Retinol has long been favored in the skincare world for its anti-aging effects and ability to improve the texture of the skin. However, retinol can cause dryness, irritation, and peeling particularly for those with sensitive skin. Bakuchiol has emerged as a natural alternative to retinol, claiming similar anti-aging benefits without the associated risk of side effects. Below, we explore the advantages of this ingredient, compare it to retinol, and provide recommendations on products that incorporate it into your daily skincare routine.
What is Bakuchiol?
Bakuchiol, extracted from the Psoralea corylifolia plant, has gained popularity as a “natural alternative to retinol.”
The plant itself is grown in India and has a long history of use in traditional Eastern medicine. The corylifolia seeds have been traditionally used for various healing purposes, including internal medicine (such as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, and laxative), treatment of skin conditions (such as alopecia, inflammation, leukoderma, leprosy, psoriasis, and eczema), and alleviating febrile conditions.
In more recent years, bakuchiol has become a popular, and safer, alternative to retinol with people claiming it offers the same collagen producing, skin-cell turnover, smoothing capabilities of retinol and Tretinoin, without the typical dryness and irritation associated with the vitamin A derivative.
What Does Bakuchiol Do?
Overall, bakuchiol provides a range of benefits to the skin, making it a popular ingredient in various skincare products.
Proponents of this retinol alternative claim it contains benefits such as:
- Anti-aging: Bakuchiol can stimulate collagen production, which helps improve skin elasticity and firmness. It may also promote cell turnover, leading to smoother skin texture and a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Antioxidant: Bakuchiol possesses antioxidant properties, meaning it can help neutralize free radicals that can damage the skin cells and contribute to premature aging. By reducing oxidative stress, it may help protect the skin from environmental damage and maintain a youthful appearance.
- Moisturizing: Bakuchiol may have a moisturizing effect on the skin similar to hyaluronic acid. It helps improve the skin’s natural moisture barrier, preventing excessive water loss and maintaining hydration levels. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with dry or dehydrated skin.
- Hyperpigmentation: Some studies suggest that bakuchiol may help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone. It can inhibit the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for dark spots and discoloration, for a more even complexion.
- Anti-inflammatory: Bakuchiol has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe irritated or sensitive skin. It may calm redness, inflammation, and skin conditions like acne or rosacea.
- Acne-fighting properties: Bakuchiol exhibits antimicrobial properties, making it potentially effective against acne-causing bacteria. It may help reduce the occurrence of breakouts and promote clearer skin.
Bakuchiol Side Effects
While using bakuchiol in skincare, it is important to be aware of the potential for irritation and skin sensitivity, although it is generally a well-tolerated ingredient.
When introducing a new product or ingredient, its advisable to start slowly and perform a patch test before applying it to larger areas of the skin. This will help determine if you have any adverse reactions to bakuchiol or other active ingredients present in the product.
In general, it’s best to avoid mixing bakuchiol with other active ingredients such as vitamin c, retinol, or chemical exfoliants in the same routine to avoid irritation. Instead, use different active ingredients on different days or choose a single product that already utilizes these ingredients together.
Additionally, as with any skincare routine, it is crucial to apply sunscreen daily to protect your skin from sun damage. This is a good practice regardless of whether you’re using products containing bakuchiol, retinol or not.
Bakuchiol vs. Retinol
Retinol’s properties have been known for years, while bakuchiol is far less studied. Below, we outline bakuchiol vs retinol in skincare:
- Source: Bakuchiol is derived from the seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant, while retinol is a synthetic form of vitamin A.
- Similarities: Both bakuchiol and retinol both stimulate collagen production, which improves skin elasticity and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They also promote cell turnover, leading to smoother skin texture.
- Irritation and Sensitivity: Retinol can cause skin irritation and sensitivity, especially when first starting its use. It can lead to redness, peeling, dryness, and increased sensitivity to sunlight. In contrast, bakuchiol is considered to be gentler on the skin, with less potential for causing irritation or sensitivity.
- Efficacy: Retinol has undergone extensive research and is widely recognized for its effectiveness in reducing signs of aging. Numerous clinical trials support its ability to enhance collagen production and accelerate cell turnover. Bakuchiol, while gaining popularity, has less scientific evidence supporting its efficacy compared to retinol. However, initial studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that bakuchiol may offer similar benefits, particularly in reducing wrinkles and improving skin texture.
- Side Effects and Safety: Retinol may cause adverse reactions like dryness, redness, and peeling, and it is unsuitable for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. On the contrary, bakuchiol is generally safe for use during pregnancy and is well-tolerated with minimal reported side effects. However, research on bakuchiol during pregnancy is limited, so consult a doctor before using skincare products containing it.
- Sun Sensitivity: While retinol can make the skin more sensitive to the sun, necessitating the use of sun protection and limiting its application to nighttime, bakuchiol generally does not have the same sun sensitivity effects and can be incorporated into daytime skincare routines. Nevertheless, regardless of whether you use bakuchiol or retinol, it is crucial to include sunscreen as an essential step in your skincare regimen.
- Availability: Retinol is a widely available ingredient in various skincare products and can be found in different concentrations. Bakuchiol, although gaining popularity, may be relatively less common in skincare formulations but is becoming more available.
