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BEAUTY TIPS, TRICKS & TALES FROM THE TROPICS

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Asian Beauty Ingredients Discovered: Placenta in Skincare


Upon my arrival last summer, a large, nationwide outdoor advertising campaign promoting Horse Placenta pills was to be seen everywhere in Singapore. In Europe, I had heard of placenta in skincare before, which -not surprisingly- was labelled Frankenstein Business and served as a very vivid illustration of how far people go for beauty, mentioned alongside bee venom and bloody Dracula facials. What astonished me about this campaign in Singapore was the fact that the consumption of placenta was promoted to a larger public: apparently, placenta as an ingredient or supplement is no shady backdoor business in Asia and targets the masses instead.


In Singapore and most other Asian countries, consumption of placenta is not limited to pills containing horse placenta. Companies are selling placenta from horses, sheep and pigs in a plethora of formats, like drinks, capsules, skin creams and facial masks. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using placenta medicinally for thousands of years. Li Shizhen, still considered to be the greatest scientific naturalist of China, first wrote about placenta as a medicine in the 1500’s.When eaten, dried human placenta aids women in the recovery from childbirth, lost hormones restoration, lactation augmentation, shortening bleeding time, and preventing post-natal depression. When extracts of placenta are used in skincare, it is believed to support the skin’s renewal system to repair and rejuvenate ageing cells and damaged tissues.


What does placenta promise for my skin?


The placenta or afterbirth is a temporary endocrine organ that connects the developing foetus to the wall of the uterus, to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination and gas exchange via the mother’s blood, fight against internal infection and produce hormones to support pregnancy. The placenta is also responsible for the production of steroid hormones (progesterone and estrogen) and protein hormones (chorionic gonadotropins, placental lactogens and relaxin).

The common believe is that, as the placenta’s role is to carry growth factors, oxygen, blood and nutrients to a growing foetus, these cell growth factors in placenta boost collagen production, rejuvenate deteriorating cells and tissues to restore the skin’s youth and vitality. As stated, it is a believe, and so far there is no scientific evidence whether or not placenta has a positive or negative effect when applied to skin – there are as many assumptions pro as con. On the one hand, placenta contains a number of nourishing components that could be beneficial for skin. On the other hand, endocrinologists warn that there is insufficient knowledge regarding the long-term effects of growth hormones used for anti-aging like placenta skincare. 

I wasn't particularly looking forward to smear placenta on my face, but after this note on possible dangers of growth hormones, I really start to resent it. Moreover, the fact that placenta used in skincare comes from animals raises quite some ethical questions to me personally, but none of the other sources seems to be concerned with this...


PRODUCT REVIEW: White Label “Premium Placenta Eye Cream”



The product that I decided to test is Miccosmo’s White Label “Premium Placenta Eye Cream”, that promises me intense care for dark eye circles and wrinkles for eyes. As I continue reading, the promises get even better:

“Placenta is a substance to inject into the eyes that cosmetic surgery used for coping with dark eye circles. The effect appears quite fast and at the same time there is brightening effect as well.”

Please note that this description in broken English aren’t my own words, but is literally what the packaging says; I presume that ‘inject into the eye’ is a translation error and must not be taken literally!


Miccosmo is a Japanese brand that offers a wide variety of skincare products with placenta under the name “White Label”. All products are advertised by an innocent looking, beaming baby. First I was afraid that the newborn was a hint to the placenta he/she just let go off, but fortunately the website says the following:

“This is a new texture eye cream with a generous amount of placenta extract, which will make your eyes look brighter immediately. With the soft focus effect, your eyes will be like a baby's eyes immediately after applying the cream. The cream also contains collagen and hyaluronic acid to give extra firmness and moisture to your eyes.”

The Placenta extract that is used, is sworn to be limited to “only carefully-selected Japanese-made placenta extract”. What kind of placenta is used, is not further specified in the ingredient list, nor on company’s website. This question is quickly answered though, as the product that I bought in Singapore has a sticker on it that says “contains ingredients not suitable for Muslims” - so, pig’s placenta it is!


The cream is white but has a very light pinkish hue to it, and is fragrance-free. Upon application aroud my eyes, it actually feels pretty good; smooth and nourishing, but not heavy or sticky. It blends in very quick and doesn't leave any residue on my skin. Texture-wise I definately like it!

But what about the effects? I have tried this product for a full week, using it twice a day. 




From left to right (second row magnified): 
(1) Day 1 - Bare Skin (No Cream) 
(2) Day 7 - Bare Skin (No Cream) 
(3) Day 7 - Cream just applied

On the short term, the cream promised fast effects for the dark circles under my eyes: "your eyes will be like a baby's eyes immediately after applying the cream". Well did they?? See above and judge for yourself. I think a difference between the middle and right pictures can be noticed, but it's not necessarily better or more baby-like in my opinion.

On the longer termfirmness and moisture was promised to me. I must say, the cream did make the skin under my eye look and feel a bit firmer and better moisturized, but not in any larger degree than most other eyecreams do. However; if you compare the pictures in detail, it does seem like the fine lines under my eye were a little bit deeper a week ago (i.e. before using the Placenta Eye Cream). Although this is a great result, it could be due to other ingredients in the cream as well - I will try out another eyecream of Miccosmo (there is quite a large product range available) to see what a similar product without placenta does - I will definitely share the results with you!


CONCLUSION:


Although the cream has a very pleasant texture, is absorbed by my skin very well and does seem to smoothen fine lines, it only partly delivers what it promises - no significant immediate effects. Moreover, it can't be said whether the improvements are caused by the placenta or whether it should be attributed to other ingredients in the cream. Further research will be conducted and shared with you :)

I nevertheless decided not use this product, or any other product with placenta, again, until more scientific research is done regarding its effects on skin - in particular on any possible negative effects of hormones in skincare. In addition, I have my doubts on animal welfare as placenta comes from sheep, horses, pigs and deer. 

So unless placenta hormones prove to be save and the placenta comes from a well-cared for mother pig that hapily jumps around in a big green field with her baby piglets that are not bred for (mass)consumption (keep dreaming...), I will not come near anything with placenta unless I have to.

Miccosmo "White Label Premium Placenta Eye Cream"
Tube of 30ml for 16,90 SGD.

I bought this product at John Little Department Store in Plaza Singapura, but basically all drugstores and perfumeries have products with placenta. 

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2 comments

  1. Throughout history, sheep placenta benefits are well known and has been used as a beauty and health supplement in China and Europe. However, not all sheep placenta products or supplements in the market are reliable. CellLabs CLASSaaNTA sheep placenta contains active growth factors, antioxidants, immunisation molecules, essential lipids, nucleic acids, silk amino acid, and hundreds of other components that speed up our body’s healing process, promotes cellular growth and slows down ageing. Read more at:
    http://kidbuxblog.com/great-deals-on-age-delaying-sheep-placenta-extract/

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    Replies
    1. Hi there, thank you so much for your comment - I will definitely check out the link you sent me, always interesting to learn more!

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