Introstem is one of the most expensive cosmetics brands in the U.S., with some of their most popular products costing around half of the price of gold per ounce. The brand advertises that there are “grape stem cells in every drop” of their products.
But are grape stem cells actually proven to improve skin quality? Do Introstem products have other research-backed ingredients? Do they contain any potentially harmful ingredients? And how do real users rate their performance?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze medical research to give our take on whether topical stem cells can actually improve skin. Next we’ll review the ingredients in two of the most popular Introstem products: the Introstem Syringe (which is not actually a medical syringe injected into skin but just a product applicator), and Introstem Eye Cream.
Do Stem Cells Improve Skin?
Stem cells are cells in humans and plants that have the ability to repair and regenerate other cells.
Introstem advertises that they use grape stem cells in their products. The brand does not appear to cite any medical studies suggesting that grape stem cells, when applied topically to human skin, improve skin quality.
We cannot locate any medical research proving that grape stem cells (or any other type of stem cells) improve skin or have an anti-aging effect. Thus we consider the core of Introstem’s product differentiation to be a marketing claim that is not proven in scientific research.
A dermatologist and popular beauty blogger named Dr. Dray published a YouTube video answering user questions about skincare. One of the questions was about whether topically-applied stem cells benefitted skin, and we’ve timestamped the video to start at that section:
Introstem Syringe Review
Introstem’s most popular product is their “Syringe” which is used as an anti-aging treatment. Its ingredients are shown above. The syringe is just a product applicator and is not injected into the skin.
This product costs $1,200 and is only 0.42 ounces. This is a price-per-ounce of $2,857, which is more than the price of gold at the time of writing this article. The price of gold per-ounce is currently $1,685 (source).
There are several research-backed, anti-aging ingredients in this formulation.
Acetyl-hexapeptide 8 was shown to be effective for reducing the appearance of wrinkles in a 2020 clinical trial, as well as treating a variety of other skin conditions.
Sodium hyaluronate is the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, which has been shown in clinical studies to have “remarkable anti-wrinkle” effects.
Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A that was found in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology to reduce the effects of aging on skin.
Cucumber fruit extract is another ingredient we consider effective. As we referenced in our review of another skincare brand called Plexaderm, this ingredient can have a hydrating effect on skin.
While Introstem’s Stem Cell Non-Surgical Syringe clearly contains a number of effective ingredients for anti-aging, it also contains two ingredients we recommend avoiding.
Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative found to be toxic to human cells in a 2020 clinical trial, and ethylhexylglycerin is another preservative. Some cosmetic formulations require preservatives based on their botanical ingredients, but in our opinion it seems illogical to use skincare products with preservatives when there are effective cosmetic formulations free of these ingredients.
Overall, we believe that Introstem’s Syringe is likely to have an anti-aging effect, but we do not recommend it due to the inclusion of two preservative ingredients.
Introstem Eye Cream Review
Introstem’s second-most popular product is their Eye Cream, called Stem Cell Rejuvenating Eye Cream.
Caffeine is an effective anti-aging ingredient, because research shows that topical application of caffeine can reduce skin damage during UV ray exposure.
Hydrogenated polyisobutene was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science to be an effective skin moisturizer.
This formulation also contains retinyl palmitate which we already proved to be an effective anti-aging ingredient in the previous section.
Unfortunately this product contains three total preservatives, one more than the previous formulation.
Benzyl alcohol is the preservative that’s unique to Introstem Eye Cream. We find phenoxyethanol to be particularly suboptimal for an eye cream, because as we documented in our review of the Disco Eye Stick, this preservative has been shown in clinical research to be irritating to the eyes.
Overall we do consider Introstem Eye Cream to be likely effective for improving skin quality and having an anti-aging effect, but we consider it to be a far inferior formulation to Introstem Syringe which had many research-backed anti-aging ingredients. We do not recommend this product overall due to the inclusion of three synthetic preservatives.
There are a number of consumers online complaining about Introstem products and service.
On Introstem’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) page, several consumers complain that the brand was not forthcoming about their product refund policy:
One customer reported the following:
“I purchased this medical device on vacation, I was told by the sales rep that if the item did not work for me I could get a refund. The item was shipped to my home I received it a few days ago, I did more research on it and found bad press on it therefore I decided I did not want the item. Also there were other reasons I did not want the item. I reached out to the sales agent and told her that I would be returning the item unopened for a full refund. She then informed me that there was some promotion and I could not get my money back”
Another customer reported a similarly frustrating experience:
“I purchased 350 dollars of product, I wasn't sure how they would react with my skin and asked if I could bring them back off I had any troubles and was told I had 2 weeks. I went home and got hives from their product. I went back the next day and was told that they do not do refunds and they showed my receipt which said no refunds even though they verbally told me I could take it back.”
What we find the most concerning about these Introstem complaints is that the brand does not even bother to respond in most cases. Brands that take customer experience and happiness seriously tend to respond to all public complaints and try to resolve them.
Our Skincare Recommendations
There are skincare products that contain ingredients proven in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality generally.
Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top skin cream pick because of its effective and clean formulation. It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging. We consider this to be the most powerful topical skincare ingredient. Most importantly, this serum is entirely free of questionable additives like preservatives or fragrance.
Interested consumers can check out Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum at this link to the product page on the brand's website.
HydraGlow is our top moisturizer pick. It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects." In the linked trial, topical bakuchiol reduced wrinkles, improved skin elasticity and firmness, and reduced photodamage (damage from UV rays). There are no questionable additive ingredients in this product.
Interested consumers can check out HydraGlow at this link to the product page on the brand's website.
The only oral supplement we recommend for skin quality improvement is Bulletproof Collagen Powder. Oral collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to improve visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration. The only ingredient in Bulletproof collagen is collagen peptides sourced from grass-fed animals. We recommend a dose of 10 grams per day.
Interested consumers can check out Bulletproof Collagen Powder at this link to the product page on the brand's website.
All three of these products combined cost a fraction of either of the Introstem products we reviewed in this article.
Introstem Daily Routine Video
Introstem published a video on their official YouTube page that shows live product demos and explains how the products are meant to be used in the context of a daily skincare routine.
This may be useful to consumer considering purchasing Introstem products:
Introstem Pros and Cons
Here’s the pros and cons of Introstem as a brand in our opinion.
- Effective ingredients
- Likely to have an anti-aging effect
- Incredibly expensive
- Contains synthetic preservatives
- Brand fails to respond to many public customer complaints