Ingredients in skincare products are becoming increasingly inventive and unusual—so much so that many people may actually have no idea what is in the moisturizer they use everyday. But for Oprah Winfrey, a peculiar and, quite frankly, bizarre ingredient in one of her favourite face creams has the TV personality in hot water. At a live event in Vancouver last Thursday, a small group of protesters were outside the stadium to oppose Oprah’s endorsement of a SkinMedica anti-wrinkle cream that is allegedly made from human foreskins. (Yes, you read that right: human foreskins.)
The product in question is SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex , which promises to “rapidly restore the skins’ barrier and moisture balance.” It contains foreskin fibroblast—otherwise known on the company’s website as “Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media” that reportedly helps improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, as well as overall skin tone and texture. Oprah has publicly endorsed the cream and encouraged her legions of fans and celebrity friends to try it.
Cue the controversy: Activist groups have blasted Oprah for using an anti-wrinkle cream that they claim is made from foreskins from circumcised infant males. They have accused Oprah of being hypocritical and compared her support for the cream to female genital mutilation, which she has long campaigned against. However, if you’re thinking this is a little hard to believe, you might be right. In an interview with a San Diego newspaper a few years ago, the founder of SkinMedica stated that the company hasn’t harvested a foreskin in 20 years; instead the cells needed are grown from a single foreskin sample.
Even so, opposition groups say the product is still unethical and have urged Oprah to respond to the controversy and not surprisingly, Oprah has kept silent. Nevertheless, this is sure to make all of us think twice about what we keep in our medicine cabinets.