), but you may also walk away with some likeminded ramen-loving pals.
Image via: Getty Images
The fire facial
Hailing from: China
Designed to: illuminate and refresh the face
“Ah, my face is on fire” may be a common complaint among the sensitive skin crowd, but as it turns out, there’s a treatment (that’s all the rage in China) that takes the saying quite literally. How the hell does that work, you may be wondering? A towel soaked in flammable alcohol (and a skin-nourishing topical blend) is draped over the face (or any part of the body) and then legitimately lit on fire. Don’t panic (too much); it only stays lit for a few seconds, not allowing the fire to physically reach the skin, but getting damn close. The aim is stimulate the skin,kickstarting skin’s collagen and brightness. Call us wimps, but we just happen to think that illuminating and igniting are two very, very different things…
The bull semen hair mask
Hailing from: Britain
Designed to: restore lost proteins and enhance hair health
If you asked us what substance we’d most like our locks to lounge in for hair health’s sake, bull semen would no doubt be at the very bottom. And yet a hair treatment hailing from London sees just that ingredient (ick) being used as a ‘protein-rich conditioner’ (ick, again), massaged into dry/damaged hair and then heated to allow the hair to absorb all of its, um, goodness. The goal is glossiness (as well as enhanced hair health), as it’s able to help restore the protein naturally found in hair molecules (that things like heat damage and environmental elements so rudely steal). There’s blessedly no scent (and at least your hair doesn’t ‘feel’ texture the same way that skin does), but damn, we think we’d rather split ends than semen-soaked strands.
Image via: Mark Thomas/Science Photo Library
Delaney Loane is BEAUTYcrew's Editor (and resident cateye connoisseur). An expert in everything from sensitive skin solutions to lip oil options that won't leave your hair permanently attached to your face, her words have also appeared across mastheads such as ELLE and marie claire.