From bee venom to snails, some women (and Simon Cowell) will use ANYTHING to banish their wrinkles

You want me to put WHAT on my face? From bee venom to snails, some women (and Simon Cowell) will use ANYTHING to banish their wrinkles 

  • New beauty treatment in Japan uses snails to deliver antioxidants to the skin
  • It is one of many strange facials currently available on the market
  • The Mail sorts the science from the fiction to find out which treatments work

Are there any lengths we won’t go to in an effort to defy the visible effects of age? The answer is no,  if the latest slimy trend in Japan is anything to go by. 
Earlier this month it was reported that people there are forking out £165 for a facial treatment where live snails are applied to the skin. 
Medical experts claim the sticky gel snails produce contains antioxidants that help the skin retain moisture, and remove dead cells. 
In fact, this freaky facial is far from the most bizarre – but do any of them work? We spoke to the experts to find out.


FACIAL: Live snails slither across the face, delivering antioxidants to the skin. The garden variety are not recommended due to contaminants. This facial is available only in Japan but you can buy snail gel in the  UK (Dr Organic Snail Gel, 50ml, £19.99,

CELEB DEVOTEES: Actress Katie Holmes is said to use the gel.

FARCE OR FACT: Chilean snail farmers noticed they had very smooth hands, and this sparked a skincare revolution. A study released this year showed that daily application of products containing snail slime improved fine lines. A 2007 clinical trial using snail gel on rats showed it was excellent for wound-healing.

EXPERT: Cosmetic doctor Dr Mervyn Patterson at Woodford Medical says: ‘The slimy mucus will have a moisturising effect.’


FACIAL: VIP Stem Cell Facial,  £180, Stem cells are extracted from the placentas and umbilical cords of herds of sheep in New Zealand. The cells are flash-frozen and made into serums, which are applied as a face mask in combination with microdermabrasion, a glycolic peel and red-light therapy.

CELEB DEVOTEES: Simon Cowell and Kim Kardashian.

FARCE OR FACT: Clinical trials are under way – initial results apparently show ‘remarkable improvement in wrinkles and age spots’.

EXPERT: ‘When the placenta emerges from the sheep, it is full of stem cells,’ says Darren McKeown, a cosmetic doctor. ‘But by the time the cells have been processed, they are dead.’ Dr Patterson adds: ‘The glycolic peel will benefit skin tone.’


FACIAL: Harmony Clear Lift, from £125, Light – using a Pixel Q-Switch laser – is transformed into acoustic soundwaves as it hits the dermis (the lower layer of skin) to stimulate firmness.

CELEB DEVOTEES: It’s too new even for A-listers.

FARCE OR FACT: Photoacoustics is the formation of sound-waves following pulsed light absorption in a solid object. In trials the laser has proved its efficacy in skin rejuvenation, and has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

EXPERT: ‘This is a take on the  well-known method of wounding an area in order to stimulate healing and, as such, it may be effective,’ says Dr Patterson.


FACIAL: Rodial Freeze Treatment, £55, Rodial Glamoxy products contain Syn-ake – a neuropeptide which gives a mild freezing effect on wrinkles. This replicates the effect that real snake venom would have.

CELEB DEVOTEES: Gwyneth Paltrow, Cheryl Cole, Kylie Minogue and Sienna Miller.

FARCE OR FACT: Neuropeptides were originally hailed as a viable Botox alternative. Trials conducted by Rodial showed that after just  90 seconds, wrinkles were less noticeable, and there was a 52 per cent reduction within 28 days.

EXPERT: ‘There is some effect, especially in high concentrations,’ says Dr McKeown. ‘But it will be very small compared with Botox.’


FACIAL: The Active Reverse Facial at The Sanctuary Spa, £90, 0845  521 4567 or £175 with Nichola Joss, Developed by celebrity facialist Nichola Joss, this procedure incorporates a massage within the mouth, working on muscles inside the upper lip, cheek and jaw area. It encourages circulation, lifts the face, works on muscle tone and temporarily reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

CELEB DEVOTEES: Keira Knightley and Kate Moss.

FARCE OR FACT: Studies show that sports massages increase blood flow in muscle capillaries, therefore aiding muscle repair. The International Journal Of Neuroscience showed that massages increased serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ hormone.

EXPERT: ‘The increase in circulation caused by manipulation may give the face a health glow,’ suggests Dr Patterson. ‘There will be a temporary improvement in complexion.’


FACIAL: Heaven’s Bee Sting Facial, from £55, The Bee Venom Mask contains natural antibiotics to heal skin and the venom effect increases blood flow, causing cell renewal and increased collagen production.

CELEB DEVOTEES: The Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Cornwall.

FARCE OR FACT: Manuka Doctor, a rival company  to Heaven, has run trials showing that bee venom provides protection against sun damage and has antibacterial properties. It is also used to relieve the symptoms of muscular dystrophy, arthritis and MS.

EXPERT: ‘Bee venom costs about £500,000 a kilo so you couldn’t use much in such a reasonably priced facial,’ says Dr McKeown.


FACIAL: Black Diamond/Venus Freeze Facial at Neville Salon, from £200, Uses Black Diamond 111skin products, developed by surgeon Dr Yannis Alexandris, and based on a compound developed in Russia to offset the ageing effects of space travel on astronauts. It’s applied using a galvanic current, which helps push ingredients into the skin. Then radio frequency is used to stimulate the body’s natural wound repair process.

CELEB DEVOTEES: Cara and Poppy Delevingne.

FARCE OR FACT: Diamonds are being developed in a form known  as nanodiamonds to accurately deliver cancer drugs directly to tumours. It is from these applications that the 111skin Black Diamond range is inspired. Clinical trials have shown a substantial decrease in wrinkle depth and appearance after four weeks.

EXPERT: Dr Patterson says: ‘Radio frequency is likely to be the most effective part of the treatment.’

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