Just because something sounds bizarre doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial, and when it comes to our beauty routines, there are some wacky, unique, and downright fascinating ingredients that enhance our skincare. From spicy stimulants that jumpstart circulation to edible items that seem more likely to appear on our dinner plates than in our daily beauty regimen, here are six interesting ingredients that you might be surprised to find in your favorite beauty products.

Snail Slime + 5 Other Weird Skincare Ingredients

Cherry Peppers

Despite packing heat that’s similar to a jalapeño, you might be surprised to learn that cherry peppers are used in some beauty products to invigorate the skin and increase circulation. “Not only can these peppers be used to spice up authentic South American cuisine,” says Erin Bruton, Owner and Lead Aesthetician at EB Skin in Nashville, “but at EB Skin, we use this unusual ingredient to fire up the skin cells!” In fact, cherry pepper extract is the main attraction in the EB Skin Cherry Pepper Peel, which happens to be used in their natural Sorella Apothecary facial treatments.

“Cherry Pepper peel is recommended for normal to combination skin types and can be used to treat aging, dullness, large pores, and acne breakouts,” says Erin. “While this product is probably best left in the hands of professionals, some clients with tolerant skin may also use it as a weekly smoothing at-home treatment.” So, if you’re looking for rosy, vibrant skin, the cherry pepper peel might be the way to go. Who knew?

Cherry Pepper peel from EB Skin in Nashville

Spicy cherry peppers kick things up a notch in products like the cherry pepper peel at EB Skin. Image: EB Skin

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Mung Beans

Chock full of antioxidants, mung beans are a staple in many Asian dishes, both sweet and savory. Mung beans are so rich in nutrients, in fact, that it makes them a stellar ingredient in beauty products, too. “Due to the multitude of benefits of mung bean, it can be considered a skincare powerhouse ingredient,” explains Morgan Kelly, Director of Education and Training for The Indie Queens, which provides products to Woo Skincare and Cosmetics in Atlanta. One such product is the RéVive Masque de Radiance, a brightening and moisturizing mask containing mung bean seed oil. “It boosts the radiance and brightness of the skin when used topically,” says Morgan. “Mung Beans are also packed with phytoestrogen, which promotes the collagen and elastin strength within the skin.” In fact, it’s so effective, you can watch the color transform as it sits on your skin and works its magic.

A.bowl and scoop of mung beans

Révive Masque de Radiance, containing mung bean seed oil, can be found at Woo Skincare and Cosmetics in Atlanta.

Snail Slime

You’ve likely heard of K-pop, but have you heard of K-beauty? The ultimate goal in the uber-popular Korean beauty trend, it seems, is achieving luminous skin via a multi-step process. However, Korean beauty products seem to have a unique way of achieving that goal, using quite a few ingredients that seem a bit out of the ordinary. Perhaps one of the more controversial ingredients found in Korean beauty products, snail mucus tends to throw people for a loop. Despite the initial shock over the idea of using snail slime, it turns out snail mucin offers its share of benefits such as restoring hydration, improving wrinkles and scars, repairing damaged tissue, slowing the aging process, and treating stretch marks. No wonder K-Beauty has seen such a surge in recent popularity!

“I think Korean skincare has become more popular because the COVID pandemic has caused an epidemic of decaying mental health,” says Korean-born, Charlotte-based (and Tik Tok famous!) doctor Zion Ko Lamm. “It’s almost like our mental and spiritual selves have seen too much sun. By creating a holistic skincare routine, it’s a way we prioritize self-love and self-care. By incorporating mindfulness and meditation into our skincare routines, we’re helping to maintain a healthy glow both inside and out!”

A snail on a leaf

Snail mucus in beauty products? Believe it or not, yes!

White Tea

Full of anti-inflammatory properties, green tea is a relatively well-known ingredient in everything from moisturizers to antioxidant masks. But did you know white tea can be even more beneficial? “We include white tea, Camellia Sinensis leaf extract, in our Behind the Scenes Color Corrector product,” says Jocelyn Atkinson, founder of Dermaflage in Memphis. “Made from the same plant as the more well-known ‘green tea extract,’ it is less processed and therefore has higher catechin and antioxidant value than other tea.” A trick to mask skin discoloration, the corrector uses opposing colors on the color theory spectrum to counterbalance redness and reduce inflammation. “Many products contain green tea,” says Jocelyn, “but fewer have white tea extract. Very few, if any, are a green color to effectively hide redness!”

Three-tone concealer with a cup of green tea and a spoonful of green tea powder.

Dermaflage in Memphis utilizes white tea to enhance its color corrector. Image: Dermaflage

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Licorice

You may or may not be fond of the taste of licorice. Either way, having it in your skincare certainly has its benefits. In fact, it provides a brightening effect by gently fading unwanted dark areas of your skin, and preventing hyperpigmentation. It’s also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. “Licorice root extract is a unique skincare ingredient found in our best-selling Conceal + Concealer by Fitglow Beauty,” says Kate Zills, owner of Made Simple Living in Birmingham. “It not only works as a concealer to camouflage problematic skin and to conceal under eyes, but it also works with your skin to improve its look and condition.” While not commonly used in concealer, licorice root extract is a fairly common plant-based alternative to brighten skin, such as in the Vitamin C Serum from Brittanie’s Thyme in Union Springs, Alabama. You can also find it in supplements to balance hormones and as one of the main ingredients in products meant for soothing irritation such as acne and eczema.

Fitglow concealer

Licorice root extract lends some brightening power to your beauty products. Image: Made Simple Living

Marshmallow

Does the idea of marshmallows elicit visions of s’mores by the campfire? You’re not alone. Nevertheless, strange though it may sound, you might find a healthy dose of marshmallow root among the ingredients in your favorite cleanser or lotion. “One of the most interesting ingredients we have in one of our organic skincare lines, Naturopathica, is marshmallow root,” says Tami Sprintz Hall, owner of Nashville’s Escape Day Spa. “You can find it in three of our products, including the Marshmallow and Ceramide Sensitivity Soothing Serum, the Marshmallow and Microalgae Sensitivity Soothing Cream, and the Marshmallow and Probiotic Sensitivity Soothing Cream Cleanser.” In fact, you can experience all three products in Escape’s marshmallow soothing facial, which offers immediate relief for sensitive skin, calms inflammation, alleviates redness, and restores hydration. You can also buy the products separately for daily home use. “The products nourish and help prevent visible signs of premature aging,” says Tami. “The hydrating marshmallow extract soothes even the most irritated and compromised skin.”

A marshmallow facial at Escape Day Spa and Salon.

Marshmallow is known for its soothing properties. Image: Escape Day Spa & Salon

Ready to think outside the box? Try one of these creative and invigorating products or treatments, and enjoy a new skincare experience!

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