If you have ever been a teenage girl then you’ve probably heard the one about how semen is good for your skin … heh-heh, heh-heh. Because — let’s face it — teenage boys are immature and unoriginal and will say almost anything to get their rocks off. But, when it comes to the potential beauty benefits of ejaculate, could they also be telling the truth?
Tracy Kiss is a British beauty vlogger whose video tutorial on the semen facial has been viewed more than 1.2 million times since it came out last month. Kiss, who performs the controversial beauty regimen in real time, claims that so-called “man moisturizer” has helped to reduce her rosacea and improve the overall texture of her skin. Sperm, she says, is hydrating, rejuvenating, and soothing. (The smell, she admits, is an acquired taste — she recommends incense for the faint of nostril.)
A few obvious FAQs answered: Kiss gets the deposits from a “health conscious” human friend who doesn’t smoke and avoids foods that may produce a pungent odour. The material is transported via clean plastic containers (the kind that might hold soya sauce from sushi takeout) and gets stored in the fridge. Kiss recommends using it within a couple of days, lest it lose any of its magical potency or something like that.
Her qualifications may be scant, her logic (that semen builds babies and babies have the softest skin) lacking in, well, logic. Still, Kiss is far from the first woman to stand behind this bizarre treatment. Heather Locklear has credited her youthful appearance to regular sperm facials, while the late Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown famously advised readers that semen, “makes a fine mask — and he’ll be pleased.”
Pleased, well sure, but he’ll also be perpetuating a myth that is not only bogus, but also a seriously bad idea.
“There is no evidence-based medicine behind it. No science. At all,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist at DLK on Avenue in Toronto. Kellett notes that the practice could be harmful, given that bodily fluids (even those extracted from “health conscious friends”) can carry HIV, Hepatitis and various other diseases. Having said fluids near the mucus membranes of nose and mouth increases the potential for disease transmission.
As to Kiss’ claim that the protein in semen helps to nourish the complexion, Kellett, says that while the protein is there, the molecular structure of semen makes absorption impossible: “Our skin is meant to protect us from the environment. It’s not that permeable. Otherwise, we’d get into a bathtub and blow up like a sponge.” Moisturizers, she notes, are molecularly formulated to penetrate the skin’s surface — though even then, many products are more sizzle than substance.
Timothy Caulfield, a Canada research chair in health law and policy, investigates the strange world of extreme beauty and diet treatments in his 2015 book Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? When it came to the pesky burden of scientific proof, almost everything Caulfield looked into — juice fasts, diamond body scrubs, leech detoxes — came up short. So why do these over-the-top measures remain so popular?
“There is evidence to suggest that the more expensive something is or the more extreme something is, the more people are to want it,” says Caulfield, noting that, more and more, our culture sees working on one’s appearance as a noble and virtuous endeavour: “The further we go, the harder we are trying. There is certainly an amount of one-up-manship.”
It’s a particularly perplexing reality in light of a 2010 University of Guelph study, wherein the vast majority of women surveyed questioned the effectiveness of anti-aging products, but bought and used them all the same. Amy Muise, a psychologist who co-authored the study, says it’s sort of like being skeptical of online dating, but attempting it all the same: “So many of the women we spoke with were aware of the gimmicks and doubted the level of effectiveness of the products, but they still used them.”
In other words, it’s possible that perfectly intelligent people are slathering their faces with semen, even when they know the whole thing is nothing more than a load of spunk.
The vampire facial
Medically dubious claim: The face is injected with spurts of the recipient’s own blood to promote circulation.
Celebrity booster: Kim Kardashian, endured this dramatic treatment in front of the cameras on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
The sheep placenta facial
Medically dubious claim: Nutrient-rich stem cells from extracted from ewe afterbirth help to repair damaged skin and promote radiance.
Celebrity booster: Dr. Harold Lancer, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, says his client Victoria Beckham is a fan of the treatment.
The Kitty Litter facial
Medically dubious claim: Mix a bit of water with your cat’s toilet filler for a quick DIY mask that cleanses and moisturizes.
Celebrity booster: Beauty vlogger Michelle Phan gave a Kitty Litter facial tutorial on her YouTube Channel.
The bird poo facial
Medically dubious claim: The droppings of the Japanese nightingale possess restorative powers.
Celebrity booster: Now magazine reports that avian dung is the secret to Tom Cruise’s time-busting appearance. Mind you, the story sites an “unnamed source.”