Uguisu No Fun (AKA Bird Poop Facial) Illuminating Mask Review
In the advertising world, there is a concept called “effective frequency,” which is defined as the number of times a person needs to hear an advertiser’s message before responding to it. I’m of the personal belief that this notion applies on a broader scale – that there is a specific number of times we need to be exposed to any idea before we’ll give it serious consideration. For example, if I’m avoiding sugar, and there is a plate of my favorite cookies (Dark Chocolate Le Petit Écolier, for instance) in the break room, I can walk past it a couple of times without giving in to temptation. But around the fifth time I pass those delicious cookies, I’ve been exposed to them enough that I’ll start to convince myself that it’s okay to eat them, you know, just this once (note: this actually happened on Friday and I ate six of them). In another occurrence, a friend mentioned to me over a year ago that she was doing Whole30. When I looked it up online and discovered that Whole30 is a very strict, 30-day Paleo eating challenge that prohibits all grain, soy, dairy, legumes, sugar, and white potatoes, I thought, “That’s INSANE! Why would anyone do that?” Well, a year later, I would do that, after my sister brought up a desire to do it on several occasions. We Whole30’d together, and though it was a lot easier than either of us thought it would be, I will never again give up soy sauce for 30 days. But as extreme as that Whole30 mind shift was, I think the most impressive example of effective frequency in my life is the subject of today’s review: Uguisu No Fun, also affectionately known as “The Bird Poop Facial” or “The Geisha Facial”.
The first time I heard about Uguisu No Fun, I was thoroughly disgusted by the idea. I continued to be disgusted by it all the way through the tenth or twelfth time it came up in my casual reading. I’ve got no issues with putting snail mucin on my face, or jellyfish extract, or cheese – but bird poop? This was a whole different category of gross. I never did fully come to terms with it, but I did finally get to the point where I’d read about it often enough that my curiosity won out over the ick factor. Damn you, effective frequency!
What is it?
Uguisu No Fun ($23) is a face mask made from nightingale droppings. Though it is a Japanese product (hence the nickname, “The Geisha Facial), the use of nightingale droppings was actually introduced to Japan by Korea between A.D. 794 – 1185. Koreans primarily used the droppings to remove dye from fabric, but the Japanese eventually made the leap to using it as a skincare treatment around A.D. 1600.
The Uguisu No Fun Illuminating Mask is comprised of 100% nightingale feces, which have been UV sterilized. The Uguisu Shop indicates that this product has had all unnecessary components removed, including ammonia, uric acid, dirt, bug exoskeletons, and dead bacterial debris. Though it is comforting to know that those things have been removed, I must admit – the idea that this product was once littered with those items weighed heavily on my mind.
The Uguisu No Fun Illuminating Mask promises to dramatically improve skin tone, pore size, acne, acne scars, discolorations, and overall skin complexion, as well as ensure a radiantly bright and illuminated skin tone.
Uguisu No Fun (nightingale droppings)
Well, I suppose the good news here is that this product contains no fillers. Just pure, UV sterilized, bird poop. The components that are said to make this an effective skincare product are the high urea content, as well as some whitening enzymes that are present in the short intestine of the nightingale.
The production of Uguisu No Fun is very heavily regulated in Japan – in fact, there are only two companies allowed by The Japanese Ministry of Trade to produce it. Uguisu Poo, the maker of the product I’m reviewing today, is one of those companies. The Uguisu No Fun is collected on a free-range nightingale farm, where the birds are allowed to roam free, eat to their hearts’ content, and poop on a huge sheet of sterile plastic. Uguisu Poo then collects the feces and removes the unnecessary components, which leaves about 30% of the collected bird droppings to be gathered and dried under UV lights for approximately 2 weeks. Once the UV sterilization and drying process is complete, the product is then powdered and packed for shipping.
The Uguisu No Fun container is a basic, plastic, white container with a small hole under the flip-top for dispensing the product. It has a colorful label on it, which features silhouette style illustrations of birds beneath a crest-style emblem.
The product itself is a very fine, dry powder when it’s dispensed, and off-white in color. Once mixed with water, the product appears beige. The mixture lightens to a bright white as it dries.
