The 6 Most Horrifying Ingredients in Everyday Cosmetics

#3. Diatomaceous Earth aka Dead Algae

You Might Have it in Your...

Acne treatments, facial cleanser, exfoliators.

Diatomaceous earth (which we shall hereby call DE because it's a lot easier to type) is the fossilized remains of single-celled algae called diatoms. And what's so disgusting about that that? Well, these are the same little blighters responsible for making your fish tank turn slimy.

Having a few million years on their hands, the tiny little organisms gathered together to bemoan their rough life at sea and dream of happiness in a luxurious fish tank. Over time, nature forced them together so tightly they formed a sedimentary rock known as diatomite, which is actually not the thing that we thought it was when we first heard the word.

The dead algae rock is recognized primarily for its abrasive nature; it is easily crumbled and the grains have a sharpness that is just perfect for slicing troublesome ants in two, or for cutting intestinal worms to death. That's about as badass as a rock made from dead slimy shit can get.

"But I'd Never Use Tha-"

We'll just stop you right there, because the chances are if you've ever used an exfoliating body scrub, you've actually spent time rubbing dead fish tank algae all over yourself. Whilst DE is known to be damaging to some creatures, the grains are too small to do any cutting-based damage to humans, and are still rough enough to remove those pesky, dead skin cells that build up over time.

Interestingly, the Body Shop invites you to buy its Aloe Gentle Exfoliator, which it does it by promoting how its natural "...jojoba beads, which are round is in shape, glide smoothly against skin's surface to gently exfoliate even the most delicate skin." That's a filthy lie. You're not going to exfoliate shit with round jojoba beads. You need the jagged edges of DE, which you can find sitting inconspicuously in its ingredients list and mentioned nowhere in its ads.

#2. Guanine aka Fish Scales

You Might Have it in Your...

Shampoo, nail polish and other personal products.

Guanine shows up on product labels as CI 75170, or to give the more beautiful label bestowed on it, natural pearl essence. Hell, that doesn't sound so bad. It comes from pearls, right?


Despite it sounding like the perfect gift for Nana's birthday, natural pearl essence actually is a by-product of one of the smelliest industries we know. Put all thoughts of oysters out of your mind because natural pearl essence is actually made by processing the scraped-off scales of dead fish and suspending them in alcohol.

"But I'd Never Use Tha-"

Sorry to point this out, but yes. Yes, you would. While having nothing to do with pearls, this derivative of guanine does have a similar iridescence to oyster jewels, so it is frequently used in the cosmetics industry to add a certain luster to their products.

Like this.

So, if you've ever used a colored polish to brighten up the bitten stumps called nails found at the end of your fingers, the chances are you've spent time brushing dead fish scales over your hands, because natural pearl essence is a favored ingredient in a a shit ton of nail polishes. Top brands who have CI 75170 listed in their ingredients include Bourjois and Maybelline.

Some companies have even managed to train fish to apply varnish directly!

#1. Cholesterol

You Might Have it in Your...

Face creams, moisturizer.

Yes, we are talking about that naturally occurring waxy substance responsible for clogging up your arteries.

Found in cheese, milk, beef, pork and pretty much every damn thing that tastes good, cholesterol crops up everywhere. Which is why we're constantly told it's bad for us and will clot our arteries like grease in a drain pipe.

You've already guessed that you or someone you love has smeared this on your face at some point.

"But I'd Never Use Tha-"

You see, cholesterol is found in another important place: your skin. And, more importantly, animal fat. It is one of the components in the uppermost layer of your skin where it helps to retain moisture while protecting the lower layers from exposure to the elements. Thanks to its skin conditioning and emollient properties, cholesterol is an ideal ingredient for helping the skin to retain moisture, which in turn helps to smooth out any wrinkles that have had the audacity to appear.

"Hurry, wipe this cheeseburger on your cheek!"

We can't help but notice that there isn't even a fancy sounding name to disguise the use of cholesterol in these anti-aging creams, including L'Oreal, Dove and Elizabeth Arden. We can only assume that this is because the anti-wrinkle cream branch of the industry is so confident of the need of the aging population to keep their youthful looks intact, they assume that there is simply no limit to what these people will rub into their faces. Considering they sell something called Snail Gel in the UK, they might not be wrong.

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For other disgusting things you treat yourself to every day, check out 5 Horrifying Food Additives You've Probably Eaten Today. Or learn about other things not meant for your meatbag (that turned up there), in The 7 Most Horrifying Things Ever Discovered in a Human Body.

And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 08.09.10) to find out what the kid at Starbucks did to your coffee.

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