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Fruit, Flower, and Plant Stem Cells: Skin Care Hope or Hype?

Stem cells are found in nearly all living things, from animals to humans, plants, flowers, and fruit. These cells are unique in that they are able to develop into a variety of tissues. Within a particular tissue, such as the skin, stem cells can help regenerate damaged areas and restore function to those areas. With skin tissue, that translates into an “anti-aging” ability. When it comes to skin care products, however, the name "stem cells"—whether from an exotic fruit or a rose petal—is a bit misleading. None of the cosmetic products advertised as containing stem cells, actually contain stem cells.

Stem cells require very specific conditions to stay alive and viable, and it’s simply not possible to meet these conditions in a cosmetic product. So, if these products don’t contain stem cells, what do they contain? Fruit and plant stem cell products feature substances found in, or produced by, living fruit and plant stem cells. This includes antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances such as phytonutrients, including quercetin and ellagic acid, which can be isolated and used in cosmetic products. Unfortunately, because these substances are unstable under normal conditions, cosmetic products that do contain them in an active form tend to be expensive.

Some research supports the conclusion that plant and fruit stem cell substances, such as ferulic acid, may protect the skin against oxidative and ultraviolet radiation damage. However, using plant and fruit stem cell substances in these products is still a whole new world, and it’s too soon to know whether they will improve skin health over the long-term. Despite this, you’ll likely be seeing more plant and fruit stem cell substances popping up in high-end skin care products and cosmetics. However, it is smart to read the full ingredient list on any new cosmetic product you try, to ensure it does not contain additional fragrances, dyes, or preservatives to which your skin may react negatively.

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