A spa treatment called a DNA Facial caught my eye. I wondered whether this could be based on the same principles of DNA repair that underlies the Remergent skin care range. I wrote about Remergent here. I am still waiting for my order to arrive so that I can try it out, but I thought it looked promising.

It turns out that the DNA Facial isn't about DNA repair. In fact, it is based on stimulating stem cell growth. Now that immediately made me think of Dr Perricone's Simulcell or Amatokin. Neither of these creams contain stem cells, but claim to rejuvenate them. The claims are somewhat dubious: Amatokin's secret ingredient is a peptide (a mysterious Russian one that specifically targets stem cells); Perricone's Simulcell is a concoction of peptides, proteins, coconut oil, emulsifiers and so on that one would expect to find in many cosmetic creams.

So the DNA treatment was presumably using something similarly unconvincing. I was wrong again. Spa stem cell treatments use a product called Cryostem and this does contain actual embryonic stem cells (culled from free-range, organically-fed French cows). Well, at least it is original.

Can stem-cells really be passed through the skin, meet up with a stem cell, shake hands and be a catalyst for it to renew itself? Cryostem bases its claims on a clinical trial that it commissioned. It was not an independent study and it reported on how skin looked and felt, not on whether users produced new stem cells. Over at the University of Colorado, scientists are still trying to figure out if grafted stem cells can reprogram existing ones. That's grafted, not ones in a bottle applied topically.