Face masks made of nightingale faeces, used in Japan for centuries, are currently resurgent in western salons. But what are the results like?

I am standing in the bathroom with poo all over my face. Let me explain. Face masks made of nightingale faeces, used by elite Japanese women for centuries, are one of the stranger beautifying techniques currently resurgent in western salons. Im giving the cheaper, at-home version a try, to see if theres anything in it.

Do nightingales shoot magic out of their cloacas? More to the point, who wants to be young for ever if it means spending eternity in the bathroom with poo all over your face?

Uguisu Poos facial mask (Uguisu, 30g, 17.99) is manufactured using the ancient no fun making method, announces the website. Sounds right. Only two companies are approved by the Japanese government to make this product, on farms where free-range birds are fed organic seeds. Their droppings are UV-sterilised and micro-organisms, dead bacterial debris, fungal spores, the exoskeletons of insects, etc are removed. Dehydrated and milled to powder, the faeces are then bottled for consumers to slather on their chops. Id feel more comfortable if the stuff was scraped off a trees bark using a credit card. Perhaps, in a sense, it is.

To clarify, no fun translates as bird poo, while uguisu is the species name of the Japanese bush warbler, somewhat different from a nightingale. The Koreans were the first to use bird faeces, to strip dye from clothes. The Japanese applied the idea to skincare, observing how it removed makeup efficiently, leaving bright and clear skin. While it has been used by kabuki actors and Buddhist monks, the technique is frequently nicknamed the geisha facial. Advocates claim it clears acne and reduces the appearance of pores. Can that be worth the voluntary scatology?

No fun: Did the nightingales of Berkeley Square know about this? Is that what they were up in arms about? Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

Doubts abound as I puff a cloud of product from the bullet-shaped container. Sandy in colour, faintly sour, the powder can be added to any face wash, or made up into a face mask. I opt for the latter mixing in a small amount of warm water until it produces a foul pancake batter, which I smear on. Some of it goes in my mouth. Other reviews I have read claim the product is odourless. I do not find this to be so. It smells of a birds wee-poo.

Waiting for the musky mask to dry, I muse on how the language of brightening, skin-perfecting dermatology makes me uncomfortable. In India and in various other countries, creams are sold that say WHITENING on the jar, so at least its clear what youre buying into. Here, theres talk around clarifying or illuminating potions, masking the still active, undisclosed ingredient of everyday beauty products. But hey ho. Lets keep things light!

After 10 minutes the paste has dried to a white finish, and smells even more like well, not pancakes. Hardly noxious, but not exactly pleasant, either. The fact that Victoria Beckham is a fan of guano treatments doesnt make the experience any more palatable. Ive never felt less posh in my life.

I rinse off and examine myself for beauty. My pores do look smaller. Hmm. The skin looks extremely matte, if quite tight and dry. It tingles, the way it would under salicylic acid, which suggests the exfoliating agent is effective. On the other hand, I had to stand in the bathroom with poo all over my face.

Nightingale facials are not ineffective, but they are unnecessary and weird. They possess an exotic hype to feather oneself in; yet the active ingredients are guanine and urea, produced in the colon of the warbler. It would be more straightforward to deflush my cheeks with synthesised urea, but wheres the fun in that?

I know why the caged bird sings, and its not because it wants you to rub its byproduct on your acne scars. Did the nightingales of Berkeley Square know about this? Is that what they were up in arms about? For us, for them, in whatever language we speak, bird poop facials are no fun.

On reflection, Im fine

I dont actually want to become whiter. I already like brunch, vintage shopping and pointlessly walking around, so Im already at risk.

Wellness or hellness?

If the Scatman can do it, no one else should. 2/5

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Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us


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