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Bakuchiol- Is It A Natural Alternative To Retinol?

If you have not heard yet about Bakuchiol, I am here to highlight this all-natural AMAZING ingredient that was for a long time under the radar and only in recent years has begun to gain attention in the cosmetics and beauty sector.

Meet The Superstar

Bakuchiol is an all-natural, plant-based ingredient, extracted from the leaves and seeds of the babchi plant. Babchi, or Psoralea corylifolia, is a purple-flowered herb that’s commonly used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. This compound derived from the plant has become known as a "novel retinol-like" ingredient in skincare.

Babchi is native to Asia and has a long history of usage, but It took until 2007 to be discovered and used as a skincare ingredient.

Bakuchiol VS Retinol Skin Benefits

Bakuchiol considered a natural alternative to retinol ( which is often synthetically produced). Bakuchiol is actually not a form of retinol, it’s structurally and chemically completely different. The two molecules behave very similarly in cosmetic applications, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same. (The data we have is for a comparison between OTC retinol’s and bakuchiol, not for prescription retinoids creams like tretinoin, isotretinoin, tazorac). While retinol can sometimes cause redness, burning and stinging, studies show that pure bakuchiol is gaining attention for its ability to improve acne, melasma, photoaging and hyperpigmentation without the adverse effects. This study has concluded

"…bakuchiol is comparable with retinol in its ability to improve photoaging and is better tolerated than retinol. Bakuchiol is promising as a more tolerable alternative to retinol”.

Bakuchiol is sun-safe and can be used AM and PM. It does not have the same photo-sensitizing effect on the skin as retinol (retinol breaks down under UV rays and should not be worn in the daytime). Bakuchiol is also useful in products formulated for acne-prone skin as it prevents the process of lipid peroxidation in the skin’s sebum by keeping the acid mantle active. With all these benefits there is no question why bakuchiol has become an ingredient of significant interest, in the last decade, especially in the natural beauty sector.

Potential Benefits for Skin

Gentle enough for the most sensitive skin types, Bakuchiol works with the skin to refine the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, even the skin tone and soothes the skin. Here are some of the benefits associated with Bakuchiol usage:

1. Improves Signs of Ageing- Bakuchiol shows the most promise for treating the signs of ageing. In this study, participants applied a 0.5% concentration twice a day for 12 weeks. The results showed a "significant improvement" in fine lines and wrinkles, elasticity, firmness and sun damage.

2. Boosts Skin Elasticity and Firmness- One clinical study found that a night facial serum made from bakuchiol with Vitamin C was able to increase skin firmness after 12 weeks.

3. Stimulates Collagen- Studies show that bakuchiol serum takes part in the upregulation of types I and IV collagen in DNA and stimulates type III collagen. This means that the compound works to boost the production of collagen and prevents collagen loss, much like retinol.

4. Soothes Rough and Damaged Skin - Bakuchiol has nourishing, anti-inflammatory effects, so it’s often used to soothe rough, dry and damaged skin. It has hydrating properties, including squalane, an antioxidant that’s high in fatty acids and supports skin health. Research suggests that squalane derived from plant sources acts as a quencher of singlet oxygen, protecting the skin’s surface from damage due to exposure to UV rays.

5. Fights Acne - a pilot study noted that bakuchiol reduced acne by a score of about 57 percent, whereas salicylic acid reduced acne by only 48 percent. When the two ingredients were used together, they reduced acne lesions and inflammation up to 70 percent.

6. Improves Hyperpigmentation - hyperpigmentation can lead to dark spots or streaks on the surface of your skin and can occur due to poor diet and lifestyle and/or after spending too much time in the sun or following an acne breakout.

Recent research unearthed that bakuchiol products work to improve hyperpigmentation and photoaging, with a potentially better safety profile when compared to retinoids.

Can We Use Retinol with Bakuchiol together?

There is no reason why not. There’s actually some evidence to show that using retinol and bakuchiol together delivers the unique benefits of each, plus bakuchiol has a natural stabilizing effect on vitamin A, as well as being soothing, so it can improve skin’s tolerance to various strengths of retinol.

Side Effects

Bakuchiol is being touted as the safer, gentler option when compared to retinoids. It’s a plant-based, completely natural compound that doesn’t cause drying or irritation in most cases, even for sensitive skin.

It also appears that bakuchiol is safe during pregnancy, as opposed to retinol, but to be safe, consult your doctor before adding it to your skincare regimen during pregnancy.


Bakuchiol is believed to be a possible retinol alternative, and there have been a few studies investigating this substance in recent years, but more research has to be done.

The great thing about Bakuchiol is that everyone can use it, even those with very sensitive skin.

Should you try bakuchiol? For sure yes.

If you are currently using retinol, and you are happy with the results, don't stop using it. As long as something works for you, don't change it. But you definitely want to try using retinol and bakuchiol together, to boost the effectiveness of vitamin A.

If you are not using retinol and you are into natural skincare, are pregnant, have sensitive skin or just doing a break from retinoid products, go ahead and try it.

As your skincare nutritionist and aromatherapist, I would like to remind you that our skin is the largest organ in our body and the glow of our healthy and beautiful skin begins from the inside out. There is a strong connection between dark (age) spots, acne breakouts, collagen production, sagging skin and our healthy lifestyle.

Although you can’t prevent skin ageing entirely, you definitely can slow the process and look and feel young for a long time.

Switching to all-natural, toxin-free skincare products is a very important step towards your health wellbeing but it is only one piece of the "Holistic Healthy Life" puzzle. Once you avoid (or minimize as possible) both toxins from the products you eat and products you apply to your skin, you will notice the difference right away.

Rooslana Zodek

Your Certified Aromatherapist & Skincare Nutritionist

Natural Skincare Formulator

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