The Truth Behind “Plant Stem Cells” and the So Called Benefits in Skincare Products

- By: Kayli Westergard

In case you haven’t already noticed, fascination over stem cell therapy and stem cell-related products and procedures have caused a swirl of excitement and commotion in the skincare and wellness worlds. In an attempt to create anti-aging products that deliver some intense results, skincare companies have started including plant stem cells into their products. These products are accompanied by claims about the wonders of plant stem cells for your skin.

You might be wondering, how much of this hype is backed by scientific research? Are these products worth your money? As skincare enthusiasts, we take every cutting-edge technology and ingredient seriously. Today, we’re going to unpack what it means for skincare products to have stem cells and whether or not they’re worth your investment. Let’s get to the bottom of this recent trend and figure it out for ourselves!

The Misconceptions: Plant Stem Cells vs Human Stem Cells

One of the major misconceptions about skincare products with stem cells is that these stem cells are human or animal stem cells. Spoiler alert: they’re not. They’re plant stem cells. Some labels and marketing materials on products simply state that they contain “stem cells,” which is what has led some consumers to assume that the stem cells are human embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells. Because there is research backing up the wonders of human stem cell therapy, the undiscerning shopper can be easily fooled into thinking that plant stem cells are the same and can have similar miraculous results.

In reality, plant stem cells are entirely unlike human stem cells due to the biochemical processes, hormones and signaling molecules, and cell structures. Because human stem cells don’t have receptors for plant hormones or the same cellular physiological functions, the hormones found in plants don’t have any influence on human stem cells. On top of that, plant stem cells don’t produce collagen, elastin, or any human growth factors that would help damaged or dead skin cells.

Plant cells could potentially contain healthy compounds like antioxidants or anti-inflammatory properties. While that’s great, these same properties are found in so many other plant products and foods. Looks like you don’t need fancy plant stem cell products to use products with amazing benefits for your skin!

The Problems with Current Research on Plant Stem Cells

If you dig deeply past marketing materials and pop culture articles, you’ll find that there actually isn’t any research or thorough studies that prove the benefits of plant stems cells on human skin. Crazy, right?

You might find some marketing publications that discuss the benefits of plant stems cells for the skin. Unfortunately, these publications don’t have any data, studies, research, or experiments proving their claims. If a publication has references, these references tend to be other marketing publications that are similarly not backed by studies or data. Perhaps the claims are rooted in the belief that plant cells possibly contain antioxidants or anti-inflammatory properties. Still, these claims are simply claims and do not have any research to support them.

Let’s talk about one other problem. If you read the fine print, you’ll find that these products almost always contain stem cell extracts, not live plant stem cells. Why? First, stem cells can’t live that long in a product that sits on a shelf for weeks and weeks. Even if the stem cells were to hypothetically stay alive, they can’t actually penetrate the skin deeply enough to be effective. Second, if the cells were fully alive stem cells, these foreign cells might not be accepted. The human immune system isn’t welcoming to foreign cells, and live plant stem cells could possibly cause a rash or infection, or show some other sign of lack of compatibility.

The Moral of the Stem Cell Story

As it turns out, skincare products with plant stem cells aren’t these magical elixirs with supernatural anti-aging properties. In fact, the whole thing might be a marketing scheme since there aren’t any studies on the effects of plant stem cells on human skin (yikes!). You’ll probably find many more benefits by using skincare products that are filled with natural, organic ingredients. Spare your wallet and invest in some high-quality, nutrient-dense skincare products that your skin will love!

If you’ve used a product with plant stem cells before and experienced benefits, flip over the bottle and take a read. What other amazing, impactful ingredients are in that product? It might be time to whisper a little “thank you” to those less-advertised ingredients for their skin-changing benefits!

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