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Plant Stem Cells in Skincare

By Arthur W. Perry, MD September 7, 2019 No comments

© 2019 Arthur W. Perry, MD, FACS

One of the newest trends in skincare is the use…or alleged use…of plant stem cells. There are many dozens of moisturizers, serums, perfumes, “firming” creams, masks, and other products that claim to use plant stem cells to improve appearance.

Plants produce a myriad of chemicals that allow exposure to ultraviolet light blasting sunshine for many hours without developing DNA damage.  Many of the chemicals are pigmented antioxidants – chemicals like: 

  • green sulforaphane, isocyanate, indoles, and chlorophyll in broccoli 
  • red lycopenes in raspberries
  • purple and blue anthocyanins in berries, 
  • orange and yellow beta cryptothanxin in carrots
  • brown flavonoids in mushrooms
  • white allicin in onions and garlic
  • orange carotenoids in tomatoes
  • and red phenolics in citrus, blue beta-cyan and red betalain in beets, and yellow beta-xanthin in Swiss chard.   

A healthy diet should include a wide variety of colored fruits and vegetables, giving us a wide variety of protective antioxidants.  The chemicals are made by cells in roots, stems and leaves and can be made in larger quantities by special stem cells, under the right conditions.  These cells allow plants adapt to stresses by producing extra protective chemicals.

There are many studies proving skin can look younger and more attractive after applying a variety of plant based antioxidants and substances like Vitamins A and C, niacinamide, and fruit acids.  But the million dollar question is whether plant stem cells be helpful to humans?  To function, they would first have to be alive. Think about how lettuce turns brown after just a few days.  So how could stem cells survive the process of being isolated from a plant and being squirt into bottles that sit on store shelves for months in the heat of summer? In fact, no product actually contains live plant stem cells.  Those that imply that on the label are exaggerating at best.  You might call this fraud, but I’ll try to keep the high road. Giving companies the benefit of the doubt, let’s say that they use “stem cell extract” - a mixture of all sorts of chemicals that plant stem cells might produce.  Like all of those pigmented antioxidants listed above and good things like vitamins A, C, and E.  

Products with genuine stem cell extracts use a wide variety of substances created by plants.  These chemicals might be useful and they might be useless – it depends on what they are, their concentration, a bunch of complicated chemical factors, and the time of the day that they are applied.  One thing is an absolute certainty:  they cannot be better than the individual chemical ingredients they contain.  And another thing is also certain: “stem cell extracts” have no known benefits that have been studied under rigorous scientific conditions.

So the bottom line? Stick to products with proven science or you will simply be throwing out your money.  

It's the results that count

By Arthur W. Perry, MD August 12, 2017 No comments
So many skin care products make absolutely ridiculous claims. They claim that their products can rejuvenate your skin in just hours. Or they claim to cure certain disease conditions of the skin. When I look at the ingredients, I know that this is just plain fraud. But how do you know? It's so tough, and the FDA tolerates these lies... Why? I suppose they have their plates full with regulating medical devices and the entire food and drug supply of the United States. So when it comes to ridiculous claims for plant stem cells (don't work) and hexapeptides (can't work), I guess they just figure that no one is being injured and so they don't waste their resources pursuing them. My patients and my customers know that I tell it like it is. And I create products that are honest. With real ingredients that are scientifically proven to work. On this website, I'll be posting photographs of women who have used my products and I'll show you their real results. Here's the first woman. She's 64 years old and has used my Basic Regimen (NightThyme, DayThyme, and CleanThyme) for 6 months. Most of the women in my study had similar results. Her photo on the top is before she started the program and the bottom photo is after 6 months.