Speaking of really, really different: “Cosmeceuticals Confidential”

Some things seem like they should be the same, but in fact are really, really different.  You know, like those celebrity pictures posted online or in tabloids where you see the same famous person with and without makeup.  So it is in the field of human stem cells. There are many different types of stem cells – but they don’t all have the same jobs in our bodies, and don’t look the same (biochemically and functionally). There are difference that are minor, and then there are differences that are major and fundamental to the rationale of why we employ them to make growth factors for skin rejuvenating purposes. DrGeorge just wrote a brilliant post explaining some of these differences.

As it is with stem cells, so it is with companies who commercialize stem cell technologies and research skin care science.  They are not all the same.  There are differences! Really, really.

I am writing this today because I am increasingly annoyed and yet fascinated with what I find in the world of skin care products and commerce.  That this industry (let’s call it “stem aesthetics” to narrow things down) is fraught with charlatans and snake oil salesmen is an opinion I have long held, as regular readers of BFT well know.  It has recently been reinforced by events occurring in the world of aesthetic science and business as DrGeorge and I travel about lecturing.  It’s one thing to sell whacky products that are developed by people with no actual scientific credibility and that defy known physiology. We are used to that. Read all about it at this blog when we talk about plant stem cells (oh really?) and the like.

Recently we have heard about, and in some cases been directly involved with,  what we might call unscrupulous operators.  People keep telling us “that’s normal -don’t say anything!.   We keep making enemies.  We tell the truth that some folks don’t want to hear.  They get very peeved with us.  Say nasty things about us.  Even try to bully us.  There is perhaps more drama than science in the world of skin care. We are tempted to write a potboiler and name it  “Adventures in the Skin Trade” (tip of the hat to the deceptively iconic title of Dylan Thomas’s uncompleted novel).

Why bother to mention all this?  It’s the context we write this blog in. We love to educate you abut the fascinating world of growth factors and stem cells and our little pice of the regenerative medicine puzzle.  But rather than picturing us as ivory tower types who dispassionately report on the latest findings, let’s have a real conversation where we reveal the whole back story. Allow us to share with you our journey – as purveyors of information as well as products – as guys who are highly opinionated and also connoisseurs of fine science and fine wine.  Anthony Bourdain of skin care? Cosmeceuticals Confidential?

So, if any of this interests you – ask questions or make comments. Share thoughts. This thread is devoted to telling the backstory. We will get hate mail (we always do). We are open to your ideas.










  1. Siobhan says:

    I have heard and read so many reviews extolling the virtues of the Skin Medica products, TNS Essential Serum specifically, and I’m wondering if it really lives up the hype and, more importantly, the price tag!
    Is it really worth it? Are there other products by different manufacturers that are equal (or better!) in quality?

    • drjohn says:

      SkinMedica deserves credit for being true innovators in the world cosmeceuticals with the introduction of TNS over a decade ago. It was the first product to market based on the conditioned medium (CM) of human cells grown in laboratory culture. In this case, the cells are fibroblasts. The research was solid, showing benefits to skin. The problem is this – science marches on. Since then there have been many discoveries in cell science, especially in the realm of stem cells, showing their superiority as factories for the anti-aging molecules that are the active ingredients (the cells themselves are discarded – it is only the biosignals they make that you put on your face). For instance, mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow make 10-50 times as much of those key chemicals. You may have read that TNS has an unpleasant odor, like a wet dog. The concentration of CM is >90% in TNS, whereas it can be much less in stem cell CM based products. Now, I understand that SkinMedica sells a lot of TNS and so they cannot change the formula. They are a marketing machine in Dr’s offices. All that being said, i think that there is a whole new generation of cell-based cosmeceuticals that have superiority on the basis of the science. At this point I would say that growth factors, cytokines (and stem cell factories for same) are the leading edge, and very powerful not just for anti-aging but for a whole host of dermatologic disorders. For reviews of other products in this realm visit http://stemcellskincarereviews.com.

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