The Max Stem Cell Eye Cream contains a skin-pleasing mix of multiple peptides, plant-derived extracts, and anti-irritants along with non-fragrant plant oils and butters for moisture. These ingredients are ideal for normal to dry skin around the eyes or elsewhere on the face. While a separate eye cream isn't necessary for most (see More Info for the reasons why), if you prefer to use such a product, this would almost fit the bill. Read on to find out why this missed earning a better rating.
Unfortunately, IMAGE Skincare also includes fragrant Albizia julibrissin bark extract. While this plant extract does have some antioxidant benefit, so do many others (and with greater documented benefit for skin, we might add). This specific bark extract owes its wafting fragrance to the compounds methyl salicylate, eugenol, linalool, and octanol, all of which have established potential to provoke irritation when applied to the skin (Sources: Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 2012; and Gramene.com, 2014), and this type of irritation can easily become pro-aging, which we feel safe in assuming is NOT your goal!
It's always best to omit fragrance entirely from your skin-care routine (see More Info for details), but it's especially problematic in the eye area, and The Max Stem Cell Eye Cream has a potent scent that doesn't dissipate in the least over time.
Interestingly (sort of), IMAGE Skincare included the synthetic peptide dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate, which is claimed to mimic the compound Waglerin-1 found in snake venom that paralyzes or disrupts muscle movement. However, Waglerin-1 exerts these muscle-paralyzing functions only upon injection into the bloodstream, not by topical application, which is very good news in terms of safety (Sources: Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 1999; and Anesthesiology, 2014). In other words, this eye cream is not topical Botox for wrinkles; not even pure Botox works topically, it must be injected into the muscles that control expression lines.
To expand on the works-like-Botox line of thinking just a bit—if this peptide could relax the muscles in the areas of application, it would do the same to your fingers. (Can you imagine if you accidentally applied such a treatment to areas that you don't want paralyzed?) Of course, that's not what happens, but you get the idea.
We should note that IMAGE Skincare makes grandiose claims surrounding the plant stem cells in this formula. While plant stem cells may have antioxidant benefit for the skin (much like most plant extracts), they aren't the miraculous skin-cell saviors cosmetics companies make them out to be, unless your goal is to become a plant (see More Info for a reality check on plant stem cells).
Ultimately, The Max Stem Cell Eye Cream is outperformed by numerous alternatives—check out our list of the Best Eye Moisturizers for our top recommendations. The eye-area treatments on our list contain the beneficial ingredients skin needs to look and act healthier, but they don't contain the needless (and powerful) fragrance of this product.
- Includes a good mix of antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients.
- Emollients and skin-repairing ingredients keep the skin moisturized and smooth.
- Isn't packaged in a jar (as many eye creams are).
- Plant stem cell claims can be ignored, as they do not have miraculous benefits for wrinkles or other eye-area concerns.
- Fragrant Albizia julibrissin is never ideal for the skin, especially not in an eye-area product.
Why You May Not Need an Eye Cream: Most eye creams aren't necessary. That's either because they are poorly formulated, contain nothing special for the eye area, or come in packaging that won't keep key ingredients stable. Just because the product is labeled as an eye cream doesn't mean it's good for your eye area; in fact, many can actually make matters worse.
There is much you can do to improve signs of aging around your eyes. Any product loaded with antioxidants, skin-repairing ingredients, skin-lightening ingredients, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and effective emollients will work wonders and those ingredients don't have to come from a product labeled as an eye cream.
You would be shocked how many eye creams lack even the most basic ingredients to help skin. For example, most eye creams don't contain sunscreen. During the day that is a serious problem because it leaves the skin around your eyes vulnerable to sun damage and this absolutely will make dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles worse!
Whatever product you put around your eye area, regardless of what it is labeled, must be well formulated and appropriate for the skin type around your eyes! That may mean you need an eye cream, but you may also do just as well applying your regular facial moisturizer around your eyes.
Irritation from Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Stem Cells in Skincare Products: Stem cells are cells in animals and plants that are capable of becoming any other type of cell in that organism and of producing more of those cells. Despite the fact that stem cell research is in its infancy, many cosmetics companies claim they are successfully using plant-based or human-derived stem cells in their anti-aging products. The claims run the gamut, from reducing wrinkles to elastin repair and cell regeneration, so the temptation for consumers to try these is intense.
The truth is that stem cells in skin-care products do not work as claimed. In fact, they likely have no effect at all because stem cells must be alive to function as stem cells. Once these delicate cells are added to skin-care products, they are long dead and, therefore, useless.
Plant stem cells, such as those derived from apples, melons, flowers, and rice, cannot stimulate stem cells in human skin, but because they are from plants these ingredients likely have antioxidant
properties. Actually, it's a good thing plant stem cells can't work as stem cells in skin-care products; after all, you don't want your skin to absorb cells that can grow into apples or watermelons!
There are also claims that because a plant's stem cells allow a plant to repair itself or to survive in harsh climates, these benefits can be passed on to human skin. How a plant functions in nature is unrelated to human skin, and these claims are completely without substantiation.
Another twist on the issue is that cosmetics company's claim they have taken components (such as peptides) out of the plant stem cells and made them stable so they then can work as stem cells. This approach is not valid because stem cells must be complete to function normally. Even if you could isolate substances or extracts from these cells and make them stable, there is no published research showing they can affect stem cells in human skin.
This eye creme contains powerful concentrations of growth-factors derived from plant stem cells to protect skin cells and prevent aging effects caused by free radical damage. Visibly reduces fine lines and wrinkles while reducing under eye puffiness. Prevents cell aging. Contains grape, alpine edelweiss and apple stem cells for maximum age prevention. Includes a peptide blend for rejuvenation.
