Bakuchiol vs Retinol

What is Bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol has become an up-and-coming ingredient in the skincare industry. It has all of the same benefits retinol has to offer but without any side effects. This makes it a powerful plant-based ingredient perfect for those who have sensitive skin.

The ingredient is an extract derived from the leaves and seeds of the Psoralea Corylifolia or babchi plant. Since it’s made from this plant, some beauty products with the ingredient maintain its bright purple hue. Bakuchiol is an herb mostly used in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines.

The babchi plant is “native to India and Sri Lanka, and was occasionally cultivated in Arabia for its supposed medicinal properties.” Traditional Chinese medicines used bakuchiol to heal or aid in various ailments including kidney issues, bone fractures, impotence, hair loss, lower back and knee pain, as well as vitiligo.

Many people use it to help heal, calm and soothe the skin because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.


Difference Between Bakuchiol and Retinol

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative, a highly-reactive molecule, used by dermatologists in various forms in order to treat skin conditions as well as to reduce the physical symptoms of aging. It works by boosting skin renewal through improving collagen production and reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and age spots for firmer, smoother and more evenly-toned skin. Retinol products make the skin more sensitive to sun exposure so you can only use them in the evening, followed by a strong SPF in the morning.

While retinoid products improve texture, tone, skin moisture retention, sun damage, hydration levels, hyperpigmentation, breakouts and acne, there are harsh side effects such as burning, scaling and dermatitis. Retinol has also been known to lose its effectiveness over extended usage meaning users will need to up the potency and amount the longer they use it. Those with dry or sensitive skin also should not use products with this ingredient. Since retinol is too harsh, it can really irritate or even damage the skin.

Bakuchiol products offer all of these benefits without any of the side effects and is still effective even after a long period of time.

Photo by Cheyenne Doig on Unsplash

Benefits of Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol studies have shown that it helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles, and helps with pigmentation, elasticity, and firmness. It is not inactivated by the sun and has become a natural retinol alternative which means it is not irritating at all and it’s a great option for those who prefer clean or vegan beauty products. 

Bakuchiol encourages cell turnover, resulting in new, younger skin cells underneath. The ingredient also prevents the oxidation degradation of lipids (otherwise known as the natural fats in our skin). It suppresses the hormone responsible for melanin formation in the skin as well as decreases acne bacteria in a complex with Gingko biloba and mannitol. It’s also good for those who have skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis. 

It works with the same genes and pathways to improve the production of new collagen formation in the skin but unlike retinol, bakuchiol doesn’t decrease the size of oil glands or cause any irritation. Studies have proven that after prolonged use, bakuchiol decreases roughness and dryness as well. It’s safe to use for those with oily, dry, and sensitive skin types.

Products with Bakuchiol

Acure Radically Rejuvenating Dual Phase Bakuchiol Serum

Even though there are tons of retinol products at any drugstore, it can be rare to find products with bakuchiol. This makes budget-friendly finds like this one more unique. Since dual phase is in the name, it’s a two-part formula. The top layer of the serum is an antioxidant-rich essence while the bottom is a moisturizing serum. Altogether, the serum contains bakuchiol, soothing blue tansy extract, and skin-balancing probiotics.


Olehenriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème

This is a powerful sleeping cream that visibly firms the skin and improves elasticity. You don’t need to use bakuchiol only at night but it’s good to apply active ingredients at night to get the most out of each product. It exfoliates the surface of the skin with alphy-hydroxy acids such as glycolic and lactic while you sleep so you can wake up to see fresh, glowy skin. The serum has acids for a mild exfoliating effect and a lot of moisturizing and conditioning ingredients for a soft and supple complexion. The purple formula also deeply hydrates the skin while fighting any signs of aging.


Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum

The serum is a great product for sensitive skin, it’s a lightweight serum with bakuchiol that is perfect for those who want the benefits of retinol without any irritation. It targets the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage. This serum by Biossance also improves dullness and loss of firmness and elasticity. It has a No Compromise formula that is bio-backed, sustainable, and clinically proven.


Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum

Combined with mild, skin exfoliating hydroxy acids and bakuchiol, this serum enhances the skin’s texture and radiance and smooths fine lines and wrinkles while sealing in hydration. It is a uniquely bouncy, jelly-textured water-based serum that spreads smoothly over the skin, instantly providing hydration and leaving the skin silky smooth.


Cocokind Resurfacing Sleep Mask

This mask has won a Byrdie 2021 Eco Beauty Award and for good reason, too. It’s a pillow-proof overnight treatment that uses plant-derived bakuchiol to help improve skin tone and texture while helping to reduce the appearance of dark spots and premature fine lines and wrinkles. The wild indigo extract in the product helps the resurfacing mask address visible signs of fatigue and beta-glucan hydrates and calms the look of inflammation, making the mask a viable option for a wide variety of skin concerns.