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Bakuchiol: A Guide to Retinol’s Natural Alternative



Madi Cardoso

Madi Cardoso

#TeamGorgeous walks you through everything you need to know about the anti-ageing powerhouse.

As we grow older, it’s normal for our skin to lose its elasticity and develop fine lines, wrinkles and hyper-pigmentation. Research has shown that bakuchiol, similarly to retinol, can help counteract such effects.

Here’s our complete guide to the naturally derived ingredient, covering its properties, benefits, uses and much more.

What is Bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a biologically active compound found in the leaves and seeds of various plants such as the psoralea corylifolia, a herb with purple flowers native to Sri Lanka and India.

Used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, bakuchiol is known for its ability to help treat various skin conditions such as psoriasis*.

In recent years, the compound has received increased attention – and it’s no wonder why. Bakuchiol boasts anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and even anti-acne properties. But that’s not all.

A 2018 study has shown that bakuchiol can have anti-ageing effects when applied topically, helping reduce hyper-pigmentation and wrinkle surface area**. In other words, this plant extract has retinol-like effects.

Bakuchiol: Skincare Benefits

The plant-derived ingredient has a number of benefits for the skin, including:

  • Improves photo-ageing
  • Reduces wrinkles surface area
  • Reduces hyper-pigmentation
  • Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory & anti-acne effects

Retinol & Bakuchiol: What’s the Difference?

Part of the vitamin A family, retinol is a potent ingredient which can significantly improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and more. When overused, however, retinol can cause irritation, dryness and stinging. It can also cause your sun to become sensitive to the sun.

If you’re planning to introduce retinol into your skincare routine, try starting with low concentration so you can build tolerance to it.

water background to illustrate skincare ingredients

Bakuchiol is said to be a gentler alternative to retinol, although comparable in its ability to diminish wrinkle surface area and hyper-pigmentation.

Why Should You Try Bakuchiol?

If you’re looking for anti-ageing solutions – and if for some reason retinol does not suit you – bakuchiol makes for a great alternative. It’s got remarkable properties to help restore a more youthful look to your skin.

Other Anti-Ageing Ingredients

It’s well-known that the sun can damage the skin and lead to premature ageing. Hence, one of the best ‘anti-ageing ingredients’ you can use is without a doubt sunscreen. Sun creams help protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun and should be applied regularly.

Another powerful ingredient for preventing premature ageing is Vitamin C. An antioxidant, Vitamin C can help stimulate collagen production, an important protein which gives the skin elasticity and structure. It can also help prevent free radical damage. Read our feature about the benefits of oranges & vitamin C for the skin here.

Bakuchiol Products

From bakuchiol oils to anti-ageing serums, there is an increasingly larger number of skincare treatments containing the compound.

dr botanicals facial oil containing bakuchiol

The Classic Japanese Orange Superfood Facial Oil from Dr Botanicals, for example, works to protect, nourish and calm the skin. It’s 100% natural and boasts not just bakuchiol but also other superb ingredients such as lactic acid and flower oil from rosa damascena.

Trilogy Bakuchiol+ Booster Treatment

The Trilogy Bakuchiol+ Booster Treatment targets and combats signs of skin ageing, improving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and dullness while promoting elasticity. This super-oil complex also contains moisturising squalane, omega-rich hemp and rosehip oils, plus softening meadowfoam oil to deliver even better results.

Shop Retinol Alternatives

Browse our skincare collections and find your perfect match.

*Bakuchiol cosmeceutical critique by Leslie S. Baumann, MD, MDedge Dermatology

**Prospective, randomized, double‐blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing, British Journal of Dermatology, Accessed in July 2020

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