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What Is Bakuchiol and What Makes It a Powerful Skincare Ingredient?

What Is Bakuchiol and What Makes It a Powerful Skincare Ingredient?
IMAGE Sephora
Some people are even saying it's better than retinol.

Retinol is great and all (it really is, here's some proof), although it's not exactly the most approachable anti-aging skincare ingredient out there. Pregnant women can't use it, for one, while many avoid it because it tends to cause minor irritation like peeling and redness. Once you get the hang of it though, it can do absolute wonders.

So yes, successfully adding retinoids to your skincare routine can be a tough nut to crack. It's no wonder that the moment an alternative sprang into the beauty world, everyone couldn't get enough of it. You may or may not have heard of bakuchiol, the new buzzy ingredient that people are calling "nature's retinol." Unlike your typical marketing ploy, however, that monicker does have some science behind it. First off, it's plant-derived and natural, and more importantly, it doesn't cause irritation like retinol does. Those alone were enough to convince us, but we have more information for you below:

What is bakuchiol and what does it do?

Bakuchiol is a type of antioxidant derived from the babchi plant (psoralea corylifolia if you want to get scientific), which has its origins in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. Back then, it was used to heal cuts and soothe rashes and redness, but now, skincare experts are zooming in on its retinol-like properties.

Similar to the popular exfoliant, bakuchiol helps stimulate collagen production and encourage faster cell turnover to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sun damage while improve the skin's firmness. You may expect results in 12 weeks, according to studies. Overtime, it will improve the overall texture of your skin, too, making it smoother, plumper, and more radiant. Bakuchiol's main difference with retinol? It can do all this without the redness, peeling, and swelling you'd typically experience from retinoids like retinol.


In fact, dermatologists recommend it for dry and sensitive skin that can't tolerate retinol. But don't feel left out if you have oily and acne-prone skin, because research has shown that bakuchiol also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can prevent acne. The only downside is that it's not the most effective at unclogging your pores like retinol is, but since bakuchiol is gentler, you can employ the help of another product for that.

How do you use bakuchiol?

The beauty of bakuchiol is that it's pretty much fuss-free. It is effective in serums, moisturizers, eye creams, or even face and body oils as long as the product has a high enough concentration of it. Since it's a natural ingredient and antioxidant, it doesn't make you extra photosensitive like retinol does. Meaning, you can use it both in the day and night without worrying about overexfoliating.

It won't clash with other acids either—feel free to combine it with ingredients like salicylic acid for stronger acne-fighting action and glycolic acid for extra texture improvement. Last but not the least, bakuchiol can be used by pregnant and lactating women!

What skincare products contain bakuchiol?

At this point, we're hoping you're as sold about using bakuchiol as we are. Check out the products below if you can't wait to add it to your routine!

1. Bybi Beauty Bakuchiol Booster

This small 15ml bottle only has two ingredients—1% bakuchiol and olive oil-derived squalane. It's called a booster because you add a few drops to any of your skincare products for a nourishing and smoothing boost.

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Bybi Beauty Bakuchiol Booster, P935, 
PHOTO BY Sephora

BYBI BEAUTY Bakuchiol Booster, P935,

2. The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer

The plant-based retinol alternative is the star ingredient of this lightweight moisturizer with squalane and inchi oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that prevent inflammation.

The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer
PHOTO BY Sephora

THE INKEY LIST Bakuchiol Moisturizer, P690,

3. Herbivore Botanicals Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum

The product's name says it all—it's a serum with bakuchiol that'll give you the skin-smoothing action sans the retinol. Another plus point? It's water-based, in case you're looking for a lightweight alternative for oily skin.

Herbivore Botanicals Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum
PHOTO BY Sephora

HERBIVORE BOTANICALS Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum, P3335,

4. Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum

Fight fine lines and dark spots with this nourishing, squalane oil-based serum formulated with bakuchiol and niacinamide (a brightening ingredient). It's free of synthetic fragrance and mineral oil, so those with dry and sensitive skin might want to look into it.

Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
PHOTO BY Sephora

BIOSSANCE Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum, P4475,

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