Retinol has long dominated the skincare game when it comes to brightening and smoothing complexion, but now bakuchiol is drawing comparisons to the vitamin A derivative. The best part? The natural, plant-based skincare ingredient doesn’t dry out or irritate skin like retinol, so it’s safe for sensitive skin (and even encouraged by dermatologists).
What is bakuchiol?
“Bakuchiol is extracted from the leaves and seeds of the babchi plant (psoralea corylifolia) which grows on the Indian subcontinent and has historically been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing treatments,” says Dr. Robert Schwarcz, oculofacial plastic surgeon. and founder of skincare brand Orvos Skin Science. He notes that its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are calming and restorative for the skin.
Since it comes from the babchi plant, it is often labeled as a vegan or natural alternative to retinol. But according to experts, it’s not accurate to call it a vegan or natural retinol – read on to find out why.
Bakuchiol vs Retinol
Dr. Shereene Idriss, founder of Idriss Dermatology in New York and creator of the #pillowtalkderm series on Instagram, explains that bakuchiol “behaves on the skin in the same way as retinol, which is very well established and a superstar of skincare, but chemically they are not similar at all, so it is not correct to say that bakuchiol is “natural retinol”.
In detail on the chemistry, Idriss explains that retinol and bakuchiol similarly stimulate collagen production and downregulate MNPS, “which is basically a metalloproteinase matrix and the enzyme that attacks the collagen in our skin”. In other words, they both change the way the skin produces collagen, which results in plumper, brighter skin and a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.
Like retinol, you’ll find bakuchiol in a wide range of skincare products, from moisturizers to eye creams to facial oils and more.
Start Your Bakuchiol Skincare Routine
Bakuchiol can be used on its own, or for those who are retinol-tolerant, it can be combined with the anti-aging ingredient – and experts say it’s even a good idea to do so. “Bakuchiol can help stabilize retinol, which can be very unstable and difficult to formulate,” says Idriss.
“Using bakuchiol and retinol together can help you achieve a healthier, fresher complexion,” says Amy Peterson, medical esthetician and founder of Miami medspa Skincare by Amy Peterson. “Using the two together helps prevent wrinkles and stimulates collagen production.”
If you use both retinol and bakuchiol in your routine, Peterson suggests using a bakuchiol product during the day because it won’t sensitize your skin to the sun, and a retinol product at night. And if you alternate the days you use retinol products, you can use bakuchiol on days you don’t apply retinol to continue getting the collagen-boosting benefits.
As with most products, consistency is key, and Peterson says you’ll start to see visible results from using bakuchiol after six to 12 weeks of regular bakuchiol skincare use.
Creams targeted eye moisturizers daily, 14 bakuchiol find products to try below.
Best bakuchiol skin care products
OleHenriksen Glow Cycle Retin-Alt Power Serum
$60 at Sephora
This AHA and bakuchiol day serum from OleHenriksen is one of Idriss’ picks. Gentle glycolic and lactic acids refine skin, while bakuchiol reduces fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging. Because of the AHAs, you’ll want to make sure to wear SPF during the day.
Orvos Skin Care Satin Eye Gel-Cream
$110 at Orvos Skin Care
For targeted treatment, Schwarcz recommends this eye cream from its own line, which treats dark circles and fine lines and features a cooling massage applicator. With natural extracts of green tea, arabica coffee seeds and kakadu plum, bakuchiol is a main ingredient. “The bakuchiol targets dullness and uneven texture, while the extra green tea helps calm irritation, soothe redness, and depuff with natural caffeine,” says Schwarcz.
Pangea Organics Super Antioxidant Oil
$58 at Pangea Organics
This plant-based face oil contains six active antioxidants and oils, including bakuchiol, sqaulane and rosehip oil, to lock in moisture and soothe the skin.
Graydon Phyto Clear
$49 at Credo
This lightweight moisturizing gel cream doubles down on plant-based retinol alternatives, blending bakuchiol with butterfly bean extract, which similarly targets fine lines and wrinkles by boosting collagen and cell turnover.
Indeed Labs Bakuchiol Reface Pads
$19.99 on Amazon
An Idriss favorite, these pads make it easy to incorporate bakuchiol into your skincare routine. Simply glide one over your face after cleansing and continue with your normal regimen.
Paula’s Choice Treatment 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol
$56 of Paula’s choice
For those who can tolerate retinol, the anti-aging ingredient is combined with bakuchiol in this lotion to increase collagen and diminish the appearance of wrinkles.
Mukti Organics Age Defiance Day Serum
$100 at peak
Antioxidants and peptides plump skin while bakuchiol exerts its anti-aging powers for smoother, more supple skin. It is suggested to use this bakuchiol serum during the day and a retinol treatment at night to maximize results.
Superhue Tinted Hyperpigmentation Serum Stick Live
$34 at Ulta
Containing 5% niacinamide to even out skin tone, 1% bakuchiol to boost firmness and 1% vitamin C THD to treat dark spots, this balm-serum stick can help improve hyperpigmentation.
Furtuna Skin Renewing Night Cream
$285 at Furtuna Skin
Formulated to work best while you sleep, which is when your skin’s cell renewal is most active, this night cream combines bakuchiol with ashwagandha and ceramides to help skin repair and recover. rebalance.
BYBI Beauty 1% Bakuchiol + Olive Squalane Oil Booster
$10 at Credo
An affordable option, this booster serum can be mixed with moisturizer or other skincare products to add the skin-refining benefits of bakuchiol.
Beautycounter Countertime Tripeptide Glow Serum
$87 at Beautycounter
With over 3,000 5-star reviews, this serum is a cocktail of skin-saving ingredients like glycerin, tripeptide, squalane, and amino acids. For an extra boost, bakuchiol is paired with Swiss Alpine Rose, which helps defend the skin against free radicals.
Carter + Jane The Everything Oil Restorative Sleep Mask
$98 at Carter + Jane
This oil-based repair mask contains bakuchiol, organic Moroccan prickly pear seed oil, Turkish pomegranate seed oil and Bulgarian lavender oil to nourish and plump the skin.
Herbivore Moon Fruit 1% Bakuchiol + Retinol Peptides Serum Alternative
$60 at Sephora
Bakuchiol and peptides plump skin and improve the appearance of wrinkles without the irritation of retinol in this herbal serum.
Avène RetrinAL Advanced Corrective Serum
$78 at Avene
Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide help plump and brighten skin alongside the anti-aging properties of bakuchiol in this daily serum.