Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Science, Stem Cells and Skincare

Even if you’re not much into science and medicine, the average Joe Public is well aware of the research into stem cells and the possibility of “growing” new organs, offering a new treatment for diseases like cancer. Cosmetics companies offer “stem cell creams” and back up their efficacy with clever sciency stuff about fruits and trees regenerating. People make a connection and somehow think that putting stem cells FROM A PLANT on their face will unlock the beautiful skin of their youth.
Something that one of my friends said prompted me to go on this little rant: “I’m using this face cream but it’s not working: I still have [imaginary] fine lines and wrinkles… It's supposed to be good - it has stem cells in it!”

Now because I’m stubborn and sceptical about everything and typically research every ingredient before I buy, claims like these don’t work on me. I see them in the same way as mascara adverts: WTFBBQ AS IF.

These are a few of the products on the market:

Swiss Apple Stem Cell Creams
My favourite. The idea is that cells from a bit o’ fruit are going to reverse the signs of ageing. Remember though, these are Swiss apples, rare and infinitely superior to our own. Bog off Granny Smith.

An example is Oskia's Eye Wonder serum. It claims to increase hydration, reduce puffiness and smooth out fine lines. Now I quite like Oskia products (really) and I don't doubt that it actually works, but I suspect that has something to do with the hyaluronic acid, glycerin and peptides.

Lancome Absolue L’Extrait
Formulated with two million rose cells (not from your ordinary garden rose - the LANCOME rose!), an endearing story behind its creation and all this:

{ Ingredients }
Aqua / Water, Propanediol, Glycerin, Dimethicone. Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol. Orbignya Oleifera Oil / Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Propylene Glycol, Paraffinum Liquidum / Mineral Oil, Poly C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate, Sucrose Stearate, Theobroma Cacao Butter / Cocoa Seed Butter, Octyldodecanol, Ci 19140 / Yellow 5, Ci 14700 / Red 4, Sodium Polyacrylate, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrolyzed Linseed Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Adenosine, Eperua Falcata Bark Extract, Palmitic Acid, Chlorphenesin, Dimethiconol, Limonene, Synthetic Wax, Xanthan Gum, Linalool, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Rose Extract, Citronellol, Citral, Coumarin, Dextrin, Parfum / Fragrance

I CBA to research the ingredients (totally detracts from my point, I know), but have a quick read and tell me what you think (hint hint). Would you be willing to shell out £250 for a 50g pot of rose?
Never mind a rosy complexion, with a price tag like that I expect to transform into Princess Aurora.

L'Occitane Immortelle
L'Occitane says: "Immortelle is known as the everlasting flower: it never fades, even after it has been picked. Its organic essential oil is rich in active molecules with unique anti-ageing properties.
Over ten years ago, L’OCCITANE revealed and patented the exceptional anti-ageing powers of Corsican immortelle – the only variety that contains an incredibly high concentration of active ingredients."

So L'Occitane have unlocked the secret to immortality have they? HIGH FIVE! Eternal Youth? HIGH! FIVE...? 
Puh-leeaase. A flower that never fades sure is fascinating but how does that help me? Once you've picked it, and killed it (heh. ironic.), its magical unwilting properties will be passed on for the benefit of my skin? Yeah that totally makes sense.

I couldn't find an official ingredients list for the “Divine” or “Precious” cream, but going by other reviews, they contain glycerin (hydration), grape seed oil, evening primrose oil (anti-oxidants). Again, it's probably a good cream, but not thanks to the Immortal Flower.
On another note: did anyone else have an image of the Enchanted Rose in their mind all this time?
So all in all theres definitely some good stuff in these - anti-oxidants, hyaluronic acid, etc. - but as for the stem cells (which aren’t even alive) - nah. Please don’t be misled by fluffy pseudoscientific claims that don’t tell you much about the product. And read the label!


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