Photo: Courtesy of Emerge Labs.
Once upon a time, a ragtag bunch of Swiss scientists were hiking along the Alps when they happened upon a tree of apples so rare and spectacular that the fruit could sit for months without withering and even heal its own bruises if dropped. Naturally, their first thought was to take this magical fruit, cut it up, and put it all over their scientist faces to see how pretty it made them.
If that sounds a little too much like a fairy tale, that's because (I'm pretty sure) it is. But, the key elements are real. PhytoCellTec Malus Domestica, a stem cell derived from the Uttwiler Spatlauber apple, has become one of the buzziest skin-care ingredients of the last few years — and with good reason. Because, if you follow those scientists' lead and put them all over your face, these crazy Swiss cells will indeed make you super, duper pretty.
I'd read a little of the hype around Swiss-apple stem cells on this and other sites, but the term always flew over my head and into the realm of Crazy Skin Products That Cost More Than A Car. Maybe Gwyneth and Kate Middleton can spend their pocket money on fairy-tale-science skin care, but I have a cat to support.
Then, last month on vacation in Vienna, I spotted a jar of cream labeled "Swiss Apple Formula" at a Marionnaud (kind of like European Sephora). And, y'know how sometimes foreign money doesn't feel like actual money? And, foreign beauty products always seem better than the ones you can get back home? Right, so I bought it. Plus, the matching serum.
Smash cut to the next morning when I awoke, jet-lagged and haggard — but no! Jet-lagged, yes, but only haggard on the inside! My face looked as though it had slept for 11 hours and not drunk four glasses of wine with dinner. I stared at my face in the mirror and then stared at it in that crazy, magnified mirror hotels sometimes stick in the bathroom in case you'd like to really see just how huge and sun-damaged your pores are. Normally, I toss a towel over that thing lest I wind up diagnosing each new freckle as malignant skin cancer, but this morning I got up close and personal with a very happy face. It's not that it was suddenly zit and line-free, but it was calm and even. On day one it was the kind of calm and even that only I really noticed, but after a week, that changed.
Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
When I got back to work, my first stop was Megan McIntyre's desk, where I pitched the crap out of my new favorite ingredient. Our intrepid beauty director was no stranger to stem cells in skin care. As long as we've been able to get our hands on those things, we've been putting them on our faces. "But, these are different, Megan! These are from a crazy Swiss apple that never dies!" She nodded and approved my story, probably so I'd quit shrieking and let her get back to work. Then, she paused: "Your skin looks great, by the way." "I KNOW!!"
I tracked down one of the most popular products in the U.S.: Emerge Labs Swiss Apple Stem Cell Serum just to make sure it wasn't the placebo effect or my magical thinking around European skin-care products. The Emerge Labs Serum (which I paired with its stem-cell moisturizer for extra stem-celliness) proved just as effective. As an added bonus, the moisturizer contains SPF 30, so I felt fully protected when the unthinkable happened — I went without makeup.
A couple of weeks into using this stuff, my BB cream ran out. I don't wear a ton of it, but I normally need at least a little light face coverage, just to even things out. My nose gets red from sneezy allergies, and my aforementioned large pores are, well, quite large. But, everything seemed to just chill the hell out after a few weeks with the Swiss-apple regimen. Any discoloration seemed to even out, and I had not a blemish in sight. Even better, my skin felt constantly hydrated, but not at all greasy. I might dust on some pressed powder, but I've yet to hit Sephora for a BB refill. And, not that I'm counting, but I'm totally up to FIVE individual wow-your-skin-looks-great compliments. One friend asked if I was pregnant, so it's possible I'm too glowy now.
Since it's been just over a month, I can't speak to long-term anti-aging effects except to say that J.Lo apparently uses this product, and at 44, she looks younger than her own children. Frankly, even if it was only this magical in the short term, I still think Swiss-apple stem cells are totally worth it. PhytoCellTec is not a cheap ingredient and so neither are most of the products that contain it. But, on balance, I think having the kind of skin that lets me feel confident walking around with less makeup — even no makeup — is a pretty great investment.
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