Who doesn’t want to wake up with bouncier looking, replenished skin? Designed to be left on overnight, The Body Shop’s ‘youth-enhancing formula’ in their Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask claims to achieve just that, boosting skin’s vitality with the use of Edelweiss stem cells in its ‘unique bouncy memory shape texture’. Oooh, sounds fancy, but can slathering these cells onto your face really achieve such sought-after results overnight? Reviews on The Body Shop’s site gave 5*s across the board, with customers claiming they’d ‘fallen in love’ with the results – from silky soft skin to improving the appearance of blemishes. Beauty blogger Caroline Hirons has also had her say on this sleeping mask, questioning the texture and calling the product ‘hard to grab hold of, annoying even.’ – eek! The conclusion she came to however was ‘it does what it says on the pot’, which is surely what we’re all looking for… so let’s crack on with the science.

The ingredient that immediately grabbed out attention was Edelweiss stem cells. Also known as Leontopodium Alpinum, this herbaceous plant is native to the mountains of Europe. A ‘stem cell’ refers to undifferentiated cells that maintain the ability to mature into multiple different types of cell lines. In the outermost layers (epidermis) of healthy skin stem cells constantly work away to renew the skin, helping with processes such as wound healing and giving you a whole new epidermis every month! As we age however, these regenerating processes slow down, which can lead to the loss of the skin’s integral structure and firmness, causing wrinkles to occur.

Because the use of human stem cells for cosmetic products would be pretty controversial, botanical-derived (plant) stem cells and their extracts have become more popular in our products recently. This is due to their ability to boost healthy human cell development and protect against the damaging effects that UV rays can have upon human cells (those such as photoageing, inflammation, sunburn and even the development of cancer in some cases).

Plant stem cell technology allows scientists to extract these beneficial botanicals and use them as a vehicle to support healthy skin stem cell regeneration – well doesn’t this sound rather promising? The only problem being that we couldn’t find any studies that specifically investigated Edelweiss stem cells – ah. We did however find several papers describing protective properties such as their role as an anti-oxidant. This refers to Edelweiss stem cell component leontopodic acid’s ability to scavenge damage-causing free radicals (like those produced by UV-radiation) and thus protect the plant (and supposedly our skin cells) from photodamage.

The literature also describes extracts of this stem cell line to act as anti-inflammatory agents, where studies into oral administration tested these effects on the induced swelling of rat paws and the gastro-intestinal tract of mice. Studies investigating the topical effect of Edelweiss stem cell constituents on an induced mouse ear dermatitis model (dermatitis is an allergic reaction of the skin, often resulting in inflammation) also found this extract to have an anti-inflammatory effect. One paper even concluded that the anti-inflammatory effects of concentrated extracts of Edelweiss could one day be a possible source of anti-inflammatory substances to treat chronic inflammatory skin diseases (such as eczema and psoriasis). This science may well back up the claims of one reviewer who praised this product for its blemish-busting results, where anti-inflammatory properties of the plant may have contributed to calming any acne-induced inflammation. Edelweiss also boasts anti-bacterial properties, which could again be an explanation to that calming effect on acne, although the studies to back its anti-bacterial properties do not focus specifically upon known acne-causing strains.

When it comes to those ‘silky-soft skin’ claims however, we’re less sceptical. Ingredients like dimethicone and glycerine are proven skin-conditioning (softening) and humectant (moisture-retaining) agents.

The whole “plant stem cell technology” scene is all still seems a little up in the air, but some of these stem cells have been shown to have beneficial effects. These include protection from UV-induced damage, antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory benefits and even skin ageing prevention, but the evidence that Eledweiss stem cells specifically lead to skin regeneration is definitely lacking. We find ourselves hankering (again) for much more data! It looks like these stem cells do have beauty benefits, but we just like to know it’s happening! The proof at the moment is in the pot with the Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask, and the reviewers do seem to love it so we’ll just have to wait patiently for a research paper on topical Edelweiss stem cell effects…

Fancy trying Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask, you can find it HERE