THE IN-TRAY

One doctor on why you should try sheep placenta skincare

WHEN IT COMES TO UNUSUAL SKINCARE INGREDIENTS, FROM SNAKE VENOM TO DONKEY’S MILK, THERE’S A NEW ANIMAL-DERIVED TOPICAL GENERATING DEBATE: SHEEP PLACENTA.

Would you use a serum infused with sheep placenta? I did, once I got over the ewe factor, to see if it might deliver smoother, suppler and firmer skin. Rest and Revive Night Serum from MZ Skin uses a rare blend of phyto (plant) and ovine (sheep) placenta, as well as several other more conventional actives, to boost collagen production, reduce sagging and dial up glow. To supercharge it, I also tried the brand’s Replenish and Restore Night Recovery Mask, a second placenta-powered treatment with a richer texture. And then I went to sleep counting sheep.

In the never-ending pursuit of the fountain of youth, purveyors of beauty have tapped a wild menagerie of exotic ingredients: snake venom, pig collagen and pulverised bird’s nest to name a few. Such outlandish elements are not typically embraced by the mainstream. Most brands rely on proven actives, clinical testing and, increasingly, vegan formulas to help wind back the clock on ageing. Placenta products are not new, and you can find them on the dusty shelves of your local chemist or in the shadowy recesses of the internet, but MZ Skin has turned ovine stem cells into a high-end proposition.

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Brand founder Dr. Maryam Zamani is an oculoplastic surgeon and facial aesthetics expert based in London, where she specialises in eyelid surgery, laser treatments, injectables and peels. She launched her own line in 2016, inspired by her patients’ desire for preventative remedies. During a recent call with The Memo, Dr. Zamani was polished and persuasive. An acclaimed medical professional, she is no snake-oil saleswoman. So, about that placenta ... “My initial stance was ‘Oh my god, they’re going to think I’m crazy,’” she told me. “I did think there would be resistance but I have been surprised that Rest and Revive has become our hero product and people reorder it.”

There are studies supporting the wrinkle-reducing, skin-boosting benefits of placenta, but not many. Dr. Zamani said that she was swayed after conducting her own clinical research. “Ovine- and plant-based placenta do help with skin turnover, improvement of cell structure, skin density and collagen production,” she said. She added that her placenta is ethically sourced. “No animal has been hurt, no sheep has been slaughtered, in order to obtain the placenta. It’s the only farm in the world that I have been able to find.” Also, it’s not human placenta, which would be disturbing. “It’s the most similar to human placenta, which we don’t use. As a doctor, I’m a little sceptical about the implications of using that.”

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Though I’m not vegan, I was initially apprehensive about using the polarising product. But then I remembered that leading Hollywood dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer deployed placenta facials, reportedly embraced by dewy-skinned luminaries Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Harry Styles. Plus, there is the midwifery tradition of ingesting placenta capsules for their hormonal benefits. The practice, known as placentophagy and popular with new-age mums like January Jones and Alicia Silverstone, still generates debate though. Is sheep placenta really that much of a leap if you already use lanolin, the super-hydrating substance extracted from a sheep’s fleece? And eat meat? I figured not.

“Science has always been closely integrated with sheep—the first cloned mammal was a sheep,” Dr. Zamani said. She doesn’t view her placenta active in the same league as, say, snail mucus. “Snail is more of a stretch to me than sheep for sure. Ovine placenta is where science started. When you place something so nutrient-rich on your skin at night, it gives you the building blocks to create new collagen and elastin.” Placenta extracts have long been embraced in China, Japan and South Korea because of their supposed healing properties. It’s believed that they can influence cells to act younger.

At least that’s what I told myself on application. The serum has a slightly jarring scent (the mask not so much), which suggests that it might have an impact. Wrapping it in a heavy fragrance would be less appealing admittedly. After a week of use, I did notice that my skin looked slightly healthier and well-rested. “People have said it’s like sleep in a bottle,” Dr. Zamani told me. The brand recommends using it for 30 days to witness a 14% decrease in wrinkle depth. Rest and Revive is an investment buy, and at the moment it’s only available online. It is not the priciest anti-ager at MECCA, that honour belongs to 111Skin, AmorePacific and La Mer, but it’s the only one that relies on sheep placenta.

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