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Bakuchiol - is it the best thing since retinol?

Move aside vitamin A, this gentle vegan ingredient is giving skin new life

Dermatologists have long considered retinol to be the gold-standard skincare ingredient when it comes to a youthful appearance.
Retinol in the form of vitamin A not only increases collagen but speeds up cell renewal – the result is that fine lines and wrinkles are visibly diminished, pigmentation is reduced and skin becomes firmer.

But despite these benefits, retinol has its downsides, often causing uncomfortable side effects such as dryness, flaking, redness and inflammation. This means that many of us, however slowly we introduce it into our skincare routine, will find it intolerable.

However the good news is there is now a natural alternative called bakuchiol which has been scientifically proven to have the same benefits of retinol, without the risk of skin aggravation.

What exactly is bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a vegan skincare ingredient derived from the seeds and leaves of the Eastern Asian ‘babchi’ plant, or psoralea corylifolia plant to give it its correct name.

It has been used for centuries as a mainstay of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic skin treatments as it has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Scientists have been taking an interest in it, and a 2018 study by the British Journal of Dermatology found that not only did bakuchiol work as well as retinol when it comes to addressing the signs of ageing, but thankfully it was also far less irritating.

What are the benefits of bakuchiol in skincare?

Although bakuchiol doesn’t have the same chemical make-up as retinol, the effect on the skin is remarkably similar, hence the term ‘retinol alternative’.

Its antioxidant and inflammatory properties brighten, even out skin texture, lessen fines fines, minimise enlarged pores and boost firmness. So all the same benefits as retinol but with less risk of irritation and skin sensitivity.

When should you use bakuchiol?

Although there’s no hard and fast rule about when you should start using bakuchiol, there’s no harm in starting to use it in your mid-twenties.

Not sure where to find it? With an increasing number of skincare products containing the ingredient, it’s now possible to find bakuchiol serums, oils and moisturisers.

Experts agree that amounts between 0.5-2 per cent are best to get visible benefits. Bakuchiol oil is great for dry, dehydrated skin, whereas oilier skins may prefer a lightweight lotion that layers easily with other products in your skincare routine.

A heavier, oil-based product is better applied at night as the last step in your routine, as it’s unlikely to layer so well under make-up.

Can you use it with other products?

Apart from dryness and flaking, retinol can also pose some problems when mixed with other skincare ingredients. Bakuchiol however, doesn’t have this problem so it’s fine to use alongside other products.

Another bonus is that unlike retinol, it doesn’t break down in the sun or make skin more sensitive to UV rays so can be used day and night. It has also shown to be effective for acne, and can be used alongside other spot-fighting ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.