By Carla Oates
When it comes to fighting the visible signs of ageing—think fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin or an uneven skin tone—there is no ingredient more famed for its skin-boosting benefits than retinol, a vitamin A derivative.
Found in everything from toners to serums and moisturisers, topical retinol is certainly a favourite of beauty editors worldwide—but it is also known for causing skin sensitivity and irritation in some people. Furthermore, it’s currently not recommended for use when pregnant or breastfeeding meaning that many women have been on the lookout for a suitable alternative to solve their skincare woes. Enter: bakuchiol.
Famed as a natural retinol alternative, bakuchiol derives from the babchi plant and has been utilised in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Not only has the beauty industry finally taken notice of this powerful vegan-friendly ingredient, but it’s likely that you’ve spotted cropping up in some of your favourite topical skincare products, too. The good news is, research on this plant-based powerhouse is also mounting with evidence indicating that when treating skin issues like wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, there is no clear difference between retinol and bakuchiol in terms of benefits! Even better? Bakuchiol provides the same benefits without causing sensitive skin, increased irritation, dryness or the stinging sensation and side effects so often associated with retinol use.
Keen to try it for yourself? Here’s everything you need to know…
The Skin Benefits Of Bakuchiol
What you really want to know is, what is bakuchiol going to do for my skin? Although it has a myriad of skin benefits, one of the most impressive is its ability to combat ageing. As a potent antioxidant, bakuchiol first and foremost helps to combat the ageing effects of free radicals—including fine lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness. But that’s just the beginning.
It improves skin tone
Helping to even out skin tone, bakuchiol works on a cellular level to improve hyperpigmentation and dark spots. While retinol is also famously known for increasing the skin’s sensitivity to the sun’s harmful UV rays, there is actually evidence to show that bakuchiol can make the skin less sensitive to the sun—providing a protective effect. Although research is ongoing, this may make bakuchiol a useful ingredient in sun-protection products, too.
It minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
By communicating with the skin on a cellular level to encourage collagen production, bakuchiol can help to firm and plump the skin from deep below the dermis. In one study, for example, after just 12 weeks it was shown that there was significant improvement in lines, wrinkles, elasticity and skin firmness from the use of bakuchiol, indicating its ability to exhibit a retinol-like regulation of gene expression.
It doesn’t cause skin irritation
As a 100% natural, vegan ingredient, bakuchiol is gentle and suitable for all skin types and skin concerns. There is also no evidence to suggest that bakuchiol leads to any skin dryness or irritation—meaning that for those who experience inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or eczema, bakuchiol is a safe, natural alternative to harsher ingredients and retinoids that work to dry up or minimise pores. As a result, it is more hydrating than other cosmetic alternatives.
It improves cellular regeneration & skin healing
By signaling to your skin’s cells that it’s time to produce more collagen, bakuchiol helps to improve cell turnover. This ability to encourage cellular regeneration also makes it a useful ingredient in helping to soothe and heal skin issues, improving overall skin texture and again, assisting with pigmentation, breakouts and brightening.
How To Use Bakuchiol
Typically, bakuchiol is found in topical beauty products like skin serums and facial oils so it can be added seamlessly into your skincare routine without having to ditch any of your other favourite products. Simply apply to skin before your chosen moisturiser.
Unlike retinol, which is often only recommended for use at night—bakuchiol’s gentle composition means it is able to be integrated into your morning and evening routines. It also doesn't have any other known contraindications with other skincare ingredients making it a win, win for your skin!