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Talking Stem Cells

Contact Author Terri Wojak, Aesthetics Exposed Education
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Stem cells have become a huge buzzword in the esthetics industry. They are known for their regenerative properties in medicine, making them a promising component to rejuvenate aged skin. Many providers and consumers have turned to stem cells in esthetic procedures and topical skin care products to address the signs of aging skin. To better understand what stem cells are meant to do in the skin, you need to understand what stem cells are, where they come from and how they work in skin care products.

What are Stem Cells?

A cell is the smallest unit of life that makes up all living things. Cells are the building blocks of the body that carry out specific functions. They heal, repair and reconstruct the body. We have approximately 200 different types of cells and 30 to 40 trillion cells in the body. Stem cells are where all other cells are produced and given specialized functions. They are the only cells that have the ability to differentiate into one or more cell types. Stem cells divide to form daughter cells, which either become a new stem cell or a specialized cell with specific functions such as blood cells, bone cells, skin cells, etc.

Think of youthful stem cells like young people choosing their careers as they get older; outside influences like geography, upbringing and family needs may push them toward a certain career path. The same thing happens with undifferentiated cells; they are influenced by external cues such as cell signaling, environment and body needs. Each cell in the body uses the same DNA; however, specialized cells only use the parts of the DNA needed for that particular cell. For example, a skin cell would only express the genes needed to form a skin cell. Stem cells continuously repair damage by sending messages. As we age, stem cells decrease and produce less cell-signaling proteins.

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Terri A. Wojak, a licensed esthetician of 20 years, is an authority on skin care in a medical setting, education and business. She is director and educator at True U Esthetics, co-author of Mastering Medical Esthetics and author of Aesthetics Exposed: Mastering Skin Care In A Medical Setting and Beyond. She is also a member of the Skin Inc. Editorial Advisory Board.

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