What are the benefits and risks?

The placenta is a temporary organ that develops in female mammals during pregnancy. It connects the fetus to the wall of the uterus. The role of the placenta is to supply nutrients and oxygen to the fetus. After childbirth, the body releases 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 sheep placenta extract. However, some products use human or plant placenta extract. The latter is different from the mammalian placenta, but some believe it offers similar benefits.

Research on placenta skin care products is lacking. Read on to learn more about their purported benefits, as well as what the science says so far.

Some evidence suggests that the nutrients in placenta extract may benefit the skin. Overall, there is little research on its effectiveness. Further studies are needed.

Here is why placenta extracts are used in skin care:

Antioxidants

Oxidative stress occurs when highly reactive molecules called free radicals build up in the body. In terms of skin health, oxidative stress can lead to conditions such as chronic inflammation and skin cancer. Antioxidants are molecules capable of neutralizing free radicals. This can help protect the skin from oxidative stress.

According to a article 2017, placenta extract contains antioxidants. Another one 2014 study also notes that placenta extract contains antioxidant compounds.

Additionally, a Animal study 2018 found that porcine or pork placenta extract can reduce inflammation in mice by controlling oxidative stress.

Proponents believe that applying placenta extract to the skin can regulate oxidative stress and its negative effects.

Pro-age support

The antioxidants in placenta extract may also provide pro-aging support.

Indeed, oxidative stress plays a role in skin aging. Oxidative stress can promote signs of aging, such as:

Some research has shown that placenta extract may benefit aging skin. For example, a Case report 2019 found that injections of human placenta extract can reduce hyperpigmentation. Another one small study 2020 found that pig placenta extract supplements improve skin aging in women.

A animal study 2015 also discovered that a combination of human placenta extract and dieckol, a compound of brown algae, has anti-aging properties.

No specific research exists on the pro-aging support of placenta skin care products for humans. Further studies are needed.

Wound healing

As placenta extract reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, it may also promote wound healing.

In a small 2015 study, placenta extract gel helped heal post-operative mouth sores. A animal study 2015 also found that pink placenta injections improved wound healing in mice.

Again, human studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of the placenta for wound healing.

Placenta extract can be obtained from different sources. Skin care products may include:

human placenta

Some brands use human placenta extract in their products. However, no research exists on the safety and effectiveness of these products. It is also unclear how they obtain the extract.

sheep placenta

It is the most common type of placenta used in skin care products. According to a article 2017, sheep placenta is rich in nutrients. There are no major nutritional differences between human and ovine placenta.

plant placenta

Plant placenta, also called plant placenta or botanical placenta, is the placenta obtained from a plant. Because plants do not give birth like mammals, the plant placenta is different. But it has a similar goal.

The placenta, located under the pistil of the plant, is where the seeds develop. The placenta helps in the formation of seeds, so it is rich in nutrients.

Placenta products are sold in various forms. Often these products contain other skin-friendly ingredients for added benefits.

Types of products containing placenta include:

Face masks

Placenta face masks are available as creams or powders, which are mixed with water to create a spread.

They are applied like other face masks. You spread the mixture on your face and then wash it off after some time.

Face creams

You can also buy face creams with placenta extract. They are designed to stay on the skin until absorbed.

Sheet masks

Sheet masks are face-sized pieces of cloth infused with serum. The serum contains beneficial ingredients for the skin.

The mask is designed to stay on the face for a while, allowing the ingredients to penetrate the skin. Some brands sell placenta extract sheet masks.

Due to the lack of research and testing, the side effects of placenta skin care products are unclear.

According to a article 2017, hair products containing placenta may contain estrogen, the “female” hormone. This can disrupt the body’s estrogen level, potentially increasing the risk of:

Skin care products containing the placenta may pose similar health risks. If you want to use placenta skin care products, be careful. Be sure to buy from a reputable retailer and company.

Placenta extract is used for other purposes, including:

Dermatitis

As the antioxidants in the placenta fight oxidative stress, placenta extract may also reduce inflammation. Indeed, oxidative stress can promote inflammation and vice versa.

Dermatitis is a form of skin inflammation. The antioxidant effects of the placenta could be beneficial for dermatitis.

For example, in a Animal study 2018, porcine placenta extract improved contact dermatitis in mice. Researchers have linked this effect to the antioxidant properties of placenta extract.

Burn medications

The healing properties of placenta extract may be beneficial for burns.

In a small study 2021, a gel based on human placenta extract that promotes wound healing. The study only involved 10 adults, so larger studies are needed.

A study 2019 also found that a gel made from human placenta and aloe vera extract improved burn healing.

Placental pills

The placenta can also be dehydrated and placed in gelatin capsules. These capsules are taken orally due to the nutrients and mood-enhancing potential. This is intended to reduce the risk of postpartum depression.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should not consume placenta capsules. This is because the manufacturing process of placental pills does not destroy harmful germs.

When used topically, placenta extract may have antioxidant and aging-supporting effects. It can also help with wound healing. Most skin care products containing placenta come from sheep, but some may contain human or plant placenta.

You can find face masks, sheet masks, and face creams with placenta. Keep in mind that there is little research on their safety and effectiveness. The placenta may contain estrogen, which could disrupt hormone levels in your body.

Speak with a healthcare professional before using placenta skin care products. They can let you know if the products are safe for you.

Patricia J. Callender