What is Bakuchiol, Natural Retinol? Why use it?

Bakuchiol skin care cream with raw seeds on pink background.

Despite Bakuchiol’s increase in skincare products, many consumers still don’t know exactly what it is, or how to say it. Pronounced “buh-koo-chee-all” or “back-uh-heel,” this skincare ingredient is known as nature’s retinol.  Bakuchiol has been making its way toward mainstream beauty since the 1970s, but with the rise in demand for natural beauty, bakuchiol is finally having its moment.

Bakuchiol is purely plant-derived, as it is found in the seeds and leaves of the Psoralea Corylifolia (Babchi) plant. This plant is most commonly found in Eastern Asia, with the plant being native to India and Sri Lanka. Over time, the plant was cultivated by other nations because of its medicinal benefits. The babchi plant has been used for Ayurvedic medicine in China and India for years. This plant promises many health benefits, from soothing irritated skin, calming redness, and healing small wounds. With the babchi plant’s benefits in mind, many beauty brands have started incorporating bakuchiol into their products.

Psoralea Corylifolia (Babchi) plant.
Photo By: shutterstock/Mukund Kumar

Bakuchiol has become popular in modern skincare for a variety of reasons. The ingredient can offer similar, if not the same, results as retinol, but is more tolerable for many. In fact, the British Association of Dermatologists conducted a randomized, double-blind study comparing the two. Some patients were asked to apply a 0.5% retinol cream for 12 weeks, while others were asked to apply a 0.5% bakuchiol cream for 12 weeks. No statistical difference was determined between the two ingredients, but the results for both were the same. All patients reported results of decrease in wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, but those who used retinol reported more scaling and stinging. For those with sensitive skin, studies like this are encouraging for testing out bakuchiol at home.

Closeup of woman smiling on a pinkish purple background.
Photo By: shutterstock/Irina Bg

The inclusivity of bakuchiol is what makes it so popular among those who are weary or disheartened by retinol. Bakuchiol’s properties include being anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, causing it to be more sensitive-skin friendly. Many people with dry, sensitive skin struggle with retinol due to results of irritation and redness, but bakuchiol’s properties make it much more usable. On the other hand, people with oily, acne-prone skin can also enjoy the benefits of bakuchiol, as the anti-inflammatory properties help manage oil and blemishes. The gentle makeup of bakuchiol delivers powerful results that can be enjoyed by many.

Woman applying cream to her arm on a bed with a sleep mask to her side.
Photo By: shutterstock/VGstockstudio

Incorporating bakuchiol into your skincare routine is simple as well. It can be used in conjunction with retinol as well as common ingredients retinol shouldn’t be mixed with. Because bakuchiol is not as sensitizing as retinol, it can be used both morning and night; however, because of its renewing properties, many dermatologists recommend only using it at night to allow it to perform its best results. An added bonus is, unlike retinol, bakuchiol is safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. Even more so, this ingredient is vegan, while not all forms of retinol are.

Bakuchiol skin care cream sitting on raw seeds.
Photo By: shutterstock/22Images Studio

Bakuchiol’s retinol-like results make it an exciting alternative in today’s world of skincare. If you’re wondering if bakuchiol is right for you, consider skin type, sensitivity, and conditions. Bakuchiol is safe enough for sensitive skin, pregnant or nursing mothers, vegans, and anyone else wishing to add anti-aging products to their daily routine. With its beautiful, natural purple hue, bakuchiol will make a lovely addition on your beauty shelf.

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