Watch Out for that Chinese Skin Cream

Posted on September 14, 2005

The Guardian reports on a lovely Chinese practice of using the skin of executed prisoners as an ingredient in a number of skin preparations.

A Chinese cosmetics company is using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe, an investigation by the Guardian has discovered.

Agents for the firm have told would-be customers it is developing collagen for lip and wrinkle treatments from skin taken from prisoners after they have been shot. The agents say some of the company's products have been exported to the UK, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts is "traditional" and nothing to "make such a big fuss about".


He [the agent for the company] suggested that the use of skin and other tissues harvested from executed prisoners was not uncommon. "In China it is considered very normal and I was very shocked that western countries can make such a big fuss about this," he said. Speaking from his office in northern China, he added: "The government has put some pressure on all the medical facilities to keep this type of work in low profile."

The agent said his company exported to the west via Hong Kong."We are still in the early days of selling these products, and clients from abroad are quite surprised that China can manufacture the same human collagen for less than 5% of what it costs in the west." Skin from prisoners used to be even less expensive, he said. "Nowadays there is a certain fee that has to be paid to the court."

Oh well, if it's cheaper to harvest skin from dead (no doubt totally disease-free and really guilty of something) prisoners, then by all means let's go for it. We're not worried about a) whether the "prisoners" were really guilty and/or actually dead when this stuff was harvested or b) that there might be anything weird in that Chinese bottle of skin cream. Nope, not us.

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