Do Stem Cells In Cosmetics Really Work?

by Gio
do stem cells in skincare have antiaging properties

Have you heard? Stem cells can literally regenerate your skin.

Like, if your skin is wrinkled and damaged, you just need to put an apple stem cell on it for your skin to grow back young and healthy.

Sounds like science fiction? That’s because it is. Stem cells sound like the best thing since sliced bread but the facade soon cracks down under a little scrutiny…

What are stem cells?

All living beings have stem cells. Plants. Animals. Humans.

Stem cells are mother cells. They have the potential to become any type of cell in that organism. They can then reproduce more of those cells.

An example? An apple stem cell can turn into an apple leaf or the branch of an apple tree. A human stem cell can turn into a liver or a kindney. That’s why stem cells are so hot right now. In the future, we can use them to grow organs for transplants and cure all sort of diseases.

The potential for skincare is huge, too. One day, scientists will be able to take your stem cells and create new patches of skin to rid you of wrinkles and other imperfections.

But that day is still, far, far away. At this very moment, stem cells in technology can’t do much for your skin. Here’s why:

Stem cells must be alive to work

Let me say that again. Stem cells MUST be alive to work and turn into any part of an organism.

As of yet, there’s no way to keep stem cells alive in creams and lotions. Stem cells are living organism and, like all living organisms, they need food and the right environmental conditions to thrive. Put them in a cream and they’ll die.

The Beauty Brains say it better: stem cells “would have to have a special growth medium and be kept at a specific temperature. They would need to be refreshed with food too. Stem cell containing creams are not created as such.”

Plant stem cells can’t improve skin function

But let’s pretend scientists found a way to keep skin cells alive in your lotions and potions. Stem cells still wouldn’t work.

A stem cell can only turn into any part of the organism it belongs to. Apple plant stem cells can become branches, fruits, or leaves of an apple plant. But they’ll NEVER be able to turn into human skin, kidney or any other part of the human body.

This is just badly written science fiction.

FYI: I’m case you’re wondering why I’m so obsessed with apples, apple stem cells are the most common types of stem cells used in cosmetics.

Extracts from stem cells don’t work as stem cells

Skincare companies are panicking. They know we’re onto them and their stem cells BS. So they’ve upped their lies game and are now trying to sell us extracts and peptides derived from stem cells.

Once these are made stable, they claim, they can work as stem cells or positively influence the adult stem cells naturally present in your skin. Whatever the heck that means (FIY, as a rule of thumb, if you can’t understand the marketing copy it’s because it’s full of s*it.).

It means nothing. A stem cell must be intact to work. You can just take a piece of it and expect it to work like an entire stem cell.

There’s a little kernel of truth in all this nonsense, though: researchers are indeed studying how peptides could affect stem cells and get them to do what we want them to do.

But this research is still at the beginning. It could take decades before there’s a significant breakthrough.

Can stem cells penetrate skin?

Let’s say it’s 100 years from now. Scientists have managed to create creams and lotions with alive and intact human stem cells.

Can they penetrate deep enough into the skin to work their magic? Because if they don’t, it was all for nothing.

Truth be told, we don’t know. This is a question science hasn’t answered yet.

So, are stem cells useless?

If you’re read this far, you probably think that stem cells are 100% completely useless.

They’re not. They’re just not as impressive as they’re made out to be. Stem cells can’t rejuvenate your skin. But they have antioxidant properties that can help prevent wrinkles.

So do plenty of other vitamins and extracts, though. You don’t need to spend a fortune on stem cells to get your antioxidant fix.

Related: Common Antioxidants Used In Cosmetics

The Bottom Line

One day scientists may find a way to use human stem cells to rejuvenate skin and fight premature aging. But that day is still far, far away. For now, stem cells are just glorified antioxidants. Don’t buy into the hype!

Have you ever tried a cream with stem cells? Share your experience in the comments below.



MonicaP April 7, 2015 - 4:08 pm

Yes, I have a body lotion from Andalou Naturals that has “fruit stem cells”. I purchased the product because it was natural, no parabens, sulfates etc and the scent is clementine ginger which is lovely. I don’t think the stem cells “do” anything. I just wanted to use a natural type lotion as our skin is quite the sponge and my preference is to try to avoid commercial lotions with chemicals 🙂

Good to know that stem cells don’t really help other than as a possible anti-oxidant though.


Gio April 7, 2015 - 7:19 pm

Monica, that scent sounds lovely! There’s nothing wrong with buying a product that happens to contain stem cells. It’s when you splurge on something with stem cells because you think they can make you look younger that there’s a problem. Then you are just being taken advantage of.

I think natural products can be quite nice, but I wouldn’t call skin a sponge. Its job is to keep stuff out of the body and it does that quite well. If anything were able to penetrate it, then we wouldn’t need pills or injection to cure illnesses. Just applying a cream would do the trick, and who wouldn’t rather use that? 😉

MonicaP April 7, 2015 - 7:57 pm

There are medications that do penetrate the skin such as bio-identical hormones for menopause symptoms and they do work. I agree that skin keeps stuff out, but still can be penetrated which is why I decided to use more natural lotions vs. products that contain parabens.

I also agree that stem cell is a marketing buzz word .. good to know that you’re putting the word out there that these product probably won’t work 🙂


Gio April 7, 2015 - 8:13 pm

It’s true that some medications can penetrate skin, but they are especially formulated to do so. Most of the ingredients used in cosmetics can’t really penetrate skin deep enough to enter the blood stream so it’s highly unlikely they can cause any harm. But if you prefer to use natural products, that’s ok. There are many that are effective and affordable And it’s great that we have options so everyone can use what works best for them and feels more comfortable to them. 🙂

Kiss & Make-up April 8, 2015 - 10:44 am

Hmmm, let’s hope they soon have a breakthrough then. I want this to work!

Gio April 8, 2015 - 1:45 pm

Melissa, it’d be great if it did, wouldn’t it? But even if they found a way to make it work, I think it would take years before it would become available. They’d need to make sure no nasty side effects occur and that takes a lot of time. *sighs*

Sherry G August 12, 2017 - 5:06 pm

When you mentioned plant stem cells, I had a sudden picture of a melon growing on my face lol. Thanks for addressing this subject.

Gio August 19, 2017 - 9:18 pm

Sherry, thanks for the laugh. Lol.

Julina November 19, 2017 - 9:15 pm

please what about placenta stem cells from sheep or goat? heavy marketing to south east asia paying huge $$$.

Gio November 26, 2017 - 2:11 pm

Julina, it doesn’t matter if they’re derived from plants or animals, stem cells don’t work as claimed. A goat’s stem cell has the potential to turn into any part of a goat but it will never turn into human skin.

JD August 29, 2019 - 8:27 am

I fell for this marketing. I bought an Andalou BB cream a few years ago, and all I got was an orange face and a horrible breakout. I guess my face does not like fruit stem cells.

Comments are closed.