10 Unbelievable substances that you probably don’t know are in your cosmetics

You probably knew that, in days gone by, some pretty weird things were used for cosmetics and treatments, but did you know that some of these things are still used today? You won’t find things like the highly toxic lead oxide, which women used to use to whiten their skin, in any modern cosmetics but, hidden behind some bland sounding names, there are some ingredients that might just surprise you. Scientists are able to send people into space and come up with no end of wonderful inventions, but it seems that they still can’t come up with something better than snail slime for anti-ageing lotions, or fish scales for adding shimmer to your makeup! So, get out your lipsticks, moisturisers, and face powders, and check the label on the back, because here are ten unbelievable substances that you had no idea are in your cosmetics.

So what are these substances?

1. Urine

Well, it’s not actually urine that is used in cosmetics, but it is a compound that is found in pee that finds its way into all sorts of beauty products. Urea is used in moisturisers, antiperspirants, and shampoos. One of the reasons that it is used is because it attracts and retains water. Don’t worry, though, it’s perfectly safe, and most urea that is now used commercially is produced synthetically and not actually extracted from urine.

2. Whale vomit

This is an ingredient that you will only find in very expensive French or Swiss perfumes, because elsewhere, manufacturers now use a synthetic alternative. It wasn’t so long ago, though, that ambergris, which is a secretions made in a whale’s stomach, was being widely used in perfumes to make the scent last for longer.

3. Chicken bone marrow

You will find the bone marrow of chickens in moisturisers and face creams. In fact, you might be surprised at just how much animal products are used in cosmetics. Chicken bone marrow is used because it is an anti-inflammatory, and because it is believed that it promotes the growth of new skin cells.

4. Sheep wool wax

Another animal by product that is often used in cosmetic is the oils that are extracted from sheep’s wool. Check the ingredients in most lotions and moisturising products and you will probably find lanolin, which is sheep’s wool wax.

5. Used cooking oil

We are all for recycling, but did you know that waste oil from your local fried chicken outlet could end up in your cosmetics? Fast food joints sell their used cooking oil and it is used in cosmetics because it contains a surfactant that is used in many shampoos and conditioners.

6. Crushed beetles

Your beautiful red lipstick is quite likely red because it has beetle juice in it. The red dye called carmine, which is present in red lipsticks, red drinks, and in some foods too, is extracted from the bodies of little bugs called cochineal beetles. It’s perfectly safe and natural, but this might make might think differently about your bright red lipstick the next time you use it.

7. Shark liver oil

If you have very dry skin, then the chances are that you have been slathering shark liver oil on your face. Squalene is a natural compound that has amazing moisturising properties and, up until fairly recently, the most common source of the chemical was shark livers. More recently, manufacturers have turned to vegetable sources of squalene because of the public concern over shark hunting.

8. Rust

Hiding behind the innocent sounding names of and pigment red 101 pigment brown 6 is none other than rust. Ferrous oxide, or rust, is used in products such as blusher and bronzer to give them their colour.

9. Snail slime

The gooey slime that snails excrete is used in anti-ageing serums and lotions. Snail slime is apparently a good source of elastin and glycolic acid, both of which are used to help people fight their wrinkles. You will usually find snail slime in only the most expensive types of anti-ageing treatments.

10. Fish scales

The shimmer and shine that you see in makeup products is provided by something called Pearlescence, which is the substance that makes fish scales shiny. It’s actually the most widely used fish by product in the world and most of it is harvested from herring.

None of these weird products that are used in cosmetics will do you any harm, but it’s rather odd that scientists still don’t seem to be able to come up with anything better than what nature has to offer.

Stay beautiful!


  1. Kathrine Eldridge
    February 1, 2018 at 7:20 am

    Some of these I knew and some I didn’t. I might have think twice on what I decide to put on my face. Lol!


  2. Zunera Mazhar
    February 1, 2018 at 7:13 am

    Great info hon thanks for sharing


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