Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. In fact, the closest I ever got to medical school was a failed campus visit that drove me to Japan in the first place. With that said, I am merely reporting here today on the purported merits of bird poo, rather than endorsing it as a safe and effective beauty product.
Besides, I’m sure you’re beautiful just the way you are, so why change a thing? (^_^)
In the olden days of Japan, geisha were – and still are – known for their painted white skin, which was believed to be a sign of beauty, grace and social refinement.
As you might have guessed, the look seems to have some tough competition, especially from the dark-tanned and bleached-haired urban youth of hip neighborhoods such as Tokyo’s Harajuku.
But, old traditions die hard, which is why bird poo is making a comeback amongst Japan’s female fashionistas.
Yup. You definitely read that correctly. Bird poo.
Before you run outside and start rubbing your face against all that pigeon poo on your car’s windshield, keep reading as there are definitely a few things you should know!
Believe it or not, bird poo is one of Japan’s ancient and time-honored remedies for reversing the hands of time.
Of course, we’re not just talking about any old bird poo, but rather the dried droppings of the Japanese bush warbler (鶯; uguisu) or Cettia diphone, a common bird with a distinctive breeding call that is viewed by the Japanese as a herald of the spring.
Drab in color and somewhat secretive by nature, these birds are very difficult to see amongst the foliage in the trees – or amongst the concrete and steel in the cities – though their pleasant chirping sounds are unmistakable.
And so is their poo!
The droppings of the Japanese bush warbler contain an enzyme that has been used for centuries as both a skin-whitening agent, and as a remedy for fine wrinkles. This special bird poo can even remove stains from kimonos without damaging the silk fabric!
While Japan might have lost a fair measure of its history and culture through rapid modernization, an increasing minority is trying to reintroduce the secrets of old. As a result, uguisu powder is making a big comeback, especially at a time when fashion and body image are at the forefront of most Japanese people’s consciousness.
So what’s the catch? Good question.
Bird poo, at least from the Japanese bush warbler, breaks down the melanin in your skin through enzymatic processes, which obviously leads to whiter skin.
Indeed, melanin is something that you want, especially if you’re not keen on increasing your exposure to UV rays. And, it’s worth emphasizing that skin bleaching – along with Michael Jackson – went out of style a few decades ago.
So, while bird poo might not be the latest and greatest beauty secret to come out of the Land of the Rising Sun, it still makes for an interesting story!
** All images courtesy of the WikiCommons Media project **