The French beauty brand Lancôme released results on its product, "Absolue Precious Cells", a face cream being toted as having antiaging properties based on stem cell content. According to the company, the product promises to "help restore the potential of skin stem cells and bring back the skin of youth."
The study reported on woman with UV damaged skin, of which 90 percent said based on self analysis that their skin seemed "denser," while 87 percent of them claimed the skin possess "smoother, radiant and to have a more "uniform complexion" subsequent to 4 weeks administration. Notably the company claims that changes actually become apparent within the first week.
While the cream may contain products generated by stem cells, it appears that it is impossible for the cream to contain stem cells themselves. Dr Jeanette Jacknin, an American dermatologist specialised in anti-ageing treatments, said "it is impossible to incorporate living stem cells into skin creams because the cells degenerate. Instead companies are creating products with specialised peptides [made from amino acids] and enzymes [proteins that speed up chemical reactions] or plant stem cells, which they claim help to protect the human skin stem cells from damage or stimulate the skin’s own stem cells."
There may be some support for the use of stem cell derived products for stimulation of specific cells in the skin in order to generate a more youthful appearance, however, these applications of regenerative technologies such be taken with at least a degree of caution.
In general, growth factors that stimulate skin cells to grow and renew could at least theoretically predispose to formations of cancer. When cells multiple they become more sensitive to mutations. If skin cells are continually stimulated to multiply, it may be possible that exposure to mutagens, such as sunlight may cause a synergistic effect in formation of cancers.
There are numerous other skin products that use the words "stem cells" in their marketing. For example a cream called Amatokin was announced in 2007 which was being promoted as a means of stimulating stem cells in the skin. Although we could not find any scientific literature on Amatokin, from experts we discussed with, it appears that the activity ingredient, "polypeptide 153" is a known bone marrow stem cell stimulator. It would be interesting to compare some of these products in defined models of aging, not in self assessment tests where the placebo effect may mask subjective improvements.