Is There Aborted Fetal Tissue in Cosmetics?

From time to time, we hear stories alleging that American abortion mills are selling aborted babies to major cosmetic companies so that they may be “rendered” for their collagen.

Human Life International’s free e-book Which Cosmetics Use Fetal Cells? explains how widespread this problem is, and which beauty products are involved. You can download it free now for a run-down of all the available information.

It is true that cell lines from babies aborted long ago are currently being used in certain vaccines in the United States. The process of developing vaccines using aborted fetal tissue is completely immoral and illicit. According to guidelines published by the Pontifical Academy for Life, the reception of these vaccines is also immoral and illicit, except in certain limited circumstances. For a more complete explanation of when and why, see this article.

But the situation regarding vaccines is different from that of cosmetics. There are no circumstances that can justify using a cosmetic developed using aborted fetal tissue. Cosmetics cannot save lives and they are not necessary. Hence, we have an obligation to avoid purchasing or using cosmetics with connections to abortion.

Are there Cosmetics that Use Fetal Tissue?

US Cosmetics: Placentas, But No Known Fetal Tissue

As of this writing, we do not have proof that aborted cells from the fetal body itself are present in US-made cosmetics. Additionally, pro-lifers have not documented any cases of collagen being collected from a freshly aborted baby for cosmetic purposes.

Human collagen from placentas is used extensively in surgical procedures, particularly in cosmetic surgery and in the treatment of severe burns. A number of cosmetic companies also use placentas in their beauty products.

A normal, full-term human placenta weighs two pounds. Placentas from cows, goats, sheep, and yes, humans are used in many cosmetics. But there is nothing illegal about this practice. The placenta is not part of the fetal body. Using human placenta for such purposes is not immoral, unless of course it is procured through an evil action, such as an abortion.

Hospitals and slaughterhouses commonly sell bulk placentas to pharmaceutical companies and cosmetic companies. Cosmetic companies then use the hormones and proteins in hair care products and lotions. These elements supposedly make hair stronger and shinier. In lotions, they are advertised as making skin smoother and suppler.1

It is worth noting that other, non-cosmetic products in the US have ties to fetal cells. The biotechnology company Senomyx, for example, became notorious for its usage of fetal cells to develop artificial taste buds. Researchers would use these man-made taste buds to improve their food’s taste. To be clear, there were never any fetal parts in the foods themselves. However, Senomyx used an aborted cell line from the 1970’s (HEK-293) to develop these artificial taste buds.

European Cosmetics with Aborted Fetal Tissue


The marketing term “cosmeceuticals”—a combination of the words “cosmetics” and “pharmaceuticals”—refers to products that are applied topically like cosmetics but that supposedly have medical properties that affect the skin like cosmetic surgery.

One of the companies producing “cosmeceuticals” is Neocutis, a Swiss company whose US-based subsidiary is located in San Francisco.2 Neocutis uses additives made from patented processed skin proteins (PSPs) derived from a cell line that originated with an aborted 14-week-old Swiss baby boy. Its skin creams are used for psoriasis, eczema, and for anti-wrinkle (anti-aging) treatment.

Many women who use products by Neocutis do not seem to care that some of its products are derived from an aborted baby. One reviewer enthusiastically recommended the Journée Biorestorative Day Cream, concluding, “If the thought of smearing old fetal cells on your face makes you cringe, just think about what it could do for those expression lines.”3

In terms of destroying respect for human life, Europe is usually at least a decade ahead of the United States. Although this type of practice is relatively rare in Western Europe, the story is different in the East.

topographical map europe with country names

Russian Beauty Therapies

What follows might seem like material taken from a particularly inept science fiction pulp novel, but it is an absolutely true story.

For many years, Moscow’s youth-obsessed wealthy have been hungry to find treatments that will reverse the aging process and cure any known disease.

