Skin care has a long and complicated obsession with questionable—but natural—antiaging techniques. Around this time last year, I remember feeling physically sick after hearing that Kim Kardashian and Victoria Beckham both fork out $500 to have actual animal placenta—gag—smeared on their faces in the name of beauty. Then there are vampire facials, where a subject’s own blood is drawn and then sloshed all over their face; and another natural beauty trend I’m giving a hard pass: snail facials. And we haven’t even started on semen skin care yet.
Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always given a wide berth to obscenely priced skin treatments that use actual bodily fluids—I guess I’m more of a retinol and AHAs kind of girl and less about rubbing placenta in my pores—but I’ve recently introduced an ingredient into my regime that’s almost as gross as Kim K’s preferred treatment: colostrum. To the blissfully unfamiliar, that’s the first breast milk produced by pregnant mothers when they give birth. Don’t look at me like that.
I first heard about bovine colostrum serums (yep, breast milk from a cow) a few weeks ago while visiting the shared office of my holistic facialist and herbalist, my two go-to experts for anything alternative-medicine-related. I have blemish-prone skin and am concerned with preventing aging so was recommended Environ Skincare’s B-Active offering of natural products for problem skin. “You should be adding colostrum into your skin-care routine to prevent aging,” I was told, while an information sheet on the beauty line was thrust into my hands.
Within a couple of days, I started using the colostrum- and vitamin-A-filled line, except for Environ’s toner and cleanser (I happily tone with diluted apple cider vinegar and wash my face with a prescription cleanser and an oil pre-cleanser), plus the Environ Intensive Colostrum Gel ($66). The serum also contains vitamins C and E, as well as lavender oil to calm inflammation and black cohosh root extract for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. I was relieved that the new products didn’t cause my already-temperamental skin to break out, despite their having a bit of a strange smell, and after a week of daily use, a colleague pointed out that my skin was looking “really great.” Note: This is not a compliment I get often, or really ever, TBH.
Like with a lot of holistic beauty treatments, there isn’t a ton of research explaining why, or even if, topical use of colostrum will slow down the aging process. However, proponents say that the secretion contains a natural balance of hormones, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and powerful immune factors and growth hormones that can dramatically improve the appearance of your skin. “People have claimed that colostrum has benefits such as soothing, plumping lines and wrinkles, improving elasticity, and nourishing the skin, but no clinical studies prove this,” explained Dr. Debra Jaliman, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.
I also reached out to another New York dermatologist, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, who told me that it’s high in elements that can repair the skin and promote the collagen. “Colostrum is a cross between a skin-barrier-repair product and a collagen stimulator. Unlike regular breast milk, colostrum contains high levels of antibodies that help offer the nursing baby immune protection from infections. It has much higher concentrations of fats and proteins to nourish the newborns,” he said.
While I’m obviously personally a fan of Environ’s line, Dr. Jaliman also recommends Epicuren Discovery’s colostrum cream serum, which you can pick up online for $101. Go on, don’t be squeamish—this could be the ticket to the best skin of your life.