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Products that contain Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media

Reviewed by Marta June 19, 2008 12 Comments
After I reviewed (and recommended) A&G Active Serum with Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media, a reader sent me a useful stack of research on other products with HFCM. Since I've been very impressed with the results of my three week plus trial of A&G but put off by the price, I decided to find out if there are good alternatives out there. So I started to do some digging around and entered a murky world of bankrupt companies and babies foreskins.

Derm 123 Replenishing Complex uses HFCM and claims to be cheaper and better than another potion called TNS. But I'll come back to that. Derm 123 seems to have started out life as a collaborative venture with a company called Advanced Tissue Sciences. Advanced provided the human fibroblast technology and ingredients, appears to have been well-funded (according to Derm 123 to tune of $300m) and staffed by reputable scientists. Then it went bust around 2002.

The bankruptcy trust that took over the affairs of Advanced Tissue Services sold one of its products, Nouricel, to a company called SkinMedica for $7m. SkinMedica makes the cream called TNS Recovery Complex that Derm 123 seems to have its competitive knickers in a twist over. TNS is supposed to be 96.3% (no less) Nouricel-MD, a compound that I was amused to read on the website was invented by their very own Dr Fitzpatrick and his team of scientists.

Nouricel-MD, the active ingredient in TNS ($141 for 0.6oz) is a concoction that looks a lot A&G Active. They both have Transforming Growth Factor (TGF-b), Platelet, Grannulocyte Monolyte Colony Growth and Interleukins. TNS has a few other things as well, mostly listed rather vaguely as 'antioxidants'. In addition to this HFCM concoction there is a thinning agent, four paraben preservatives, phenoxyethanol (another preservative and potential irritant), isocetheth-20 (a synthetic made from fatty acids), and triethanolamine (a pH balancer that is in an irritant and possibly carcinogenic according to one study).

Anyway, back to Derm 123. The company behind it is very coy, saying merely that it is privately held. I believe it is called Midwest Aesthetics, a company that is also behind another brand called Revitacel.  Derm 123 starts off well with HFCM, shea butter, macadamia and water. Then there's a bunch of silicones, a handful of things that make cream a cream (emulsifers and suspending agents and so on), and preservatives.

My next question is where does the human fibrobast come from? Actual human stem cells? This is where speculation on the web gets somewhat out of hand with male foreskins being the favored speculation. There is also an outraged group who think that live baby body parts are routinely used in cosmetics. I did find a study on monocytes, interleukins and TGF-b that cultured cells with blood cells and bovine cells. I've seen the word 'cloning' used a few times. Otherwise, I'm really not clear on how a TGF-b is 'manufactured'.

More research is needed. I'll keep digging around. I'm not sure I want to put too much of this Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media on my face until I understand it.
  • April 4, 2016

    by Marilyn

    So if the skin medica product does not get under the basil layer of skin where goth actually occours,then how do they deem this effective, other than parabens smoothING the skin?
    Thank you

  • November 26, 2012

    by Robbie

    I did want to comment on something else...If you buy skin medica on Amazon or something where it's much cheaper, you probably didn't get the legit product. I buy mine from my doctor's office now because when I did try to save money, I found the product to be different. the red product should be the color of candied apples and bright red color but I found it was a dark maroon like it was no longer good. You're right if you found it ineffective because I noticed it didn't work for me either unlike the REAL stuff, which yes is more $$$ but works wonders. Just thought I would put that out there since I've bought it cheaply online and at legit retail stores.

  • November 26, 2012

    by Robbie

    I've been using TNS essential serum for over a year now and it's far and away the BEST product I've ever put on my face!!!!! I am 43 years old and I'm told many times I look like I"m in my early 30's and sometimes my late 20's. I also used the recovery complex but I found it's hard to spread on my face...it drys too fast. The TNS spreads over evenly and just overall seems to be more effective than just the recovery. Just my observation though.

  • September 18, 2012

    by mary lanser

    How horrendous that any part of a neonatal foreskin is used in an anti-aging cream.....stealing the foreskins of un consenting infants is unethical and a violation of their human rights. It should be illegal to do this to babies.

  • March 23, 2012

    by Obsessive didy woman

    This entire thread yields no informative results--this stuff seems to contain a lot of protein related products, which is why it smoothes out skin. The Basil skin cell layer is where skin growth and regenerative activity occurs and SkinMedica does not go into or below the Basil skin layer. I am trying SkinMedica now based on the heavy sell, but after reading through threads on the dozens of sites I've been on over the last couple of days, I am not impressed with them anymore. There are three Parabens mentioned in their TNS essential serum product products which was Super Surprising and disappointing--especially at their mega price point. Thankfully, I did not buy their product from my plastic surgeon at 50% mark up--can't trust anyone anymore, but it did lead me to find a better alternative than my Seattle based PS.

  • June 16, 2011

    by Marta

    Thank you Ram for reminding us how we should conduct ourselves. Truth In Aging welcomes all opinions, but we don't tolerate personal attacks, slights, or name calling.

  • February 14, 2011

    by Skin Smart

    I have recently been educated about HFCM. And firstly Michael they weren't lying they don't use Human Fibroblasts...they use the Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media which is a byproduct of the actual Human Fibroblast harvest process. It contains cellular waste, red dye and some of the remains of the cultured cells. This byproduct may actually have animal derived components as well. This is why the product is typically a reddish brown in color. There is no way to measure the amount of actually Human Fibroblast cells there actually are since they can not be separated from the waste.

    If you are looking for pure Human Fibroblast cells I would recommend Neocuits Bio Cream.

  • January 28, 2011

    by Olivenose

    I've used them all, and they are nothing short of miraculous. I can honestly say that I see results, and you can't make that claim about much in the skincare business. However, I'm curious about the dermatological effects/differences in the results from .1% Retin-A and something like TNS recovery serum. They both build collagen by creating a mild irritation. What are your thoughts? Which may be be better or more far reaching in its benefits?

  • June 22, 2010

    by Michael

    I emailed skin-medica asking if they used cloned fibroblasts or what, and this is what they sent back, not sure if it helps:

    Just to clarify, TNS Essential Serum does not contain human fibroblasts. TNS Essential Serum contains Nouricel MD, which is a patented human growth factor solution containing amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and several cytokines/growth factors which is secreted from the growth medium of cultured neonatal fibroblasts which were obtained from a single donor over 10 years ago.

  • June 30, 2009

    by tman

    correction, Revitacel does not contain matrixyl. I tried it for 7 days and it seems to give smooth skin

  • June 20, 2009

    by tony

    Thanks for this article. I found the above website sells Revitacel Replenishing Complex with human fibroblast conditioned media. Revitacel is formally known as Derm 123. The product is only $59.95. It also contains matrixyl. Looks like its worth a try.

  • July 2, 2008

    by Jan Raza

    <p>I've been doing my own research on these human fibroblast conditioned media and I've called 7 dermatologist who sell TNS and A&G. They all agreed that Human fibroblast conditioned media causes no harm to the skin what so ever, and many published work have shown that. In fact, 3 of the doctors said that the reason we don't see these kind of products in the market because they are expensive to produce. I personally tried TNS recovery and A&G Active Serum is by far the best product in the market and the result I see on my face and on my sister's face are nothing short than a miracle. I pray that this company stay in business and don't go bankrupt. </p>

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