Plant stem cells suggest great potential for the anti-aging cosmetics market. Scientific studies have paid more and more attention to the capacity of plant stem cells to synthesise collagen and stimulate skin regeneration, making plant stem cell extracts a hot topic in revolutionary and innovative skincare formulations.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are found in plant and animal organisms. They differ from other cells by their abilities to continuously multiply and grow, and by their role in the growth and repair of damaged tissues.
Plant stem cells are often found in shoots and roots. These stem cells divide throughout the plant’s life, forming the connective tissues that make up leaves, stems, flowers and seeds.
For cosmetic purposes, plant stem cells are reproduced in vitro (in glass in a lab). Technicians select the plant part, cut the plant and move stem cells to plates. These cells then grow in a liquid environment and in controlled conditions. This produces stem cell extracts that are safe for the human body, environmentally friendly and, importantly, do not interfere with the natural habitats of plants.
Plant stem cells are extremely sensitive to light and temperature. In cosmetic products, stem cells are used in the form of oil-soluble and water-soluble extracts, powdered extracts or suspensions.
What do plant stem cell extracts do in cosmetics?
Plant stem cell extracts contribute to a number of cosmetic effects, such as:
- extending the life of the connective tissue cells that produce the structural framework for skin and muscle
- increasing skin flexibility and suppleness
- regulating cell division for smoother complexions
- rebuilding damaged skin
- activating DNA repair of the cells when cells are exposed to UV or oxidative stress
- protecting against UV radiation
Which plant stem cells have anti-aging effects?
The best stem cell extracts are obtained from plants that produce seeds or fruit that stay fresh for a long time. Scientists also take into account the ability of a plant to heal itself or other plants in difficult environmental situations.
Apple stem cell extracts have shown significant anti-wrinkle effects, with wrinkles being shallowed by 8% after 2 weeks and 15% after 4 weeks of use on 20 people. Similar effects have been seen in argan stem cell extracts.
Glycerin extracts from ginger stem cells have also demonstrated remarkable effects in clinical studies. 22 women used ginger leaf stem cell extracts and recorded pore reduction by 50% and mattifying (reduction of skin oils and sebum) by 19% after 28 days.
One of the strongest inhibitors of aging processes is kinetin, a plant hormone central to plant growth. Kinetin occurs in the stem cells of many plants, including Australian pine tree, gingergrass, lemon and raspberry. Kinetin is considered to be a strong natural antioxidant that enables cells to remove excess free radicals and protect the skin from oxidative stress.
Image courtesy of Simply Skin Laser.
Apple stem cells: Schmid, D.; Schürch, C.; Blum, P.; Belser, E.; Zülli, F. Plant Stem Cell Extract for Longevity of Skin and Hair.
SOFW J. 2008, 134, 30–35.
Ginger stem cells: Available online: http://www.naolys.com/media/refine_ginger_en.pdf (accessed on 02 October 2018)
Kinetin: Verbeke, P.; Siboska, G.E.; Clark, B.F.C.; Rattan, S.I.S. Kinetin inhibits protein oxidation and glycoxidation
in vitro. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 2000, 276, 1265–1270.