Sheep placenta facials are the latest celebrity beauty treatment to come out of the US. Catherine Scott meets the Yorkshire businesswoman introducing it here.
Sheep’s afterbirth may not sound like the most appealing beauty treatment, but with celebs in Beverly Hills forking out more than £300 for a facial containing the ovine placenta and 24ct gold flakes it is not to be sniffed at.
Many people will try just about anything to stop, or slow down, the ageing process.
This latest innovation uses stem cells from the sheep’s placenta to repair ageing skin cells and so, apparently “de-age” the skin. That’s quite a claim, and one that wealthy celebs, such as Simon Cowell and Victoria Beckham, have reportedly taken to heart.
They are queuing up to visit Dr Harold Lancer’s clinic in Beverley Hills where he uses Stem Cell Beauty Innovations products. Well it makes a change from nightingale droppings – which the Spice Girl is also said to favour.
Now the products, which come from America but are made in New Zealand – where there are plenty of sheep – are hitting the UK thanks to Harrogate-based businesswoman Pamela Kharikou.
She supplied Skinqure in Brough, near Hull, which has become the first clinic in the UK to use and sell the products with in-clinic facials starting from £195, rather less than the Beverly Hills price tag.
“I love Yorkshire and I really want Yorkshire to be the centre of this,” says 40-something Pamela from her beauty salon and SCBI UK headquarters in Harrogate.
“I had been looking for something for a special beauty product for a while and when I came across this is was bowled over. I am passionate about beauty.”
But as the world of beauty goes Pamela Kharikou is a relative newcomer, only moving into it eight years ago.
After leaving school in Leven, Fife, she worked as an office junior for a firm of solicitors running errands and delivering post. She worked her way up before moving into investment accounting in Edinburgh.
It was here she meet her husband, Phiroz, who is a soldier.
It was while they were stationed in Germany that mother-of-two Pamela decided to change her career path.
“I was doing accounts for the Army but the money as a dependent was pitiful. I needed to run my own business of some sort.” Having always had an interest in beauty she set up a hair and beauty salon. Then when her husband was moved to Dorset she introduced laser hair removal and liposuction.
Not totally happy with the equipment and products she was using, Pamela decided to invent her own and Firm Slim was born.
The product was a huge success for Pamela which saw her set up distributors in countries such as Dubai, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Greece and Holland.
But skin care was her passion and when she read about the use of sheep’s placenta to stop the signs of ageing she was hooked.
“I wanted to test it out for myself and I loved it and knew it was the product I had been looking for.”
She applied for UK distribution rights, but she was not alone.
“There was a lot of interest, I think started by the links with celebrities.
“I went over to America and I think they were impressed with my passion and they realised that I would put everything into it. It isn’t just the anti-ageing properties it also fantastic for treating acne and rosacea.”
SCBI was founded by Robin Gray who was first introduced to the healing and anti-ageing powers of stem cells derived from sheep placenta in 2009.
As a result of chronic illness, Gray noticed many negative changes in her body, including chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalances, change in mood, and thinning hair.
As a complement to her treatments, it was suggested that she try stem cell supplements to help with some of the symptoms related to her illness.
She noticed that within weeks she was feeling more energetic, her skin felt more hydrated, and her hair and nails were thicker and growing faster.
In a lightbulb moment she decided to create a line of skin care products using the same nutrient-rich ovine placenta.
The placenta, an internal organ that nourishes the foetus in the womb, is valued for its high nutritional content.
Sheep stem cells apparently have no antigens and naturally bond to the same organs in the human body as in the sheep’s body. In other words, liver to liver, heart to heart. The newer sheep cells stimulate the older cells into activity. Although the science does sound rather sci-fi, both Pamela and her UK sales manager Vicki Cairns ensure me that it is all very safe and not likely to start you baaing.
At the salon in Harrogate Pamela and Vicki show me samples of this cream and explain the process behind the product.
“The stem cells are harvested from sheep, post birth and so there is no harm to the animals. They are immediately freeze dried, a process known as lyophilization. All our cosmetics are certified and licensed by the New Zealand government as well as world bodies and are free of any animal diseases,” said Pamela.
Thank goodness for that.
There are six products in the range, although there are plans afoot for at least one more in the near future.
As well as a cleanser, a volcanic ash exfoliator and moisturiser there is an eye cream and the hero product – a serum which includes the O-placenta cells and flakes of 24ct gold.
At more than £129 for 15ml it’s not cheap, although it does go a long way and there is no need to use the four to five pumps recommended, says Vicki.
Then there is the professional stem cell concentrate which is only available in clinics and salons.
It comes in a brown medicinal looking bottle with none of the highly perfumed aroma obvious in other skincare products.
The products do feel nice on the skin and are highly moisturising.
After three days I’m not sure I noticed too much difference, but Pamela explains that the likes of Simon Cowell and Posh Spice use techniques such as dermabrasion, bright LED light or micro needles to penetrate the product deeper into the skin.
Although the thought of sheep placenta on your face may be a bit stomach-turning at first, the products are lovely and smell nice.
Whether they actually do stop the ageing process remains to be seen.
Beats nightingale droppings though.
Strange ways of celebrities
There is nothing particularly new about sheep placenta being used to hold back the march of time.
Placenta cream has been celebrated for years by the wealthy and celebrities alike for its ability to rejuvenate skin tissue and restore a youthful lustre to your appearance.
For years, people such as Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower and Charlie Chaplin have used creams made from sheep placenta.
Other unusual beauty treatments tried by celebrities include cream made from nightingale droppings, as favoured by Victoria Beckham ,and Felicity Kendal has condensed milk applied to her scalp to protect it while having highlights