The time of year has arrived when we start looking at some of the wacky - and delightful - beauty treatments of 2013.
Although the competition was fierce - tapeworm diet, anyone? - we have compiled a list of the top 10 beauty treatments that half amused - and half confused - us.
1. Fish pedicure
As an alternative to razors or pumice stone, the fish pedicure includes tiny, toothless carp that nibble away at dead, callused skin on feet. The procedure requires the customer to dip his or her feet in a tub of water filled with the tiny fish, called garra rufa, which are native to the Middle East and have long been used to treat skin diseases. But those who are ticklish should probably stick to the usual human-administered pedicure as the gentle gnawing can result in dangerous fits of giggles.
On a more serious note, this quirky "doctor fish pedi" carries a serious risk of infection, especially if the fish nibble on feet with open sores or cuts. The tubs are often not cleaned well enough between pedicures and the fish cannot be disinfected or sanitised between nibbles.
Here's Kim Kardashian freaking out while getting a fish pedicure.
2. Bird-poop facial
While many believe that being pooped on by a bird is good luck, some beauty salons have taken this superstition further and created the "bird poop geisha facial".
The Shizuka New York Skin Care Salon offers a facial where, for $180, beauty seekers will have a steam treatment, aroma therapy and a paste made from powdered nightingale faeces. Mmm.
The poop cream, which allegedly contains skin-revitalising enzymes, offers the "glow" of youth. The bird-poop facial seeks to imitate the make-up of a geisha. The distinguishing feature of a geisha is the thick, white, make-up on the face and neck, a symbol of beauty in Japanese culture.
3. Bull semen hair treatment
Yes, this was a legitimate hair treatment. According to hair salon TheBroot, in Santa Monica, bull semen strengthens the hair shaft, adds shine and promotes growth.
The procedure? The bull's testes are boiled down to a broth then added to the hair treatment for $7. Enough said.
4. Toe-besity plastic surgery
As it has turned out, Cinderella's stepsisters weren't crazy when they cut off their toes and heel: they were simply setting a trend.
As we all know, fat toes do not fit well into slim, sexy and pointy high heels, so the beauty industry has come up with a new way to make sure no woman misses out: "toe-besity plastic surgery".
This involves splitting the toe open and grinding down on the bone and fat inside to narrow toes. Yep.
5. Vampire facial
Although this is probably not for the faint hearted, it has taken off in celebrity land. Just ask Kim Kardashian. The vampire facial rose to infamy after images of the reality TV star's face, covered in blood, spread across all identifiable media platforms.
In this procedure, the doctor draws a couple of phials of blood, which are spun for 20 minutes in a centrifuge, an electrical device that uses high speeds to remove platelets. It separates the blood into components. The blood is then applied to the face using acupuncture-like needles, creating the illusion of youth almost immediately. Or so they say.
6. Thai face slapping massage
The action once reserved for expressing anger and offence has been appropriated to fighting ageing. Thanks to this ingenious massage, it is no longer fanciful to imagine having wrinkles literally slapped out of your face. For $350, Bangkok masseuse Tata in San Francisco will pinch and manipulate the skin with a series of light slaps that can apparently cure wrinkles and minimise pores.
7. Eyebrow tattooing
Despite the fashion world's obsession with furry, caterpillar eyebrows, not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. For some people, thick, untidy eyebrows are a cause of anxiety, which is where eyebrow tattooing comes in. For those not content to leave eyebrow growth to nature, or, conversely, people who for various reasons can no longer grow eyebrows, such as over-plucking, eyebrow tattooing is an alternative.
Eyebrow tattooists claim the procedure can create natural looking eyebrows by tattooing numerous fine, hair-like strokes in place of natural-looking brows.
8. Bee venom
It turns out that bee venom doesn't have to hurt like hell. When used correctly, it can fight ageing by "stinging" the skin into plumpness. Beauty brands such as Abeeco say bee venom consists of "more than 18 substances that cannot be chemically reproduced".
These slow down the effects of menopause by plumping the skin and lessening the puffiness and dryness brought on by hormonal changes.
Bee venom creams are reportedly used by English royalty, with Kate Middleton apparently a sworn disciple. Just hope you're not allergic to bees...
9. Nipple tattoos, or tittooing
Don't like the natural shape, or colour, of your nipples? Perhaps you would like to darken, enlarge or even turn them into a pair of love hearts? Whatever your preference, it is now available with "tittooing".
Formerly reserved for patients who had reconstruction after breast cancer surgery, tittooing has extended to all women - and men - who are not happy with their nipples.
The Telegraph in Britain reported that this craze had swept Liverpool, with eager customers semi-tattooing their nipples to darken, enlarge and define them and the surrounding areola. This apparently results in "perfect nipples", and can last a lifetime with regular touch-ups.
10) Snake massage
Although they may feature rather heavily in horror films as seven-foot monsters hungry for human flesh - or sometimes sneak onto planes - the beauty industry has turn our slippery fiends into useful friends.
The Bali Heritage Reflexology Spa has introduced the "snake massage" in which pythons from 50 centimetres to three metres long are placed on a customer's back, neck or stomach for a massage with a difference.
In the jungle, pythons constrict their prey until the animal is no longer able to breathe. But the spa says the snakes are fed before being put to work on a human back. For $100, it's certainly worth a try.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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