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What Are Stem Cell/Growth Factor Creams and Do They Really Work?


Stem cells are undifferentiated cells which have the ability to differentiate into any cell type when the condition is favorable. Growth factors are proteins that play an important part in maintaining healthy skin structure and function. So growth factors can be compared to fertilizer for a plant to grow. And the stem cell can be compared to actual seed or a seedling from which plant grows out.The stem cells in the presence of growth factors, rejuvenate skin and address many signs of aging. There are several types of growth factors/ stem cell derived from, plant, animal (secretions of snail), and human sources (fetuses). 

Finally, synthetically derived ones are developed in a lab to be identical to growth factors/stem cell found in human skin. Several companies are starting to go this route to avoid controversies with growth factors/stem cell from animal or human sources. 

But stem cells only work if they are living. And living stem cells are not being put into these skin creams. If they were, they would have to have a special growth medium and be kept at a specific temperature. Stem cell containing creams are not created as such. At best you have a cream filled with dead stem cells that have no potential to do anything. And moreover, no cosmetic brands are currently using whole human stem cells. Instead, they are using human stem cell extract which are formulations based on growth factors.

Plant stem cells are all the more insensible to discuss. Since a lot of products claim their active ingredient is a plant stem cell (Swiss apple seems to be the most popular).There are no clinical studies to support or prove that how human skin responds or relates to plant stem cells.

So when an anti aging cream with a stem cell extract /growth factors is applied on to the skin it is supposed to get absorbed into the skin and reach the deeper layer of skin and thereby improve the wrinkles and elasticity and texture of the skin.

But there are many concerns about using growth factors for cosmetic purposes as well, some of which are:-


  • It is not known whether growth factors contained in cosmeceuticals are stable, can be absorbed adequately, to cross the skin surface to exert a functionally significant outcome to reverse the signs of aging.
  • When we use cosmetic creams with growth factors repeatedly, and possibly over long periods of time it will cause cells to over-proliferate, they might cause cancer or other health problems