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Spotlight On: Kinetin

Kinetin (N6-furfuryladenine) is a plant-derived growth factor that regulates everything from cell differentiation to retardation in fruit ripening. However, does it have any significant value when it comes to skin care? Unfortunately, the answer is unclear.

Kinetin has several anti-aging attributes that have been demonstrated in-vitro:

Human Fibroblasts: When introduced to autosomal human fibroblasts, kinetin has been shown to affect various signs of senescence, such as growth rats, cell size, and cytoskeletal organization (1). It was noted that some of these signs began to reappear after the removal of kinetin, which suggests that continued use of kinetin is necessary to maintain any results. It was also noted that younger cells are better able to maintain any positive results, indicating that starting kinetin at a younger age may be more beneficial.

Consider this: The study could not elucidate the exact mechanism by which kinetin affects such changes. In addition, because no studies on percutaneous absorption have been done, kinetin may never even reach human fibroblasts when applied topically, which would render this study irrelevant.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic was shown in a clinical study to have far more antioxidant potential than kinetin. Even though 3 of 7 authors of that study were affiliated with Skinceuticals, we still like CE Ferulic over kinetin.

Antioxidant Potential: Many studies suggest that kinetin has powerful antioxidant abilities. It has been shown to mimic the superoxide dismutase and catalase enzymes, especially the variants present in plants (2). Kinetin has also been shown to quench reactive oxygen species (ROS) by mediation of the Fenton reaction (3). Furthermore, it can inhibit the lipid peroxidation of unsaturated fatty acids and resulting DNA damage (4). Finally, kinetin has displayed the ability to inhibit the glycation of proteins, which consequently will reduce the amount of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) (5).

Consider this: With so many positive attributes, it’s a wonder why kinetin isn’t praised and featured more prominently. This may be because, in addition to a lack of any permeation studies present in the scientific literature as mentioned above, most of the studies were done on plants.

Not to mention that kinetin has been shown to be largely inferior to more traditional antioxidant treatments. For example, this study (6) remarked that even in combination with ubiquinone and its synthetic relative (idebenone), kinetin’s ability to prevent DNA damage (measured by the amount of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs)) and irritation (measured by erythema), were severely less potent that those seen after application of a vitamin C, E, and ferulic acid combination (most likely the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum).

While it’s important to note (as the article does) that 3 of the 7 authors are directly or indirectly affiliated with the Skinceuticals brand, the full article appears to be well-designed, logical, and unbiased nevertheless.

So are there any in-vivo studies on kinetin?

Fortunately, there are! One open-label (Kinerase) clinical study demonstrated that after 24 weeks of twice-daily application of 0.01%, 0.05%, or 0.10% of kinetin, there were slight to moderate improvements in barrier function (measured by changes in transepidermal water loss (TEWL)) compared to the control groups. That’s good and all, but what about all the other in-vitro effects mentioned above? It seems odd that Kinerase (one of the main proponents of kinetin use) would exclude them… There’s some food for thought!

Another study investigated any possible synergistic effects between niacinamide and kinetin on Asian skin types (7). It demonstrated that after 12 weeks, combination use was more effective than treatment with either ingredient alone, when it came to reducing hyperpigmentation, TEWL, and erythema.

Bottom Line

So, is kinetin good? Well it’s certainly not bad. As a relatively novel ingredient, more studies need to be done in order to discover the mechanisms by which kinetin achieved its in-vivo results, and to see if any of the in-vitro demonstrated attributes can be practically achieved via additional permeation/absorption studies. I wouldn’t personally recommend anything with kinetin, as there are so many other cheaper, more effective, and more researched ingredients that CAN do all the things that kinetin MIGHT do, and more! But if you’re curious to see what kinetin can do for you, look for the niacinamide + kinetin combination when shopping. As of now, that combo has the most scientific evidence supporting it.

Have you even heard of kinetin before this post? Where you even curious about it? Let us known down below or on my blog!