This product has absolutely no smell, and while I’m glad it doesn’t smell like poop, having no smell wasn’t exactly comforting either. Because my mind was so wrapped up in the concept of this face mask being comprised of excrement, my brain was involuntarily attempting to assign various smells around the house to the product on my face. Weird morning breath? WHAT IF IT’S BIRD POOP? Cat just took a steamer in the litter box? OH GOD, IT’S THE BIRD POOP, I JUST KNOW IT. Old food drying up on a dish in the kitchen sink? BIRD POOP, BIRD POOP. I’ve never been as aware of the smells in my house as I was while waiting for this face mask to dry.
The second time I did the Uguisu No Fun mask, I mixed it with rose water instead of regular water. This was a vast improvement over the completely odorless experience, though, inevitably, the thought process I repeated in my mind throughout the duration of the face mask was, “Mmm, roses! Mixed with poop. But roses, just focus on the roses. Poop, poop, poop. Nope, roses. Just roses. Poop. Rose poop. Focus on the roses. FOCUS ON THE ROSES.”
To prepare the mask, I mixed a teaspoon of the Uguisu No Fun Illuminating Mask powder with three teaspoons of water in a ramekin. The first time around, I used regular spring water. As previously mentioned, the completely odorless version of the mask still skeeved me out quite a bit, so I used rose water the second time around.
I stirred the mixture until the powder was completely dissolved, leaving me with a beige, thick-but-not-too-thick concoction. My friend, Coco (over at The Beauty Wolf), also recently tried this face mask and described the mixture to me as “The unholiest of pancake batter.” I don’t think I could conjure a better description of this stuff if I tried.
Once the “unholy batter” was complete, I spread it evenly over my entire face. The consistency is very smooth, and if this had been a clay mask, or a mask made of anything else that wasn’t bird droppings, I would have marveled at how wonderfully silky and fluid it felt as it glided across my skin. As it was, I got through the experience by actively thinking about those UV sterilizing lights. Once applied, it dried in about 20 minutes, at which point the color transformed from beige to a bright, chalky white.
When I set out to try Uguisu No Fun, my intention was to use it once a week for six weeks. I read somewhere that this would show the full brightening potential of the product. Alas, my hang-ups prevented me from getting that far. After I struggled through my second session with the Uguisu No Fun, I knew it would be the last. A lot of the reviews for this product reported seeing results after the first session, and nowhere on the Uguisu Poo website does it actually state that six sessions is needed. I decided I had the data I needed to make a judgment.
I judged this product based on how well it lightened some post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) marks, as well as overall brightness in skin tone. On both counts, I did not see much of a difference between the before and after pictures. I did see some very minor brightening effects, but the PIH marks were virtually unchanged. There was a very minor lightening – almost imperceptible – which was only visible when I looked at the photos side-by-side. To be fair, PIH is a tough thing to deal with – even acids needs 4 to 8 weeks of use to erase these types of marks, so expecting a bird poop mask to accomplish this feat in just a couple of weeks would be pretty unfair. However, I did expect to see at least a little more difference, but no matter how hard I squinted at my before and after photos, the most I could see was minuscule improvement. Comparatively, I started using an AHA gel the week following this Uguisu No Fun experiment, and have seen a dramatic lightening of those same PIH marks in less than three weeks.
There are many reasons I wish Uguisu No Fun had been more impressive. For one thing, there’s something a little bit mystical about the idea of nightingale poop having beauty benefits; like a sort of gross, subverted version of achieving eternal youth with unicorn tears. Additionally, I feel like I had to overcome some mental barriers to use this product in the first place. I always assumed I was very open minded when it comes to experimenting with skincare, but Uguisu No Fun really put me in my place. Although I am actually part Japanese, I’m obviously far too Western to appreciate this product without being disgusted by it. It would have been nice if my mental struggle with this face mask had paid off with glowing, evenly toned skin. Instead, I’ll have to settle for the consolation prize, and that prize is the knowledge of where my skincare limits lie: I draw the line at bird poop.
– UV sterilized
– Odorless (though a little fragrance probably wouldn’t have hurt, in this case)
– The texture is pleasant (if you can stop thinking about where it comes from)
– No fillers
– Conceptually gross
– Saw no significant effects after two uses
Skin & Tonics Rating:
Performance: 1/5 – Saw no major visible effects as a result of this mask after two sessions.
Ingredients: 5/5 – No fillers, it’s sole ingredient is the “active” ingredient – 100% UV sterilized Uguisu No Fun
Packaging: 3/5 – It’s utilitarian, feels and looks cheap, but gets the job done. Easy to dispense product.
Where to buy
I bought my Uguisu No Fun Illuminating Mask from the Uguisu Shop online, where it retails for $23. This product ships from Japan.