Warning: This post probably isn’t for the squeamish.
I’m familiar with how Japanese geisha began incorporating nightingale droppings into their beauty regimen centuries ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I found that “bird poop facials” are actually quite popular in our modern beauty culture.
A high-end spa in New York City has popularized the practice with what they call their “Geisha Facial;” it uses dehydrated Japanese nightingale feces, or uguisu no fun, as the star ingredient. Its rich enzyme content is supposed to gently and thoroughly cleanse, exfoliate, brighten and clarify the skin. Filled with curiosity (and maybe just a touch of horror?) I did some more research.
The contemporary version of the poopy product is harvested from bush warblers, or Japanese nightingales. The droppings are dried under the sun for a couple of weeks, sanitized under an ultraviolet light (any ammonia, uric acid, and bacteria is removed), and then pulverized into a powder.
I bought this 30 gram bottle from a Japanese shop called Uguisu Poo (you can read more about their manufacturing process here). They have a few different versions of the mask that cater to specific skin care needs; I chose the “Illuminating” version — it did not contain any additional ingredients other than the droppings. The powder is pale yellow in color and, surprisingly, has no noticeable scent. So far so good!
Instructions are very simple and straightforward. To make the mask, I combined 1/2 tsp. (a whole teaspoon was a bit too much for me) of the powder with a little bit of warm water to form a paste (add water little by little — it can get too runny very easily). I spread the mixture evenly over clean, dry skin and let it dry for 10-15 minutes. Finally, I rinsed it clean with warm water. Since the mask hardens when it dries, I expected my skin to feel dry and tight after use, much like how it feels after a clay mask. Surprisingly, my face didn’t feel dry at all — it actually felt hydrated. People with oily skin may even prefer to skip regular moisturizer after use.It definitely feels gentler than clay masks I’ve tried. I’d also recommend using a toner afterwards, to get every last bit of residue off.
After using this mask several times over the course of about a month, I did notice an overall improvement in my skin’s tone and texture. I had some redness around my mouth and nose from healing and existing breakouts and the mask helped reduce some of the inflammation and irritation. My skin is less red. It also feels and looks softer and more even. It seemed to help with lightening red marks from newer, mild breakouts as well. Nothing miraculous, but still a noticeable improvement. It did not do much to combat active acne, however. If you’re looking for a mask to heal pimples, this probably won’t be enough for that. You might be better off with a regular clay mask.
I think this mask would be ideal for most skin types, even those with mildly dry skin. It’s a nice hydrating and exfoliating mask, and it’s quite gentle too. Unless you intend to use it daily, I don’t think an application once or twice a week would be enough to get rid of acne completely, but it is a nice supplement to an anti-acne skin care routine. If you want something that’s different from your standard clay masks, or if you’re into unconventional and/or natural beauty products and want to try something new, I’d recommend this. Would you ever give uguisu no fun a try?