Many celebs seem to be into cosmetics called Augustinus Bader cream products that claim to do something related to stem cells. The brand is wildly expensive.
What’s this all about?
Augustinus Bader is both a person and a line of cosmetic products. The goal of today’s post is to fact-check the claims and products of the Augustinus Bader firm. Do these cosmetics stand out from the pack? Is there a stem cell connection?
I’m a stem cell biologist so I look for concrete data. Overall, here I see almost nothing solid stem cell science-wise. It’s an interesting case though given the wild price tags and celebrity backing.
Who is Augustinus Bader?
The story begins with Augustinus Bader. He is a German scientist who does research on stem cells. Bader got into the cosmetics business some years back. His firm now reportedly rakes in $120 million a year on stem cell-related cosmetics.
According to their website, Bader himself:
“is a globally recognized biomedical scientist, physician and one of the foremost experts in the field of regenerative medicine.”
The firm says of Bader that he is “currently the director of Cell Techniques and Applied Stem Cell Biology at The University of Leipzig, in Leipzig, Germany.”
As a biomedical scientist myself focused in part on stem cells and regenerative medicine, I wasn’t familiar with Bader’s published work. So I took a look on PubMed. The stem cell field has thousands of scientists.
A search there for Augustinus Bader found 96 published articles. That’s a good number. There might be more that this search missed. Bader seems to be a reasonably well-published scientist. The articles themselves include some interesting ones on approaching various medical conditions. I suppose the firm’s claim that he is “one of the foremost experts” in regenerative medicine is subjective.
There’s a key point here though. In my opinion his published work doesn’t seem to clearly back up the claims of the Augustinus Bader cream company products. Perhaps there are relevant unpublished research and data?
Bader products: The Cream, The Serum, The Rich cream
My review in this post more focused on the firm and its claims, not the man.
The Augustinus Bader creams seem to be a core part of their business.
These are expensive even by typical pricey cosmetics standards.
The NY Times said that fifty milliliter bottles of creams have a $280 price tag. For context, fifty milliliters is about 4 tablespoons. The price works out to be $5,600 a liter or more than $20K a gallon. You thought gas was expensive these days?
Looking on the firm’s website, one product called The Serum had an even higher price: $375 for 30ml. That’s more than $47K a gallon. There’s also something called The Rich cream.
You have to be rich to buy it?
I’m not a skin care expert so I can’t dispute what seem to be more standard cosmetics ingredients in the creams. Those might do some good, just as some more typical brand cream from Target with some of the same or similar ingredients might for $5. I don’t know.
However, the Augustinus Bader brand claims it is special in having something to do with stem cells.
After digging into the background on these products as a stem cell biologist, I’m still not sure what they are all about.
You can see a picture of three core cosmetics products from their website above. A tag phrase “clean science” keeps popping up. It seems like it could be an effective slogan, but what does it mean?
They also mention something called TFC8. It seems to refer to “trigger factor complex”.
I haven’t heard of TCF8 or that complex. My search for TFC8 on PubMed only found 2 articles, which seem to reference something else, a gene. I found no results for a “trigger factor complex” search. To date, I still haven’t figured out what this ingredient might be.
The website says this:
“In both clinical trials and consumer studies, our TFC8®-powered products have proven to address specific concerns such as the appearance of fine-lines and wrinkles, redness, hyperpigmentation, cellulite, and stretchmarks as well as visibly reducing the damage caused by external stressors.”
Digging further, I wasn’t able to find any relevant clinical trial results on TFC8 on Clincialtrials.gov. A search for Augustinus Bader also produced zero results.
Maybe they did clinical trials that just aren’t listed such that I could find them in these searches?
Stem cell claims
On their website they invoke stem cells, but then seem to step away from them in this passage:
“There is a common misconception about the external application of foreign stem cells in skincare products. Stem cells can only make the type of organism they derive from. An apple stem cell is programmed to create an apple and an orange stem cell to make an orange. Adding stem cells to a skincare product, whether it be a plant, animal, even human stem cells, is ineffective and unnecessary.
Personalized skincare is gaining notable demand in recent years, but current offerings predominately rely on personal consultation and rudimentary genetic testing. I am excited by the ability to identify a person’s unique skin profile and tailor products based on the ingredients’ effects on their epigenetic markers. “
I agree with that first paragraph on fruit stem cells not being useful. See my post: fact-checking stem cell face cream.
The second paragraph seems less clear though.
My best guess here is that they believe their Augustinus Bader product has an indirect signaling effect on skin stem cells. Maybe a triggering effect, given the name TFC8. If that’s their thinking, it’d be great to see published studies to support this claim.
I’d also like to see information on clinical trials and their detailed results. Were there controls? Randomization?
Without that kind of rigorous info and data, the claims are not well supported in my view.
Since they invoke “epigenetic” markers and I do epigenetics research, I should note that I don’t see any evidence for that mechanism either.
As much as the price is sky high, to the contrary the evidence it does something good to your stem cells seems very low.
I’ve written before about stem cell cosmetics claims. They generally aren’t back by strong published science and have at times run into issues with the FDA. Some claim to have stem cells in them, which are usually plant extracts. Other cosmetics claim to activate a person’s skin stem cells.
Augustinus Bader reviews
What do people think of the Bader line of products and their possible stem cell connection, even if indirect?
Looking online, it’s a challenge to find data-centric reviews of this firm and its products. The NY Times has an article that is somewhat balanced.
Celebrities are fans. Customers apparently include Gwyneth Paltrow, Margot Robbie, Sandra Oh, Dakota Johnson, Hailey Bieber, Melanie Griffith and Courteney Cox. Importantly, some celebs are investors in the firm too so they can’t be impartial. Kris Jenner and Jennifer Aniston reportedly are fans as well.
For celebrities who use and/or endorse these creams, perhaps the price tags are not a big deal.
What much of this boils down to is whether the creams here do anything better than dramatically cheaper alternatives.
My overall review is that I don’t see good published evidence to support the claims that it does something via stem cells that is superior and worth the cost.