Bakuchiol is a powerful anti-aging active ingredient that produces retinol-like effects. In other words, it works to help prevent wrinkles and acne scars, while lessening the effects of hyperpigmentation. It is a natural alternative to the tried-and-tested retinol which is found in the seeds of the babchi plant.
In fact, long before its popularisation in Western skincare regimes, this ingredient has been used quite frequently in Eastern medicine due to its healing properties which helps give it credibility as a legitimate skincare ingredient. The fact that it has centuries-worth of helping people heal in different cultures definitely gives us some confidence in recommending it.
The reason that this elicits comparisons to retinol is because it has been scientifically proven that bakuchiol is able to stimulate the same gene expression as retinol. This leads to improvements in wrinkles, skin tone, skin texture, and radiance.
In addition, bakuchiol does not cause sun sensitivity. Not only this but, in contrast to retinol, bakuchiol also doesn't cause irritation or redness which makes it an ideal candidate for sensitive skin.
Essentially, when using bakuchiol you are getting all the benefits of retinol without any of the side-effects.
Rather than just suddenly going from a bakuchiol-free life to it becoming your most prized possession overnight, you should try to add it in small doses and eventually work your way up to using it two times a day. By using this approach you can easily detect if there are any adverse effects before they get too serious. And yes, you read that right, because of bakuchiol’s natural status it’s completely safe to use in your daily routine!
Turning back to the potential side effects, as with any new skincare additions, you may also want to consult your doctor if you’re pregnant since the impact of bakuchiol on pregnancy is not yet known. Although this is more about airing on the side of caution than any imminent risks since it has been proven to be safe for just about every skin-type.
With all of that in mind, it’s safe to say that bakuchiol is an excellent anti-aging active ingredient for those who have sensitive skin, rosacea or are suffering from any other skin conditions.
Bakuchiol is the latest find in the skincare community which has enthusiasts extremely excited. In the simplest terms, it is an active ingredient derived from plants with retinol (vitamin A) like effects which allows it to provide a host of benefits while still being gentle on the skin.
To get a little scientific for a moment, bakuchiol shows similar gene expression in the skin compared to retinol. This means that it works to improve the appearance of skin aging caused by the environment (photodamage) among other numerous advantages.¹²
Notably, bakuchiol can stimulate collagen production and the repair of the extracellular matrix in the dermis. This is an essential task to prevent premature aging, but also helps to improve signs of photoaging. The reason for this is that a loss of collagen in the skin is associated with the formation of wrinkles and skin sagging which bakuchiol works to combat.
But that’s not all, bakuchiol can also brighten skin tone and improve the appearance of dark spots. This is because it can interfere with the production of skin pigment (melanin). Due to this ability, it can block the alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormones and an enzyme called tyrosinase (much like alpha arbutin, which is another one of our recommended ingredients).¹²
Lastly, bakuchiol is also known for its ability to promote skin-cell turnover. In layman's terms this essentially means that it’s getting rid of all the dead skin cells which would populate your face and making room for new, fresh ones that help to rejuvenate the skin. Consequently, the ingredient contributes to healing and smoothing the skin, on both the interior and the exterior, if there are any problem areas that you’re struggling with.
That last point is one of the main reasons why this natural ingredient is effective for preventing acne and ridding yourself of any unwanted acne scars. Plus, it also helps to retain water in your face due to its collagen-producing effects which will help give you a fuller face, if that’s what you’re after.
We know that results matter which is why we want to highlight the fact that bakuchiol has been proven to improve skin tone in a 12-week clinical study.² This is extremely efficient considering the fact that retinol, which causes some less-than-desirable side effects, provides results in roughly the same amount of time.
It’s also worth mentioning that in a prospective, randomised, double-blind scientific study comparing the effects of bakuchiol with retinol, it was concluded that bakuchiol is comparable to retinol in its ability to improve signs of aging. These include wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (sunspots and melasma) and firmness, and it was also found to be better tolerated than retinol.¹²
However, this doesn’t mean that bakuchiol is superior to retinol or vice versa. Honestly, they have more in common than you’d expect. It’s really down to personal preference which one you go for. The evidence for this lies in the fact that most skincare products will use these ingredients side-by-side because of how well they compliment each other. In that case, you won’t even have to make the decision yourself.
On the topic of actually bringing bakuchiol into your routine, although it is not found as a stand alone ingredient, you can find it in a lot of OTC skincare products such as creams or serums. As a result, it’s widely accessible to the public at a fairly cheap price point meaning there’s no excuse for not having it in your bathroom ready to go in the morning and in the night (or only one of those times, depending on how your skin reacts).
Just be aware that when scanning the ingredient list it’s important to keep an eye out for pure bakuchiol rather than an oil or power derivative, such as babchi oil, since these will not yield the same results. They tend to be less effective than bakuchiol itself so it’s better to just stick to something that’s been proven to work.
Not to mention the fact that it’s also vegan. You see, retinol is a retinoid (who'd've guessed it) usually derived from fish oil and egg yolk. On the other hand, as mentioned previously, bakuchiol is an entirely natural ingredient which aligns perfectly with the current drive for skincare products to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Overall, you really can’t go wrong by trying this new skincare craze. It’s been proven to be harmless to your skin and will only work to enhance your skincare routine. What’s more, it’s also harmless to the world around you. This means that it’s a great alternative to ingredients such as retinol which, though extremely effective in its purpose, has some unintended consequences that many people would rather avoid.
1. Chaudhuri R, Bojanowski K. Bakuchiol: A Retinol-Like Functional Compound Revealed By Gene Expression Profiling and Clinically Proven to Have Anti-Aging Effects. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2014;36(3):221-230.
2. Dhaliwal S, Rybak I, Ellis S, Notay M, Trivedi M, Burney W et al. Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind Assessment of Topical Bakuchiol and Retinol for Facial Photoageing. British Journal of Dermatology. 2018;180(2):289-296.
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