Susan Strongman

Broadcasting reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Sheep dip with a twist has Hollywood stars all aglow

Reese Witherspoon is among the celebrities using sheep placenta facial treatments. Picture / AP
Reese Witherspoon is among the celebrities using sheep placenta facial treatments. Picture / AP

Hollywood A-lister Reese Witherspoon is joining a flock of celebrities lining up to cover their faces in Kiwi sheep placenta.

Dermatologist to the stars Dr Harold Lancer offers facial treatments and creams from his Beverly Hills, California, practice that contain placenta from New Zealand livestock.

The doctor's followers include Victoria Beckham, talkshow host Ellen DeGenres and actor Michelle Williams.

According to the Daily Mail, Dr Lancer said it was important the placenta was sourced from New Zealand as " they have no impurities in their system whatsoever".

The Hawkes Bay company that sources and exports the placenta, Agri-lab, has been around since 1999. It supplies specialised tissues, placenta, offal, organs and glands - dissected and prepared to order for pharmaceutical companies.

Owner Angela Payne said deer placenta and horse placenta collagen were Agri-lab's fastest-growing new products.

"Sheep placenta is still hugely popular and growing steadily all the time - in the last five years we've quadrupled the size of the packhouse and factory as a result."

Ms Payne, a former veterinary nurse, said farmers were happy to supply the placenta, because it added value to a byproduct they would usually discard.

"They know where it ends up and are generally quite chuffed to have a link to the stars."

She said she did not sell products directly to Dr Lancer, but to about 120 suppliers.

Alongside placenta, the firm provides prostate gland, fetal blood and serum, and fetal calf skins.

A cream that contains sheep placenta, Alpine Silk Gold Placenta and Lanolin Replenishing Cream, is available to buy through the website SkincareNZ.

The site describes the cream as containing "selected placenta amino acids and proteins which have a beneficial effect on the elasticity of skin".

Dr Lancer said sheep placenta was full of "rich nutrients that fight free-radical damage to the skin and make it more radiant", the Daily Mail reported. It was mixed into a a gel containing gold flecks and other ingredients and spread over the face.

Witherspoon was spotted walking towards Dr Lancer's clinic on Rodeo Drive last weekend.

- NZ Herald

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