Are Stem Cells Actually Beneficial In Skin Care Products?
By Marc Gordon - November 8, 2021

There always seems to be a new skincare ingredient or substance claiming to be the next big breakthrough. But the most recent ingredient making its way to our skincare products and claiming to repair our skin are stem cells. The stem cells that are in our bodies make new cells and replace the damaged ones. What makes them so remarkable is their ability to function as any cell in the body. Besides skin care, stem cells have been long researched and stem cell therapies are being studied to see how they can possibly help in the treatment of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and many other diseases. But with all the claims of stem cells, their use in skincare products offer nothing much different than the claims you’d see on other skincare products, like fighting wrinkles, smoother and firmer skin, and an even skin tone. But what makes stem cells stand out is their possible ability to repair skin and stimulate tissue growth.

Getty Images/Science Photo Library/Kateryna Kon

Many of the skincare products on the market that contain stem cells come at a heft price. For instance, Indie Lee Stem Cell Serum is sold for $135 and Lancer Skincare Lift Serum Intense can be bought for $275. Beibei Du-Harpur, a dermatologist and skin researcher said, “Unfortunately, the term ‘stem cell’ is highly marketable, but the products do not have robust peer-reviewed science behind them. The studies I have seen are very small and appear to be aimed at convincing an audience that has no scientific background.” The main problem when it comes to stem cells in skincare is the fact that the stem cells are coming from various plants and flowers, as opposed to from humans. Du-Harper continues, “There is no theoretical reason why this would have any benefit on human skin.”

Additionally, it is quite difficult to maintain stem cell lives. Du-Harper explains, “The way they are maintained in labs is to keep them in a dish at 37 degrees [Fahrenheit], with a very specific soup of substrates, enzymes, etc., which are constantly being changed. Even so, they have a limited life span in this environment. The likelihood of a cosmetic formula being able to replicate this is pretty small.”  More importantly, when discussing the moral issue of stem cells, Du-Harper says, “If we could harness the theoretical regenerative power of stem cells into a skincare product, it would be utterly unethical of doctors to NOT use them in the myriad of life-changing dermatological diseases that would benefit from them.” There is still more research that needs to go into stem cells, so until that time comes, it’s best to continue your skincare routine just as you are.