What is Bakuchiol? | A Retinol Alternative

What is Bakuchiol? | A Retinol Alternative

Holly Thomas
6 minute read

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Bakuchiol, if you’re a skincare aficionado you’ve definitely heard of it. It’s one of the skincare worlds buzziest and most exciting breakthrough ingredients, it seems everyone is obsessed with it and for good reason. That being said, with a new exciting ingredient on the market seemingly every week and with this one being particulaaarly difficult to pronounce it might have passed you by. So, what is Bakuchiol and why does everyone love it so much?

Let’s start with the basics, Bakuchiol is pronounced ‘back-uh-heel’ and is a powerful, naturally occurring antioxidant that is derived from the psoralea corylifolia plant aka the cute sounding babchi plant. It’s a herb commonly used in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines to help heal, calm and soothe skin, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

This long history of skin benefits led scientists in recent years to look at it a little closer. A clinical trial proved it even effectively speeds up cell turnover helping to diminish potential signs of aging. While it doesn’t necessarily have the same structural make-up as the skincare junkie fave retinol, Bakuchiol’s potent effect on skin is so remarkably similar, it’s now being marketed as natural retinol alternative.

Bakuchiol is a relatively new ingredient on the market but it’s one of the only few retinol-like products to be backed by clinical trials that prove it effectively speeds up skin cell regeneration - and we think that's pretty exciting.

So, how does Bakuchiol work?

Bakuchiol functions in a very similar way to a retinol. In a snapshot- it increases cell turnover which then stimulates collagen production. This in turn diminishes signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, loose skin and hyperpigmentation.

This is because similarly to retinol, Bakuchiol helps to elevate cell behaviour, encouraging the natural shedding of the skin and boosting collagen and elastin production, without the associated side effects (increased sensitivity and redness) of retinol.

What is bio retinoid?

If you’ve been researching retinol you might have heard of people referring to bio retinoids. A bio-retinoid is essentially a natural retinol alternative. These are not part of the Vitamin A (retinol) family but function in the same way as retinol does. An example is Sytenol A which is the type of Bakuchiol extract we use in our Dusk Elixir.

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Is Bakuchiol as good as retinol?

Let’s start with – what is retinol? If you’ve done even the tiniest bit of googling around anti-aging skincare, then you’ll know how amazing retinol can be. It’s available in over the counter or in higher levels via prescription products (often for acne), and is another name for Vitamin A. It has the ability to start cell turnover, promoting the removal of dead cells for replacement by new ones. This stimulates collagen production and as a result helps keep skin plump, smooth and youthful looking. But, like with many amazing things, there is a downside. Side-effects can include sensitivity, irritation, inflammation, redness, dryness, flakiness and sun sensitivity which leaves some people looking for an alternative…

So, let’s bring it back to Bakuchiol. It is a retinol alternative and are the two comparable? Bakuchiol has a similar effect on collagen, but it works by boosting mitochondrial activities in the cell and as an antioxidant to protect lipids and proteins. This means you don’t get the same level of irritation or redness, instead it actively hydrates skin. According to a recent study published by the British Journal of Dermatology, Bakuchiol can even decrease fine lines and pigmentation at the same rate as retinol. What’s even more exciting is that unlike retinol, this alternative doesn’t increase photo-sensitivity, meaning that it’s safe for daytime use too. (Side not: obviously keep your SPF, because no matter your routine it should always include SPF- kapish?) Plus, because of its sensitive nature, Bakuchiol is suitable and safe for all skin types including dry, oily, combination, sensitive and normal.

Let's be clear here, we're not saying Bakuchiol is better than retinol. Retinol certainly gives extreme results quickly, but if you want a natural retinol alternative or something a little kinder on the skin- then Bakuchiol is the ingredient to look out for.

How do I know if Bakuchiol is right for my skin?

Bakuchiol is beneficial for skin addressing concerns such as;

  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Lack of elasticity
  • Loss of firmness
  • Pigmentation and age spots
  • Acne and blemishes
  • Plus, it's suitable for all skin types

Potential benefits of Bakuchiol include:

  • Reducing depth and appearance of fines lines and wrinkles
  • Improving skin elasticity and firmness
  • Boosting collagen and elastin
  • Protecting skin from free radical damage
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that can help reduce the appearance of breakouts

Sounds pretty amazing, right?

How to use Bakuchiol

Scientia Dusk Elixir with soothing Lavender

To work Bakuchiol into your skin-care routine, use it just like you would any topical retinoid. Since Bakuchiol helps repair the skin and stimulate collagen, we recommend using them in the evening before bed. It’s one of the reasons we blended our Dusk Elixir with Bakuchiol. We wanted an 100% natural night oil that not only deeply hydrated and soothed skin but plumped it as we slept so we could look more youthful and refreshed the day before- what a bonus! 

Is Bakuchiol safe during pregnancy?

One of the main concerns with retinol for a lot of women is that you can’t use it during pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding since some studies have shown that taking Vitamin A in high doses during pregnancy can be harmful to the unborn baby. While applying it topically in skincare hasn’t actually been proven to cause problems in pregnancy or breastfeeding, doctors recommend avoiding it and as a result so do we.  

So, what about Bakuchiol? Whilst we can’t speak for all products formulated with Bakuchiol, our Dusk Elixir is safe to use while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, however we always recommend checking with your doctor before adding any new product to your routine during these special stages in your life. 

And that's it! Soothing, plumping and collagen boosting, if you can't already tell we're HUGE fans and we're pretty confident you will be too... 

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