The poorer cities of Ukraine found themselves at the epicenter of a growing practice involving the “harvesting” of aborted children from young women and girls. Research in the early 2000s found that obstetricians in Donetsk and Kharkiv received kickbacks to tell pregnant women that their preborn children were horribly deformed, even when they were perfectly healthy. These doctors then referred these heartbroken women to abortionists, who paid them £100 for their fetal remains but who also offered them much more to delay their abortions until the late second or early third trimester.

A sad woman sitting outdoors alone

Sergei Shorobogatko was one of the investigators of this trade. He said: “When a doctor wants a fetus [to sell], he tells a girl there is a medical reason for an abortion later than 12 weeks. A special procedure extracts it with the placenta.”

The abortionist would then sell the bodies of the babies to one of several Russian corporations for up to £5,000 each, depending upon their gestational ages. These corporations would cut the babies apart, grind up their various organs, dilute the resulting paste, and sell it to Moscow beauty salons for fetal beauty therapies that allegedly “take ten years off your face.” Some of the salons even claimed that their injections could cure such conditions as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s.

These treatments cost an average of about £10,000, but this cost is no impediment to rich women (and men) who will do absolutely anything they can to hang on to their youth ― regardless of who suffers or dies as a result.

Incredible as it may seem, these salons flourished despite the fact that every step of this process is entirely illegal under both Ukrainian and Russian law, and the women who receive these treatments are aware of the treatment’s source. This is further evidence that the pro-abortion mentality has no regard for either human life or the laws of God or man.

From a strictly medical standpoint, one problem is that the process that extracts stem cells from a human fetus is extremely expensive, and it is believed that the beauty parlors merely inject their clients with nothing more than a grisly puree of fetal tissue extracts—untested for purity or diseases—to save money. A number of Russians have died or have been mutilated as a result of these cosmetics.

a woman getting a facial treatment

Professor Vladimir Smirnov, director of Moscow’s Institute of Experimental Cardiology, said, “We are talking about a huge, corrupt and dangerous trade in dubious therapies. The authorities have never licensed any medical specialist to administer injections of stem cells. These methods are totally experimental and illegal.”4

A 2005 inspection found that there were 41 clinics offering this kind of “therapy” in Moscow alone, and it is believed that there are even more operating now.

Under Communism, millions of Ukrainians were purged by planned starvation, and those who lived suffered not only from the effects of this genocide, but from pervasive corruption as well. Such violence and injustice can profoundly change a culture, and its effects are difficult to reverse. This means that the country is unfortunately very susceptible to this kind of activity. As one reporter plaintively said, “They used to say we were selling Ukraine. Now we are selling Ukrainians; moreover, in parts.”


While we have no evidence of American-made cosmetics that use fetal tissue, the situation is very different in Europe. If you buy from Neocutis or companies that engage in similar practices, direct your money elsewhere.

The horrible “fetal beauty” practice is an embarrassment to our society, and we must oppose it.

This article was originally published in January 2022 by Dr. Brian Clowes and most recently updated in June 2023 by Marisa Cantu.

+ Endnotes

[1] To discover what is in your favorite brand of cosmetics (if you dare!), see the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

[2] Victoria Evans. “Commercial Markets Created by Abortion.” Ethics and Medics (National Catholic Bioethics Center), August 2010.

Lesley Ciarula Taylor. “Fetal Cells in Skin Cream Stir Anti-Abortion Fury.” The Toronto Star, November 6, 2009.

The products in question are Neocutis’ Bio-Gel, Prevedem, Journee, Bio-Serum, Lumiere, and Bio Restorative Skin Cream (See the Children of God for Life website at

[3] Copley. “Neocutis Journee Biorestorative Day Cream for Anti-Aging and Anti-Sun Benefits.”, May 22, 2009.

Due to these concerns, several pro-life leaders appealed to the United States Food and Drug Administration to launch an investigation to see if such practices were occurring in the United States. In its 1985 response, the FDA stated:

We have received numerous inquiries from concerned individuals and organizations about the use of collagen in cosmetics. Although several of these inquiries have alleged that the source of collagen in cosmetics is from aborted fetuses, none of the inquiries have been able or willing to provide specific concrete information to indicate that this is, in fact, the case. We have no other indication that human fetal material is used as a source of either placental extract or collagen.

