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The Role and Benefits of Kinetin in Skincare

If you’ve felt like aging has been taking its toll, you’ve probably seen the countless treatments promising to give back younger skin’s elasticity, texture, and hydration. From invasive cosmetic procedures to prescriptions like estrogen and topical retinoids, these more intense methods can give a myriad of anti-aging benefits. But the downtime and cost make these treatments more restrictive. That’s where today’s natural and OTC anti-aging solution comes in, and kinetin takes the stage.

If you’ve never heard of the word kinetin, or the benefits of kinetin for your skin, you’re not alone. Unless you’re a plant biologist, this potent growth regulator wouldn’t be on your radar. Famous for stopping plant-aging among the horticulturists, scientists may have found a better use, kinetin for skin. Now, how can kinetin reverse signs of aging just as effectively as your favorite retinoid?

What is kinetin?

Kinetin, or N6-furfuryladenine, is a phytohormone (plant hormone) also found in your DNA. In plants, it acts as a growth regulator telling cells to grow and is responsible for keeping plant leaves green by preventing oxidative damage.[1][2] This antioxidant has regenerative properties helping to promote healthier cells. In one study, it was such a potent rejuvenator that it doubled the lifespan of fruit flies.[3] While we can’t say you’ll live twice as long from a skincare product, kinetin can help prevent pro-aging effects from DNA damage to keep your cells more youthful.[2][3]

As a gentler non-prescription alternative, kinetin cream promises to help counter age-related signs and deliver transformative results.

Kinetin for skincare

Kinetin does more than keep the forest green; its ability to prevent free-radical damage and reduce water loss keeps your skin younger too.[4] The benefits of kinetin for skincare include improving your skin’s barrier function, protecting from UV damage, long-term lessening of redness, evening texture, and softening wrinkles.[8][9][10] In studies, kinetin reduced signs of photo-damage thanks to its high levels of antioxidant activity that helps shield skin against UV damage.[7] Reducing DNA damage from free radicals also prevents inflammation so your body can focus on repairing and healing. Not only does this reduce redness and irritation, it directly prevents aging and improves skin renewal.

Another great skin benefit of kinetin is its ability to stimulate your fibroblasts, the body’s factories for collagen and elastin.[5] Great for preventing droopy skin and fighting against wrinkles, increasing these essential structural components combats age-related loss. In one study, kinetin cream directly delayed fibroblast’s signs of aging.[6] By offsetting free radicals and increasing collagen, your dermis can maintain a stronger protective barrier for a more balanced and healthy complexion.

Less obvious, the moisturizing benefits of kinetin for skin shouldn’t be overlooked. Kinetin repairs skin’s barrier functions, so you’re less affected by transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Through protecting this natural moisturizing factor, kinetin even improves hydration to the deepest layers of the dermis.[4] Hydrated skin is plumper, fuller, and healthier, and kinetin helps you maintain that much-needed moisture.[10]

Is kinetin safe for the skin? 

Kinetin is a natural compound found in your DNA and is gentler than retinoids with fewer side effects. The EWG rate this ingredient at the lowest level of risk, but you may notice some redness when you first start using the product. Any irritation should fade after a couple of uses.[9][11]

Now too much of a good thing can still be bad; kinetin cream should only have <0.1% strength to be safe.[7] This is a strong active and more than that can sensitize the skin. Since this is a phytohormone, only a little is needed to stimulate anti-aging effects.

How to use kinetin for skincare? 

To use kinetin for skincare, you should maximize its potential with other actives that boost its anti-aging properties. When combined with niacinamide, this synergistic anti-aging duo was shown to reduce pore size, even skin, and reduce wrinkles. More beneficial than niacinamide alone, kinetin was shown to decrease wrinkles more significantly while also reducing skin irritation.[8]

As for the best kinetin products, you can count on Obagi Clinical Kintine+ Hydrating Cream and Obagi Kinetin+ Rejuvenating Serum. The first one is a kinetin-infused cream powered by vitamins B, C, and E that delivers protecting hydrating and nourishing benefits, while the other one is a rejuvenating serum that plumps fine lines and wrinkles with kinetin and hyaluronic acid.

The takeaway

We love a good retinol, but sensitive skin might not love it back. In contrast, most skin types tolerate kinetin fairly well, gentler and safer for rosacea-prone skin.[9] Some products even combine kinetin with retinol palmitate (gentle retinol) for less-irritating but super intense cellular turnover. Another great thing about kinetin cream is that, unlike retinol, this antioxidant prevents sun sensitivity and can be used as part of your AM skin routine. In studies, it did take daily use over a few weeks for results to show, so keep consistent. Aging doesn’t happen in a day, and neither does anti-aging. Luckily this product is gentle enough to heal damage and not over-strip skin with daily use.[7]

  1. Wu, Wenqi et al. “The Diverse Roles Of Cytokinins In Regulating Leaf Development“. Horticulture ResearchOxford University Press (OUP), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41438-021-00558-3.
  2. Olsen, A et al. “N(6)-Furfuryladenine, kinetin, protects against Fenton reaction-mediated oxidative damage to DNA“. Biochem Biophys Res Commun vol. 265, (1999): 499-502.
  3. Sharma, S P et al. “Increased longevity of kinetin-fed Zaprionus fruitflies is accompanied by their reduced fecundity and enhanced catalase activity.” Biochemistry and molecular biology international vol. 41,5 (1997): 869-75. doi:10.1080/15216549700201911
  4. Sungkwan et al. “Kinetin Improves Barrier Function of the Skin by Modulating Keratinocyte Differentiation Markers.” Annals of dermatology vol. 29,1 (2017): 6-12. doi:10.5021/ad.2017.29.1.6
  5. Berge, Ulrich et al. “Kinetin-induced differentiation of normal human keratinocytes undergoing aging in vitro.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences vol. 1067 (2006): 332-6. doi:10.1196/annals.1354.045
  6. Jabłońska-Trypuć, Agata et al. “N6-benzyladenine and kinetin influence antioxidative stress parameters in human skin fibroblasts.” Molecular and cellular biochemistry vol. 413,1-2 (2016): 97-107. doi:10.1007/s11010-015-2642-5
  7. Wanitphakdeedecha, Rungsima et al. “Efficacy and safety of 0.1% kinetin cream in the treatment of photoaging skin.” Indian journal of dermatology, venereology and leprology vol. 81,5 (2015): 547. doi:10.4103/0378-6323.157446
  8. Chiu, Pin-Chi et al. “The clinical anti-aging effects of topical kinetin and niacinamide in Asians: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, split-face comparative trial.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology vol. 6,4 (2007): 243-9. doi:10.1111/j.1473-2165.2007.00342.x
  9. Wu, J J et al. “Topical kinetin 0.1% lotion for improving the signs and symptoms of rosacea.” Clinical and experimental dermatology vol. 32,6 (2007): 693-5. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2230.2007.02513.x
  10. Garcia, Raymond L et al. “Novel Topical Cytokinin Improves Coarse Wrinkles and Skin Roughness Without Skin Irritation.” Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD vol. 17,7 (2018): 772-779.
Who wrote this?
Picture of Jordan Baker
Jordan Baker
Jordan Baker is a nationally certified pharmacy technician who has worked in retail pharmacy for the past two years. Throughout her past, while studying microcopy and even field research in the Amazon, her passion for beauty has only grown. She may have been the only person wearing makeup in the rainforest, but it cemented her commitment to the beauty community. Her own troubled teenage years with cystic acne have put her on a mission to educate others towards a more holistic skincare journey. She now enjoys writing content with a scientific eye.
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