* Oscars red carpet is world's biggest celebrity showcase
* Vampire facelifts, diamond nail varnish among zany
* Academy Awards ceremony takes place Feb. 24
By Zorianna Kit
LOS ANGELES, Feb 17 Hollywood stars wanting to
look their best for Tinseltown's biggest night of the year are
being offered beauty treatments ranging from the lavish to plain
loony such as $250,000 black diamond nail varnish and bird
The Academy Awards on Feb. 24 are almost as much about
fashion as they are about films, with the televised red carpet
arrivals and ceremony drawing an estimated audience of one
billion people worldwide.
It's a night when women - and men - spare no expense to
out-dazzle other Oscar-goers and ends a two-month run of awards
shows to reward the top stars and films of the previous year.
"It's the grand finale to the awards show season so
celebrities pull out all the stops when it comes to fashion and
beauty," said style expert Sam Saboura, a fashion host on the
cable channel TLC. "They're willing to go to any extreme to
perfect their look and make a statement on the red carpet."
In the past, the ever-youthful actress Demi Moore, 50, has
admitted to having leeches put on her skin to detoxify her
blood. Gwyneth Paltrow once arrived at a premiere with her back
covered with circular bruises from "cupping," a kind of
acupuncture said to encourage blood flow and ease stress.
Angelina Jolie told Vanity Fair in 2011 that her sons Maddox
and Pax had pedicures in which fish "eat the dead skin off your
feet" while music impresario Simon Cowell was reported to carry
pocket-sized inhalable oxygen shots to maintain his looks.
This year, there's a twist on the long-practised use of
injectable dermal fillers to smooth facial creases and plump up
the skin. Enter the Vampire FaceLift, which mixes filler with
the patient's own blood.
BLOOD AND BIRD DROPPINGS
Plastic surgeon Paul Nassif, who offers the service in his
Beverly Hills office, says this process involves removing a tube
of blood from the patient, isolating certain components and then
mixing it with a dermal filler to inject back into the skin.
"It's a one-two punch," Nassif told Reuters. "You get an
immediate response from the filler, and the long terms benefits
is new collagen formation, natural volume and healthier skin."
For those who are needle-averse, bird poop could be the
answer to brighter skin. Shizuka New York Day Spa in Manhattan
offers a Geisha Facial, an hour-long treatment that involves
applying nightingale bird droppings in powder form to the skin.
The droppings, which salon owner Shizuka Bernstein imports
from Japan, are said to contain natural enzymes which exfoliate
"There are so many drastic options to exfoliating the skin
like chemical peels and microdermabrasion," Bernstein told
Reuters. "But if you want a more natural approach, this will
give you great results as well. Dead skin is removed, skin tone
is brighter and you're left with a radiant look."
When it comes to hair, Santa Monica-based The Broot, an
all-natural hair treatment bar, has a secret not-on-the menu
ingredient - bull testicles.
Owner Samira Asemanfar said her Persian family had used them
for generations, boiling testicles bought from a local butcher
to extract a broth of protein and hormones that's added to
treatments to strengthen and repair hair.
"Clients have told us their hair felt thicker, more
repaired, more fortified. One client said her hair grew faster,"
BEAUTY ON LOAN
It's no secret that designer gowns and jewels are often
borrowed for the red carpet. These days, many designers have
some last-minute tricks for looking taller and slimmer for the
thousands of photographers and TV crews at the Oscars who
transmit images around the world within minutes.
Hong Kong-based shoe company iiJin has an invisible wedge
inside every pair of its shoes, giving wearers an extra two to
five inches (5-12 cm) in height depending on the style.
Dresses from NUE by designer Shani Grosz all come with
built-in compression fabric to make the wearer look a size
smaller, reducing the need for figure-hugging, slimming under
Accessories can make any outfit but bling from New York
company Fonderie 47 adds more than sparkle. The company melts
down steel from assault rifles seized in African war zones and
partners with designers to make earrings, necklaces, and
Fonderie 47 founder Peter Thum said the company has
destroyed more than 25,000 assault rifles since 2010 with each
piece of jewelry imprinted with the serial number of the gun it
If expense is not an issue, another way to stand out on the
red carpet is to arrive with a manicured set of nails containing
267 carats of black diamonds.
Los Angeles' luxury jewelry designer Azature Pogosian, who
goes by the single name Azature, has created a black nail polish
containing small, full cut diamonds that he said "add a three
dimensional sparkle" when applied on the nail.
Only one bottle exists, on sale at London's Selfridges
department store for $250,000 since last November. But Azature
keeps samples for A-list celebrities, such as Britney Spears,
who wore it in a fragrance advert, and Kelly Osbourne, who wore
it to last year's Emmy Awards.
"It makes women feel incredible," Azature told Reuters.
There is nothing wrong with making someone feel beautiful. We're
not spending money on wars. We're not hurting anyone. We make a
woman feel like a queen."
(Reporting by Zorianna Kit; editing by Belinda Goldsmith and