This morning I was called by the ABC to comment on a gruesome mass murder involving the cosmetics industry. Apparently police uncovered a Peruvian gang who were alledged to have been harvesting the fat from humans and selling it to the cosmetics manufacturers for $15,000 per Kg.  Not being something I hear every day I must say that my first thoughts were of magical or mystical connections,   just like the hunters who take bile from bears hoping to capture its strength and virility this certainly seemed more superstition than science. 

That got me thinking   of the book  “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind, a book about a murderer motivated by his desire to  capture the perfect essence of humanity – an essence that was captured via carefully peeling the victims scent from them after embalming their bodies in warm animal fats (a technique called effluage which is still used today, only not usually on humans).

Anyway, aside from that what use would human fat have for the cosmetics industry?  I have to say that I don’t know ANY cosmetic house that would seek out this kind of ingredient. Fats are used in cosmetics to make creams, lotions and sometimes body washes feel good on the skin. The oils keep the skin moisturised and softened, help to deliver active ingredients to the skin and protect it from the environment.  Nowadays the oils used in cosmetics are most often vegetable derived – palm,  coconut, cotton, avocado, jojoba, macadamia and olive are often used. The prices of these oils can vary but usually you would usually only be looking at between $1000 and  $4000 for a MT of  plant-based oil making this human oil pretty expensive.

Chemically speaking, the composition of human fat would vary depending on the age, […]