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Hydropeptide Hydrostem+6 - reader reviewed and recommended

October 24, 2011 Reviewed by Emily 16 Comments
To start with, I’ll out myself as the unnamed, to-be-heard-from tester Marta referred to in her fascinating October 10 post “What’s currently working for my face” in which she anointed Hydropeptide’s Hydrostem+6 “a show-stoppingly effective serum.”  After exactly one month’s use, I can confirm Marta’s hunch that this product will get my vote as a “candidate for a future Five Best.”  In fact, I find it amazing.

I actually almost sent in my notes after two weeks’ trial—something I’ve never been tempted to do.  And ironically, I wasn’t even particularly looking for a serum.  I’d been exploring the bounty of TIA’s August round-up of Five Best anti-aging serums for 2011, with predictably positive results.  At that point I’d already started using Reluma earlier in the spring, and began alternating with LiftLab after that post as well.  I felt that each produced real and differentiated improvements – with wrinkle repair, and with overall skin condition.

And with all things in life, I tend to be almost pathetically, or at least boringly, loyal.  So when I like a brand or regimen, I tend to stick with it, and I like having a set routine that I feel I’m committed to—rather than a flirtation.  So when Hydrostem+6 came along, I wasn’t eager to make room for it in the medicine cabinet.  Nor was I encouraged by some of the caveats in Marta’s initial post in September—particularly after reading that the original reviewer was so put-off by the scent, she’d sent it back untried.

But I did make a promise.  So I held my nose, and followed through.

First of all, let’s get that matter of the scent out of the way.  I consider myself to have as dainty and sensitive a nose as any I’ve known, and while Hydrostem’s fragrance is distinctive, it is not, in my opinion, unsavory.  What it isn’t is sweet, or artificial: I assume thanks to all those plant cells, it has a smell that I would call vegetal (with maybe a tiny medicinal note).  But not like moldering-compost-heap vegetal.  More like the clean and slightly astringent smell of fresh cucumber peels.  Not really appealing, but not unpleasant.

So yes, I was able to get past the odor (which doesn’t linger after application, anyway).  I started by plunging in twice a day, pretty much all over the face and neck, but paying particular attention to my worst problem area—the deep horizontal lines across my forehead—as well as the usual suspects (crows’ feet, nasolabial lines).  And after a couple of weeks, I was genuinely surprised.  More than the modest improvement I’d have hoped for, Hydropstem+6 made a noticeable difference.  I believe that lines are less pronounced; that my skin is plumper and firmer; and that I look fresher.

As late-September end-of-summer has become real autumn, I am planning to stick with it.  Even when I have to replace it on my own nickel, I should add.  [Not sure how long the bottle will last.  Like most of the better serums, Hydrostem is packaged in an attractively designed, efficient airless pump, but there’s no way of telling how much is still left; it’s opaque. At $160 for an ounce, I’m guessing that on a price-per-dose basis, Hydrostem will be roughly comparable to Reluma, which is $199 (in the TIA shop) for the comparable quantity.  The LiftLab serum is substantially cheaper ($85 in the TIA shop).]  As the weather gets colder and drier, my skin is already feeling older, sadder, and more weathered, and I am counting on it to see me through the change in seasons.  I should add that in the last few weeks I’ve been alternating -- using Lift Lab instead some mornings, and Reluma some evenings too.  I think they offer different and perhaps complementary benefits and I’m eager to see what combination will work best.

Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Trimethylpentanediol/Adipic Acid Copolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Panthenol, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Silica, Palmitoyl Dipeptide-5 Diaminobutyroyl Hydroxythreonine, Palmitoyl Dipepitde-5 Diaminohydroxybutyrate, Niacinamide, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Cell Extract, Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Cell Culture, Echinacea Angustifolia Meristem Cell Culture, Gardenia Jasminoids Meristem Cell Culture, Leotopodium Alpinum (Edelweiss) Meristem Cell Culture, Malus Domestica (Swiss Apple) Fruit Cell Culture, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tocopherol Acetate, Allantoin, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Menthyl Lactate, Lecithin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride,Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Isomalt, Sodium Benzoate, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethiconol, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone
  • November 8, 2011

    by spo

    Thank you so much for you insight into this, Dr. Sanderson!

    My nursing and biology background definitely led me to conclude that fruit stem cells would probably have little to no effect on skin rejuvenation, but the other ingredients seemed potent....

    I did not want to think too much about the silicone present, but what you say makes total scientific sense.

  • November 8, 2011

    by John Sanderson, M.D.

    Hi Spo,

    Well, it could be the first ingredient (water). And the glycerin (great moisturizer). Tons of silicone & silicate in this, which actually has a nice feel, even though it can cause problems if overused. Whole bunch of antioxidants, adding protection & etc. The one true active is Syn-Tacks, which has some science behind it. Maybe that is causing the difference. Definitely not the Malus domestica (swiss apple) fruit cell culture. (As an aside -- did you know that the seeds of Malus domestica are poisonous? While mildly so, according to standard poison plant resources, it is possible to ingest enough seeds to provide a fatal dose. They don’t use the seeds, but still a poor marketing choice, IMHO).

    As to why any product would result in the subjective sense that wrinkles are disappearing after just a few weeks makes little sense to me. The active peptide would take at least several months. What I have seen in clinical trials is that early in a product trial (first month) often the most striking effect is improved hydration and skin thickening and toning. I believe Emily noted her skin was plumper and firmer. I hear and see that a lot. But it is also likely that plumping tends to blur wrinkles. Fills them in. Not with collagen (too early for that) but with plumper skin itself, modifying the surface architecture of the skin. Hyaluronate is an excellent hydrator, present in this product, and many others.

