Stem Genesis

by Isomers  
$75 - 1 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > Serums > Serums
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This serum is supposed to make skin look younger because it contains stem cells from a species of Swiss apple. The entire issue of stem cells as they relate to skin care is in its infancy, and suffice it to say there is no substantiated proof anywhere that stem cells from fruit (whether an apple or pomegranate or grape) can somehow prompt stem cells in human skin to act younger.

The miracle ingredient in this case is Malus domestica fruit cell culture (Isomers has so many of these “miracle” ingredients; they just keep putting them in different products instead of all together in one product.) There is no substantiated, published research proving this has any effect on stem cells in our skin. Instead, the bulk of the information comes from Mibelle Biochemistry, the company that developed and is selling it. (What a shock!) According to information from the company, In vitro and in vivo tests performed by Mibelle have suggested that the ingredient, PhytoCellTec (Malus domestica) boosts the production of human stem cells, protects human stem cells from stress and decreases wrinkles.

In vitro the extract was applied to human stem cells from umbilical cords and was found to increase the number of the stem cells in culture. Furthermore, the addition of the ingredient to umbilical cord stem cells appeared to protect the cells from environmental stress such as UV light.

Mibelle got these results in a laboratory setting under controlled conditions, so what the results would be on intact, healthy human skin is difficult to predict. Not to mention that umbilical cords love to make stem cells all on their own.

Further, the big unknown when using ingredients to signal stem cells in skin is how to control the proliferation of unwanted cell growth. Assuming that stem cells in skin could be stimulated by topical application of skin-care products, how would the cells know when to stop producing? Uncontrolled, overproduction of cells is the blueprint for cancer, a fact that seems to be ignored in the literature that promotes stimulation of stem cells with cosmetics products.

As for real-world applications, Mibelle did conduct an experiment that involved 20 participants applying a cream with 2% of this rarified apple extract to wrinkles around their eyes. After four weeks of twice daily application, wrinkle depth was reduced by 15%. That’s not much when you consider that 85% of the wrinkle was still there, and still apparent. Plus, the study was neither comparative nor double-blind. Who knows if a cream with 2% vitamin E or green tea might have performed even better? Because all of the research on this ingredient comes from the company promoting it, you have to look at it with a great deal of skepticism—or at least acknowledge that its efficacy is a stretch and the potential unknowns are scary.

Other than the rare apple extract, there isn’t much in this serum that doesn’t show up in most of Isomers’ other serums. If this is the ultimate product to promote a youthful appearance, why is the company still selling so many other products making the same claims? Although there are some efficacious ingredients in this serum, the unknowns surrounding topical application of ingredients that may trigger stem cells in skin makes it impossible to recommend and there's just too much of this stem cell culture here to make it risk-free. You don’t need to be any cosmetic company’s guinea pig.

The Stem Genesis formulation combines 10 key ingredients to give you a more dedicated youthful appearance tool. Stem Genesis targets the aging skin in many ways to help reduce the visible signs of aging. It is designed to help the skin look, smoother, firmer, younger, at any age.

Water, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture, Xanthan Gum, Glycerin, Lecithin, Tripeptide-10 Citrulline, Cyperus Esculentus Tuber Extract, Erythritol, Homarine HCl, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-9, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Pamitoyl Dipeptide-5, Diaminobutyloyl Hydroxythreonine, Palmitoyl Dipeptide-6 Diaminohydroxybutyrate, Sodium Hyaluronate (LMW), Sodium Hyaluronate (HMW), Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Tropolone, Carbomer, Triethanolamine.

Toronto-based Isomers is a cosmetics company started by a husband and wife team back in 1988, when oversized shoulder pads were still the height of fashion. The husband, Darius Majlessi, is a cosmetic chemist and the wife, Manuela Marcheggiani, had problem skin and couldn't find a solution at the cosmetics counters. Picture a blender (to mix ingredients), textbooks, and a married couple holed up researching ingredients and, voilá, another cosmetics company is born.

