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Is snake oil good for your skin?


Maggie hisses this question: My teacher says that beauty products are really just snake oil. Does that mean they’re poisonous?

The Left Brain slithers a response:

Actually, Maggie, the term “snake oil” is usually used to imply that a product is fake or ineffective. Real snake oil, according to Wikipedia, comes from China, where “it is used as a remedy for inflammation and pain in rheumatoid arthritis and other similar conditions. Snake oil is still used as a pain reliever in China. Fats and oils from snakes are higher in eicosapentaenoic acid than other sources, so snake oil was actually a plausible remedy for joint pain as these are thought to have inflammation-reducing properties.”

After Chinese rail-road workers introduced snake oil to Westerners in the 1800’s, “The snake oil peddler became a stock character in Western movies: a traveling “doctor” with dubious credentials, selling some medicine (such as snake oil) with boisterous marketing hype, often supported by pseudo-scientific evidence, typically bogus.”

Given the history of the ingredient, it’s not surprising that Haiying Cosmetics in China markets Seabion Whitening and Moisturizing Lotion with, you guessed it, Snake Oil extract.

There’s no mention of joint pain, but the product supposedly replenishes moisture and nutrients, promotes skin metabolism and prevents damage from cold weather. But let’s face it, almost any decent skin lotion will do all those things.

Despite the “natural” angle, I’m guessing Snake Oil products wouldn’t sell very well here in the States.

And tell your teacher that he or she should visit the Beauty Brains!

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Juliet March 10, 2016, 9:33 am

    Am a Nigerian with interest on natural skin in care. I decided to research more on our ancient traditional beauty products, because I saw one work magic. My granny had an accident in 2006 a fatal one luckily she was the only survivor but was left a huge scar but the scar all melted away leaving no dark patches, peels off dead skin. I decided to research more on the side effects considering that snake is poisonous.

    • Adeolu July 28, 2016, 11:16 pm

      Hello. Im glad to hear about improvmeny in your granny’s scar.
      Please for about how long did she have to apply this oil?

  • Tesfaye February 1, 2017, 8:46 am

    I want to use snake oil for hair treatment, because may hair is become damage. so how can I use it? and for how long?
    Thank you.
    Tesfaye from Ethiopia AddisAbaba

    • Randy Schueller February 3, 2017, 7:47 am

      I’m don’t know how to source snake oil and I’m not aware of any scientific data that suggests it will do anything for your hair. I suggest saving your time and money and looking for another more conventional product.

  • Dokass June 1, 2017, 7:52 am

    I am a Nigerian my sister had some accident from cooking gas. Although the burn after it healing was left with annoying scars. She was ask to use snake oil on the scare, right now her skin us becoming more beautiful to look upon. It works trust me for this kind of situation.

  • Obinna June 16, 2017, 5:14 am

    just had an encounter with armed robbers,and they tore my face few days ago and have been looking for a way to remove the scar,tho the suture has not been removed

  • okogun Monica July 21, 2017, 6:14 am

    I av stretch mark can snake oil cleared it

    • Dave October 6, 2017, 7:01 pm

      If you are in the U.S and have keloid scar, striae (stretch marks, or skin problems then worry no more. Text me on 281 884 9935

      • OLIVIA SMITH January 21, 2018, 9:46 pm

        I have hyperpigmentation and ance scars, please help me I’ve tried everything I just want to peel and look beautiful

  • Kate yayra kpei February 27, 2018, 12:37 am

    Hello please, can python or snake oil clear scars and blackspot on my legs and hands faster?

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