Our Rating: 4 stars

Reviewed by Dennis

I approached Stemulation’s Facial Serum ($135/15mL and $240/30mL) with guarded enthusiasm. Having used stem cell conditioned media in the past (ReLuma Eye Cream, $95), I had high hopes for the Stemulation. I did, however, consciously decide to take an objective view of the Stemulation Facial Serum because I think we put too much hope and expectation into anything stem cell derived. Usage directions for the facial serum indicate best results when used two times daily along with the Stemulation Boost Crème. The bottle I received is the size of a standard eye cream; 0.5 oz. My eyes, for now, are wrinkle free, but they can look tired and in need of rejuvenation. For these reasons, I decided to test the serum as an eye cream. I also decided to test it on a relatively new scar located on my shin. I read somewhere that wrinkles are nothing more than scars, so I imagined this would be a suitable test of this serum’s potential.

My guarded enthusiasm for Stemulation’s Facial Serum originally stemmed (no pun intended) from the price.  While not as outrageously priced as some serums and creams that do nothing, it will be out of range for some. Honestly, I feared I might fall for Stemulation’s Facial Serum, which could only lead to a fleeting relationship. But it’s still a blast to test out these over-the-top products! Similar to test driving a car you could never afford. This brings me to a topic that often comes up when I talk skincare with anyone: How much is your skin worth to you? I wish I had the budget to say that there is no price too high. And though my skin is invaluable to me, alas, I currently have a $50 price cap on products. There are, however, many nice anti-agers that can be had on a budget. See Marta’s post on the Five Best anti-aging serums for under $100. I’m currently using Osmosis Replenish ($44) at night and I like it very much.

As a graphic designer, I would like to acknowledge the care that Stemulation has put into the logo and packaging. The airless dispenser is also nice, if not quite out of proportion commensurate to the amount. Care must be taken when using the pump; otherwise, it dispenses in unruly squirts. At the price and size, I wanted a better-quality pump.

But down to the nitty gritty: the list of ingredients is fairly covetable. The signature ingredient is the HMSC stem cell conditioned media, which is a favorite of the TIA community. Understand that I am a 100 miles from being a scientist, but as far as I’ve read, this ingredient is cell growth medium conditioned by cytokines secreted from Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells, which can produce immediate improvements in skin texture and tone. When these stem cells are applied to the skin, collagen production increases; wrinkles are diminished; and minor cuts, abrasions, and redness can heal very quickly.

Sounds swell, right? Along with the HMSC cultured media are a who’s who list of ingredients such as niacinamide, beta glucan, vitamin c, green tea, pycnogenol, turmeric and more. The formula is whipped in an aloe vera base, which is much appreciated. When I sent a friend a link to the serum, he said, “It just has the world in it.” I agreed and was eager to get my hands on it, so I tracked the package obsessively.

But it’s not all good I’m afraid. The serum contains the controversial ingredient Syn-Ake, which is an expression inhibitor and some say the cause of sagging skin (I can hear Julie Kay shuddering). I also did not care for the perfumy smell.

A little of the serum goes a long way. One pump was more than enough to cover the area under my eyes as well as my cheeks with enough left over for the scar. The serum glides onto skin with incredible effortlessness. I have been using two fingers to gently massage the serum around my eyes and there was no pulling of the delicate skin. The consistency is thin and light. Absorption is nearly instant and it layered fine under my sunscreen.

So how does this new contender in the HMSC market fair? Well, I did not I noticed any significant changes immediately. However, after about two and a half weeks, it kicked in. I believe Marta has had similar experiences with conditioned media and EGF serums. At any rate, there was a plumpness and smoothness to my under-eye area. I rarely, if ever, wake up looking tired. However, I do feel like my skin was looking somewhat saggy in the cheek area. EEK! Perhaps this is a testament to the effectiveness of the Syn-Ake. The problem here is I don’t have lines to relax at this point, so I prefer products that firm. After I noticed this effect, I started applying around my temples where I’d like a needle full of botulism jabbed into. I am liking the results, though I have only been experimenting with the serum in that area for just under a week.

Stemulation Facial Serum | Before/After | Truth In Aging

I wavered quite a bit about this, but based on a few reasons, I am recommending Stemulation Facial Serum. 1. This could be an excellent product for those looking to relax expression lines/facial muscles. 2. The serum is loaded with powerful anti-aging ingredients that cannot be denied. 3. The scar on my shin is showing small signs of improvement. A picture cannot show what I feel, and it feels shallower to me. My sister concurred that there is a difference, but the scar may have been a little too old for any significant healing to be done. Also, one month is not, in my opinion, enough time to reap the full benefits out of an EGF serum like this.

Bottom line: As with many products, there are highs and lows. If you’re looking to relax lines/facial muscles, as well as improve the texture of your skin, this may be the serum for you. If you’re looking to tighten skin, I would look elsewhere. Far elsewhere. If it were reformulated without Syn-Ake and fragrance, I could recommend it 100%, but I’m personally not in love. One thing is for sure: I have to seriously consider violating my budget and look into getting an Ultra Renew, $89, for my cheeks now.