Stem Cell Therapy and Cosmetics: Yeah or Nay

Stem cell therapy seems to be in the news more and more these days. It is exciting area of medical research, however, some of the cosmetic industry and clinics are promoting a promise of anti-aging and skin rejuvenating creams and serums. Let’s take a look at stem cell therapy.

So, what’s a simple definition of stem cell therapy? Researcher’s grow stem cells in a lab. These cells are “manipulated” into a specific type of cell, such as muscle cell like the heart cell, a blood cells, or a cell for your adrenal system. Image opening a cookbook and you want to make soup, with each organ having its own flavor yet put it all together and you get a body. This process is called: cellular differentiation.

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are specialized cells in animals or plants that have the ability to become any other kind of cell.

In other words, a plant is a plant, an animal is an animal. They are not interchangeable in that type of organism. These stem cells have the ability to divide to become new stem cells or specialized cells in that type of organism. These stem cells play an important roll on how plants or skin repair and rejuvenate themselves once they have been damaged.

What’s the issue with Stem Cells?

Leave it up to marketing to promote stem cells in skincare products. There are a few problems with this claim. The stem cell needs to be alive to function and kept in a precise environment to be kept alive in order to duplicate. By the time these cells are processed and added to a skincare product, they are no longer alive and cannot work as they once did.

The good news? The ability to regrow injured skin from human stem cells into healed healthy skin is in the works. 

Products that claim plant stem cells are, if you think of it, more of a puzzlement. It is less costly to add plant stem cells to a cosmetic, but the products in a jar loose their antioxidant benefits because plant extracts break down with repeated exposure to air and light. Also, say you have a rose stem cell in your jar.

It sounds lovely, but do you get the benefit of its leaf, or stem, or pollen? What’s worse, do you want your skin to take on the characteristics of a rose stem or leaf? Probably not.  

In Conclusion

As an esthetician, I have definitely seen many claims for the latest and greatest, “wow ingredient”, in skin care products over the years. Many products sound enticing, but that is something that scientist are still exploring as to how it will work and done safely.

Scientist and consumers must consider what creams are mixed with, what percentages are in these creams, and how effect would that really be on a skin that has a specific need.

So, in short, stem cells that are still alive, need to come from a human. It must be injected by a medical specialist into your dermis (skin), and that’s when it changes into a drug versus a cosmetic.

Once you know how stem cells really work, it’s easy to see how they cannot work in a cosmetic cream.