Tweakment Finder TWEAKMENT




Written by: Becki Murray

Last Updated: 5 December 2023

What are exosomes?

Currently as buzz-worthy as they are controversial, exosomes are tiny inter-cellular messengers, which, when applied topically, have an impressive potential to rejuvenate your skin, by encouraging older skin cells to act like young ones. They work non-invasively and can be used both as a stand-alone luxe facial and as part of a combination procedure, where they can boost results and reduce downtime.

Specifically, exosomes work as ‘signalling molecules’ that can help regulate processes like tissue repair when transferred to the cells that need them. This can enhance collagen production, stimulate cell renewal, improve skin texture and tone and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. That’s definitely exciting, but they aren’t without concerns. In fact, they might not even be truly legal in the UK, especially when it comes to the use of human-derived sources. Scroll down for all the info and FAQs about exosomes.


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How do exosomes work?

Exosomes are tiny, naturally-occurring ‘extracellular vesicles’ which are produced by almost every cell in the body. They’re microscopic – well, nano-sized –  little sacs with a lipid (fatty) casing, and they play a crucial role in cell-to-cell communication, shuttling signalling molecules like proteins and genetic material between cells, which influences what’s going on, biologically. So if they find cells that need repairing, they set that repair in motion.

What results can you see from exosomes?

You can expect the type of results that will have people saying ‘you look really well’, rather than ‘what have you had done’. It’s your skin but fresher, brighter and smoother, with specific improvements for uneven tone and texture, acne scars, enlarged pores and wrinkles. That because by ‘waking up’ your skin cell’s natural repair process, exosomes can trigger an increase in collagen and elastin production, improve wound healing and decrease irregular pigment production.

EXO E is a plant-derived exosome brand recommended by Dr Sophie Shotter. Current research suggests that this source can boost elastin production significantly, as well as improving collagen and hyaluronic acid production. You may also see reduced side effects, such as inflammation, from more invasive acne and burn treatments, making it a good combination treatment.

Are exosomes much the same as stem cells?

Not really. While both are known for their ability to rejuvenate the skin, exosomes aren’t living cells (they lack a nucleus), and they can be collected from different sources. Similarly, liposomes which are known for helping deliver ingredients into your skin via encapsulation are much simpler structures, which can only either contain water-loving, or water-hating ingredients.

What are the sources of exosomes that are used for skin rejuvenation?

Human-derived: Most of the latest research on exosomes has been done in Korea, where it is legal to use human-derived exosomes. These exosomes are said to be the most potent, and offer the best results. However, they are also the most controversial, due to laws in the UK about human-derived ingredients (plus a low risk of DNA contamination), and the fact that they are often sourced from babies or young people. (The cells are extracted and then cloned and replicated in the lab to gain the amount of exosomes required). Human-derived exosomes have to be heavily processed in order to be ready for use too, which can mean key components such as vitamins and growth factors have to be added back in.

Animal-derived: Often sourced from colostrum – cattle’s ‘first milk’ – bovine-derived exosomes are an increasing focus within aesthetics as they could provide a fairly effective alternative to human sources. However, the process required to create animal-derived exosomes also destroys some of the important ingredients, such as vitamins and growth factors (so these need to be readded) and there are particular concerns about animal-to-human DNA cross-contamination.

Plant-derived: The legally recognised form of exosomes in the UK. Roses are the most popular plant-derived source, but human cell signalling is a lot more complex than in plants, so multiple plant sources tend to need to be grouped together for the best results. Some new research suggests absorption of the plant-derived exosomes could be higher than other sources.

Intro to hacking your hormones

Is it even legal to use exosomes derived from humans for skin rejuvenation in the UK?

The answer to that rather depends who you ask. Plenty of UK practitioners take the view that as long as you’re just using them topically – i.e. applying them on top of the skin, rather than injecting them into it – it’s ok. Although, that also causes a bit of a grey area when exosomes are used topically in conjunction with treatments such as micro-needling, which are designed to aid skincare penetration into the skin.

However, as well as concerns about the sourcing of exosomes – especially how ethical such processes might be – most importantly, under UK and European law regulation, human-derived ingredients are strictly banned in the UK. This makes it actually illegal to use exosomes of human origin, even for topical use. The fact that there seems to be some uncertainty in this area demonstrates the need for careful consideration before you book in.


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Why are exosomes often used alongside treatments such as laser?

A laser treatment creates thousands of tiny perforations in the skin, which not only activates the skin repair process (triggering increased collagen and elastin production), but can help an exosome serum sink straight in to where it’s needed. The regenerative benefits of exosomes mean this approach can supercharge the skin-boosting, pigment-clearing effects of the laser treatment, and speed up healing after the procedure as exosomes are also anti-inflammatory.

Do you get immediate results from exosomes?

As exosomes work by triggering your skin’s natural repair processes, the results aren’t instant, with the best outcomes 3-6 weeks after their use due to their triggering of increased collagen and elastin production. However, due to their anti-inflammatory effect on the skin, they can quickly reduce the downtime of other tweakments, which can be useful while you wait for their full effect.

Does having an exosome treatment hurt?

Exosomes are applied topically, so they should be a totally pain-free treatment, without any downtime. Plus, when it used in conjunction with other tweakments, such as laser, they can reduce the discomfort felt post-procedure, and maximise results.

How much do exosome treatments cost?

In short – a lot. Applying exosomes after a needling procedure can add £500-£800 to the bill. And the ‘5 Billion exo RF face treatment’ at Urban Retreat in London, which involves radiofrequency microneedling followed by layers of (rose) exosome serum, costs £2,645.

How long do the results from exosomes last?

Exosomes are said to continue being active in the skin up to six to eight months post-treatment, leading to maintained skin quality improvements.

FAQ ABOUT Exosomes

What are exosomes made from?

That depends on the type of exosome being used. Some are plant-derived, some come from animal sources, and some from humans. Each country has its own regulations surrounding cosmetic ingredients and, in some countries (e.g. Korea, where much of the latest research on exosomes has been done), it is not illegal to use human-derived exosomes.

Can exosomes from non-human sources rejuvenate the skin?

With human exosomes ultimately illegal in the UK, the only safe and approved sources are from animals and plants. Plant-derived exosomes are increasingly being recommended and used by practitioners, but they are less effective than animal and human exosomes, with the latter considered the most powerful.

Are exosomes safe?

For the many aesthetic doctors who recommend them, exosomes are considered a safe and effective skin tweakment, but it is certainly true that the industry needs to further address the legal and safe use of exosomes in the UK.

Are exosomes right for me?

By supporting your natural skin cell repair mechanisms, exosomes deliver a wide range of benefits, which are suitable for many skin concerns. That includes those of us looking to tackle our wrinkles, acne scars, enlarged pores, and hyperpigmentation, as well as overall skin rejuvenation.

What kind of exosome treatment did Kim Kardashian have done?

Kim posted on Instagram that she had had an exosome serum applied after a combined laser and broadband light treatment. The laser treatment would have created thousands of tiny perforations in the skin, allowing the serum to sink straight in to where it’s needed. In turn, the exosomes would help supercharge the skin-boosting, pigment-clearing effects of the laser treatment, and help speed up healing after the procedure.

Are there exosome facials available?

Increasingly so. These treatments, such as Le Supreme XO treatments at EF Medispa use exosomes derived from plants such as roses, which are said to boost collagen and elastin production.

What about skincare containing exosomes?

It’s out there already. As for recommendations, I recently wrote about a clinical trial-backed exosome skin cream that I really liked.


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