Links/References:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8003000
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9177032
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10558897
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3075946
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11027621
  6. http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v126/n5/full/5700232a.html
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18047609

About the author:  John Su is an established skin care expert and aspiring dermatologist.   He also runs a blog, The Triple Helix Liaison, dedicated to providing unbiased, meaningful, and insightful information about skin care. For his full bio, please visit our About page.

By: John Su
Date: July 22 2012 at 1:33 PM
Ingredients, antioxidant, free radical damage, growth factor, john su, Kinerase, kinetin, ROS, zeatin

Comments (8)

  1. Skin Care Products
    July 22 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Very informative post. Thanks for the sharing with us...

  2. John
    July 25 2012 at 4:58 PM

    You're welcome!

  3. Fernando
    August 29 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Hi, Can you recommend some products with this ingredient? What are the best in your opinion? Thank you.

  4. John Su
    August 29 2012 at 12:55 PM

    @Fernando Hi there. Most products that contains this ingredient are from the brand Kinerase, so you'll just have to look there for something that's fitting with your needs and skin type. And as you can probably tell from this post, I'm not a huge fan of kinetin just because it doesn't have much documentation. Furthermore, products with this ingredient tend to be very expensive. You'll get much better results with cheaper, more effective, and more established ingredients such as hydroxy acids, retinoids, polyphenols, vitamins B, C, E, etc.. However, Nicki just did a rave/review on a product containing this ingredient from Kinerase here: http://www.futurederm.com/2012/08/29/product-review-protherapy-md-advanced-ultra-rich-day-repair/ I personally would never spend that much on a skin care product. And it doesn't help that it's in a jar... But yeah, take a look at that if you'd like! :) Let me know if have any other questions.

  5. Fernando
    August 30 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Hey, Thanks! Yeah, I had just read that review and wanted to know what kinerase could do for me, but at those prices it's just not worth it, especially because from your post it doesn't seem that impressive. I guess I'll stick with more proven and cheaper products. These prices are just absurd! Can I ask you for recommendations on products with green tea extract? I've been meaning to try some, since it is supposed to be anti-inflammatory and I have rosacea, so I thought it would be helpful, but the only ones that I could find that seem to have a high concentration of it are the Replenix products.

  6. John Su
    September 2 2012 at 5:05 PM

    @Fernando Hey, I forgot about this comment. To be honest, I really can't say which products contain high amounts of green tea. :( I mean, even with Replenix products, all they say on the label is that they all contain 90% polyphenol isolates. That's great and all, but how MUCH green tea extract is present. I've never encountered one product that actually says so. So unfortunately, I can't say for sure which products contain a lot of green tea. The Replenix products seem to be okay, especially when used in combination with other products, but the price is quite high. So it's really up to you. Off to top of my head, I really like the Estee Lauder Nutritious Vita-Mineral Radiance Serum though, it contains "high" amounts of pomegranate, green tea, soy, and corn. It's slightly cheaper than Replenix products. The Nia24 Sun Damage Repair for Decolletage and Hands is also very affordable if use it on the face, with nicotinic acid, green tea, vitamin C, E, and a few non-fragrant plant oils like olive, evening primose, and borage. I think ultimately, what you should remember is that while green tea is amazing, I'd still use it with other well-documented ingredients. I mean, even the Replenix ones offer it alongside other ingredients, like caffeine and resveratrol. I hope that helped and sorry for the late reply,

  7. Caryn
    March 21 2013 at 9:07 AM

    My husband has used Kinerase off and on since it has been on the market. He is now using their new Pro Threapy Advanced MD line. He uses their cleanser,emergence serum and the moisturizer lotion. I'm not sure if the serum is needed as the lotion has everything in it. He likes this line because he can use right after shaving and it helps reduce the redness that he has in his skin from daily as well as razor burn. This product line does not cause break outs and from what I have seen his skin looks less red and much healthier! I myself have never been a big fan of the line but have to say I like the serum for a quick fix as in a primer and the plus again is no break outs!

  8. John Su
    March 21 2013 at 3:01 PM

    @Caryn Gosh, I see your comments everywhere! On here, my blog, Facebook, and the like. Wonderful! Anyways, it's heartening to hear that your husband shares your enthusiasm for skin care! I'm glad to see that he's found something that works for him.

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