Bakuchiol: The 411 On This Botanical Skincare Ingredient

Get to know this retinol alternative

Is bakuchiol really great for skin and can it topple retinol as an anti-ager?

We all love retinol — it prevents acne, stimulates collagen production, and keep fine lines at bay. But as great as it may be, retinol has one major flaw: it can be irritating to those with sensitive skin. Even those who have a more tolerant skin type also report dryness and peeling especially during the first few applications.

Luckily, many brands are now incorporating a new gentler alternative called Bakuchiol. It's been proven to deliver retinol-like effects sans the harshness and is being studied as a possible cancer treatment. Curious? Keep reading to know more about this hot skincare ingredient.

It's 100% vegan

Bakuchiol is purely plant-based, which makes it great for those who don't want to use animal-derived skincare ingredients. Psoralea corylifolia, the plant which Bakuchiol is extracted from, has actually been used in traditional Ayurveda practices and Chinese medicine for many years for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties long before its retinol-like effects were explored.

Its side effects are less harsh

Bakuchiol functions the same way as retinol. It encourages cell turnover and stimulates collagen to reveal fresh skin that will keep the complexion smooth and clear. Although Bakuchiol is a gentler ingredient, this process will still make your skin more photosensitive and may still cause some peeling. In other words, the side effects will still be there. But, it's significantly dialled down compared to using retinol. 

Studies about Bakuchiol are limited

Even though there's a lot of buzz around Bakuchiol, the truth is that studies about this promising skincare ingredient are still in its infancy. Unlike retinol, which has been thoroughly studied through the years, we have yet to discover the long-term effects of using Bakuchiol. But still, the study published by the British Journal of Dermatology, which concluded that "bakuchiol is comparable with retinol in its ability to improve photo ageing and is better tolerated than retinol" is still impressive. But just like any other skincare trends, practising caution in using this ingredient is still a must. Never forget to do patch testing first!

It may not be a sustainable alternative

Yes, Bakuchiol is vegan and cruelty-free but here's the catch — Psoralea corylifolia is an endangered plant. So while this alternative may be good news for us, it's not so much a treat for the sustainability movement. However, some processes like in-vitro micropropagation are being studied to find a way to both prevent this plant from becoming further endangered and meet the demand of the consumers. 

(Cover photo from: @herbivorebotanicals)

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