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Are stem cells the future of the skin care industry?

Updated: Jul 27, 2022

The most recent discoveries demonstrate the enormous therapeutic capability of stem cells in regenerative medicine. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that renew through cell division and have the capacity to develop into multiple cell types with specialized functions.


These cells are used in the therapy of chronic wounds and have also been tested for therapeutic purposes like acute burns. These cells have also shown novel properties in developing new cosmetic products and have been touted as a miracle ingredient in skincare, as they offer a range number of benefits for the skin.


The two different sources of stem cells used in skincare are the human (adult) and plant stem cells. Up until the most recent twenty years, researchers accepted that adult stem cells were extremely restricted in function, but it turns out they are considerably more flexible.


The stem cells from human tissue are cultivated and ‘’modified’’ by scientists in the lab; they can be developed into multiple cell lines that can be licensed to make little signalling proteins such as cytokines and growth factors useful for their products. When these signalling proteins bind to receptors, they are able to send commands in order to replicate, repair, and also rejuvenate. The National Health Institutes of different countries set standards in order to make sure that human stem cells are obtained in a controlled process from an ethical point of view.


Companies that use these lines, usually take into consideration the quality of the stem cells conditioned media, the formulation and also the delivery system for the growth factors. They usually have a different and unique methodology/approach, but most of the time, they're upheld by astounding research and genuine, clinical outcomes. According to different clinical trials that were conducted, the effectiveness of some stem cell types was verified, as it was seen an increase in moisture content and improvements of whitening and wrinkles.


Stem cells have also inspired in office treatments combining different procedures that can be applied on the skin. In USA they are used as injections of growth factors into the level of the dermis; as a combination of different growth factor products with other technologies such as fractionated lasers, new stem cell facials which they claim is the best way to get the ultimate so called ‘’youth boost’’.


The preliminary research regarding plant stem cells is also promising. According to in vitro studies, plant stem cells have antioxidant, antimicrobial and/or anti-inflammatory benefits and can also protect the skin from environmental aggressors (for example pollution). They contain amino acids and peptides, powerful ingredients for skin rejuvenation and they can stimulate, and repair skin cells, improve the skin tone, texture, and soften the looks of fine line and wrinkles. These extracts need to be in a formula that has a low pH and is water soluble in order to be effective. Plant stem cell extracts, when combined with other exfoliating ingredients and applied after procedures that wound the skin on a micro level, are the most beneficial.


According to different experiments/studies conducted by companies, plant stem cells as a cosmetic ingredient have shown benefits regarding the potential to reduce wrinkles in the area of the face, increasing the synthesis of elastin and fibers, allowing nutrient absorption, skin cell renewal and they also protect the skin from further damage when applied, because of the increase in the skin's level of filaggrin proteins.


However, terminology is important, and we must take into account that many cosmetic companies promote their products with the claim that they use stem cell technology and that their cosmetic products contain stem cells, when an extract of the plant stem cells is used and are not incorporated as live cells in the cosmetic formulation. In this case, it is better to be considered if they have clinical trials that back up these claims.


Also, incorporating stem cells in a carrier which can help the cells to penetrate the skin to give a real superficial advantage is a challenge to be addressed. Different companies place their growth factors from stem cells into systems, such as "lipid envelopes" (nano-liposomes), allowing the cytokines and growth factors to slide through the epidermis and go to where they are required in the dermis. Through these delivery systems it can be possible that the skin gets all the cytokines and growth factors that needs, as stem cells are too large in size to go through the epidermis.


The therapy of plant stem cells necessities to move in the correct heading to execute its intrinsic potential in skin care. This could occur in the following years. Further studies/investigations are needed in order to compare the efficacy and safety of these cells and growth factors. In current conditions, for innovative cosmetic scientists, the objective is to interface the evidence from old practices to affirm in today’s science and see where the use of these cells in skin care products can work in a more powerful, safer, and designated way.


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