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What is it?

“The placenta is an organ which links the fetus to the mother in mammals for the transfer of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus and fetal waste products to the mother… Human and animal placentas are also used as a source of extracts for ingredients in various consumer products such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, hair care products, health tonics, and food products other than ritual consumption by the mother or family.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

This ingredient is derived from animals or humans.

According to the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) placenta “Contains waste matter eliminated by the fetus. Derived from the uterus of slaughtered animals.”

The placenta is a temporary organ of female mammals that connects the fetus with the mother. After the mother has given birth, the placenta starts to separate from the uterus and is shortly be expelled.

The placentas used in cosmetics are common to originate from horses, sheep, swine, or bovine. But there are also products that contain human placenta.

In the EU it is illegal to sell cosmetics that contain human biological elements. But the laws prohibiting and restricting ingredients derived from humans in cosmetics are not the same in all countries. There are reports that some international companies source their human placenta for their cosmetics at maternity wards in Russia, while other companies do not want to reveal their sources. Critics argue that without full transparency of the sources, the ethical considerations overweigh the questionable, and often unscientific, benefits that the cosmetic companies claim that human placenta has. Without knowing the sources of the human derived ingredients, one cannot determine if it the placenta has been taken with or without consent, neither with or without compensation.

It is advised that children do not use ingredients that contain placenta. According to a research article from 1998, four girls between 14 months and 93 months started to develop breast or pubic hair within 2 months after they started using estrogen and placenta-containing hair products. The early sexual development stopped when discontinuing the use of the hair products.

The FDA generally urges to caution of bovine derived ingredients, placenta included, in cosmetics if it is sourced from a country affected or at risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ((BSE) more commonly known as mad cow disease).

How is it used?

In cosmetics it is usually an extract of the placenta that is being used. Placental extracts are marketed as conditioning, antioxidant and anti-aging agents, supposedly improving skin and hair’s elasticity, add hydration and overall health. But perhaps most well known is placenta as a wrinkle reducer, although there is little to no evidence or scientific studies to back these claims from the cosmetic companies.

The ingredient can be found in various medicines and cosmetics* such as creams, shampoos, masks, and other similar products.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

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