Although the company's been around for quite a while now, only recently has it come to prominence (read: consumer awareness beyond Canada's borders), and that's because of their presence on the Web site This site is NBC's version of QVC or the Home Shopping Network. Apparently, the televised appearances by this line's representatives have spurred many of my readers to write to me, asking if Isomers has the antiwrinkle answer or the solution to their skin-care issues. Ms. Marcheggiani is the spokesperson for the brand, and has the requisite engaging personality that gets viewers to pay attention to her spiel about whatever Isomers skin-care product is being featured. Listening to customer testimonials and watching Marcheggiani nod in agreement, it's not hard to see why curiosity about this line has become so intense. But just like every other skin-care infomercial or overly advertised skin-care product, tread carefully. Remember, the claims and endorsements are nauseatingly redundant, with minor supercilious marketing nuances. In essence, don't pick up the phone on this one; it is no more the answer than the hundreds of other lines carrying on about how unique they are.

Isomers claims to be the ultimate beauty innovator because they set industry standards for producing "functional cosmetics." So, what they're stating is that their products are functional and that everyone else has learned that from them. But even so, if I interpret their claim correctly, a functional product would be a cleanser that cleanses, a moisturizer that moisturizes, and a toner that refreshes skin—hardly an innovative, industry-leading claim, but there you have it. It's like Ford advertising that they manufacture "drivable cars" or that your local grocery store sells "edible food"!

The truth is that Isomers isn't really innovative in the least. In fact, the first words I'd use to describe their products are confusing, excessive, and redundant. Few lines I've ever reviewed sell this many moisturizers and serums claiming to do the exact same thing. Yes, companies like Estee Lauder have an abundance of moisturizers, but at least their formulas and packaging differ, making it relatively easy for consumers to understand which product to use and why. Not so with Isomers. If you're concerned about wrinkles or loss of firmness, you'll be greeted with more serums than even the savviest consumer would know what to do with. And according to the company, all of the products are remarkable, all of them work, and all of them are unique.

Isomers is big on gimmicky and unproven ingredients. It seems they've never met a cosmetic breakthrough they didn't like. I imagine cosmetic raw material salespeople love visiting the Isomers office, because they seemingly say yes to whatever ingredient is being presented, as long as there's an anti-aging story behind it (and believe me, cosmetic ingredient manufacturers have stories upon stories for every single ingredient they sell).

This is especially true for peptides. If there's a peptide that's trendy, Isomers is using it. The lack of substantiated research pertaining to efficacy doesn't seem to matter; as long as the company selling the material says it works, that's all the convincing they seem to need. Isomers is a line busy creating way too many antiwrinkle, anti–puffy eyes, anti–dark circle, anti-sagging, anti-whatever-you-don't-like-about-your-skin products. Enough already, if one product says it can get rid of wrinkles, what are all the other products for? Yes, this was a maddening line to wade through, and the company's Web site was little help in figuring things out. If you visit, tread carefully, as you could easily get lost or end up buying way more products than any one face could possibly need.

I'll preface this by stating that Isomers does have some very good products to consider; the main problem with Isomers is that too many of their anti-aging products leave your skin wanting more. Instead of offering a handful of serums or moisturizers loaded with antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, anti-irritants, and cell-communicating ingredients, Isomers cherry-picks one or two key ingredients and formulates a product around them. Instead of creating one great product with almost everything your skin needs to be healthy, they add only the ingredients necessary for advertising copy. That isn't the best way to take care of skin, at least not if the goal is to get the best, most high-performance skin-care products for your money.

OK, I do have another issue with Isomers, but it's not one that's unique to them. Here's another skin-care line that sells numerous (honestly, I lost count) antiwrinkle serums and moisturizers ... and only one sunscreen. That is just mind boggling for a company claiming to know so much about skin. Really, how seriously can you take a skin-care company that places so little importance on sun protection? The sole sunscreen they sell provides broad-spectrum protection, but I'd rather see Isomers offer too many sunscreens instead of too many serums. At least if all the sunscreens were well-formulated you'd be assured of critical sun protection and a legitimate anti-aging benefit! Isomers has lots of products (and I mean a lot) to offer, but only a fraction of them are worth your attention. With these reviews, I hope your experience with this brand goes smoother than mine did!

For more information about Isomers, call (416) 787-2465 or visit

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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