Retinol has dominated the skincare world for a long time, thanks to its treatment of fine lines, breakouts, and dark spots.
In fact, if you looked at any skincare fanatic’s collection, you’re likely to spot several retinol-based products, and for good reason – it’s the go-to ingredient for those looking to reverse the signs of aging and helps drive the production of collagen.
However, retinol also has its downsides. All that turbo-regeneration can cause dryness, redness and even inflammation if you have sensitive skin.
This is where bakuchiol [pronounced buh-koo-chee-all] takes centre stage. The popularity of this less irritating, and vegan-friendly alternative has skyrocketed, but what is bakuchiol, and how does it benefit your skin?
The science of bakuchiol
Bakuchiol is a natural skincare ingredient found in the leaves and seeds of the babchi plant [Psoralea Corylifolia]. With roots in Chinese and Indian medicine, research shows that topical application has unique benefits for all skin types.
This plant-based skincare ingredient promises the same transformative powers as retinol, only without the risk of irritation, and is a favourable alternative for those wishing to shop vegan, clean, or in consideration of conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis.
A powerful antioxidant, bakuchiol works through the same receptors that retinol uses. It reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and tackles loss of firmness by targeting free radicals that are responsible for breaking down our skin’s collagen.
The boost in cellular regeneration and collagen production leads to renewed firmness and elasticity, as well as tackling hyperpigmentation and discolouration from potentially damaging environmental stressors, resulting in a more even skin tone.
With its soothing properties, bakuchiol could also help those with acne-prone skin, in addition to skin that is beginning to show signs of ageing.
Advantages over retinol
Retinol has its benefits, but one of its major pitfalls is being unsuitable for pregnant women.
Unlike its predecessor, bakuchiol is not a vitamin A derivative. Large amounts of vitamin A can be harmful to unborn babies, and while some experts say there’s not yet quite enough evidence to confirm either way, most agree that bakuchiol is safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Another pitfall of retinol is the harsh effects it can have on skin, where long-term use can also lead to reduced efficacy. To achieve the same, smooth results, you can only go up in application strength, and studies have shown that side effects can be as serious as burning, scaling, and dermatitis.
This isn’t exactly good news for people committed to their skincare routine, particularly those with underlying sensitivity. But could bakuchiol be the answer?
In a recent study, researchers from California, Michigan, Florida, and Pennsylvania found signs of reduced wrinkles and hyperpigmentation after 12 weeks of using bakuchiol, whereas those who used retinol noticed the same effects, but also reported more skin scaling and stinging.
Using both ingredients
Bakuchiol is a new addition to the world of skincare, and it’s natural for those that have relied heavily on retinol to be sceptical of using something different.
While bakuchiol is beneficial on its own, it can also improve the effects of retinol when mixed, as it can help stabilise retinol and keep it effective for longer.
It’s ideal for regular users, as you don’t need to increase application strength in order to get the incremental benefits. What’s more, for those with sensitive skin, bakuchiol’s calming abilities may even enable skin to tolerate retinol in higher amounts, leading to a reduced risk of irritation.
If you’ve decided to make the switch to bakuchiol over retinol, make sure you’re applying the product[s] correctly to get the best results.
Apply in order from thinnest to thickest, so if you’re opting for a bakuchiol based serum, use this before your moisturiser. Unlike retinol, which is photosensitive and can only be applied at night-time, bakuchiol can be applied at any time of day.
And if you, like us, are tired of remembering the right layering order or looking for all-in-1 take a look at our All Eye Need eye concentrate, and concentrated night oil, like Oil I Dream Of. Products formulated for nighttime do the work so you don’t have to, and you can rest easy knowing that you’re taking care of your skin with very little effort.
While bakuchiol doesn’t require SPF, it’s recommended that you should follow up with SPF 30 no matter what product you use.
Experts have long said that retinol is one of the three vital skin ingredients we really need, alongside vitamin C and SPF. But could there be room for a fourth?
Bakuchiol is rapidly becoming the new buzzword in skincare. Providing the benefits of retinol without the risk of irritation, it’s clear to see why an increasing number of brands are making it a permanent fixture on their ingredients list.