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If you’ve used a product with colostrum, then you’ve used a product with an ingredient that comes from mammary glands. Colorstrum is a substance found in breasts just before and immediately after a mammal gives birth, but isn’t exactly breast milk (Science Daily). It’s a pre-milk substance that contains antibodies and immunoglobulins, as well as nutrients, growth factor, and numerous other beneficial compounds.
Essentially, it provides nutrients, immune- and gastrointestinal- protection to infants, who have been in a sterile environment until birth (Indian Journal of Pediatrics). It’s been used for centuries in traditional medicine to heal various illnesses, as well as an antibacterial agent. In the U.S., scientists recognized colostrum’s anti-bacterial properties before they discovered antibiotics.
Considering the cocktail of nutrients and other essentials colostrum packs, it makes sense that it’s become a product used in the beauty industry. It’s used in products such as Epicuren Colostrum Cream Serum and the Immupure Skin Perfecting System.
What Kind of Colostrum Do We Use?
More than likely, the colostrum in beauty products comes from two non-human sources: cows and sheep. Cow colostrum is widely considered the most compatible replacement for humans in terms of ingesting colostrum. In fact, bovine colostrum might be more beneficial in some regards.
It contains 20% of Immunoglobulin G (IgG), as opposed to human colostrum, which contains 2% of IgG. This protein is the most common of the immunoglobulins (which also include A and M) and accounts for up to 80% of the antibodies in the blood (Johns Hopkins Medical).
In order to obtains colostrum with the highest amount of nutrients and immunoglobulins, it’s important to take it almost immediately after the birth. The animals are kept under close supervision and up to FDA standards. The colostrum harvested in the first 24 is more potent in terms of nutrients but there is less of it when compared with the later colostrum that is in greater amounts but has fewer immunoglobulins.
What Does Colostrum do for Skin?
The growth hormones in colostrum have been shown to be beneficial for regeneration. Within the body, it can help to heal muscles, bone, cartilage, and nerve tissue. But it’s used in beauty products because it can helps to repair and regenerate skin and collagen. In fact, colostrum has been used on burn and skin injuries to help in the wound-healing process (Indian Journal of Pediatrics).
This is because it contains Epithelial Growth Factor (EGF), which helps protect and heal skin, as well as promotes normal growth. One of the reasons it’s commonly used in anti-aging products is because Insulin like growth factors 1 and 2 (IgF1, IgF2) work to repair DNA and RNA within the body.
In an in vitro study using canine fibroblasts, skim bovine colostrum was found to increase fibroblasts in proportion to the amount of colostrum used (The Journal of Nutrition). Another study on human cells found that colostrum increases the migration of fibrblasts (Bioscience, Biotechnology, Biochemistry).
It may work for more than anti-aging too. Studies have shown that colostrum has powerful anti-bacterial capabilities that make it effective as a prophylactic against bacteria such as Chlamydia trachomatis (Journal of Reproductive Immunology).
Cosmetic company Immupure tested its Immupure Skin Repair Cream with colostrum in a test using patients who had psoriasis, acne vulgaris, and neurodermatitis. All three types of patients showed improvement using the colostrum cream over an eight-week period (Immupure).
Colostrum is a powerful ingredient in products, and the higher the concentration, the more effective. That’s because it’s a very concentrated substance full of immunoglobulins and nutrients. In cosmetic products, it’s harvested from cows or sheep that have given birth within 72 hours. For this reason, those who desire vegan or animal-free products might chose to eschew colostrum. There have yet to be non-industry-sponsored studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of colostrum cream for wrinkle-reducation. While we know that it increases collagen and promotes healing, we don’t know how it compares to other ingredients.