I'm still having a hard time pronouncing "bakuchiol," let alone spelling it from memory, but every single time I see it pop up on a skincare product's ingredient list (which is quite a lot these days), I get excited. Because for as much as a tongue-twister it is, bakuchiol reaps some seriously intriguing anti-aging benefits for sensitive skin.
Touted as nature's retinol, the ingredient — which is found in the seeds and leaves of the Asian plant Psoralea corylifolia — acts nearly identical to the vitamin A derivative, but comes without the common irritating and drying side effects.
"Bakuchiol does not chemically resemble retinols and retinoids, but it is shown through lab studies, genetic expression, and clinical application to the skin to induce many of the same anti-aging changes as the vitamin A derivatives we as dermatologists have loved for decades," explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Melanie Palm.
This means bakuchiol has been shown to improve the appearance of skin texture, photo-aging, and wrinkles, as well as rejuvenate the expression of collagen in the skin. And as we mentioned before, Dr. Palm says that it also tends to creates less dryness, redness and irritation compared to retinols, making it ideal even for those with dry or rosacea-prone skin.
Another major difference to retinol? It's stable to the effect of light and oxidative stress — because of this, it might actually be able to stabilize retinols so that both ingredients can work together in synergy for better results. But even though it causes less irritation and doesn't break down under light, Dr. Palm still suggests using a serum or cream with bakuchiol at night and only once in a 24-hour period.
"As nighttime skincare can exploit the increased skin absorption, temperature, circulation, and reparative mechanisms, evening application of bakuchiol is ideal to help with skin rejuvenation," she explains.
The Best Bakuchiol Serums
There are a number of popular skincare products that contain the retinol-alternative, but bakuchiol is most commonly found in serums. Let us take you through our faves.
Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum
First, Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum. In addition to smoothing skin, this serum contains PHAs (polyhydroxy acids), another buzzy ingredient that’s a gentle alternative to other chemical exfoliant. These acids gently exfoliate and hydrate to improve overall texture.
Biossane Squalane + Phyto Retinol Serum
Thanks to squalane and hyaluronic acid, Biossance’s Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum hydrates and plumps skin on top of treating signs of aging.
Omorovicza Miracle Facial Oil
Omorovicza’s Miracle Facial Oil contains a blend of essential oils that work in tandem with backuchiol to keep skin moisturized, firm, and smooth.
ISDIN Melatonik 2-in-1 Night Serum
ISDIN’s MELATONIK 2-in-1 Night Serum is also formulated with another buzzy ingredient: melatonin. In skincare products, it protects against free radicals from UV and pollution. Vitamin C works as backup by providing further defense against fine lines and wrinkles.
Beautycounter Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum
Beautycounter’s Countertime anti-aging line is built around backuchiol as a hero ingredient. Included in the lineup is the standout Tripeptide Radiance Serum. A lightweight product that strengthens the skin’s barrier for an overall more hydrated, smooth, and glowy complexion.
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