On the bottle of Calamine lotion, you might see it listed as “ferrous oxide,” but it’s basically rust. It’s what makes Calamine so deliciously pink, and if you ever see a cosmetics bottle that lists “pigment brown 6” or “pigment red 101” as ingredients, it’s in there, too.
Some things are just better the ol’ fashioned way, and when it comes to perfumes, that means that the preferred ingredient for affixing scent to the skin is ambergris, a musky compound that’s regurgitated by whales. (Sometimes it emerges from the whale at the other end.) The interesting thing about ambergris is that the pricier and fancier the perfume (especially expensive French eau de toilettes), the more likely it is to contain this ancient, natural compound, while cheaper versions are more likely to have suspicious synthetic ingredients. Luckily, scientists have recently discovered that balsam fir sap is actually a better perfume fixative than ambergris, so the whales—and their pricy puke—are off the hook.
Hot Pepper Oil
A substance called capsicum (or sometimes capsaicin) is the secret ingredient in lip-plumping glosses that creates that puffy bee-stung look, as well as causes that strange tingling sensation. It tingles because capsicum is derived from hot peppers—the same stuff that gives pepper spray its kick. Since it’s derived from food it’s obviously non-toxic, but it’s definitely an irritant—the irritation is what makes it work. It’s found in many plumping glosses like DuWop Lip Venom and Sally Hansen Extreme Lip Inflation.