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Growth Factors in Skincare Products: Benefits and Risks


Many beauty products claim to improve fine lines and skin texture by adding growth factors. From a commercial perspective, adding growth factors to products can increase their appeal. However, what exactly are growth factors, what are their functions, and what are the risks associated with them?

Growth factors act as messengers between cells, controlling various cellular functions such as cell division and the production of extracellular matrix proteins like collagen. As skin ages, the ability to regenerate is reduced, and collagen production decreases. Some believe that controlling cell functions can reverse skin aging. Is this really the case?

Studies show that applying growth factors topically can reduce the signs of photoaging, including the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Growth factors can increase the division of fibroblast and keratinocyte cells, leading to increased collagen production. Growth factors can be extracted and purified from a variety of sources such as skin cells, human or animal placentas, recombinant bacteria, and plants. Some growth factors can also be produced chemically.

There are many different types of growth factors, with the most commonly used on the skin being fibroblast growth factor, transforming growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, placental growth factor, and insulin-like growth factor. While different growth factors control different functions, repairing the skin cannot be achieved with a single growth factor.

Growth factors extracted from human tissue theoretically work better as they are better matched chemically. They can improve skin aging but also stimulate neo-angiogenesis, waking up dormant tumors. In particular, using products containing VEGF can theoretically stimulate the growth of melanoma tumors as melanoma cells have VEGF receptors on their surface.

As a result, scientists have been studying the use of non-human growth factors, hoping to improve skin while reducing the risk of malignant tumors. Some growth factors are extracted from soft-shelled animals (secretion of Cryptomphalus aspersa-SCA), some from plants (kinetin), and some are artificial (lipopeptides). SCA, the popular snail essence of recent years, is one such growth factor.

There are many beauty products containing growth factors, and their quality, types of growth factors, and concentration can greatly affect their clinical efficacy. If you plan to use these products, do your research to ensure that they are safe and effective for your skin.