Have you heard? Stem cells can literally regenerate your skin.
Rumour has it that 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? 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:
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1. 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 organisms 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.”
2. 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: In 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.
3. 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’t 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.
Are Stem Cells In Skincare Products 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!