In the latest quest to fight the signs of ageing and make our skin look more youthful, an increasing number of brands are turning to a relatively new science – stem cells.
By extracting stem cells from plants and adding them to creams, serums, and treatments, stem cell skincare not only reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines but actually stimulates the growth of skin tissue. It essentially makes your skin cells work as they used to when you were younger, thus creating a more youthful and longer-term difference.
Specifically, the extraction of plant stem cells used in the new wave of stem cell skincare products helps to stimulate the cellular production in your skin. This makes it look noticeably smoother, tighter, and overall healthier. Stem cell skincare can also reduce inflammation and help protect against sun damage.
This is because, as we age our skin starts to lose its elasticity, plumpness, and smoothness. This is partly down to our bodies producing less collagen and fewer peptides (amino acids). To counteract this drop, the skin cells need to continue to multiply and repair and this is what stem cell skincare promises to do.
Both our stem cells as well as plant stem cells have antioxidant properties. These work to create new cells and replace damaged ones. As we get older, our cells become larger and less able to divide and multiply, which in turn ages the look of our skin.
By applying products that contain stem cells, which are higher in antioxidants than our own cells, it can help prevent this. Or at least delay things.
This is because plant stem cells provide the nutrients and metabolites to stimulate natural stem cell production in the epidermis (the outer layer of our skin).
They can’t directly mimic the activity of our natural stem cells – because the genetic boundaries between human and plant cells can’t be crossed – but they can signal to our skin to start to multiply and repair again. This turn makes us look more youthful.
“We are seeing plant-based stem cells in skincare products these days because they repair the skin on a cellular level,” according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Eve Lupenko, who has more than 20 years’ experience in skincare. “Most regular skincare products don’t penetrate into those areas of the actual skin cells.”
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the plant stem cells additionally help to encourage your own stem cells to flood the skin with amino acids and proteins to improve your complexion and skin health.
Plant stem cell skincare products are particularly beneficial to people after they’ve had a chemical peel, or have undergone micro-needling, or dermaplaning procedures.
“The major benefit of plant stem cells is in the repair of the skin,” explained Dr. Patel, the founder of Visha Skincare. “These extracts may be beneficial as an anti-ageing agent, especially if mixed with tissue exfoliating agents such as retinol, bakuchiol, and alpha-hydroxy acids.”
The plant stem cells are extracted from the so-called meristems of plants that have been grown and controlled in laboratories. Therefore the cells that are extracted are as pure as they can be and have the best possible results for your skin.
With the stem cells being extracted from such a controlled environment it also means the quality of the plant can be regulated, so only the best stem cells are used in skincare products. It also means there is no interference from pesticides, pollution or other environmental factors. The process is referred to as “plant cell culture technology.”
Although the term, ‘stem cell’ is used to describe what’s extracted, the cell itself is not live when it’s included in the skincare product. It does however retain the antioxidants, amino acid content, and the ability to boost collagen synthesis.
Plant stem cells are often referred to as phyto cells, plant extracts, or fruit extracts. Not all plants have been proven to show efficacy with their stem cells though, so you’re going to want to look at where the skincare brands source their plant stem cells. You’ll also want to choose the brands with clinical trials to back up their claims.
Due to the claims that stem cell skincare actually repairs your skin, and makes you look even younger, the price tag does reflect this. So none of these first waves of products are cheap.
It’s likely as the technology advances, this price will come down. There are even claims that you may one day be able to inject stem cells – either from plants, or your own– directly into your skin.
To help take the hassle out of finding effective stem cell skincare products, we’ve done the hard work for you and found the following.
£290 | Buy now
This stem cell skincare product from Swiss-Canadian Dermatologist Dr. Phillip Levy has been clinically trialled. The study showed that within eight weeks skin density was improved by over 12% and wrinkle depth decreased by up to 26%.
The cream contains both plant-derived stem cells and Dr Levy’s patented ArganCellActiv formula, which claims to rejuvenate your stem cells, boost collagen production, and increase levels of hyaluronic acid.
The cream inside the bottle isn’t too thick and absorbs quickly. It feels really silky, but not greasy. It will make your skin feel fresh and soft straight away.
As we mentioned before, there’s a big price tag attached to most stem cell skincare products, and this price is for a 50ml bottle, but if you want to make the biggest difference to your skin, this is the best product to try.
£102 | Buy now
A cheaper option, relative to Dr. Levy’s version at least, is the EGF Botanical Complex Moisturising Serum from brand, Nurse Jamie.
It includes plant stem cells and peptides, as well as Epidermal Growth Factor (a protein that stimulates cell growth and differentiation).
The Epidermal Growth Factor supports the creation of collagen and stimulates growth at a cellular level, while the plant extracts help to repair damage to your skin caused by UV rays and pollutants.
The serum feels more like a cream to apply and starts out feeling rather heavy. However, it then absorbs really quickly and you only need a tiny amount. Which, at this price, is a blessing…
£160 | Buy now
This stem cell skincare from Sarah Chapman works over a four-week period to improve the density and smoothness of your skin.
It combines cell-regenerating botanical stem cell technology with collagen-boosting peptides to minimise the appearance of your pores and tighten your skin.
It’s a little different from other products on this list, in terms of application, though. You release the powdered stem cells from the internal chamber into the serum before you apply.
The brand has done this because it helps maintain the highest potency of the plant stem cells. This is all done by simply pressing a button on the bottle and then shaking it for a few seconds to activate.
It’s recommended that you use the product in the morning and before bed. It has a really nice jasmine scent as a bonus. If you have facials at spas you may well have seen or used this product before.
£60 | Buy now
The Juice Beauty micro-exfoliant is the cheapest stem cell skincare product on our list, by quite some way.
It contains fruit stem cells plus grapeseed microparticles to help replenish, restore and renew your skin. This stem cell exfoliator vitamin E to soften and moisturise.
If you’re new to stem cell skincare, or don’t have the budget for more expensive products in this list, the Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Resurfacing Micro-exfoliant is a great option to reduce your fine lines and wrinkles.
This is a product that you may come across in spas because it’s a great alternative to chemical dermabrasion.
£129 | Buy now
Bio Effect EGF is a powerful serum that utilises a plant-based replica of Epidermal Growth Factor (the first product on the market to do so).
It’s particularly great for reducing the signs of ageing around your eyes, tightening the skin and reducing wrinkles.
The EGF serum is well known in the beauty world for its youth-prolonging effect.
If you have any sun damage or dry spots on your face we’d recommend using this one.
You’ll want to use it every evening before bed and by doing this the product should last for about three months. The results from using this serum should be quite immediate, making your skin look plumper and hydrated. And you don’t need to just take our word for it, there are many, many great reviews for this product online.
Kat is a freelance journalist, photographer, and the founder of Simply Gender Free – a company dedicated to smashing gender stereotypes in kids’ products. As a mum of two, Kat is passionate about making the world a better place for the next generation