Ingredient Highlight – Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol is the newest buzz ingredient in the skincare world. It is lauded as a natural alternative to retinol.

Bakuchiol is derived from the seeds of the plant Psoralea corylifolia. It is also known as the babchi plant. For centuries it was used in the traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, because of its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-microbial properties. Bakuchiol is used to treat any number of skin ailments from redness, irritation, to itchiness.

Why is the skincare industry suddenly paying attention to Bakuchiol? Because of its retinol-like properties. Like retinol, it works on the genes that stimulate collagen production. It improves collagen and elastin production, it protects the existing collagen from breaking down, and it reduces melanin synthesis. Where it differentiates from retinol is it doesn’t irritate the skin.

Is there any proof of the claims? A study was conducted that examined the efficacy and the side-effects of retinol and bakuchiol. It was a double-blind, 12-week study on 44 participants. Participants had to use 0.5% Bakuchiol cream or 0.5% Retinol cream. Both products significantly reduced the appearance of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. However, retinol users experienced more stinging and scaling of the skin. Bakuchiol users had no such side-effects. This study shows Bakuchiol is a valid alternative to retinol in terms of treating photoaging, but with no side-effects.

Should you throw away your retinol products?

We’d say no. By all means, bakuchiol is an intriguing ingredient and shows promise in terms of its benefits for the skin. And if you have sensitive skin that does not tolerate retinol well, by all means, have at it. We understand the lure of an ingredient that promises to give all the results retinol does, but without any irritation.

That said – while the study that showcases its benefits for the skin is promising, it is just one study. Retinol and all vitamin A derivatives have decades of research and studies to back up the claims of their efficacy. It has been scientifically proven that retinol stimulates cell renewal, boosts collagen and elastin, helps fade sun damage, and can treat acne.

Yes, retinol can be irritating to the skin. Even over-the-counter products can cause sensitivity, redness, flakiness, and dryness. That is why we always recommend introducing retinol into your routine slowly (especially if you have never used a retinol product before). If your skin is tolerating the product well, up the usage as you go along. Also, one thing we all need to keep in mind is that with retinol, there is no immediate gratification. You need to use the product consistently to reap the benefits.

Likewise, if your skin is dry and sensitive, rather than going for prescription-strength vitamin A immediately, opt for one of its derivatives. You’ll still see the results, only over a longer period.

Back to Bakuchiol. If you do decide to try the new It ingredient, a few products contain it (although, given its popularity, expect that to change very soon). You can find it in the form of facial oils, serums, and night moisturisers.

Have you tried a product with Bakuchiol? What were the results?

Roberta Striga