Products with Bakuchiol
Bakuchiol is gaining popularity in the skincare industry, although it is not yet as widely known as products containing retinol. As more people seek effective alternatives to retinol that are gentler on the skin, bakuchiol has emerged as a promising option thanks to it’s similar benefits in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone, without the potential side effects and sensitivities associated with retinol.
Below you can find a non-exhaustive list of toners, serums, and moisturizers with bakuchiol, available at the time of publishing. These products have been carefully formulated to provide you with all the benefits you seek in your skincare journey.
Toners with Bakuchiol
Beauty by Earth Youth Restoration Bakuchiol Face Toner
Youth Restoration Bakuchiol Face Toner by Beauty by Earth is a lightweight and effective skincare product that harnesses the power nature-inspired ingredients. This toner aims to improve skin brightness, tone, and texture while minimizing pores and reducing fine lines.
Babchi Seed Extract helps even out skin tone and promote circulation, while Aloe Vera fights inflammation and nourishes the skin. Hyaluronic Acid provides hydration and reduces signs of aging, and Witch Hazel relieves inflammation and tightens pores. Lastly, Niacinamide enhances skin’s hydration, brightness, and elasticity.
23 Years Old Bakuchiol A Sticker Toner
Bakuchiol A Sticker Toner by 23 Years Old is a hypoallergenic toner packed with powerful ingredients. This anti-aging toner features botanically derived antioxidants and hydrating hyaluronic acid to stimulate collagen production and replenish skin’s moisture. It promotes elasticity for a more youthful appearance.
Niacinamide helps improve skin’s texture and appearance, Centella Asiatica Extract soothes the skin, Avena Sativa Kernel Extract provides nourishment, and Cynara Scolymus Leaf Extract offers antioxidant properties. These ingredients, along with others, contribute to the overall effectiveness of the toner.
Indeed Labs Bakuchiol Reface Pads
Indeed Bakuchiol Reface™ Pads target various signs of aging. These pads combine the potency of bakuchiol, niacinamide, cloudberry, and allantoin to provide calming and skin-soothing benefits. Specifically designed for aging skin, acne-prone skin, oily skin, and sensitive skin, these pads offer a plant-based alternative to retinol without the typical irritation. Conveniently packaged as pre-soaked cotton rounds, these pads make application effortless. Simply swipe them over your face after cleansing, without the drawbacks associated with traditional retinol products.
Bakuchiol Serums and Oils
Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Serum
Herbivore’s Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Serum claims to effectively address fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness while providing much-needed hydration.
This serum is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and it targets common concerns such as dullness, uneven texture, fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness. The powerful formula combines sustainably-sourced Babchi Extract, to smooth signs of aging, PHA for gentle exfoliation and added hydration, Tremella Mushroom to deeply moisturize and retain water, and antioxidant-rich Blueberry Stem Cells to shield the skin against environmental damage.
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum combines bakuchiol, a plant-derived alternative to retinol, and niacinamide to effectively reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, improve skin firmness, and even out skin tone.The formula claims to be non-irritating and highly effective. Bakuchiol, a star ingredient, targets fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, and loss of firmness without causing irritation. Squalane derived from sugarcane provides lightweight moisture and enhances ingredient absorption, while niacinamide improves skin tone, texture, and barrier function.
BYBI Bakuchiol Booster Vegan Facial Oil Treatment
BYBI Bakuchiol Booster is a natural and vegan-friendly alternative to retinol.
Designed to enhance your skincare routine, this simple night-time face serum harnesses the benefits of bakuchiol without causing irritation. With just two ingredients – Squalane derived from olives and Bakuchiol at a 1% concentration – this serum has a lightweight and easily absorbed formula that leaves your skin feeling soft, silky, and well-hydrated. You can incorporate it into your routine by applying it directly to your skin after toners and before moisturizer, or by mixing a few drops into your favorite products.
The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer
The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer is a plant-derived alternative to retinol that offers antioxidant properties.
It claims to reduce the visibility of fine lines, wrinkles, and promote an even skin tone. Suitable for both morning and evening skincare routines, its key ingredients include 1% Bakuchiol for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, 3% Squalane for hydrating and protecting the skin, and 1.5% Sacha Inchi Oil, which is rich in omega-3 and nourishes the skin.
OLE HENRIKSEN Goodnight Glow Retin-Alt Sleeping Crème
Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-Alt Sleeping Crème hydrates the skin and targets signs of aging while you sleep. This night cream is free from parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, and delivers optimal results with its use of natural ingredients.
This cream enhances the skin’s natural overnight restoration process. It exfoliates the surface, revealing a fresh and radiant complexion. The combination of AHAs and bakuchiol helps to diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. Edelweiss stem cells promote resilience, firmness, and elasticity, while shea butter provides deep hydration and nourishment. Additionally, this cream contains extracts of lemon, sugarcane, sandalwood, licorice root, and chamomile, which condition and soften the skin.
Erno Laszlo Firming Cream
Earno Laszlo Firming Cream is a plant-powered anti-aging moisturizer that provides hydration, smoothing, and a lifted appearance to the skin. It is suitable for all skin types and can be used day and night.
The cream features Bakuchiol to improve skin firmness and elasticity Spirulina, a nutrient-rich blue-green algae, rejuvenates the skin and targets signs of aging. The cream also contains ingredients such as olive oil, shea butter, and chia seed oil for antioxidant protection and lasting moisture while floral extracts and lemon balm help calm stressed skin.