The placenta is a temporary organ that develops in female mammals during pregnancy. It connects the fetus to the wall of the uterus. The purpose of the placenta is to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the fetus. After giving birth, the body delivers the placenta.
Because the placenta is rich in nutrients, its extract has become a popular ingredient in skin care products like face creams and masks.
Most products use placenta extract from sheep. However, some products use placenta extract from humans or plants. The latter is different from placenta from mammals, but some think it offers similar benefits.
Research on placenta skin care products is lacking. Read on to learn about their purported benefits, plus what the science says so far.
Some evidence suggests that the nutrients in placenta extract can benefit the skin. Overall, there’s minimal research on its effectiveness. More studies are needed.
Here’s why placenta extracts are used in skin care:
Oxidative stress occurs when highly reactive molecules, called free radicals, accumulate in the body. In terms of skin health, oxidative stress can lead to conditions like chronic inflammation and skin cancer. Antioxidants are molecules that can neutralize free radicals. This can help protect the skin from oxidative stress.
According to a 2017 article, placenta extract contains antioxidants. Another 2014 study also notes that placenta extract has antioxidant compounds.
Additionally, a 2018 animal study found that porcine, or pig, placenta extract can reduce inflammation in mice by controlling oxidative stress.
Advocates believe that applying placenta extract to the skin can regulate oxidative stress and its negative effects.
The antioxidants in placenta extract might also provide pro-aging support.
That’s because oxidative stress plays a role in skin aging. Oxidative stress can promote signs of aging, such as:
Some research has found that placenta extract can benefit skin aging. For example, a 2019 case report found that human placenta extract injections can reduce hyperpigmentation. Another small 2020 study found that supplements of pig placenta extract improve skin aging in women.
A 2015 animal study also found that a combination of human placenta extract and dieckol, a compound from brown algae, has anti-aging properties.
No specific research exists on the pro-aging support of placenta skin care products for humans. More studies are necessary.
As placenta extract lowers oxidative stress and inflammation, it may also support wound healing.
In a small 2015 study, placenta extract gel helped heal post-surgery wounds in the mouth. A 2015 animal study also found that rose placenta injections improved wound healing in mice.
Again, human studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of placenta for wound healing.
Placenta extract can be obtained from different sources. Skin care products may include:
Some brands use human placenta extract in their products. However, no research exists on the safety and effectiveness of these products. It’s also unclear how they obtain the extract.
This is the most common type of placenta used in skin care products. According to a 2017 article, sheep placenta is rich in nutrients. There are no major nutritional differences between human and sheep placenta.
Plant placenta, also called vegetable placenta or botanical placenta, is the placenta obtained from a plant. Because plants don’t give birth like mammals do, plant placenta is different. But it has a similar purpose.
The placenta, which is located under the pistil of the plant, is where the seeds develop. The placenta helps seeds form, so it’s high in nutrients.
Placenta products are sold in various forms. Often, these products have other skin-friendly ingredients for extra benefits.
Types of products containing placenta include:
Placenta face masks are available as creams or powders, which are mixed with water to create a spreadable paste.
They’re applied like other face masks. You spread the mixture onto your face, then wash it off after a certain period of time.
You can also buy face creams with placenta extract. They’re designed to stay on the skin until absorbed.
Sheet masks are face-sized pieces of fabric infused with serum. The serum has beneficial ingredients for the skin.
The mask is designed to stay on the face for a certain amount of time, allowing the ingredients to soak into the skin. Some brands sell sheet masks with placenta extract.
Due to the lack of research and testing, the side effects of placenta skin care products are unclear.
According to a 2017 article, hair products containing placenta might contain estrogen, the “female” hormone. This may disrupt the body’s level of estrogen, potentially increasing the risk of:
Skin care products containing placenta may pose similar health risks. If you’re interested in using placenta skin care products, use caution. Be sure to buy from a reputable retailer and company.
Placenta extract is used for other purposes, including:
As the antioxidants in placenta combat oxidative stress, placenta extract may also lower inflammation. That’s because oxidative stress can promote inflammation and vice versa.
Dermatitis is a form of skin inflammation. The antioxidant effects of placenta might be beneficial for dermatitis.
For example, in a 2018 animal study, placenta extract from pigs improved contact dermatitis in mice. The researchers linked this effect to the antioxidant properties of placenta extract.
Medication for burns
The wound healing properties of placenta extract may be beneficial for burns.
In a small 2021 study, a gel with human placenta extract supported wound healing. The study only involved 10 adults, so larger studies are necessary.
A 2019 study also found that a gel made of human placenta and aloe vera extract improved burn wound healing.
Placenta can also be dehydrated and placed into gelatin capsules. These capsules are taken by mouth because of the nutrients and potential for mood enhancement. This is meant to lower the chance of postpartum depression.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should not consume placenta capsules. That’s because the process of making placenta pills doesn’t destroy harmful germs.
When used topically, placenta extract may have antioxidant and aging support effects. It may also help with wound healing. Most skin care products with placenta source it from sheep, but some might contain placenta from humans or plants.
You can find face masks, sheet masks, and face creams with placenta. Keep in mind that there’s little research on their safety and effectiveness. Placenta may have estrogen, which could disrupt hormone levels in your body.
Talk with a healthcare professional before using placenta skin care products. They can let you know if the products are safe for you.