Dr. Jack Willke. “Are Fetal Bodies Used in Cosmetics?” National Right to Life News, August 22, 1985, page 3.

[4] Clare Chapman. “Aborted Babies Used in Russian Anti-Aging Fad.” The Scotsman, June 21, 2005.

Dr. Brian Clowes has been HLI’s director of research since 1995 and is one of the most accomplished and respected intellectuals in the international pro-life movement. Best known as author of the most exhaustive pro-life informational resource volume The Facts of Life, and for his Pro-Life Basic Training Course, Brian is the author of nine books and over 500 scholarly and popular articles, and has traveled to 70 countries on six continents as a pro-life speaker, educator and trainer.

Marisa Cantu has an MS in political science and international affairs with a BA in political science and has also studied international studies and French. She has a strong background in nonprofit work, research, writing, and policy proposal and analysis.

In her free time, Marisa enjoys painting, writing, cooking, spending time with her husband and playing with her dog.


  1. Mary Carbone on January 5, 2023 at 12:10 PM

    Please tell us what products are free of these baby organs

    • HLI Staff on January 6, 2023 at 4:36 PM

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. As of right now, we have no evidence of American-made cosmetics using fetal tissue in their products. If you are in the habit of purchasing from European cosmetic companies, you might want to take a look at the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to find out whether those products have patented processed skin proteins (PSPs) in them. Those PSPs are derived from a cell line that originated with an aborted 14-week-old Swiss baby boy. Otherwise, most cosmetic products do not seem to use aborted fetal cells.

  2. mexicanfive on December 10, 2022 at 8:14 AM

    This is well written by Brian. I personally was not aware of the origins until today, of fetal skin cells and cosmeceuticals until I went through all the references mentioned too. There is a fictional movie based on this unethical practice just released in India, named Yashoda that is receiving good feedback from public, and apart from brilliant acting from the lead actress who played a pregnant woman – it should have been the plot that this very, if I may say inhuman fondness for vanity from fetus derived stem cells etc and the access to limitless money from the cosmetics industry. Public need to be aware of the food they eat, cosmetics they use as they are not on the same ground as life saving medicines or vaccines. Europe, Asia or the Americas and the world are equally responsible for ensuring proper regulations to check on this monstrous practices if they are still happening under the carpet. Let us be humans first and treat living or dead fetus with respect, beauty, longevity, miraculous cures can come from elsewhere.

  3. Barb on October 31, 2022 at 11:46 PM

    There is there is no excuse ever for having anything injected into your body or used that contains aborted fetal cells. If you do you are complicit in that abortion. It is evil, pure and simple, absolutely totally evil. You will answer to God one day if you do anything to help someone have an abortion, use a product that has aborted fetal cells in it or encourage someone to have an abortion. You also cannot vote for a Democrat because everything in the Democratic Party is absolutely totally anti-Catholic and pro-abortion. I heard Father Altman say before the last election that if you vote for a Democrat, you are not a Catholic, you are a fake Catholic and when you die there will be 60 million aborted babies standing between you and the gates of heaven. God help our nation! Pray, pray, pray.

    • Deborah on November 14, 2022 at 10:51 PM

      I’m disgusted with what vanity and greed has done to all humans! Humans are too focused on outer beauty that they can’t even recognize inner beauty first! The use of any aborted baby part for any reason is inhuman…

  4. Joseph on September 6, 2022 at 11:17 PM

    It’s a bold claim that no US cosmetics are using aborted babies. You can’t prove that anymore than the contrary. I hate to burst your bubble about US virtue, but this is likely the most corrupt nation on earth (England a distant 2nd). Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, land and people, but nations are ruled by humans, and humans err. Your “happy go lucky” utopian America doesn’t exist. Name the atrocity, and America is right in the mix, if not at the top. “Rumors” often originate from some sort of fact. Without going into detail (because it can lead into several rabbit holes and this is hardly the platform), you must open your eyes so you can better see. Or perhaps you have an invested angle?

