NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Forget avocado, evening primrose oil or other exotic ingredients, the latest facial to hit New York is a mask made with bird excrement.
The Geisha Facial, available at Shizuka New York for $180, about $100 more than the shop's other facials, contains nightingale excrement.
The Japanese powder, also known as uguisu no fun, is rich in the amino acid guanine, said to brighten and cleanse skin. In the 18th century geishas and kabuki actors used the powder to clean heavy white makeup off their faces.
"I'm always trying to bring Japanese culture and tradition to my spa," said Shizuka Bernstein. "I heard my mother talk about this treatment when I was a little girl."
The Japanese manufacturers of the powder treat it with ultraviolet light to kill bacteria. Bernstein mixes the substance at her spa with finely-ground rice bran to neutralize its slightly musky odor.
She claims the mask helps women achieve a porcelain white quality to their skin.
"I was a little tentative at first," said Andrea Nieto, who recently received the treatment. "But there was no smell. It was creamy and rich."
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Patricia Reaney)