[Ingredient Watch] And You Thought Placenta was Weird.

(Well, except maybe Chandler who pointed out that it’s ultimately just medical waste. Estrogen-containing — and thus most likely breast cancer contributing — medical waste.)

Chickens, that was just the beginning.

And now that we’ve started down this rich-people-will-put-anything-on-their-faces road, I feel more or less honor-bound to tell you that Mom Logic rounded up some other choice options, like NYC’s Townhouse Spa‘s Baby Face Treatment, which contains spermine, an antioxidant present in our “skin, liver, and yes, seminal fluid,” according to Townhouse Spa’s official description of the 75-minute, $250 facial. Just so we’re all on the same page here: Seminal fluid is the $250 way of saying semen. Because sometimes the facial jokes write themselves.

The list also includes TNS Recovery Complex by Skin Medica, a product line that retails for $150. MomLogic reported that it contains “foreskin from a circumcised baby.” I called the company to check on this one and was referred to publicist Stephanie Boccuzza. Stephanie emailed me that TNS stands for “Tissue Nutrient Solution,” and that this line is the “only in the world containing a professional concentration of patented NouriCel-MD.® NouriCel-MD® is a proprietary cocktail of growth factors, soluble collagen, matrix proteins, anti-oxidants and other elements essential to diminish the visible signs of aging WITHOUT IRRITATION.” (Emphasis hers. I hadn’t actually asked.)

Okay, but do they have baby parts? Despite the acronym, Stephanie says TNS Recovery Complex “does not contain any human tissue at all.” So that’s one more urban legend we can help keep in check, though I do have questions about these mystery “growth factors,” since they sound suspiciously like hormone-based ingredients to me. And we generally don’t like hormones on our face for the same reason we avoid them in our milk. (Everyone see the Nicholas Kristof op-ed about how estrogenic chemicals contribute to cancer risk on Sunday? Well, okay, good then.)

In related news, a Glamour beauty editor is “feeling traumatized” because she just discovered that her most beloved skin cream contains an ingredient derived from an aborted human fetus. Oh dear. Right-to-Lifers are in a commenting frenzy. I’m pro-choice, but when we talk about exercising your right to choose, we don’t mean “choosing so the beauty industrial complex can profit off one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face.”

So dear readers, please tell me what I’m missing here. It seems so patently obvious that we don’t want these things in our beauty products  — and yet, the high-end skin care market is swamped with this kind of stuff. Is it some kind of holdover from the pre-downturn days of hedonistic yuppie excess? Does anyone want to make a case for this being an extension of the growing natural beauty products market and a wise rejection of cheap synthetic products? (Oh, except for that pesky potential breast cancer thing. Dang.)

Pictured above: The $300 24-karat gold facial at Veronica Spa and Skin Care in Malibu, CA (via LA Times Magazine), which almost sounds reasonable now. Jeepers.

PS. For those of you still considering the afterbirth experience, here’s a quick product review from Bella Sugar. (Hint: It is not a rave.)



Filed under Facials, Ingredients, products, week 6

6 responses to “[Ingredient Watch] And You Thought Placenta was Weird.

  1. Bio-geek

    In my mind, some of the people who are willing to dedicate that kind of money to high-end beauty products are going to have a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy with their creams. It works well, don’t bother me with your petty morality and silly things like cancer.

    On the topic of the Glamour Aborted Fetus cream, let’s be realistic about it. A woman has an abortion (“reportedly out of medical necessity”) and is offered the opportunity to help burn victims (and other causes) by using the tissue of the life that was never able to come to be. She thinks about it and, like organ donating, realizes that the end of one life can improve others. So, she does and that tissue sample is grown in a lab. What was once a few cells from the fetus is now a bank of millions of cells, their origin is now a distant memory.

    Then we consider what works well with the human body. Well, the molecules produced by the cells, yes? So, those can be produced by stem cells and voila, you have a cream that has a certain synergy with your skin. It’s also important to remember that just because something is a hormone, doesn’t mean it’s testosterone or estrogen related. Even cholesterol is a hormone.

    Is it right that, in addition to being used to help burn victims, etc, these fetal cells are being used to make ladies pretty? I don’t know, that would take a longer debate for me. But is it bad for you simply because it was produced by human cells? Certainly not, being a series of connected organs, we sort of use human cell created compounds all the time.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s good for you either…

  2. mary

    With regard to these product topics, I’m interested in your take on full page (A7)”FEED” ad in the NYT today….. Spend $50 on 3 tubes of lip gloss in a FEED “pouch,” and provide food and job training to 10 “disadvantaged women” through the U.N. World Food Program…..

    Can our ace beauty investigator tell us anything about Bobbi Brown and Lauren Bush and what they are up to? How many $$ of $50 purchase goes to World Food Program?….. What’s with the cute little copies of “feed bags” for farm animals? –Is this mix of faux-farm and “feeding women” appeals creepy, or what? And what’s the story with whether these are environmentally/humanly safe cosmetics? Who makes them, where, under what conditions?

    –Admittedly I’m in a knee-jerk anti-marketing mode here. Interested in whatever you know about this brands and your thoughts….

  3. Chandler

    Um, for the record I did not say using medical waste for beauty reasons wasn’t “weird” (I believe my exact words were, “I wouldn’t want a face full of baby blood,” and you don’t see me using amputated limbs for home decor either). I just said that I don’t see what’s wrong with it if there’s transparency at every step of the process: telling donors what their placentas would be used for, and giving accurate, peer-reviewed scientific information to consumers about the effects of those placentas when used in beauty products.

    I’m not going to judge anybody else for what they decide to put on their face or in their body, even if it grosses me out or seems like an unnecessary risk. What’s creepy to me about all of this is the “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude Bio-geek refers to, which seems bizarrely common across this industry. I guess that because the beauty industry is selling dreams — of eternal youth, of transformation, of quick fixes — they’re able to get away with being hazy on the specifics in a way that, say, the auto industry can’t. (Putting placentas in a product with no hard evidence of what they do is a bit like selling a car with airbags that have never been crash-tested.) But women — and men — should be smart and empowered enough to realize that’s not acceptable and demand greater accountability from the companies whose products they buy.

  4. Marian

    What is the average price for a facial. In 4 star hotels they routinely run $200+ so $300 for a “gold” facial would probably seem reasonable to many of their customers. Even if anyone really believed there was anything more than yellow coloring in the stuff. Does there have to be a de minimus perventage of actual gold? How do they prove it is 24 carat?

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