By now, you have likely heard of the “penis facial” that Hollywood celebrities are getting in the quest for eternal youth. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, & Kate Beckinsale are just a handful of celebs jumping on the baby foreskin bandwagon to look younger. (You might want to start boycotting their work.)
The Hollywood EGF – epidermal growth factor – facial hit the news in March 2018 when Blanchett spoke about receiving it with Bullock during a trip to New York City. Bullock was the one who coined the term “penis facial” because she thought its aroma resembled that of semen. This specific facial is the creation of Manhattan facialist Georgia Louise who provides baby foreskin stem-cell goop for rich folks in her “chic environment for her discerning clients”, according to her website.
Louise’s signature “penis facial” is available for those who can shell out the $650 per treatment, along with other facials. Besides the aforementioned celebs, Louise’s facial client list also includes Katy Perry, Emma Stone, Linda Evangelista, Alexander Wang, & Gucci Westman. (More boycotting?)
While the stem cells of the “penis facial” were cloned in a lab, they originated with foreskin stem cells taken from Korean baby boys who clearly were unable to consent to the procedure. American cosmetic & biotech industries make millions of dollars each year from products derived from foreskin cells, but the baby boys never receive any royalties from products made with their foreskin.
As an intactivist, I object to neonatal foreskin being used in any product because the foreskin stem cells were unethically obtained from an autonomous human being who was unable to consent legally to his foreskin being amputated. Baby foreskin stem cells are used to make cosmetics & anti-aging products, to clone new cells for repairing cells damaged in various traumatic accidents, to create skin for burn victims, & to provide a base in which to grow hair-plugs for follicle transplants.
But what exactly is a stem cell anyway? And why do skincare products use human foreskin stem cells?
According the National Institutes of Health – an agency within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, stem cells are unspecialized cells that renew themselves via cell division, even after being dormant. Stem calls can be manipulated in a lab to become cell-specific, making them versatile in various health treatments. (Source) Stem cells can be induced to become tissue-specific, such as muscle or ligament cells, or organ-specific, such as brain or liver cells. This allows stem cells to take on a specific function – just as the foreskin has 16 known functions to protect the male throughout his life, hence the reason(s) why he needs his foreskin to remain intact on his penis.
In this way, stems calls are tabula rasa, a blank slate that can be made into anything you want – kind of like a quick-bread base in cooking. If you mix together some flour, baking powder, & sea salt, that forms a base to which you can add butter, eggs, & milk in differing ratios to create different quick breads, such as biscuits, pancakes, muffins, cake, or cookies. This base is very versatile; & a stem cell, like a sourdough starter you “feed” everyday, can reproduce itself infinitely & to unlimited amounts.
Stem cells can be obtained from humans, animals, or plants. Most people no longer support the use of animal body parts in cosmetics or products being tested on animals, therefore most stem cells used in products are derived from humans or plants. Stem cells from humans are sourced from male foreskin, bone marrow, the placenta of a woman’s afterbirth, & the discarded umbilical cord of newborns. Controversy over stem cells being harvested from aborted tissue is the prime reason some people are against the use of stem cells in any capacity.
Here’s a fun fact! Squalene is a lipid that is responsible for the silky smooth feel of an intact man’s healthy smegma. “Squalene” gets its name from Squalus, a genus of sharks from which their liver oil was harvested & incorporated into cosmetic creams & lotions due to its emollient qualities. For commercial use, natural squalene is converted into synthetic squalane & usually originates from plants, such as olives, amaranth, rice, & wheat.Trish Causey, INTACT: Men As They Were Born to Be
The application of stem cells in anti-aging products is to encourage the growth of new collagen within the person’s skin. Because of this, stem cells are sometimes labeled as “fibroblasts” within the ingredient list in order not to scare the public.
Fibroblasts are connective tissue cells that help create & support the integrity of the extracellular matrix – or framework – for molecules such as enzymes, certain proteins, & the holy grail of the anti-aging industry’s cash-cow: collagen. While a connective tissue cell can be a “fibroblast” – an active cell, or a “fibrocyte” – an inactive cell, it is the suffix -blast that indicates the connective tissue cell is in fact an active human stem cell.
Supporting the skin’s extracellular matrix is the goal of most anti-aging & “tightening” cosmetic products. Several treatments that do not involve foreskin can be used instead.
The FDA has approved many devices & therapies that you can try to fight the war on wrinkles. These products & services are widely available at plastic surgeons’ & dermatologists’ offices as well as at spas with a licensed aesthetician:
- laser therapy,
- red light therapy,
- micro-needling (a.k.a. derma-rolling).
These are considered generally safe alternatives to combat the various signs of aging, but consult your doctor before getting any procedure done.
Food choices can make a difference in your skin as well. Bone broth is a great source of collagen, & a diet high in fresh vegetables & moderate in good protein will give you the building blocks your body needs to synthesize collagen. Drink plenty of water each day to help plump up your skin because dehydration can result in the skin looking dry or cracked.
We all want to look our best, but using baby foreskin-derived products is not necessary. Look for cosmetic & anti-aging products that use stem cells harvested from consenting donors, such as bone marrow stem cells, or from plant sources. If a product says “stem cell”, contact the company & ask how the stem cell was sourced. If the product says “fibroblast”, you know it came from a living breathing creature, most likely a human being.
Always contact a company & ask how they source their super-special ingredients. If necessary, ask to speak with their legal representative. The sales rep may want to lie to you to sell their product, but their lawyer will be less likely to open the door for a lawsuit just to make a few bucks in the short-term.
Research. Question. Always.