Introstem Review: Skincare Costing the Price of Gold?

Introstem Review: Skincare Costing the Price of Gold?


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Introstem is one of the most expensive cosmetic 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 do grape stem cells actually improve skin quality? Do Introstem products have other research-backed ingredients for anti-aging? Does Introstem use any questionable additive ingredients? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of this product line?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we review clinical research to give our take on whether or not topical stem cells can actually improve skin.

We’ll also analyze the ingredients in two of the most popular Introstem products (Introstem Syringe and Introstem Eye Cream) based on clinical studies to give our take on whether or not they're likely to be effective.

Finally, we'll share a video on how to apply Introstem, and provide a cost comparison to show which retailer sells this brand for the best price.

Do Stem Cells Improve Skin?

Introstem stem cell claim

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 clinical studies suggesting that grape stem cells, when applied topically to human skin, improve skin quality.

We cannot locate any medical research suggesting that grape stem cells (or any other type of stem cells) improve skin or have an anti-aging effect when applied topically.

Thus, we consider the core of Introstem’s product differentiation to be a marketing claim that has questionable scientific backing.

"Dr Dray" has a YouTube video answering user questions about skincare.

The dermatologist discusses whether topically-applied stem cells can improve skin, and we’ve timestamped the video to start at that section:

Introstem Syringe Review

Introstem Syringe ingredients

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 like a medical syringe.

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 updating this article. The price of gold per-ounce is currently $1,995 (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 for 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 clinically shown to have a hydrating effect on skin, as we documented in our review of another cosmetic brand called Plexaderm.

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.

Ethylhexylglycerin is another preservative that enhances the toxic effect of phenoxyethanol according to a 2016 clinical trial.

Overall, we believe that Introstem’s Syringe is likely to have an anti-aging effect, but we do not currently recommend it due to the inclusion of the two preservative ingredients outlined above.

Introstem Eye Cream Review

Introstem Eye Cream ingredients

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 from UV rays.

Hydrogenated polyisobutene was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science to be an effective skin moisturizer.

Retinyl palmitate is an effective anti-aging ingredient, as we documented in the previous ingredient analysis section.

Unfortunately, this cream contains three total preservatives, one more than the previous formulation.

Benzyl alcohol is the preservative that’s unique to Introstem Eye Cream.

Phenoxyethanol is a suboptimal choice for an eye cream, because as we documented in our review of 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 reducing the visible signs of aging, but we consider it to be an inferior formulation to Introstem Syringe which had many research-backed anti-aging ingredients and only two preservatives.

We do not recommend this product overall due to the inclusion of three synthetic preservatives.

How to Use Introstem

A video on the official Introstem YouTube page includes 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 consumers considering purchasing Introstem products:

Where to Get the Best Price

Introstem cosmetics are sold at a variety of online retailers. Here's a price breakdown for a one-time purchase at the time of updating this article:

Syringe

Brand website: $1,300 (free shipping, link)

EveryMarket: $113.11 (free shipping, link)

Amazon: $78.99 (free shipping, third-party seller, link)

Rejuvenating Eye Cream

Brand website: $500 (free shipping, link)

Amazon: $35 (free shipping, third-party seller, link)

Introstem is around 90% cheaper on Amazon than the brand's website, but the Amazon listings are from third-party sellers, so it may be safer to purchase directly from the brand's website.

Introstem Complaints

While researching this article, we came across a number of customers online complaining about Introstem products and service.

On Introstem’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) page, several customers have complained 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 Clean Skincare Picks

There are skincare products containing ingredients shown in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality.

Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging serum.

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. 

Momentous Collagen Powder is our top skin supplement.

Collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to reduce visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration.

HYDRAGLOW by CLEARSTEM 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."

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Pros and Cons of Introstem

Here are the pros and cons of Introstem in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Effective ingredients
  • Likely to have an anti-aging effect
  • Likely to moisturize skin
  • Brand website offers free shipping
  • Neither of the products we reviewed contained fragrance

Cons:

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Contains synthetic preservatives
  • Brand fails to respond to some online customer complaints
  • Doesn't appear to be clinically tested
  • We can't find evidence that topical application of stem cells improves skin
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, given the incredibly high price, both Introstem products we reviewed contained research-backed anti-aging ingredients. 

We don’t recommend either the Introstem Syringe or Instrostem Eye Cream due to the inclusion of synthetic preservatives, but we consider the Syringe to be the better formulation as it contains more active ingredients that we believe are likely to be effective.

Introstem is the most expensive cosmetic brand we've reviewed to date on Illuminate Health, with one of their products costing more than the price of gold per-ounce.

Introstem does not currently respond to all consumer complaints on the BBB site, which we consider to be a red flag about the brand.

At the time of updating this article, Amazon has the best prices on Introstem products.