Beauty therapy: Sheep placenta more than skin deep

Gemma relaxes as the beauty therapist rubs the placenta-based cream into her face. Picture: Julie Bull
Gemma relaxes as the beauty therapist rubs the placenta-based cream into her face. Picture: Julie Bull
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RUBBING the after-birth of a sheep on your face may sound like a scene from a sacrificial horror movie.

But as I lie waiting for my £185 facial treatment in Harvey Nichols’ Beyond MediSpa, that is exactly what is coming my way.

I have agreed to become one of the exclusive spa’s first customers to try out the latest craze in skin technology – beauty products derived from the placenta of a sheep.

While admittedly I was at first repulsed by the prospect of a placenta-based cream being rubbed on to my face, the science behind it won me round and I was intrigued enough to give it a go.

Edinburgh has been chosen as one of just two locations where the new products will be available.

The technology has already swept America, with celebrities such as Simon Cowell, Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian said to be converts, and now a company called Stem Cell Beauty Innovations (SCBI) is bringing it to London and Edinburgh.

Vicki Cairns, UK sales manager for SCBI explains the science behind the product.

“Basically they take the cells from the sheep placenta and freeze dry them and use the extract from that in the serum,” she says.

“The cells in a placenta have no memory so can make a heart, lung, or whatever they need to make. When you put them on to skin, they can connect to our own skin cells and change our own memory. If you have a wrinkle or blemish, it can make the cell almost like new again.”

While Vicki readily admits the product is “different”, she doesn’t think the fact that it is derived from sheep placenta will put people off.

“A lot of people are using it, like Simon Cowell and Victoria Beckham, as it helps to regenerate those baby skin cells,” she says.

“There’s been the odd question about whether you can use the product if you’re pregnant or if you have a fur allergy, but I haven’t had any adverse reaction to it.”

She adds: “A lot of fruit cells are out there, but an apple can’t connect to our particular cells.

“Mammals are closest to our cells and sheep from New Zealand were found to be the closest to our skin.”

I turn up at the salon looking worse for wear after a sleepless night due to a teething baby and am promised that the treatment can help to reduce dark circles and lines around my eyes.

After filling in a questionnaire and being talked through the process, my skin is cleansed and given a microdermabrasion treatment to exfoliate, remove dead skin cells and open up the pores. My face is then given red LED light therapy to help the stem cells penetrate into my skin, before the concentrate is massaged into my skin, followed by an eye firming cream and finally a moisturiser to end the treatment.

My skin feels instantly smoother, looks brighter and remarkably I look like I have had more than two hours’ sleep. Over the next few days the final results will kick in as the stems cells repair and heal my own skin cells, leaving me with a natural glow and, hopefully, a reduction in fine lines around my eyes.

The O-Placenta-based products are the latest in a long line of bizarre beauty phenomenons to have appeared in recent years.

A synthetic form of snake venom has been created for use in face cream to mirror the neurotoxins produced by cobras, which have a similar effect to Botox, while small fish can be used to nibble dead skin cells of your feet as part of a pedicure.

Other unusual beauty treatments include using sterilised nightingale droppings to exfoliate skin or bull semen to condition hair.

Vicki says that no matter how bizarre a product sounds, people are always willing to give it a go in the quest for youthful looks and perfect skin.

“People that want to try new products will try anything and they always want to try the newest and latest thing.

“Stem cell beauty is going to be a really big thing and I think it’s going to do really well in Edinburgh.”

Jo Morris, director of Beyond MediSpa at Harvey Nichols, adds: “You notice a difference after the first treatment but we recommend a course of three to six.

“It’s a little bit wacky, but our customers are very into their skin care and already know about stem cell science.

“People spend a lot of money on products, but they know they are going to get a result.”

• Beyond MediSpa at Harvey Nichols is offering the SCBI treatment as a 75-minute facial. It costs £185 of £925 for a series of six.