The aesthetics and cosmetics industries grow and change at a pace that rivals that of Western medicine. Every year, sometimes several times a year, new and cutting edge technologies in anti-aging ingredients, products, and equipment are debuted at trade shows internationally. For the last couple of years the most buzzed about technology (perhaps alongside peptides) has been stem cell and stem cell growth factor technology in skin care products. Whether the ingredients are sourced from plants or human beings, they are now being added to countless serums, treatment creams, and other skin care products on the medical spa/professional level, as well as to more accessible over-the-counter (OTC) brands. In fact, I just saw an entire end-cap display at Whole Foods Market of the plant stem cell-based skin care brand Andalou.
Why so much buzz?
In both high-end and OTC skin care products, stem cell technology is being marketed as “restores the repair process and stimulates new cells to build collagen and elastin, heal hyperpigmentation and reverse aging”, “assists in the production of ATP…protects DNA and mitochondrial DNA”, “provides antioxidant and cell preservation benefits”, “defends against key aging factors, including UV and oxidative stress, and repairs skin's DNA to combat the visible signs of aging”, and “replenishes dying cells and regenerates damaged tissues”, just to name a few.
I don’t know about you but you had me at…well…all of that. These are some pretty hefty claims, some of which even border on being drug claims.
Is any of it true?
It seems that every antioxidant or peptide of the moment makes similar claims. Are stem cells and growth factors really any more effective at slowing down or even reversing the aging process, or is it just another gimmick to sell skin care products? What’s the deal with plant stem cells versus human stem cells…is one better than the other? Why is one product hundreds of dollars while another is $20? Aren’t there ethical and political issues surrounding this topic? Why are they focusing this stem cell research and technology on wrinkle creams…aren’t there diseases to cure?
To discuss and answer these questions and others, I decided to write an article on the different types of stem cell and growth factor technologies used in the aesthetics and cosmetics industries today. I started researching, found a lot of information, and decided it would be better to split it up into a short series of articles on the different topics and issues surrounding stem cell technology in skin care. You are now reading the first one.