Stem Cells are the Next Big Thing in Skincare

But don't expect miracles.
Michelle Villett
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But don't expect miracles.
Lancome Absolue Precious Cells

A couple of weeks ago, Lancôme launched its first foray into the stem-cell anti-aging category, Absolue Precious Cells. It joins a handful of similar products (such as Amatokin Emulsion and Dior Capture R60/80 XP), so I think it's safe to say we're witnessing a bona fide trend here, folks. (That's why I'm dubbing them the Next Big Beauty Thing... not to be confused with my previously-posted Next Big Beauty Thing, sirtuins. I think they can both co-exist nicely... although not in the same product, obviously. You'll have to pick your poison.)

So what, exactly, is the deal with stem cell creams, anyway? I was just poking around the Interwebs and came across this rather interesting article in The Times. (I ADORE the Brits' take on beauty matters. They handle the topic like true investigative journalists instead of letting themselves be seduced by every gorgeous package that comes their way... as I know I'm often guilty of. It's also KEY to note that newspaper beauty stories are generally more forthright than those in magazines... just follow the advertising dollars, ladies.)

Anyway! As The Times nicely explains, we're not talking about ACTUAL stem cells—embryonic or otherwise—being infused in these little jars. (At least, not in Canada. I wouldn't put it past other, sketchier countries. I won't tell you where it was from, but once, I got sent some bizarro skincare product containing PLACENTA. I almost threw up.) No, these stem-cell products encourage our OWN stem cells to proliferate, generating new, more radiant skin.

Or do they? Check out this quote from Tamara Griffiths, a consultant dermatologist for the British Skin Foundation research charity:

[She says that the science behind Lancôme’s stem-cell product is sound, but that doesn’t mean the product is the breakthrough that the company claims.] “The coarse wrinkles and loss of elasticity of the skin, which people commonly associate with an ‘old’ appearance, are due to changes in the collagen and elastic fibres in the dermis,” she says. “This product will not have any effect on these changes and will not repair damage in the dermis, so the overall impact may be less than consumers’ expectations.”

Hmmmm.... But then there's this point (which we ALL tend to forget):

The problem is common to all anti-ageing cosmetics: if they really do have a radical effect on the skin’s cells, and change the way skin looks and functions long-term, then they would cease to be a cosmetic and would have to be regulated by the much stricter rules applied to drugs. So the big cosmetics manufacturers build in limits to the power of their products. The bad news for consumers is that stem-cell cosmetics won’t offer a miraculous rejuvenation. The good news is that they’re unlikely to harm you.

So there you have it. As luxurious these creams feel and as nice as they look on your countertop, don't expect miracles from a non-prescription skincare product. It's just not POSSIBLE. And if you're really serious about anti-aging, don't even think about leaving the house without sunscreen (preferably a chemical-free one, of course).

Lancôme Absolue Precious Cells Advanced Regenerating and Replenishing Cream, $170 for 50 mL; Lancôme Absolue Nuit Precious Cells Advanced Regenerating and Restoring Night Cream, $185 for 50 mL; Lancôme Absolue Yeux Precious Cells Advanced Regenerating and Replenishing Eye Cream, $120 for 15 mL. Available at and at selected Lancôme counters across Canada.