Back in 2018, Sandra Bullock made headlines when she raved about her beloved “penis facial.” Perhaps she’d be a fan of another buzzy beauty trend having a moment right now: salmon sperm.
It’s long been reported that eating salmon is great for your skin. But salmon sperm might be the secret to a youthful complexion.
Before you let your imagination run wild, just know that we’re not about to tell you to slather fresh fish sperm all over your face. We’re actually referring to the DNA harvested from salmon sperm, which has been making its way into the world of luxury skin care.
Like many of the buzzy ingredients that keep popping up in the beauty world (see also: snail secretions and baby foreskin stem cells), salmon sperm DNA gained popularity in Korea thanks to its supposed ability to help with cell repair and regeneration (more on that later). According to an article published online by T Magazine: Singapore, a salmon sperm DNA facial treatment called Rejuran Skin Healer has been available in South Korea for about four years.
The ingredient is also included in a few higher-end skin care products, such as Argentum’s $225 La Potion Infinie and Shangpree $135 Marine Jewel Capsules (which were sold out online at the time we published this article). If you’re looking for it in your skin care products, you might find it listed with names like Sodium DNA or HP DNA.
It’s pretty safe to say salmon sperm DNA is a thing. But before you drop hundreds of dollars on a fancy sperm cream, find out what dermatologists had to say about it.
First, let’s look at the claims.
As previously noted, salmon sperm DNA is said to help with cell repair and regeneration. According to the Peach & Lily website, which sells Shangpree’s capsules, salmon sperm DNA “has potent regenerative qualities, working not on the superficial level but sinking deeply into skin to work from within, encouraging cell turnover that, in turn, helps firm skin and maintain its elasticity.”
It’s also said to be an anti-inflammatory that can aid in wound and tissue repair. As we get older, our cells become slower at repairing and regenerating themselves. So, in that sense, salmon sperm DNA sounds like a magic ingredient for anyone looking to slow down the signs of aging.
But does it really work?
According to Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, there is some science backing salmon sperm DNA benefits. She told HuffPost via email that while it might seem like a strange ingredient, it “has actually been shown to improve wound healing and can increase blood vessel formation and blood flow to the skin.”
“Multiple studies have been done on mice, and there are several journal articles to support this,” she said. “It has even been suggested that products with this ingredient can be used following certain ablative laser treatments to improve recovery after these procedures.”
One study done in 2010 found that rubbing the DNA taken from salmon milt (another way of saying salmon sperm) onto male subjects resulted in improved skin elasticity after one month of use. The study, which was done over a 12-week period, also showed that the DNA decreased water loss and increased water content in the skin.
Other studies ― one from 2016 and one from 2018 ― have shown that salmon sperm DNA can promote wound healing. It should be noted, however, that the studies weren’t looking specifically at anti-aging effects.
Interestingly, salmon sperm DNA is also being tested as a sunscreen. And we all know sunscreen is the number one key to combat effects of aging.
A couple other dermatologists we contacted weren’t totally convinced of salmon sperm DNA’s effectiveness.
“I would be hesitant to recommend it as there hasn’t been much real science showing that it is effective anti-aging ingredient,” Dr. Samer Jaber, of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City, told HuffPost via email.
He acknowledged one study that showed salmon skin DNA’s effects on skin elasticity, but noted it “was a very small study.”
Dr. Angela Lamb, director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice, also in New York City, noted that there aren’t many studies testing the effectiveness of salmon sperm DNA on human skin.
Should you try it?
That’s up to you to decide. While there is some science to back up some of the stated health benefits of salmon sperm DNA, there’s definitely more research that can be done in terms of its anti-aging properties. If you’re interested in salmon sperm DNA solely for anti-aging purposes and are making your decision based on hard facts, you might not want to give it a go just yet.
And remember, if you’re curious about a product, you can bring it to a dermatologist to find out whether or not it might be right for you. They’re the skin care experts, after all.
“I tell my patients to use what we know works,” Jaber said.