From freezing our faces to using moisturizers made from our own blood, we've experienced our fair share of bizarre beauty practices here at Byrdie. But we'd never encountered one that involves applying, well, excrement to our faces. With that said, allow us to introduce the so-called "bird poop facial," Uguisu Poo's Uguisu No Fun Illuminating Mask. According to Japanese skincare expert Cynthia Popper, "Uguisu No Fun [which directly translates to "nightingale poo" in English] in Japanese skincare dates back centuries in Japan, pre-Edo period." Historically, Japanese geishas turned to "nightingale droppings" to brighten, illuminate, and gently exfoliate their skin. But it's only recently that the West has taken notice (celebrity bird poo devotees include the likes of David and Victoria Beckham).
So what did we do with this information? Naturally, we placed our strangest Amazon order to date, purchasing pure bird poop straight from Japan.
Keep reading to learn if and how the bird poo facial can benefit your skin.
Pros and Cons: Results vs. Cost
- No scent
- Easy to use
- Results are fast and visible immediately after using
- Smooths skin
- Tightens pores
- A bit gimmicky
- Can be messy
- On the pricey side
The Bottom Line: Yes, It Works
The Uguisu Poo Uguisu No Fun Illuminating Mask is a bit gimmicky, but it definitely delivers visible results. Expect smoother, softer, and more glowing skin after just one use.
Uguisu Poo Uguisu No Fun Illuminating Mask
Best for: All skin types
Uses: Exfoliation, pore tightening, skin softening
Star Rating: 4/5
Potential allergens: None
Active ingredients: 100 percent purified Uguisu No Fun (nightingale droppings)
The Feel: Slightly Grainy
Cleansing my face with bird droppings seemed somewhat upside-down to me, so I opted to use them as a face mask instead. The white bullet tube opened to reveal a yellow, finely milled powder inside. There was absolutely no smell. If I didn't know otherwise, I would have never guessed I was staring at bird poop. Following the instructions, I mixed about a tablespoon with water to form a liquidy paste and slathered it on my skin.
The slightly grainy texture of the mask also does its part to slough away old skin, revealing fresh, bright, and healthy cells underneath. So, first and foremost, the bird poop exfoliates—gently and without irritation. For someone with sensitive, redness-prone skin, this is a must.
There was absolutely no smell. If I didn't know otherwise, I would have never guessed I was staring at bird poop.
The Ingredients: Really, It's Just One
Yes, it's true that the Uguisu No Fun Illuminating Mask has just one ingredient, but there are a few components within the nightingale droppings that make it special.
- Nightingale droppings: It all starts with a nightingale of the Japanese bush warbler variety. Its droppings are collected, sanitized under ultraviolet light, and then milled into a fine powder. When mixed with water, a paste forms, which can then be used as a cleanser or face mask.
- Guanine: Guanine is one of the four bases of DNA. It's also known for its glow-inducing strength. According to Popper, "The key derivative in the 'Fun' is guanine, which imparts a pearlescent luminosity. Today, it's more commonly derived from fish scales and is used in shampoos and pearl-finish eye shadows." Although she adds that now "most companies are using lab-synthesized materials to obtain this finish."
- Urea: Urea is a humectant ingredient that draws in moisture from the environment and helps increase hydration. While urea is found naturally in nightingale droppings, most urea found in skincare and cosmetics is synthetic.
- Proteolytic enzymes: Uguisu No Fun contains enzymes that break down certain molecules, meaning skin surface debris is all but banished.
The Results: The Glow Was Real
The mask dried to a hard, plaster-like texture, and after 10 minutes, I splashed my face with water to break it up. I dried my skin and patted on my favorite Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream ($22). The process was quick and easy, and my skin looked incredibly glowy. Seriously, contrary to what my normal bare face looks like, the results were pretty amazing. It looked like I was wearing highlighter. This made me wonder, was I pleasantly surprised due to low expectations, or was there some real benefit to this bird poo?
The Value: It's a Tad Pricey
Priced at around $30, the Uguisu No Fun mask is a bit on the steep side, especially for something I don't see myself using often. However, if you're an ingredient purist (this mask only has *one* ingredient) and you want to try something new, it's worth a shot.
Uguisu No Fun in Modern Japanese Beauty
Interestingly enough, Popper says modern Japanese women don't turn to this "geisha facial" whenever they need a skin treatment. "It should be noted that most women in Japan are not using Uguisu No Fun," she says. "Japan is home to the best beauty technology in the world, with unparalleled standards in both hygiene and botanically based skincare." Nowadays, Popper says, "There are simply better ingredients and technologies for treating dullness and for cleansing the skin, especially in Japan." Antioxidants, placental and stem cell formulas, and exfoliating acids are all effective ingredients found in modern-day Japanese skincare.
Popper also notes that the West's enthusiasm for Uguisu No Fun might have to do with our projections and assumptions about international beauty. "Ancient geisha skincare mythology is romantic to the Western beauty world, but all told, modern Japanese women aren't buying into it," she says. But Popper does confirm that there are benefits to the treatment: "If you have no problem rubbing refined excrement on your face, and you're getting results, it likely won't cause harm."
Ancient geisha skincare mythology is romantic to the Western beauty world, but all told, modern Japanese women aren't buying into it.
Similar Products: You Have Options
Herbivore Brighten Pineapple + Gemstone Mask: This mask gives you a similar glow, thanks to the exfoliation power of pineapple enzymes. But priced at $48, it is slightly more expensive than the Uguisu No Fun mask.
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads: These pads, priced at $36, aren't a mask, but if you need a way to get a quick glow, you'll want to reach for them. They are formulated with exfoliating ingredients like lactic and glycolic acids that whisk away dead skin cells to reveal a brighter look.
Our Verdict: An Interesting Product
Overall, I had fun using the Uguisu No Fun mask. I might reach for it again out of sheer curiosity and will continue to bask in its glow-inducing benefits, or I might try out other ways to get dewy. Either way, it's always interesting to delve into new beauty practices, culture, and history.