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Bakuchiol 101: Skin Benefits, Uses, and Products

Raved as the sensitive skin-friendly, natural alternative to retinol, bakuchiol is a gentle, anti-aging ingredient that’s popularity has been increasing over the past few years. But is plant-based bakuchiol (pronounced ba-koo-chee-ol) really as powerful as they say? Ahead, we’re answering all your pressing questions about this up-and-coming ingredient and how it can benefit your skin.

What is Bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol, recognized as “nature’s retinol,” is naturally derived from the seeds and leaves of the babchi (Psoralea corylifolia) plant. Long used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, the babchi herb is well-loved for skin healing, as well as its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Bakuchiol vs. Retinol

While retinol (vitamin A, also known as Retin-A) remains the holy grail ingredient for anti-aging skincare, bakuchiol offers a kinder, gentler approach that still boasts transformative, rejuvenated results without the risk of irritation so commonly experienced with retinoid use. 

Unlike retinol – known for causing side effects like dry, flaky, red, irritated skin, especially when you first start using it – bakuchiol contains anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe and reduce the possibility of irritation. You might even see bakuchiol and retinol formulated together in a product. That’s because bakuchiol can help stabilize retinol and combat its sensitizing effects. 

Bakuchiol functions similarly to retinol in that it increases skin cell turnover, stimulates collagen production, and targets signs of aging like wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and sun damage. A 2014 study found that when used topically, bakuchiol stimulated the production of several collagen types, improving the appearance of lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, elasticity, firmness, and photodamage in just 12 weeks. 

While studies on the efficacy of bakuchiol are emerging, it is important to note that it doesn’t have nearly the amount of clinical evidence as retinoids. So if you want to guarantee high-impact, scientifically-backed results, retinol should still be your first option. However, bakuchiol is definitely worth trying if you have sensitive skin or want to go the more natural route.

The Benefits of Bakuchiol for Skin

As previously mentioned, bakuchiol functions much like retinol to promote overall skin health and target signs of aging, but it does so without sensitizing the skin. Here are some of its top benefits.

Works for all skin types.

Bakuchiol is a well-tolerated ingredient that works for all skin types, from dry and sensitive to oily and acne prone. It’s especially ideal for those with sensitive or mature skin who want to target signs of aging without potential side effects.

Soothes the skin.

One of the biggest benefits of using bakuchiol over retinol is that bakuchiol is naturally calming, so it not only prevents dryness and irritation but can also soothe reactive, sensitive skin. Even the most sensitive skin types can enjoy the anti-aging results of bakuchiol. 

Boosts cell turnover and collagen production.

Bakuchiol helps speed up skin cell turnover and activates collagen-producing receptors in the skin, similar to retinoids. This helps smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and enhances firmness and elasticity.  

Improves skin tone and texture. 

Thanks to its abundance of antioxidants and ability to increase cell turnover, bakuchiol helps lighten areas of hyperpigmentation, specifically those caused by sun damage. Because it increases skin cell turnover, bakuchiol also promotes softer, smoother skin with less noticeable texture.

Helps with acne.

Bakuchiol isn’t just for anti-aging; research suggests it’s helpful for treating acne, too. Bakuchiol’s natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can help eliminate acne-causing bacteria and soothe the inflammation underlying many breakouts.

Vegan and plant-derived.

Bakuchiol is the perfect option if you prefer natural, plant-based skincare, as it’s vegan and 100% plant-derived. 

How to Use Bakuchiol

You’ll most often find bakuchiol in serums, cleansers, lightweight lotions, and eye creams—aka products you apply before your moisturizer, though it can be found in moisturizers too. You can use your bakuchiol products day and night because, unlike retinol, it won’t make your skin more sensitive to the sun though it’s still recommended to wear sunscreen during the day. Bakuchiol also works well with other skincare ingredients, so it’s easy to incorporate into your routine. 

Follow the instructions labeled on your bakuchiol-based products for best results.

Does Bakuchiol Have Any Side Effects?

Bakuchiol is not believed to have any side effects or adverse interactions, so it’s a safe ingredient to introduce into your routine. Though when introducing any new ingredient, there is always the chance redness, stinging, or signs of sensitivity can occur on the first few uses.

It’s also not yet confirmed whether bakuchiol is safe to use during pregnancy. Though it’s likely not an issue, it is always best to check in with your dermatologist or healthcare provider before using bakuchiol products when pregnant or breastfeeding.

The Best Products with Bakuchiol

Dr. Zenovia Essentials Bakuchiol Hydrating Cleanser

One of the few facial cleansers formulated with bakuchiol, this clinical-grade formula cleans, brightens, and hydrates even the most sensitive skin types. In addition to bakuchiol, it contains a potent antioxidant blend, conditioning bisabolol, and a skin-balancing complex ideal for acne-prone skin.

ISDIN Melatonik Restorative Melatonin Night Serum

This nighttime serum has a unique lightweight serum-in-oil texture that rejuvenates skin while you sleep, so you wake up with an illuminating glow. Key ingredients include melatonin, bakuchiol, and vitamin C, which are rich in antioxidants that combat the aging effects of free radicals.

Replenix Retinol + Bakuchiol Concentrated Serum

Unsurprisingly, retinol and bakuchiol work really well together. In this concentrated serum, a clinically proven retinol and bakuchiol combo tackles concerns of fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, uneven skin tone, pore size, and discoloration. 

Revision Skincare D.E.J Night Face Cream

This restorative night cream contains time-released microencapsulated 0.25% retinol and bakuchiol to boost each other’s effectiveness while minimizing irritation. Plus, there are nourishing ceramides and plant oils for soft, supple skin.

PCA Skin C&E Hand Renewal

The hands are one of the first areas on the body to show signs of aging, so supporting them with anti-aging ingredients is key. This hand cream is packed with youth-preserving vitamins (such as 10% pure vitamin C) and plant extracts, like bakuchiol, that keep the hand’s delicate skin healthy and protected from everyday stressors.