When it comes to our skin, we're used to being told to keep it clean and use fancy products for optimal results. But not all good skin comes as a result of luxury care and fancy treatments. In fact, that are some pretty weird things that are actually good for your skin. Although they might sound odd, they can help clear up issues from acne to eczema, and they can be a lot more accessible and affordable than indulging in expensive creams and cleansers.
"Sometimes, things or methods used in good skin care aren’t necessarily weird, but unexpected or misinterpreted," dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Melanie Palm, MD, MBA, tells Bustle. "Oftentimes, proteins found in nature or unexpected ingredients provide stimulus to the skin to help tone or texture — or both."
It can take some getting used to when it comes to adjusting your expectations of what is "gross" and what is considered common, but expanding your idea of what is a healthy habit can help improve your skin and make you feel better all around. Here are 15 gross-sounding things that are actually good for your skin, whether you want to eliminate acne, or just improve your complexion overall.
Even if you find mayonnaise repulsive in your food, you may want to give it a chance when it comes to your skin, as it can help provide moisture. "Because it is rich in eggs and oils, mayonnaise is the best natural skin hydrator," dermatologist Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, tells Bustle. You can use it as a face mask by applying it directly to the skin and then rinsing it off with water.
2. Spanish Fly
It turns out insects can be friends for your skin. "In the creatures of significance, Lytta vesicatoria, or known colloquially as the Spanish fly, is a great treatment for a whole host of dermatologic conditions," dermatologist Dr. Richard Torbeck, tells Bustle. "It is used for warts of all kinds, molluscum virus (similar to warts), and other skin growths."
3. Petroleum Jelly
"[Petroleum jelly] seems gloppy, goopy and thick, but wow does it work wonders for dry hands, cuticles, and cheeks in the wintertime," dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky, tells Bustle. "Apply liberally and remove the excess with soft tissue or towel."
4. Your Pet
You might think that having a pet would make your skin worse, but several studies have shown that pet ownership can reduce eczema, allergies, and asthma, especially early in life. "This may seem contrary to many interactions with friends and family members who have or had pet allergies," Dr. Torbeck says. "[But] a preponderance of data is lending more to the 'dirty dermis' theory, whereby exposure as a small child to less than clean environment reduces skin issues. So lick away, Fido!"
5. Not Showering Everyday
For some, not showering daily sounds completely gross, but it can actually be very beneficial to your skin. "Not showering daily helps your body keep its healthy bacteria optimized and helps keep your skin and hair moisturized," Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, medical director of Mudgil Dermatology, tells Bustle. If you have to take a shower daily, consider using warm water instead of hot water, which can help prevent your skin from drying out.
6. Egg Whites
Their texture may be weird, but egg whites have been touted as a home remedy for acne blemishes. "Some people whip them into a meringue and then let this dry on their face, or they mix the egg whites with other DIY ingredients," dermatologist Dr. David Lortscher tells Bustle. "As this dries, it does form a film on the skin that gives a 'tight' feeling." This is better for short-term skin changes, he says.
7. Coal Tar Shampoo
The thought of coal tar sounds dirty and messy and seems to have no business going anywhere near your hair. But the opposite may actually be true. "These thick, black, pungent shampoos can work wonders for itchy dry scalp caused by seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) or psoriasis," Dr. Torbeck says. "This is a tried and true treatment that reduces skin inflammation or irritation."
8. Chili Peppers
You might be thinking, "Spicy food on my skin? No thanks," but chili peppers — or the products from chili peppers — are great for relieving itchy and painful skin. "They reduce the amounts of substance P, which transmits the feeling of pain, by causing a rapid release of it in the skin," Dr. Torbeck says. "This reduces itching burning or overall skin discomfort. It is used in dermatology for prolonged skin itch or it is used in Bengay or capsaicin cream."
You may have been raised not to play with your food, but sometimes, it's OK for your breakfast to get all over your face. "Oats helps reduce itching and inflammation and can be used to calm eczema and heal psoriasis," Dr. Skotnicki says. "[Due] to its healing, moisturizing, and antioxidant properties, oatmeal is also effective in soothing sunburn."
10. Volcanic Ash
Mineral rich volcanic ash can be found in skin products ranging from masks to cleansers to 'lava' scrubs and more. Although volcanic ash is said to pull impurities and toxins out of pores, the most likely benefit is that it acts as a mask or a scrub. "The physical drying effect of any mask or the exfoliating effect of a scrub can decrease the surface dead skin cells, and remove some superficial debris in the pores," Dr. Lortscher says. "But in the case of volcanic ash, the sulfur it contains may be helpful for those with acne, rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis, as sulfur has antifungal, antibacterial, and keratolytic activity."
Getting sweaty may not feel ideal — and you might even feel like it makes your skin worse — but sweating has major benefits for your skin. "In addition to releasing toxins, dirt and bacteria from the skin, sweating also helps to regulate your body’s temperature," Bobbi Del Balzo, Lead Medical Aesthetician at Deep Blue Med Spa, tells Bustle. Getting rid of these toxins can help unclog your pores, leading to less breakouts.
Because of its bright orange color, turmeric may be the last thing you would think to put on your face, but this spice can have some wonderful effects on your skin. "A turmeric face mask may help to decrease the dark spots associated with acne and decrease the inflammatory nature of acne," dermatologist Dr. Jeanine Downie with Kamedis Dermatology, tells Bustle. "I recommend the pill in oral form as well."
13. Snail Extract
If you want good skin, it might be useful to check your local garden creatures. Snail extract is the latest skincare ingredient that can help improve your complexion. "It's supposed to plump creases in the face, battle acne, and fade dark spots," Dr. Downie says.
14. Fungus Extract
It may sound nasty, but fungus extract is an ingredient that can be used to help with skin pigmentation. "Lignin peroxidase is a fungal enzyme that is found in trees," Dr. Palm says. "When the enzyme has its effect on a tree, it causes bleach spots within the pulp of the tree, by affecting the pigment particles of tree pigmentation. This enzyme can be exploited in the skin to brighten, tone, and help with dyspigmentation such as melasma."
15. Cod Liver Oil
Some people are creeped out by the idea of fish, but for good skin, you shouldn't shy away. "Cod liver oil smells kind of funny — even gross — but it is power packed with vitamins A, D, and E in addition to omega-3 fatty acids," Prystowsky says. "It is typically a component of A & D ointment and works great to help heal minor abrasions, burns, diaper rash, or an irritated rear end."
Just because something might sound nasty doesn't mean it's not going to be good for your skin — don't knock it until you try it!