#2 Lifeline by ISCO


LifeLine Skin Care  is Ranked #2

Lifeline Skin Care by ISCO is one of the first products to emerge from stem cell skin care science. It is a perennial favorite, and has captured a strong and loyal user base. The cells they use are parthenogenetic, which means they are embryo-like , though not fertilized human embryos.  This may hinder the products acceptance, as the distinction involves complex science.

Expert Ratings & Stem Cell Skin Care Review Summary

  • Stem Cell Science
  • Formulation Science
  • Benefits
  • Impact & Lack of Concerns


Lifeline skin care by International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO) bases its skin care technology on parthenogenetic stem cells, which are either embryonic or pseudo-embryonic depending on which side of that controversy you take. The theory and science are quite sound, but the actual product raises questions based on growth factor harvesting techniques (freeze-thaw) and minimalist clinical or user trial relying of soft measures like hydration, touting benefits in weeks (no surprise there). Solid work by real stem cell scientists, but points off for execution when skin is the target organ.


  • The corporate focus of ISCO is not stem cell skin care.  They pursue research to find applications of stem cell in various diseases, while skin care is a sideline for them. LifeLine Skin Care products are  based on parthenogenetic stem cells. The technical part- these are unfertilized human oocytes (eggs) which are then chemically induced to become  pseudo-embryonic cells (functionally). The source of the human cellular material is in vitro fertilization labs and clinics. The science of parthenogenetic stem cells is quite interesting, and the parent company is pursuing a lot of interesting research to find applications outside dermatology. But these are based on the value of the whole cells, not the conditioned media of the cells grown in culture to harvest cytokines and growth factors. The differential ability of such cells compared e.g. to mesenchymal stem cells, either from early (placental, cord blood) mid (bone marrow) or late life (liposuction) sampling in terms of the secretome quality & quantity is an unknown – it has not been published by the company.


  •  The company’s procedures to create active ingredient from cell cultures differs from most others. Rather than capturing the cells secreted messenger molecules they take the whole cells and lyse them by repeatedly freezing and thawing until they burst. This would be expected to have two effects: first, the cells would undergo stress response (e.g. shock proteins) that would alter their output. Second, the process mixes in vast quantities of intracellular chemicals (fragments of FDA, RNA, nucleotides, and myriad proteins, lipids, and other items). Even if filtered to assure small molecules only, it is an odd approach, as it bypasses the known science of cytokines and instead assumes that cracked open cells are the beneficial answer.  But many of these beneficial proteins are sensitive and will deform when exposed to repeated cycles of freeze and thaw.  The technique is questionable for these reasons.

    The company does envelop their active molecules in lipid bilayers (also known as lipid nanoparticles or nanosomes) which assist transport across the skin’s natural defense barriers.

  • The expected benefits would depend on the resulting mixture of cytokines and growth factors, and their concentrations. These are not reported. However, there are theoretical advantages to starting with pseudo-embryonic stem cells, which would be expected to be particularly prone to manufacturing abundant growth factors as that is a natural role during intrauterine development.  A clinical trial found these results:  93% experienced improved skin hydration, 73% experienced firmer & tighter skin, 63% experienced improved skin tone and brightness. Nothing mentioned about wrinkles. These results are not as good as we have seen from other products in this category but we always warn that clinical studies in this field are notoriously difficult to factor, let alone compare or reproduce, as these variables are soft science and there is considerable variance between observers. In addition, the measures are often short term (weeks) rather than longer term (months, or even years). The process of dermal regeneration takes time. So we take these studies with a grain of salt.  They also report elastin increase by 46% and collagen A1 by 42% & collagen A2 by 55%. Og course, collagen production can be a stress response, so hard to know what these results mean clinically.

    Having said that, they promise “visible results in as little as four weeks” but they are clearly talking about hydration or brightness, not wrinkles.

  • The main concerns of the reviewers is the stability of the cytokines and growth factors in product manufacture, the presence of unwanted intracellular contents, and lack of clinical data beyond a few unimpressive measures (you can get hydration from a $10 product, after all).  Some learned biologists and ethicists consider parthenogenetic stem cells to be embryos, and thus have moral concerns.

  • “Lifeline Stem Cell Skin Care helps your skin build millions of new, young, healthy skin cells. It helps to restore volume and fullness, fill in lines and wrinkles, and help reverse UV damage. It’s literally “out with the old skin cells, in with the new, young, healthy skin cells.” The non-embryonic [some would differ]stem cells in Lifeline stem cell serums are derived from unfertilized human oocytes (eggs) which are donated to ISCO from in vitro fertilization labs and clinics.

    • Reduces appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
    • Increases skin firmness
    • Regenerates skin cells for younger-looking skin
  • Daily Defense Complex

    Active ingredients: Avobenzone, Octinoxate, and Oxybenzone.

    Ingredients: Water, Ubiquinone, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Troxerutin, Choline Chloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Folic Acid, Nicotinamide, Pyridoxal Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Inositol, Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract, Sodium PCA, Isoquercetin, Vaccinium Angustilolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Retinyl Palmitate Tocopherol, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Cholecalciferol, Polysorbate 60, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Sesquiolate, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Carbomer, Triethanolamine.

    Recovery Night Moisture Serum

    Ingredients: Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ubiquinone, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Growth Factors from Human Non-Embryonic Stem Cells, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Troxerutin, Choline Chloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Folic Acid, Nicotinamide, Pyridoxal Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Inositol, Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract, Isoquercetin, Vaccinium Angustilolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Sodium PCA, Polysorbate 60, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Sesquiolate, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Propylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine. 

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User Rating & Reviews / Comments  

4 reviews


  1. Kerry on

    I have used Lifeline for a month and I do like what I see so far. I get nice comments from co-workers (and even from a stranger one on a plane). My pores ares diminishing I think. My skin feels a bit tighter. My self confidence is up.

  2. Lara M. on

    I like it. I guess you would say I’m a satisfied customer. For starters, it doesn’t irritate my skin as some other products haven done, and it does a reasonable job of keeping my face smooth even in hot dry weather. . Will buy it again for sure. My dermatologist was the one who recommended it.

  3. Maggie on

    I just started the night serum product and the daytime moisturizer. It does help my skin, makes it smooth and lightens the dark areas and also hides my wrinkles. Its high in price, but I think it is worth it. You should try it!

  4. tjnz on

    I like the smooth application and the way it looks on my skin. I put foundation right over it without a problem. I was hoping that it would do more to attack brown spots and tighten pores, but it has been overall a quite good product. Came highly recommended by my doctor, but he did not seem to know all that much about it.

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