Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Hat Tip: Paola
The origin of the word ‘quack’ comes from the Dutch quacksalver, literally meaning “chatter salve” or someone who prattles or boasts about the efficacy of his remedies.
The next big wave in skincare comes straight from cottage industries in Canada and countries like Korea and Japan. More paleo than vegan, some of these products are not for the faint of heart. Instead of plant-based oils such as coconut or argan, oils from the rendered fat of horses and milk from donkeys are the new “natural” alternatives. Dreams of soft, smooth skin are interrupted by visions of Black Beauty shedding a single tear.
Shamâne Cosmetics is a company located in Quebec and like another company in British Columbia that used horse milk in their skin care products, they are adding donkey milk to their skin care line. Like Spa Creek Ranch (who were forced to remove unsupported claims on their website by Advertising Standards Canada) Shamâne have made some rather extraordinary claims about the supposed benefits of washing yourself with soaps made with donkey milk. Claims made by Shamâne were referred to ASC, who will referee their statements. I attempted to contact the company to find out how many donkeys they had and what they did with the foals, but they did not return my phone call and their email is defunct.
Their website tells us that the product:
- Contains protein and lactose proportions close to those of woman’s maternal milk (I say so what? Milk is species specific food for infant animals, not for washing your face with)
- Is hypoallergenic (To determine if a product is hypoallergenic a company usually performs a patch test on 100-200 subjects and records how their skin reacts).
- Nourishes and regenerates the skin deep down (Where is the proof that the product penetrates the skin or accomplishes “nourishment,” whatever that means?)
- Slows down the skin aging process (It’s a pretty extraordinary claim to make that donkey milk does this, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence).
The company makes additional claims about the powers of donkey milk, based on testimonials from the 1700s! Back then microscopes were a very new invention, and the most popular methods of treating patients included bloodletting and blistering. But the assertion that the product will slow down the aging process is probably the one thing that will get some of the statements removed from Shamâne’s website with prejudice, by Advertising Standards Canada.
According to the ASC:
“Advertisements must not contain inaccurate, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims, statements, illustrations or representations, either direct or implied, with regard to any identified or identifiable product(s) or service(s).
Both in principle and practice, all advertising claims and representations must be supportable. If the support on which an advertised claim or representation depends is test or survey data, such data must be reasonably competent and reliable, reflecting accepted principles of research design and execution that characterize the current state of the art. At the same time, however, such research should be economically and technically feasible, with due recognition of the various costs of doing business.”
Although relatively unknown in Europe and the UK, horse oil is a popular and widely used beauty product in Asian culture. It’s the latest craze in Korean skin care. No, it doesn’t give you long, pony-tail like locks. It’s rendered horse fat, quite likely made from American and Canadian horses who were exported for live slaughter. Horse oil products are sold/marketed by a variety of names – Guerisson 9 Complex Cream with horse oil is readily available at the Pacific Mall in Toronto, along with many other products containing horse oil from Korea. Horse oil is also sold as “Son Bahyu/Sonbahyu” on both Amazon and eBay. Once again, miraculous claims are made about these products, none of which are substantiated. There may be little we Canadians can do about products that are not produced in Canada and where claims are made on websites in Korean or Japanese languages.
There is no reason to assume that donkey milk or horse oil have any beneficial properties other than possibly as emollients, and we have plenty of cruelty-free products that already accomplish this. In order to satisfy some of these claims, the constituent ingredients in the milk and oil would have to be absorbed by the skin past the epidermis (the outermost layer). The rule of thumb is that anything smaller than 500 Daltons can penetrate the skin while anything larger cannot. A Dalton is the standard unit that is used for indicating mass on an atomic or molecular scale.
If the milk and oil molecules in question were small and permeable (under 500 Daltons) they would be uptaken into the skin cells and possibly into the bloodstream. If not, the ingredients may just penetrate through the top layer of skin only and will just be sloughed off as part of the dead skin cells. Even if they can be absorbed there is no evidence that they will have any sort of positive impact or that they will suspend the aging process. Myths that your skin absorbs large amounts of chemicals are NOT true.
Even people who eat animals often realize it’s ridiculous to add them to skin care products. We already have the option of plant-based products that can be absorbed into the skin and may even provide some protection against essential fatty acid deficiency. We don’t need milk or horse oil or other animal products added to soaps or lotions.
Always remember that oftentimes these claims about skin care in particular have little to no research behind them and they may be based in superstition, popular trends, or “traditional medicine.” Please buy cruelty-free products wherever possible. And Pubmed is great for advanced reading to help substantiate claims.