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The Ultimate Guide To Bakuchiol And The Best Serums

by Katie Muirhead

May 14, 2021

If you are looking for an acne-fighting and anti-aging ingredient, but can't tolerate the irritation caused by traditional retinoids, chances are you've heard of Bakuchiol. In recent years there has been a boom in the market for the retinol-alternative ingredient, and where there is a rush there is bound to be controversy.

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Earlier this year the Bakuchiol content in different products on the market was indepentently tested by ingredient supplier Sytheon. To isolate and refine the Bakuchiol molecule is apparently a very specific and patented process, and there are products claiming a Bakuchiol content that are not sourcing from this supplier. Popular brand Herbivore's Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum was found to have barely any Bakuchiol at all, a claim the brand later firmly denied.

Nevertheless, it ignited a conversation around the ingredient. Whether you have had Bakuchiol on your radar for years, have only been introduced to it via this controversy, or are only learning about it now, Bakuchiol remains a firm buzz-word in the world of skincare.

What is Bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a compound isolated from the seeds and leaves of the Babchi plant (Psoralea corylifolia), a plant native to East Asia that has been long utilized in Ayurveda and Chinese systems of traditional medicine.

Although it has a different molecular structure than retinol, Bakuchiol is considered a true cosmetic retinol-alternative due to the comparable effect it has on the skin. This naturally-derived ingredient increases cell turnover to promote skin elasticity and soften fine lines, without the irritation and dryness that can come with traditional retinols.

Different to Babchi seed extract, Bakuchiol is a more pure isolate that is safely extracted specifically for use in cosmetic formulations.

How do you pronounce bakuchiol?

Buh-koo-chee-all!

Benefits of Bakuchiol

Clinical studies show that bakuchiol can be an effective ingredient to target the signs of aging and acne. Its retinol-like properties help improve the appearance of wrinkles and skin texture, while its antioxidant properties work to protect against the signs of aging caused by environmental stressors. The antibacterial effect and increased cell turnover from Bakuchiol can also help manage acne.

Perhaps the most appealing quality of Bakuchiol is its lack of irritating side-effects found in comparable retinols, such as irritation, redness, dryness or peeling. It is also a more sun-friendly ingredient: it isn't broken down by UV rays like retinol, it doesn't make the skin more photosensitive and susceptible to sun damage, and the antioxidant properties actually make it suitable to use in the morning.

The Best Bakuchiol Products

This lightweight moisturizer is formulated with 1% Bakuchiol to target the signs of aging, alongside acai sterols and squalane help to support skin’s natural protective barrier. This fragrance-free cream is suitable for sensitive skin, and with continued use can soften and smooth the skin and help minimize the appearance of fine lines.

This unique dual phase serum contains two layers: the top layer is an antioxidant rich essence and the bottom is a moisturizing serum blend. To apply, shake the product and apply the combination of anti-aging bakuchiol, antioxidant eggplant and turmeric, and hydrating jojoba oil.

This moisturizing cream aims to increase skin vitality and radiance, giving retinol results without the irritation. The nourishing formula combines natural retinoid properties with White Beggar's Tick Flower Extract and Microalgae extract to reduce fine lines, smooth and firm.

This potent overnight cream aims to combat dullness with a powerful combination of bakuchiol and alpha-hydroxy acids. Fine lines are targetted and diminished over time, and uneven skin tone is gently exfoliated overnight to brighten dark spots by morning.

Perfect for sensitive skin, this gentle serum combines backuchiol with hydrating hyaluronic acid and soothing niacinamide to effectively treat the signs of aging. Skin is left brighter, more plump, more even, and overall healthier looking.

This affordable cream provides anti-aging benefits in a lightweight formula. Perfect for layering, this moisturizer is a great option for morning use under makeup and sunscreen (and unlike retinol, won't be left inactive in sunlight!)

Unlike many bakuchiol products that are specifically formulated to avoid retinols, this treatment serum harnesses the ant-ageing power of both bakuchiol and retinol. A trio-blend of encapsulated retinol, bakuchiol and peptides target collagen-depleted skin to improve the appearnace of fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin tone. As retinol can be quite irritating, it's important to start slowly at 3 times per week (and of course, always wear sunscreen!)

A luxurious splurge, this rich facial oil is formulated to absorb quickly for both morning and evening use. The anti-aging power of bakuchiol is combined with highly nourishing sea buckthorn berry oil to rejuvinate the complexion. Antioxidant kelp extract helps protect the skin from environmental stressors, resulting in a vitamin-rich formula that promotes youthful-looking skin.

This lightweight serum harnesses the power of oxygen and hyaluronic acid, as well as retinol and the bio-retinol bakuchiol to visibly firm, refine, and brighten skin. While retinol has the potential to irritate the skin, the potent formula is designed to minimize any negative effects and effectively treat the look of pores, fine lines and wrinkles. The unique spray applicator makes it easy to quickly disperse and massage the treatment into your face.

Used alone or mixed into your favorite moisturizer, this potent nightime serum can add an anti-aging boost to your current routine. Bakuchiol targets rough or uneven skin texture, while olive squalane provides a hydrating boost for soft, supple skin (without the irritation).

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Katie Muirhead

Katie is an Australian-born, Brooklyn-based writer with a love for all things beauty. She believes that a holistic approach to health and skincare is the best concealer there is. She preaches that less is more when it comes to skincare and makeup, and that it's crucial to understand the science behind a product.

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