Aqua, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Leontopodium Alpinum Meristem Cell Culture, Argania Spinosa Sprout Cell Culture Extract, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Vitis Vinifera Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Sucrose Palmitate, Cetearyl Olivate, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Glycerin, Sorbitan Olivate, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Echinacea Angustifolia Extract, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Olea Europaea Oil Unsaponifiables, Albizia Julibrissin Bark Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Bisabolol, Brassica Campestris/Aleurites Fordi Oil Copolymer, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Acetyl Octapeptide-3, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycine Soja Sterols, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Chrysin, Dipeptide-2, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Algae Extract, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone, Linoleic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Allantoin, Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Carbomer, Darutoside, Phospholipids, Glyceryl Linoleate, Pullulan, Isomalt, Steareth-20, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Triethanolamine, Caprylyl Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.
IMAGE Skincare, a brand operated out of West Palm Beach, Florida, focuses on the concept of “pharmaceutical grade” skin-care products (more on that in a moment). Developed by its president and CEO, Janna Robert, IMAGE Skincare is distributed in spas and dermatology offices. However, it can also be found on retail websites like Amazon (despite the company’s claim that these aren’t approved retailers).
The IMAGE Skincare approach promotes the concept that those of a certain age should use a certain line of products—a visit to their website’s product recommendation page has their five collections categorized by age range, which is a silly concept.
Here’s why that approach makes for poor skin care: Simply put, age is not a skin type—the types of ingredients skin needs to stay healthy and act younger are the same whether you’re 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years old, or beyond. Just as a healthy diet doesn’t change as you age, the same is true for skin care. What skin needs to be healthy does not change with age.
To underscore this fact, IMAGE Skincare’s recommendations are virtually identical, no matter which age range you select. Interestingly, their age ranges are grouped into three categories: 1–18 (OK, … a 1-year-old? How bizarre is that! A baby is supposed to have a skin-care routine?); 19–35; and then...”36+.”
Someone over the age of 40 (all the way to those over 65) can have oily skin and breakouts, and teens can have dry, sun-damaged skin. Research shows that the same ingredients are needed to improve and heal the problem, regardless of age. Relating age to skin care is just silly!
IMAGE Skincare defines their “aging later” approach to mean that if you want to delay the signs of aging, you need to give skin more of what it needs to stay healthier, longer. That includes their recommendation of regular use of AHA/BHA exfoliants, formulas loaded with antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients, as well as wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day.
We absolutely agree with those points—anti-aging is about taking care of your skin, keeping it protected from environmental harms (i.e., unprotected sun exposure and pollution), and ensuring that all of your products are loaded with beneficial ingredients, no matter your age. Their list of recommendations should also include using products that are free of irritants; that is, ingredients that have documented research indicating their potential to harm skin by causing inflammation and free-radical damage.
Unfortunately, that latter point is where many of IMAGE Skincare’s products veer off the mark. For all their claims of including only what’s best for the skin, we were disappointed to find that almost all of their products contain at least one irritating fragrance extract or essential oil (some IMAGE Skincare products are overloaded with them), and the fragrance is often overwhelming, lingering on the skin and wafting from the container immediately on opening.
On a side note, the intense fragrance of many of their products makes us skeptical of their ingredient lists—they don’t list what could be causing the perfume-like, sickly sweet odor. Fragrance, whether natural or synthetic, is a problem for the skin because of the irritations it can cause.
What about their claim of offering “pharmaceutical grade” ingredients and formulas? When a brand uses the term “pharmaceutical” in describing their products, they’re trying to invoke the idea that their formulas are somehow different or “stronger” than those you can find anywhere else. This is nothing more than marketing wordplay—there are no (repeat, no) pharmaceutical-grade skin-care products because the term is not regulated by the FDA, so there is no standard or meaning to the claim. Just as the words “cosmeceutical” and “hypoallergenic” are meaningless, “pharmaceutical grade” is as well.
What matters is that the ingredients they include have published, peer-reviewed research and that your products conform to the safety guidelines and standards set forth in the FDA’s labeling regulatory requirements (or international regulatory bodies, if you’re outside the United States).
Strangely enough, it was challenging to find accurate ingredient lists for IMAGE Skincare. In some instances, the list on the packaging was incomplete and/or very different from the ingredient list found online (even from “approved” resellers allegedly using information supplied by IMAGE). We are reluctant to trust any company that can’t get this simple regulation right; think about buying food at the grocery store that didn’t have a label listing everything that was in it.
For example, IMAGE Skincare’s Prevention + Daily Matte Moisturizer Oil Free SPF 30+ claims to contain microsponge technology (absorbent polymers that help to control excess oil), and yet the product packaging doesn’t list any such ingredients. And, in the case of one of their anti-acne treatments, the combined use of the two active ingredients falls outside of FDA guidelines for anti-acne products (Source: FDA 21 CFR 333.310, 2014).
In the end, some of the products IMAGE Skincare offers are (possibly) worth looking into, but overall we were disappointed in the brand because so many of their formulas, including those of some otherwise impressive products, contained an excess of fragrance, made outlandish marketing claims, and had an abundance of ingredient misinformation wrapped in “pharmaceutical-grade” pseudoscience. We prefer science based in reality—everything else is just hype, and hype is not the way to take the best possible care of your skin… at any age!
For more information about IMAGE Skincare, call 1-800-796-SKIN (7546) or visit www.imageskincare.com.