What is bakuchiol and how does it benefit the skin? Everything you need to know about the retinol alternative

These days, we all know skincare ingredients much better, and it’s much easier to discern which beauty buzzwords, like bakuchiol, will actually benefit your skin. But if you want to learn a little more about this natural powerhouse, you are in the right place.

Often compared to retinol, bakuchiol is a natural, plant-derived ingredient that has a host of benefits, such as helping with pesky blemishes and smoothing fine lines. But while some studies have found numerous similarities in how the two ingredients impact your skin, there are some key differences between the two that are important to note.

To clear the fog once and for all, we asked an expert for everything you need to know about the alternative to retinol everyone is talking about.

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Bakuchiol, pronounced “buh-koo-chee-ol,” is an antioxidant that comes from the babchi plant, native to Asia. “It is often touted as the natural (and non-irritating) alternative to retinol for its skin-rejuvenating properties and similar cell-renewing effects,” explains Nicolas Travis, founder of Allies of Skin and PSA Skin.

The non-irritating factor is a huge draw for those who are concerned about using vitamin A or who have sensitive skin. A 2018 study by the British Association of Dermatologists found that the two ingredients are comparable in results, but that bakuchiol is “better tolerated than retinol” by the skin, meaning you shouldn’t experience anything like the infamous peeling with retinol.

“Bakuchiol is clinically proven to reduce multiple signs of aging,” adds Travis. “It improves the elasticity, firmness and hydration of the skin and helps reduce the appearance of blemishes by fading dark spots and diminishing fine lines.” The aforementioned study, which compared 0.5% concentrations of both retinol and bakuchiol, found that both ingredients reduced hyperpigmentation and the surface area of ​​wrinkles. Sign up!

A Beginner’s Guide to
You’ve probably heard that bakuchiol is “just like” retinol, without the irritation, but that’s not exactly true. “It is not a direct replacement, but an alternative, as they work very differently,” explains Travis.

The comparison comes from the two having a lot in common in terms of key skin benefits. “Both bakuchiol and retinol help reduce breakouts, dark spots and fine lines, and increase collagen production,” confirms Travis.

“However, retinol, like retinaldehyde and retinoic acid [other forms of vitamin A] can alter gene expression, which is a fancy way of saying that retinol can literally train the skin to renew itself more. efficient, so it looks better over time. ” For all its pros, this is something that bakuchiol cannot do.

Research has shown that these two ingredients work very well together, and that bakuchiol helps increase the effects of retinol and improves skin tolerance; Brands like Paula’s Choice and Travis’s PSA Skin offer formulas that are a cocktail of both.

“Combining it into a formula is a great way to boost your routine,” he adds. “It also has antioxidant properties, so wearing it throughout the day in conjunction with SPF will help protect your skin from harmful environmental pollutants.”

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Paula’s Choice 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol, $ 54 (UK £ 53, Space NK)

As we mentioned, combining retinol and bakuchiol in the same formula can be beneficial for the skin. Paula’s Choice heroic formula contains an entry-level concentration of retinol, 0.3%, with 2% bakuchiol to attack wrinkles and improve skin firmness.

PSA Skin Liquid Clarity BHA and Bakuchiol Booster, $ 28, Beautylish

A two-pronged attack on blemishes, 1% PSA Bakuchiol Booster also contains 2% BHA and willow bark extract to help clear pores and soothe skin.

The INKEY List Bakuchiol, $ 9.99, Sephora (UK £ 9.99, Selfridges)

If you want to forgo retinol for now, The INKEY List 1% Bakuchiol Inexpensive Moisturizer is a great starting point. It also contains 3% squalane, a great moisturizing and anti-inflammatory ingredient.