Plant extracts

Ribose at a glance

  • Hydrating plant sugar that can be derived naturally from corn seeds
  • Conflicting research in terms of its anti-aging abilities
  • White-to-tan powder in raw material form
  • Deemed safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review in up to 0.05% concentration

Ribose description

Ribose is a hydrating plant sugar that can be derived naturally from corn seeds. Its anti-aging benefits are debated in research, hence the “average” rating we’ve given it here. Suppliers of this ingredient claim that it mimics the ribose present in all living cells as a source of energy. They purport using ribose topically as a cell-energizer helps slow the development of signs of aging, including wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and dull complexion when used within the recommended amount between 0.5-1%. There’s some independent research supporting these claims with in-vivo testing of a ribose-based (0.5%) facial lotion that showed wrinkle reduction after 14 days and improved tone with continued use. However, only 20 subjects were involved, and the study ended at 28 days, which isn’t a lot to go on when ribose is compared to numerous other youth-restoring ingredients with mounds of research supporting their use. However, there’s also conflicting research that indicates ribose exposure accelerated signs of aging in reconstructed human skin models. It did so by accelerating the formation of advanced glycation end-products, rogue sugar molecules that cause damage to collagen and the cells that make it. And this wasn’t a 100% concentration of ribose, it was 10 micromolars (which equates to just 0.000009999999999999999 millliters—in other words, a very small amount). In raw material form, ribose is a white-to-tan powder that is highly water soluble and easy to formulate with. The 2019 Cosmetic Ingredient Review assessment of ribose deemed it safe in the present practices of use and concentrations described in their report. Their report surveyed products containing up to 0.05%, which is below the amount many suppliers recommend using.

Ribose references

  • UL Prospector (supplier info), Accessed December 2022, ePublication
  • International Journal of Toxicology, 2019, pages 5S-38S
  • International Journal of Molecular Sciences, November 2018, pages 1-16
  • Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, September 2009, pages 151–152

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


We couldn't find this in our ingredient dictionary. We log all missing ingredients and make continuous updates.

Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.