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Nature-Identical Products

Individuals with sensitive skin, particularly those afflicted with rosacea, must confront a difficult challenge: finding new, effective skincare treatments that improve symptoms without creating additional ones. Many turn to natural products to find relief. Unfortunately, the term “natural” is no guarantee of a good outcome, as many natural ingredients can irritate sensitive skin.

Now, nature-identical ingredients are gaining ground, as researchers apply nature’s genius in the laboratory, creating active ingredients that are chemically identical to those found in nature that have been proven to have positive and non-irritating effects. Nature-identical products give developers the ability to produce adequate amounts of successful substances to meet growing human demands, and at the same time avoid negative environmental impacts when a product or ingredient becomes highly popular, or is scarce in nature.

Cytokinin, a plant growth factor found throughout nature, has attracted the attention of researchers ever since it was first isolated in the 1940s1. Originally extracted from plants for use in agriculture, cytokinin, when combined with the proper amount of another plant substance called auxin, causes plant cells to grow and differentiate. Now produced in the laboratory, it has been used in a few newer skincare products. An improved cytokinin, furfuryl tetrahydropyranyladenine2, has recently been developed as a single, powerful molecule and is being used in advanced skincare products developed to treat the most stubborn rosacea symptoms, including inflammatory acne, facial redness, spider veins and hyperpigmentation.

As with “natural” products, calling something nature-identical may not ensure its quality, effectiveness, or actual similarity to nature’s blueprint. Consumers should look for some key indicators when evaluating new products, particularly with cosmeceuticals or over-the-counter (non-prescription) pharmaceuticals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize cosmeceuticals as a separate therapeutic category, and therefore, there is virtually no oversight of them. They tend to be lumped together with cosmetics, which are not tested for efficacy or safety. The FDA does advise manufacturers to use whatever testing is necessary to ensure the safety of their products and ingredients, but this testing is not always done.

The best way for consumers to ensure their product is safe and effective is to check for rigorous clinical trials done according to FDA protocols, to demonstrate that there are no negative side effects associated with use of the product. Finally, there should be evidence that such testing was performed in labs certified to the highest FDA standards.

  1. “1955: Kinetin Arrives. The 50th Anniversary of a New Plant Hormone,” Richard Amasino, Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, in Plant Physiol. Vol. 138, 2005, pp. 1177-1184.
  2. JDD, “Assessment of Topical 0.125% Furfuryl Tetrahydropyranyladenine (PyratineXR®), for Improving the Signs and Symptoms of Rosacea, conducted at the Department of Dermatology, University of California at Irvine, Drs. A. Ortiz; L. Elkeeb; A. Truitt; R. Hindiyeh; L. Aquino; M. Tran; and G. Weinstein,” June 2010, Volume 9, Issue 6.