CosmeticsDesign reports that Peruvian police have cracked down on a ring of fat smugglers who have allegedly been murdering people in order to sell their fat for use in European cosmetics.
The article quotes the police as saying that the criminals “murdered individuals in rural areas and then extracted fat and tissues from the corpses in a clandestine laboratory.” Supposedly the illegal lard is for use in anti-aging treatments. I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic, but this story just smacks of urban legend to me. And the Canadian Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrance Association agrees: they have issued a statement saying that it’s unlikely to be true because for several reasons:
1. Human fat has no special function that can’t be achieved by using oily materials from other less illegal (and less disgusting) sources.
2. Even if some unscrupulous company was “sneaking” human fat into cosmetic ingredients, it would likely be caught because of the sophisticated quality assurance systems that all large cosmetic companies use. (Companies have to be aware of the sources of their raw materials for regulatory reasons.)
3. The crooks would have to kill a LOT of people to get enough fat for any large mass manufacturer of cosmetics.
4. Any product that did contain human corpse fat would be really expensive – the ingredient allegedly costs $15,000 per liter!
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Our assessment is that this story is just a hoax or an urban legend. And in related news, beauty biz giant P&G denied they are changing the names of two of their most popular brands to “Oil of Obese” facial moisturizer and “Fatene” Shampoo and Conditioner.