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As unrelated as these may sound, fruit stem cells, jade rollers, and belly buttons are brought together here to answer the call for better transparency and honesty in skincare.
Did anyone ever tell you something as a kid that was completely ridiculous, but you believed it anyway? Maybe you have kids who are at that wonderful age when they believe anything and tell you all about their day at school when something happened that represents more about their beautiful imagination than their real life. Please, please, please, leave your comments below to let us all know the embarrassing things you used to believe as a kid. None of us want to be reading adult things all the time anyway, do we?
If it helps, I can start with sharing mine which is quite embarrassing, but it falls under the teen minus or “T- rule” – anything that happened to you as a teen or younger can’t be associated with you, your intelligence, or your moral judgement, so you’re basically of the hook. No judgment.
Okay, so my story is quite simple. I was once told by a friend in second grade at school that if I twisted my belly button around 100 times, my bum would fall off. Seriously, that happened. Being the adventurous kid that I was, I pondered for a moment, not weighing up the legitimacy of what I was just told. Of course, it was true because my best friend told me it and he knows everything, except the things that I know, that he doesn’t, which was a lot. Instead, I was considering whether I’d be willing to live without a bum after I would naturally succeed in proving this theory to be true. I pondered some more, and then just went for it, with all of the fearless tenacity that comes with being a 7 year old. Three twists into my tubby tummy tunnel, and it really started to hurt and my finger got kind of stuck, so I gave up, rationalizing defeat with not wanting to sit on a cushion for the rest of my embarrassing life. Dumb challenge anyway. What does my ex-best friend know anyway? I had a new best friend within minutes. That’s how we rolled in those days.
Like with everyone, I’ve gone through life hearing crazy ridiculous things that people actually believe in, and as an adult I’ve kind of regressed back to that toddler age of asking “why” all the time, but now I have some of the answers, and where I don’t have them, I know where to look.
When I was at an event during the formative months of research for Skinega, I first came across the concept of fruit stem cells, and it piqued my interest. Not because I ever considered using them in a product. It made no sense to me that they could work, for reasons I’ll elaborate on soon. But it piqued my interest because I thought, “surely nobody is buying this? Plant stem cells in skincare? Working? Come one now!” So I continued to research, and sure enough, plant stem cells were being marketed and bought by consumers, who were no doubt led to believe, through selective marketing, that they are the next best thing in skincare.
Now, I’m not a dermatologist, but what difference would it have made if I was? Is a product that contains plant stem cells all of a sudden effective just because a dermatologist has endorsed it? Shame on any of them for perpetuating this myth, if they have indeed done so.
Stem cells, in plants or humans, are living organisms. If you put a living human being in an oil barrel and filled it with moisturizing cream, sealed it tight, left it for a year (don’t try this at home), and opened it again, would you expect that human to be alive, able to perform all of the amazing feats that humans can accomplish? Of course not! So why do people expect stem cells to sit in a jar of cream, and all of a sudden wake from the dead and start work on making your skin look like an apple or a cucumber, or whatever the stem cell is programmed to do?
The insanity doesn’t stop there. Plant stem cells don’t grow human cells. If that were the case, they could have made Dolly the Sheep (the cloned one) from the stem cells of a rotting cabbage, and that human ear they grew on the back of a rat, could have been grown in an apple orchard on a tree next to the eyeball bush.
Even if apple stem cells in the real world were pasted onto a bowl of unripe apples, those apples wouldn’t all of a sudden become fresh and crisp again. And how quick would you be to criticize someone who bought apple stem cell cream online with a promise of keeping your apples ripe? So why is it believed in skincare?
I saw the “research”. As much as it pains me to even have to take time that I’ll never get back in my life to explain why this can’t be true, the research basically went something like this: They took stem cells from a human umbilical chord (because all of our umbilical chords really start to age after forty years in the sun and so provide a perfectly suitable test environment), and they put these cells in a dish. So far so good – this is just how things are done in real life. They then irradiated the cells with UV light, some of which were feasting on delicious apple stems cells, and miraculously the ones that had the feast were more inclined to survive. So that’s great, there are some possible antioxidant properties there. Fruit and antioxidants? Who’d have known?
To their credit though, well, when I say credit, they did follow up with a real human experiment and put some cream that contained the “stem cells” and measured the moisture content after 4 weeks. It went up 8%. Well, you could put yogurt on your skin and it would increase the hydration over time. Apple yogurt will work particularly well. The point is, any cream with moisturizing properties is going to hydrate the skin cells which in turn may temporarily shallow the appearance of wrinkles.
So, unfortunately, apple stem cells were the victim of this article, but so many ingredients in skincare could equally be brought into question. Not just ingredients, but devices too. The latest one to trend is, of course, the Jade roller. A piece of Jade stone on a roller that you use to massage your face back to youth. Come on now. Helps with lymphatic drainage? Come on now! Does anyone believing that know the biology of the lymphatic system and how it works? Helps with your qi? Your what? Well, it may help you pee if you push it down really hard just below your stomach, but qi? Guys, come on now, it’s embarrassing.
Is nobody questioning the science behind this? So, you press something on your face and it provides a contact massage, and if you let it be cold it will temporarily reduce puffiness. Amazing! Does nobody cleanse anymore? Do you not use your incredible fingers with your utterly one of a kind fingerprints that have been created as a miracle by nature to perform both facial massage and a cleansing applicator all at once, for free? Have you ever helped someone who accidentally hit their face or head and the patient experienced swelling? Did you go to your freezer and get a bag of peas or a bit of ice, or did your patient get to experience the lukewarm miracle of a jade roller?
If ever there was a modern-day story of the Emperors New Clothes (I read that story around about the same time as my bum didn’t fall off) then the apple stem cells and the jade roller are definitely set to be modern classics. Incidentally, that story was written in 1837 by Hans Christien Anderson. Back then they’d be forgiven for thinking that apple stem cells and jade rollers do anything for our skin, but this is 2018; we should know better. Now, where’s that golden robe I had made? Where is it?
Don’t forget to share your embarrassing stories!
Written By Fraser Hill, Founder, and CEO, Skinega Inc.
Fraser is the Founder and CEO of Skinega, Inc. He grew up and was educated in Scotland before going on to forge an 18-year career in executive consulting and research, living and working in London, Hong Kong, Poland, Canada, and in the US, working for companies including J.P. Morgan, as well as starting Consulting firms in Canada in 2008, and London in 2012. With his background in research and technology, Fraser embarked on a consumer driven journey to seek out cleaner, vegan, more effective luxury skincare. He sought a “free from” list that went beyond just harmful ingredients to include ingredients that serve no purpose to skin’s wellbeing like synthetic thickeners, colors, fragrance, and other texture modifiers. His search was unsuccessful, so Skinega was developed over a two-year period, then formally established in 2017.