  • November 8, 2011

    by spo

    Dr. Sanderson, I know you think the science behind this product is hocus pocus, but what I want to ask you is what could possibly be causing the positive results that Marta and Emily are having, in your educated opinion?

  • November 7, 2011

    by John Sanderson, M.D.

    Tackiness occurs as water evaporates while lipids stay behind. The lack of tackiness in this product is due to the presence of large amounts of silicone based chemicals. I'm not sure that's such a good thing. Most cosmeceutical scientists are staying away from silicone these days.

  • November 6, 2011

    by spo

    Promise, will do, Junko ;-)

  • November 6, 2011

    by Junko

    I just received my travel size sample that I ordered from Hydropeptide. I like the feel of the Menthyl in it ~ cool and fresh. Reminds me of Cellbone Hyperpeptides which also has menthol and gives the same sensation. Don't forget to post back with your thoughts on the Hydro/Reluma combo Spo ~ I'll be waiting and hoping that you're thrilled with the results!

  • November 5, 2011

    by spo

    Thanks Junko for your support! lol

    I put the two on together for the first time yesterday and will continue. I'll let you know how it looks after like 2 weeks, then a month and so on....

    Frankly, I just love the way hydrostem feels on the face - it's like you have nothing on at all!

  • November 4, 2011

    by Junko

    SPO *** You're my kind of CRAZY!! Please, please post back and me know what you thought of using Hydrostem + ReLuma together!

  • November 2, 2011

    by spo

    I just got a bottle of hydrostem from a spa near my job, and have been using it for the last 2 days. The smell is fine for me. It has a kind of mowed grass smell - not bad, at all.. The smell evaporates fast, too..

    The texture is super - this is something I really love about it. It disappears quickly, with no tackiness at all..

    Now I will have to use it for a bit to see what it does for wrinkles and overall skin tone..

    Maybe I'm crazy but I love reluma so much that I'm thinking of using both serums for a 'one/two' knockout punch effect! lol

  • October 26, 2011

    by John Sanderson, M.D.

    Hi Emily,

    This product was formulated by someone who thinks that if apple stem cells are all the rage, how about throwing in some stem cells from every living species of plant. Good marketing trick? Bad science.

    Actually, the science news is both good and bad. First the bad news – plant stem cells do nothing for human skin. Period. I am a scientist and regenerative medicine specialist, and have examined the (lack of) evidence. I am not alone. See Apple Stem Cell Fruitloopery in the Nov. 2010 issue of New Scientist. Further, I challenge any stem cell scientist who believes otherwise to a debate, to be reported right here on truth-in-aging. I promise I will win.

    The good news is that the formulator (by chance alone?) threw in an ingredient that may actually work. Syn-Tacks has some reasonably good science behind it. You can see a brochure at :

    that shows some actual experiments. Now the dermal-epidermal junction where this combination of peptides is working is only one piece of a much bigger puzzle. The biochemistry of aging skin, and wrinkles in particular, are actually quite complicated, so I don’t expect one peptide to accomplish it all. Your comment that alternating between ReLuma and this may offer complimentary benefits is actually quite insightful. ReLuma contains cytokines (signaling chemicals) derived from real (human, not plant) stem cells, which do affect skin, often dramatically.

    You might look around at other products with this active ingredient. Perhaps one with less stem cell HYdroPEptide. Like this statement: “Our HydroStem+6 can also ensure the lifespan of your own stem cells, while it helps to prevent your skin from cell damage and collagen loss.” Poppycock!



  • October 26, 2011

    by spo

    Thanks Emily for your thoughtful response. Hydrostem looks like a winner!

  • October 26, 2011

    by Emily

    Thank you for your nice comments, all, and sorry to be slow in replying. Junko, Spo, you ask a fair--but difficult!--question. I am still trying to figure this out...however, right now it does seem that Hydrostem has given me the most dramatic and fastest results overall. This is not to say that the others aren't effective but the Hydrostem has seemed to deal with texture and tone as well as lines...I know that these things are very individual, and also very age-specific (I'm 56, don't forget!) but at least for now, that's my experience. But I do plan to continue to experiment with all three, and will let you know!

  • October 25, 2011

    by Spo

    Wonderful review, Emily - I thank you. I am as curious as Junko to have you tell us which serum you couldn't do without?

    Also, I am very loyal to a regimen that works, so I too am reluctant to switch to new products - unless they are raved about here on TIA. ;-)

    I am a faithful user of Reluma (serum, eye cream & moisturizer) but I am going to now add the Hydrostem+6 to that list -- Thanks to Marta and you!

  • October 25, 2011

    by Junko

    Emily, thank you for such a wonderful review. It's a selfless act to interrupt a product routine that's WORKING, to review a product that might not for TIA! I appreciate it! Now, forgive me for asking, but I just have to, since you have 3 very nice serums rotating...If you could pick only 1 to continue with, which would you pick and why? There must be something unique/special about each one these serums and that is why you are continuing to use them all. Do Tell ~ !!

  • October 24, 2011

    by Jan

    Great review Emily! I'm anxious to give it a shot myself. Your comment regarding the seasonal change really hit home.....noticed just this weekend how dry my face has become seemingly overnight with this Fall weather. Time to start my winter regimine.

  • October 24, 2011

    by Marta

    Thank you for a great review Emily. I am really pleased that it proved worth disrupting your regimen with this. I think its an excellent product and I'm so glad it worked out for you

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