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From Odd to Ordinary: the ABC’s of Unusual Ingredients

Jun 15, 2016 02:00PM ● By Becca Newell
By Becca Newell

It seems every time we step into Sephora, another beauty urban legend has become a reality. Those oft-told tales of natural wonders that your mother’s great-grandma swore by are showing up in a slew of readily-available products.

Whether or not these miracle workers are rooted in any scientific evidence is still somewhat unknown, but the online praise from users is enough to make us stop and take a closer look at a few ingredients we doubt will be considered “odd” for much longer.

A is for Alcohol

Beer isn’t just the libation of choice for summer hangouts and ballgames anymore. Plenty of cosmetic companies are formulating shampoos and conditioners with the sudsy stuff, promising hydrated tresses and frizz-free locks. While scientific data to back these claims has yet to be released, the logic is as follows: beer’s two main ingredients (barley and yeast) contain proteins and B-complex vitamins that, when applied to the scalp and strands, promote strong, healthy hair.

The Beer Rinse

A quick online search of “beer and healthy hair” results in a barrage of posts about the benefits of rinsing hair with beer following regular shampooing. We decided to put this old wives’ tale to the test. Head to to see the formula we used and the results of our two-week study.

We love Lush’s Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo.
($30.95/16.9 Fl. Oz.).

B is for Bees

Beauty gurus can’t stop buzzing about bee venom and its inclusion in a growing number of anti-aging products. Creams and serums formulated with apitoxin, as it’s known scientifically, boast claims of firmer, plumper skin. One study published last year found the application of a serum made with bee venom decreased the number and depth of wrinkles on the face.

No Bees Were Harmed in the Making

According to the American Bee Journal, the collection method—wherein a bee lands on a fabric-covered plate that emits a mild electric shock, causing it to sting the fabric and release venom—isn’t harmful. Unlike being stung, retrieving venom doesn’t remove the bee’s stinger from its body, which would cause the insect to die. Some beekeepers even noticed an increase in the amount of honey produced by the shocked bees in comparison to those not used for venom.

We love Nip + Fab’s Bee Sting Fix Deluxe Cream.
($19.95/50 ml.)

C is for Caffeine

As the least processed of its kind, white tea is also believed to contain the most nutrients and antioxidants out of all tea varieties. It’s no surprise then that it’s becoming a popular ingredient in skincare products that promote hydrated, youthful skin. In a 2014 study with mice, the water extract of white tea was found to improve the rodent’s skin condition, concluding that tea could be an effective wrinkle remover.

A Cup of (White) Tea Keeps Wrinkles at Bay

A 2009 study at Kingston University in South West London tested a small amount of white tea—“far less than you would find in a drink,” says Professor Declan Naughton—and found it “prevented the activities of the enzymes which breakdown elastin and collagen, which can lead to wrinkles.” Among the 21 plant and herb extracts tested, white tea performed the best. And with a large amount of antioxidants to boot, Naughton concluded the beverage could also help to prevent cancer and heart disease.

We love 100% Pure’s Mint White Tea Moisturizer
($39/50 ml).

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