    • S on November 16, 2022 at 12:31 PM

      Well said. America is involved in many atrocities around domestically and internationally.

  5. frances vincent on January 13, 2022 at 8:08 PM

    IF ONE NEEDS ANYTHING, USE IMMACULATE HAND AND BODY LOTION made with the pure waters in Lourdes. This is not blessed water.

  6. Denise Bilby on December 18, 2021 at 2:29 PM

    At what point do we come to understand how this new world science and trans humanism grieves the Holy Spirit? A practice that is being used by companies in research, development and product end results that cheapens and diminishes life will end up creating a society that NO HUMAN is SAFE IN! This time is here. CRISPR, aborted fetal cells and body parts for science and the trans humanist agenda is too reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Eugenics, euthanasia, depopulation, control over humanity by the Global Elite Great Resetters is their Build Back Better Plan! China already has chimeric animals and humans and this push to change what it is to be human and who gets to live or die is WW3. Asymmetrical warfare on humanity using bioweapons and fear was done in Nazi germany to create Jews as “others” made the cattle cars less ugly in minds of many Germans. They divided the people like they are now. WEF and Soros and Gates and Rockefeller are just a few behind this Great Reset agenda. They want totalitarian bio fascism and the 4th industrial robotic, AI revolution. We cannot ignore or bury heads in sand! Our children and their children and all life depends on our uniting and success at remaining human and free! Join local groups and support local small farmers using organics and humane treatment of animals now.

  7. La Belle Au Bois Dormant on September 15, 2021 at 8:59 PM

    That’s old news. As far as I’m aware, Neocutis no longer uses tissue from aborted fetuses for their growth factor products — they now use human foreskin tissue leftover from circumcisions.

    • HLI Staff on January 12, 2022 at 11:14 AM

      Thank you for your comment, La Belle Au Bois Dormant. Our team looked into this question. We did not find evidence that Neocutis stopped using fetal cells in their products, and Children of God for Life still mentions specific Neocutis products that do in their 2020 list.

  8. Theresa Rodriguez on September 15, 2021 at 2:40 PM

    Thank you so much for your response in defense of human life. I was reading this aloud to mixed crowd and Catholic and non-Catholic alike were dumbfounded that the argument for the vaccines being morally limit was the length of time that passed; as if that somehow nullified the atrocity. A Protestant friend thought it even more evil that they were perpetuating cell linings of these poor infants from long ago. Sorry. There is NOTHING morally limit in any of this.

    • carolyn davis on October 27, 2021 at 7:36 AM

      What is missing in this article is the fact the cells being used from the fetus today are derived and replicated from the cell lines that were harvested from the fetus a long time ago. The cells are not the original cells from the fetus. So passage of time has nothing to do with it.

  9. Bennet on July 22, 2021 at 11:56 PM

    So it is made from aborted babies ewwwwwwwwww

  10. Denice Thompson on February 16, 2021 at 5:06 PM

    This is more fact checking than anyone could imagine. Young men and women have no idea the decisions they are making.

  11. HLI Staff on October 5, 2020 at 9:59 AM

    Dear Maria, From time to time we hear stories alleging that American abortion mills are selling aborted babies to major cosmetic companies so that they may be “rendered” for their collagen, the main protein component of connective tissue. This rumor is persistent and seems to have a life of its own, but there is no proof of such a practice ― at least, not in the United States.
    Pro-lifers have never documented any cases of collagen from freshly-aborted babies being used in cosmetics in the United States. However, human collagen from placentas is used extensively in surgical procedures, particularly cosmetic surgery and the treatment of severe burns. A number of cosmetic companies also use placentas in their beauty products.
    A normal full-term human placenta weighs two pounds, about one hundred times more than a preborn child aborted at eleven weeks. Placentas from cows, goats, sheep and, yes, humans are used in many cosmetics, but there is nothing illegal or immoral about this practice. Hospitals and slaughterhouses commonly sell bulk placentas to pharmaceutical companies and cosmetic companies, which then extract hormones and proteins from them for use in hair care products, which supposedly make hair stronger and shinier, and lotions, which are advertised as making skin smoother and suppler. [i]

