Alpha & Beta Hydroxy Acids and Stem Cells
Game changing products, ingredients and inventions don’t always catch on right away. Starbucks was founded in 1971, but didn’t take off until after 1983. Twitter started out as a site called Odeo. Ever heard of it? We didn’t think so. And so it is with skincare ingredients too. Up until stem cell technology came into the skin care industry a few years back, the most game-changing ingredient was the inclusion of alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHA/BHA) in skincare.
However, like most game changers, AHA/BHAs were not readily acknowledged as a positive innovation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved AHA’s for over the counter sale in 1992. But, initially AHA/BHAs were not widely accepted by consumers and were even criticized by the FDA, even after their approval.
EWG’s Skin Deep quoted the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Color in 1999 saying, “Very little about the process restricts the sale [of AHA/BHAs]. It’s a somewhat alarming idea to put acids on the skin. It raises obvious safety questions.”
Fast-forward to almost two decades later, and AHA/BHAs are in nearly every anti-aging product on the market. No longer considered “risky” or “a fad”, these acids are used to reduce wrinkles, lighten dark spots, smooth skin and renew a beautiful complexion. And no one finds it an “alarming idea to put acids on” their face. AHA/BHAs can be found in skincare from high-end products, to department store brands, to drug store items. In short, they revolutionized the anti-aging skincare industry.
The same could be said for stem cell technology in skincare.
Hitting the cosmetic market first in Europe in 2007, stem cell technology was already buzzing in the medical fields as a miracle innovation and a game changer. Advancements were already being seen in healing post-surgical conditions and hope was widespread that stem cells would be the answer to curing many diseases and conditions that had alluded doctors – until now.
However, consumers were not as quick to accept stem cell technology in skin care products. Controversy and misunderstanding surrounded, and continued to surround, stem cell technology in skincare. However, most of it is old mythology based on half-truths and fear from businesses who resist change and whose bottom line relies on the stayed technologies from days gone by.
Some people fear that using stem cells in skincare can be dangerous. However, there are no stem cells or DNA in skincare products…ever! Stem cells are much too large and fragile to survive the skincare formulation process. What the products do contain are the healing peptides the stem cells secrete. Others site ethical issues, thinking that the stem cells harvested for cosmetic use come from fertilized human eggs (embryonic stem cells). While some companies do use this source, most do not. So it is important for consumers to check company information closely. Most stem cells used for skin care formulation are Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells, which come from adult human donors who are vetted and certified much in the same way organ donors are.
And much like the AHA/BHAs of the past, the fear of the advancement of stem cell technology in skincare is unfounded, and totally incorrect with peer review journals in the medical filed touting their efficacy on the skin.
Clinical studies being conducted on skin care products utilizing stem cell technology continue to astound and impress the industry. And while stem cell technology will be an integral part of the future of skin care because it mimics the natural renewal process of our body (and our skin), its main benefit is the assistance in epidermal and collagen production. A good skin care product line also needs to address hydration, environmental protection, evening of skin coloration, skin nutrients and cellular health, as well as other specific issues. At Stemology, we have found that many other ingredients are necessary in our formations to properly address these multiple needs.
Stem cell technology in skincare is already showing great advancements, and we at Stemology are excited to see what the future holds and look forward to it with great anticipation.