popular skin care trends

should i get a blood facial?

If the thought of getting your own blood injected all over your face like an old-fashioned Jell-O® poke cake gives you the willies, you're not alone. Yet many people, including celebrities like Kim Kardashian, are clamoring for blood facials and other anti-aging treatments that use snail slime, even bee venom! Is it all hype, or do these treatments actually work? Our head ingredient guru, Dr. Diana Howard, weighs in.

blood facial

blood facials
Also known as vampire facials or PRP treatments, blood facials involve drawing your blood, separating the PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and reinjecting it to help reverse signs of aging. Platelets contain growth factors that help with wound healing. But while this technology has been FDA-approved for use in orthopedic surgery, it has not been FDA-approved for cosmetic use.

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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  • hype
  • dubious
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Hype, for now. There is no major scientific evidence yet that blood facials work to reduce signs of aging on the skin. Initial swelling may ease fine lines but long-term results have not been seen.

blood facial

snake venom
The ingredient referred to in skin care as "snake venom" is actually a SYN-AKE, a synthetic tripeptide that mimics the peptide found in Temple Viper snake venom. It is sold as a Botox alternative that can relax muscles and soften wrinkles. But while Botox is professionally injected to target a specific muscle function, SYN-AKE is sold in creams and serums.

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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Hype. Unlike injected Botox, these topical formulations can't specifically target the site they need to hit in order to effectively block the chemical signals that control muscle contractions.

blood facial

snail slime
Reportedly used in top Korean skin care brands, and by Katie Holmes, snail slime was discovered for skin care by Chilean snail farmers who noticed their skin healed quickly when they handled the little critters. The mucus-like material is rich in proteins, Glycolic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin, enzymes and peptides — all of which help reduce signs of aging.

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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Dubious. All the studies I found were done with cell cultures in test tubes, not with real-life skin care formulas on actual skin.

blood facial

hemorrhoid cream
Popular with professional makeup artists, hemorrhoid cream such as Preparation H™ has long been rumored to save supermodels and celebrities such as Sandra Bullock and Demi Moore from puffy eyes. Why? It contains a yeast Biodyne, which is an anti-inflammatory agent!

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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True, but only for the Preparation H™ sold in Canada. The U.S. formula no longer contains this ingredient. Also, since hemorrhoid cream isn’t designed for use around the eye, you're better off using an eye treatment that contains yeast or "live yeast cell derivative," such as Age Reversal Eye Complex.

blood facial

sheep placenta extract
Yep, you read that right. Extracted from the membrane that surrounds a sheep fetus, this ingredient is a rich source of hormones such as estrogen and progestin, as well as proteins and vitamins. Studies have shown that, at a high enough concentration, these hormones can be absorbed through the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. But we're talking drugs here, not skin care.

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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  • hype
  • dubious
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Dubious. An over-the-counter skin care product is not likely to have a high enough concentration of placenta extract to deliver noticeable results.

blood facial

stem cells
These single cells can duplicate themselves and give rise to any type of tissue — kind of like when you break off part of a plant and use it to grow a new plant. In medicine, human stem cells have been used to grow skin grafts and fight many diseases, but in skin care, the "stem cells" used are usually extracts that plant stem cells have grown in.

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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Hype. This is the biggest hoax I've seen in years. While certain plant extracts are effective skin care ingredients, they don't work like human stem cells or to stimulate our stem cells. Also, there is no benefit of using plant stem cells to regenerate skin cells in the human species.

blood facial

bee venom
Gwyneth Paltrow and the Duchess of Cambridge have reportedly tried bee sting therapy and skin care. But why? When a bee stings, it expels a peptide-rich venom, which triggers your skin to increase circulation and produce more collagen, plumping and firming fine lines and wrinkles.

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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  • hype
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Somewhat hype. There's good science behind this, but it takes 10,000 bee stings to create one gram of venom. So it's highly unlikely there's enough venom in the skin care products on the market to work.

blood facial

meteorite dust
Ever wonder what nomadic tribes are up to these days? Apparently, some are scouring the Sahara Desert for meteorites, then sending them to Europe to be transformed into powered dust. Combined with semi-precious stones, they are then used to make an "anti-aging cosmeceutical elixir originating from outer space." Fascinating, right?

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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Super hype. With the exception of Calcium, Hematite, Magnesium and few others, there is no scientific proof that these minerals will benefit the skin.

blood facial

dragon's blood
Sounds like a Medieval potion, doesn't it? It's not. Dragon's blood is actually sap from the Croton Lechleri (dragon's blood) plant, native to South America. Since it's contains taspine, which helps stimulate wound healing, it's commonly used to form a "second skin" (think liquid bandage). In skin care, it's promoted as having protective, anti-inflammatory properties.

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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  • dubious
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True if you can get enough! Dragon's blood is a distinct dark red color, so an effective concentration will likely stain your face red. If your product doesn't do that, there are probably not enough dragon's blood actives in there to work.

blood facial

chia seeds
You can eat them, grow cute faux animals with them and now, you can use them to look younger! Or can you? Not only are chia seeds a great source of energy, they are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They supposedly help increase hydration, alleviate itchiness and protect the skin from environmental damage.

Dr. Diana's verdict: +

dr. diana
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True. Count on seeing more of this in skin care, particularly for eczema. Be careful with home remedies in delicate areas; many have not been tested or deemed safe for the eye area, or near mucous membranes.

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