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Extreme Beauty: 11 Shocking Things That People Will Allow on Their Face in the Name of Beauty

Beauty: some people will stop at nothing to achieve it. Forget skincare creams and potions: fans of extreme beauty will let everything from poop to placenta touch their faces. Here are eleven of the planet's most bizarre beauty treatments...

1. Leeches

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In Elizabethan times, pale skin was all the rage, which is why Queen Lizzie and her contemporaries happily had leeches attached to their ears to suck away blood and leave them looking washed-out. OK, that was a long time ago. Beauty's come along way since then, right? Well, as it happens, many people swear by ‘leech therapy' these days, too. Among them is Demi Moore, who praises their ‘detoxifying' qualities. Suckers?

2. Bird Poo

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Some people believe that getting pooed on by a bird is good luck. But for fans of the bird poo facial, beauty has nothing to do with luck: for $180, visitors to a New York beauty salon can enjoy having their face smothered in Nightingale excrement, imported from Japan. Originally used by Geishas to remove their thick, white make-up, the bird plop is said to exfoliate the skin and leave it feeling fresh and soft. Victoria Beckham is a fan.

3. Beer

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Alcohol is bad for the skin, everyone knows that. But unlike drinking pints, pouring the stuff on your face can apparently actually be good for it. The home-made beer facial involves mixing an avocado with honey and vinegar, leaving behind a gorgeous head.

4. Sheep Placenta

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Brace yourself for this one. Apparently, scientists have discovered stem cells in the placenta and umbilical cords of mammals that can repair any cell in the human body. That's the thinking behind the sheep placenta facial and serums made with the same ingredient. Celebrity fans include Victoria Beckham (again) and Simon Cowell. Well, if it's good enough for him…

5. Gold

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Cleopatra used to sleep in a gold mask to preserve her legendary beauty – and it seems the Midas touch is coming back into fashion. The 24-carat facial promises to rejuvenate and smooth skin. Needless to say, it comes with a pretty hefty price tag.

6. Snails

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Originating in Japan, this slimy treatment involves having three huge snails placed on the face. As they slither around, the shelled creatures secrete mucus, which apparently has great anti-aging benefits and antibiotics. The snails are treated very well and fed a diet of organic fruit and veg.

7. Urine

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Urine apparently smooths out wrinkles, clears up acne and leaves skin glowing, which is why fans of ‘urine therapy' recommend dabbing it on your face with a wee ball of cotton wool. Before you recoil in horror, check the ingredients of your favourite beauty products: many if them contain synthetic urea. If you're still horrified, just stick to your favourite beauty products.

8. Caviar

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If you thought the gold facial was excessive, imagine having your face covered in caviar. Whilst the delicacy has always been enjoyed at dinner parties of the rich and famous, now they like putting the stuff on their face. The fish eggs are rich in protein and antioxidants, meaning they leave skin glowing and healthy.

9. Bee Venom

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Kate Middleton is rumoured to have had a ‘bee sting' facial before her wedding to Prince William. No actual bees are involved in the treatment itself, but it does involve having the insect's venom applied to your skin. Spas claim it increases circulation, produces collagen and leaves the skin with a radiant glow.

10. A Slap

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Apparently, having your face slapped is a cheaper alternative to Botox and cosmetic surgery. The ancient Thai art of face-slapping aims to help to diminish wrinkles and firm the skin. Tata, a masseuse from Thailand, opened her salon in San Francisco last year – and charges $350 for one face-slapping session.

11. Snakes

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For most people, the idea of having several snakes sliding across your face is the stuff of nightmares. But at one salon in Israel, people pay to have the slippery reptiles crawl all over them. The inventor of the snake facial enjoyed the kneading motion of snakes on the skin and decided they'd make the perfect massage.