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Stem cells in cosmetics


Dermatologists have turned to stem cells to fight wrinkles and improve skin turnover and overall appearance. Yep, you heard right. Stem cells, the same ones used in innovative medical research to treat Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancer, are now being sold over the counter in the form of creams, serums and other skin care products. Except there’s one major difference here: These stem cells are usually derived from plants (or occasionally animals). However, they work similarly to human stem cells and may offer anti-aging benefits for your skin.

What stem cells are and how they work

Human stem cells are unique because of their ability to divide. In certain organs, they can even become specialized to repair and replace damaged tissues. Stem cells are rapidly dividing cells in the body that have the ability to give rise to more stem cells or become other types of cells with more specialized function. Plant stem cells serve similar functions.

Both plant and human stem cells contain proteins and amino acids. These signal the body’s cells to rejuvenate and may result in younger-looking skin.

Why you’re seeing stem cells in your skin care products

As mentioned above, stem cells contain amino acids and peptides, which are skin care powerhouse ingredients for skin rejuvenation. These are the building blocks for cell rejuvenation, so over the past few years, there have been a variety of both animal- and plant-based stem cells in skin care products. Stem cells naturally have antioxidant properties and they nourish skin cells which promotes cell turnover and increases collagen production.

This could result in fewer lines and wrinkles, improved skin texture and tone, and younger, better-looking skin.

But keep in mind, it’s not actually living stem cells that you’re seeing in your face cream. Most cell skin care products contain plant stem cells, and more specifically, stem cell extracts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. These extracts are often rich in antioxidants and may provide growth factors to help renew and repair the skin. The extracts themselves can benefit the skin, but it’s not accurate to think that part of this type of product will then become a new skin cell. Remember, plant cells cannot become human cells, and they are no longer living once they have been processed and added into skin care.

What dermatologists think

The efficacy of stem cells in skin care depends on who you ask. Some dermatologists swear by them. Stem cells have the potential to repair skin cells, and they also protect your skin from external factors and create a more youthful look. They go into the skin’s cellular level, and they are able to deliver moisture and reparative agents to where they need to go.

Others aren’t convinced about why exactly stem cells are suddenly buzzing in the skin care world. They can be rich in antioxidants and often contain hydrators and moisturizers, so they can be good for the skin. They see the potential in using stem cells in conjunction with other treatments. They think the products work, however, you can improve the benefits dramatically with other procedures such as the Fraxel laser, thermage, injectable fillers, botox and PRP, a mix of micro-needling with platelet-rich plasma.

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