    [i] To discover what is in your favorite brand of cosmetics (if you dare!), see the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database at practice of ‘placentaphagia,’ the act of eating a newborn baby’s placenta, has been common in many societies throughout human history for nutritional and ritual purposes. According to those who have tried this rather exotic dish, placentas can be boiled in saltwater, fried in butter and garlic, stir fried with vegetables, or sauteed in wine or spices. For those who really want to know, a human placenta smells like liver when it is cooking and tastes like liver or kidney (Karen Janszen. “Meat of Life.” Science Digest, November/December 1980, pages 78 and 79)].

  12. María Angélica Pérez Ferrada on September 29, 2020 at 5:14 PM

    I have read a lot of things about important companies that produces creams using cell lines from aborted babies, but I dont know if this product (Perfeccionist CP + R of Estee Lauder) is in this list or not… Its a great cream, I hope it was not created in this way… but I dont know…

  13. María Angélica Pérez Ferrada on September 29, 2020 at 5:05 PM

    I would really appreciate if yoy can answer this question:
    Do you know if Perfeccionist (CP + R) of Estee Lauder was created using cell lines from aborted babies???

  14. Jacob on September 15, 2020 at 9:45 PM

    Please look into the guidelines in the USDA that allow a certain amount of human DNA in our foods. Our fast food business are buying the cheapest form of collagen to use as a binder for soy used in hamburgers. They claim it is animal sourced and not from aborted babies, but if so then why are they continuing to fail test results which show large amounts of human DNA in the hamburgers. Many here are turning a blind eye to this or are in denial because it is just too horrible to accept in spite of the evidence that has been swept under the rug repeatedly. Thank you for your valuable time. Much respect to you and your Holy work dear sir.

  15. HLI Staff on September 9, 2020 at 10:26 AM

    Carol, We are very sorry to have offended you. I think you may have misunderstood the statement. To be clear, it is not morally acceptable to develop cell lines from aborted babies. However, the question of how closely do vaccine users cooperate in the evil of abortion is one the Church has considered. When no alternative is available, vaccines originating from cell lines that decades ago used fetal tissue and are regenerated and sustained in a laboratory today are permitted to avoid risks to personal health, and indirectly, the health of the community as a whole. We also have a moral duty to actively fight the evil of using fetal tissue from aborted babies in the development of vaccines until morally acceptable alternatives are available. There is more information in this related article: Thank you for raising the question.

  16. Jamilla Smith on July 21, 2020 at 4:59 AM

    The age of the cells used is irrelevant. They are all children of The Most High.
    I am forever impacted after reading this article, and can never turn a blind eye. Ever again. The voice-less needs to be spoken for. I am thankful to have come across this website, but so heartbroken to know the hearts of humanity. God bless you all. Let’s stand for what is right in the eye of the Maker.

  17. HLI Staff on June 26, 2020 at 9:36 AM

    You raise an important question, Susan. Here is another article on the HLI website that gives a fuller explanation and addresses the morality of using the tissue of aborted preborn babies when an alternative vaccine does not exist:

  18. Sean Connolly on June 25, 2020 at 3:55 PM

    Thank you, Dr. Clowes, for delineating the licit and the gruesome practices, as well as the foolish vultures who subscribe to the latter. May the light of Christ (since reason so often escapes those who tout it) shine upon all to take the moral high ground before more harm is done.

    • Carole Keaton on June 22, 2021 at 1:45 PM

      You are fortunate to have escaped the grip
      of the now acceptable practice of societal
      infanticide. For you are privileged to enjoy
      life, while millions of others were denied
      that right. If expressing this truth is
      “causing harm”, then it is due to one’s
      conscience being stirred. For we
      instinctively know, as human beings, that
      what is done to the most vulnerable,
      echoes in the Collective.

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