What Is Bakuchiol and How Does It Stack Up To Retinol?

What is bakuchiol? ISDIN Melatonik
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Sometimes a hot new ingredient comes onto the skincare scene with a ton of buzz, and then quickly fades out. But, if you’ve noticed bakuchiol popping up in your newsfeeds lately, take note that this reparative super ingredient has got staying power. 

The gentle, plant-based retinol alternative is making waves in anti-aging favorites around the world: leaving some skincare enthusiasts to question the use of bakuchiol vs. retinol in their daily routines.

Let’s discuss bakuchiol, how it stacks up against retinol, and how both can get you glowing.

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What is bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol (say it with us: buh-koo-chee-all) extract is naturally derived from the seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia, more commonly known as the babchi plant. 

Rooted in traditional Eastern medicine and touted for its healing properties for centuries, it’s recently gone mainstream in skincare via restorative facial serums. And luckily for our friends with sensitive skin, it’s now widely considered a gentle, plant-based retinol alternative.

How does bakuchiol work?

Bakuchiol contributes its coveted anti-aging properties to its sway with your body’s natural regenerative processes. By helping to accelerate skin’s turnover, this dermatologist-recommended ingredient promotes a fresh and smooth complexion. 

The appearance of skin aging is heavily affected by oxidative stress on the skin, from internal and external environmental factors. Bakuchiol helps to charge up skin’s resistance to both types of stressors. This noteworthy ingredient also helps even skin’s tone and increase luminosity, making it a great addition to dark spot correcting skincare routines. 

Bakuchiol helps to accelerate skin turnover, promoting a fresh and smooth complexion.

Ok, but will it improve my skin?

Skeptics take heed, this hero ingredient has got the science to back it up. 

One clinical study from the British Journal of Dermatology showed that on top of helping to improve wrinkle depth, bakuchiol also softened pigment intensity after 12 weeks of application.1

Benefits of bakuchiol

This retinol-like essential has three major benefits: 

  1. Improves skin’s turnover: Helps to combat the visible signs of photoaging, increasing skin’s bounce and improving texture.
  2. Reduces the appearance of fine lines: Supports skin processes to boost elasticity and firmness, while combating the appearance of wrinkles.
  3. Evens skin tone: Gives skin a healthy glow and helps to fight uneven pigmentation.
What is bakuchiol? Gentle retinol alternative | ISDIN Melatonik

What is retinol?

The ubiquitous ingredient is a derivative of vitamin A — one of the main vitamins that helps uplift your skin’s turnover. As opposed to lesser-known bakuchiol, retinol has been on the global skincare scene since the ‘70s. Praised by dermatologists and users alike for its skin-renewing properties, it helps to tackle the visible effects of photoaging.

But balance is key when it comes to introducing this skincare rockstar into your routine. Retinol can be irritating if used in high concentrations, on sensitive skin, or incorrectly. So, it’s best to introduce it slowly in a low concentration to start, and work your way up. 

Bakuchiol vs. retinol: is bakuchiol better?

Ingredient preference always varies by skin type and concern. In a study on sensitive skin types, bakuchiol was proven both tolerable and effective in promoting a healthier appearance of photodamaged skin.2 Overall, the positive spin on retinol’s gentle alternative is its potential for similar results, with fewer undesirable effects.

Skin photosensitivity is one drawback well known to retinol-enthusiasts, meanwhile, Bakuchiol hasn’t been widely reported to cause photosensitivity.1 So, if your skin can’t tolerate retinol, take a bakuchiol serum on a test run.

But, do you really need to choose one over the other? Since the structure of the popular vitamin A-derivative and natural plant-derived alternative differ, try combining them to address all of your anti-aging skin concerns.

Try combining retinol and bakuchiol to address all of your anti-aging skin concerns.

How to use bakuchiol in your skincare routine

Working bakuchiol into your skincare routine is simple. If you choose a serum, make sure to apply it after your cleanser and eye contour cream.

While there’s no issue with using bakuchiol in the AM (before applying broad-spectrum sunscreen), remember how we said it helps skin’s turnover? This restorative power makes your evening skincare routine the optimal time for use. And always on clean, dry skin.

Is it right for my skin?

Not all bakuchiol products are created equal. Make sure to choose a gentle, restorative formula that’s suitable for your skin type. Double-check that it’s non-comedogenic, meaning it’ll get the job done without clogging pores.

Now it’s time to find out more for yourself! Try adding our reparative bakuchiol serum into your evening routine. After adding Melatonik™ into your nighttime ritual consistently, you’ll notice a rejuvenated, hydrated complexion. 

ISDINceutics Melatonik™ Overnight recovery serum | Melatonin, Vitamin C, bakuchiol serum

And remember, bakuchiol vs. retinol doesn’t have to be either or – these two super skincare ingredients can be besties after all. Choose one, the other, or both, and get glowing!

(1)Dhaliwal, S., Rybak, I., Ellis, S. R., Notay, M., Trivedi, M., Burney, W., Vaughn, A. R., Nguyen, M., Reiter, P., Bosanac, S., Yan, H., Foolad, N., & Sivamani, R. K. (2018). Prospective, randomized, double‐blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. In British Journal of Dermatology (Vol. 180, Issue 2, pp. 289–296). Wiley.
(2)Hemali Gunt, Zoe Diana Draelos, Stanley B. Levy, 16091 Topical effects of a natural retinol alternative: A clinical assessment of bakuchiol on sensitive skin, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Volume 83, Issue 6, Supplement, 2020, Page AB171, ISSN 0190-9622.
Michael, S. (2019, February 15). Everything you need to know about Bakuchiol, the buzzy ingredient that’s being compared to Retinol | CBC Life. CBCnews. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
Chaudhuri, R.K. and Bojanowski, K. (2014), Bakuchiol: a retinol-like functional compound revealed by gene expression profiling and clinically proven to have anti-aging effects. Int J Cosmet Sci, 36: 221-230.
Valenti, L. (2018, July 12). A beginner’s guide to retinol: Here’s everything you need to know. Vogue. Retrieved October 25, 2021.

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Article written and reviewed by:

Amy is a content strategist who turned a part-time obsession with skincare into a full-time passion. Her experience as a creative storyteller includes a range of lifestyle and technology topics across Washington D.C. and Barcelona. What's in her travel bag? Eye contour cream and sunscreen, always.

Medical Communication Manager

In addition to ten years as a primary care doctor, Aurora has over 23 years of experience developing and communicating healthcare products, most recently in dermo-cosmetics. She has co-authored many publications in dermatological journals and spoken at international health & beauty conferences. Ref: Colegio de Medicos de Madrid numero 282840102

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