Stem Cell Technology in Skin Care

If you've been following trends in skincare and anti-aging, you've probably heard of stem cell technology used in anti-aging products. Is this a panacea to skin aging or another unfounded hype concocted by ruthless marketers?

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are un-programmed cells found in plants and animals which have the capability to morph into specialized cells as required. They have a unique capacity to renew themselves and divide. Stem cells are often spoken of in the context of medical therapy, often in relation to bone marrow transplants. Stem cells research is currently conducted for potential therapeutic use in a variety of areas including neuro-degeneration, heart and liver disease, vision impairment and even teeth growth. Although much research is still at its early stages, the potential that stem cell research can unlock is enormous for medical science.

How are stem cells used in anti-aging products for the skin?

Stem cells have unique regenerative properties, and have great potential for use in the medical sciences. Used in the context of skincare, the idea is that if stem cell ingredients are applied topically (on the skin in the form of creams, gels, lotions), they may stimulate the growth of more stem cells. By encouraging growth of stem cells in our body which regenerate, it encourages a more youthful look.

What kinds of plants are the stem cells derived from?

Several plants have been tried, such as apples, grapes, and roses. More exotic plants like Edelweiss and Gotu Kola have also been used in cosmetic ingredients. Perhaps the most well known use of stem cell in cosmetic products is that of the rare Swiss apple, Uttwiler spätlauber, which is known for having a long shelf life.

Is it a miracle cure or a marketing myth?

The first emperor of China is believed to have died by mercury poisoning, believing in a miracle elixir that would grant him eternal life. Certainly medicine has advanced since then, as have regulatory standards, but marketing, hype, and hyperbole has been around since the ancients, and is not about to go anywhere. Do they have any benefit? Despite contrarians and skeptics, stem cell research is a hot area of research in medical science, and some independent research has demonstrated measurable benefits in the context of skincare even at this early stage. Stem cell products, like any other anti-aging product will not stop aging, or provide any miracle cures, but they can benefit the skin, and it is likely that we will see more advances in this particular line of research in the future.