What is Bakuchiol?

What is Bakuchiol?

When it comes to anti-aging skincare, almost everyone is familiar with the big “R”—retinoids. However, harsh retinoids aren’t the only wrinkle fighters making a name for themselves in the skincare world. For sensitive skin, the big “B” has entered the ring—bakuchiol.

Natural ingredients have gained popularity in skin care products, from aloe vera and green tea to papaya benefits for skin. and the The newest addition to the natural ingredients list is bakuchiol. A gentle plant extract, bakuchiol is the latest skincare powerhouse. This topical ingredient rejuvenates skin similarly to retinoids, minus all the pesky side effects. Whether you’re facing wrinkles, acne, or hyperpigmentation, bakuchiol could be the key to your best skin yet.

If you’re curious to learn more about this natural skincare wonder, keep reading for our expert guide on everything bakuchiol, including:

  • Bakuchiol 101: How it Works
  • Bakuchiol Skin Benefits
  • Bakuchiol Side Effects
  • Bakuchiol vs. Retinol
  • How to Use Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol 101: How it Works

Even if you’re a skincare aficionado, you might be wondering—what is bakuchiol

We don’t blame you. Even though traditional medicine has used bakuchiol for centuries, it’s relatively new on the skincare market. Luckily, bakuchiol is finally getting the attention it deserves. Let’s dive into the history, content, and mechanism of this plant extract.

Bakuchiol History & Content

Bakuchiol may be new to drugstore shelves, but this magical plant is old news to traditional Eastern medicine—and modern skincare is just catching up.

For centuries, Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have used the leaves of the babchi plant to soothe skin. The power of babchi leaves comes from their precious phytochemical, bakuchiol. When applied topically, this antioxidant plant extract can improve your skin’s:

  • Texture
  • Collagen production
  • Wound healing
  • Hydration
  • Discoloration
  • Antibacterial protection
  • Inflammatory response

Like with many natural ingredients, modern science is just catching up to traditional medicine’s history with bakuchiol. Now, research can prove just why this plant extract has stuck around for centuries as a skincare treasure.

How Bakuchiol Works

The reason experts compare bakuchiol and retinoids all the time? Well, because they work very similarly on your skin.

Bakuchiol and retinoids both increase skin cell turnover. When applied, these topical ingredients encourage new skin cells to replace dead skin cells. The result? Renewed and refreshed skin. 

Unlike retinoids, bakuchiol is an antioxidant. This means bakuchiol can protect your body against free radicals (unstable and oxidizing atoms) that age your skin, preventing those fine lines from appearing. For many people, free radicals can accumulate from everyday sources like:

  • Tobacco
  • Drug use
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Radiation
  • Chemical carcinogens 

By increasing cell turnover and capturing free radicals, bakuchiol delivers a one-two punch. Compared to chemical or synthetic alternatives, it’s the real deal (if not better).

Bakuchiol Skin Benefits

Fewer wrinkles? Glowier skin? Less acne? When it comes to bakuchiol, the pros appear to be endless—and they just might be. Whatever your skin concern might be, consider adding bakuchiol to your anti aging skin care routine, regular skin care routine,  or as a retinol alternative, and here's why.

Bakuchiol may seem too good to be true, but research supports the hype. From flaky to pimply, nearly every skin type could improve from its skin cell turnover and antioxidant powers. 

To start, this natural plant extract offers incredible benefits like: 

  • Wrinkle reduction – As we age, our skin’s fibroblasts start to produce less collagen, a vital skin protein. This leads to a loss of volume and elasticity, creating tell-tale signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging. Bakuchiol’s skin cell renewal can slow this effect, stimulating cells to produce more collagen. With regular use, you may be able to stall (and even reverse) those fine lines across your forehead.  
  • Even tone – Known as hyperpigmentation, those pesky dark spots on your skin are likely to increase with age. Luckily, bakuchiol can help. By shedding dead skin cells, this extract gently fades sunspots, age spots, and other discolorations. One study showed that applying bakuchiol twice per day led to significant hyperpigmentation reduction after 12 weeks.
  • UV damage repair – Unlike retinoids, bakuchiol doesn’t increase sun sensitivity. In fact, its skin-boosting powers might erase signs of UV-ray damage altogether. Current research shows that topical bakuchiol can help reduce sun-induced skin aging like ptosis (sagging) and cell deformation.
  • Acne healing – Soothing and nourishing, bakuchiol can also tame unruly breakouts. The ingredient’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties heal irritated comedones, while increased skin cell turnover stops dead skin from further blocking pores. When used twice per day, one study found that bakuchiol reduced mild to moderate acne lesions in 12 weeks. 
  • Brighter texture – Another benefit of faster skin cell turnover? That youthful glow. By encouraging dead skin cells to shed, bakuchiol helps to reduce dull appearances. When used consistently, you may notice your skin shining more brightly than before. 
  • Anti-aging – If you’d like to pause the clock on aging skin, consider looking to bakuchiol to lend a hand. The extract’s skin renewing and antioxidant mechanisms fight off countless skin agers, from free radicals to sun damage. Other natural ingredients,including aloe vera for wrinkle and skin firmness, have shown the importance and benefits of adding them to our skin care routines for anti-aging.

Bakuchiol Side Effects

When it comes to skincare products, active ingredients seem to come with equal numbers of side effects and benefits. Bakuchiol, however, is the kind of anomaly we love to see. 

Currently, no research shows that bakuchiol creates any noticeable side effects. Compared to other topicals like retinoids, this is a major advantage. Due to their drying nature, most retinoids require an adjustment period for your skin to resolve initial side effects, like:

  • Irritation
  • Flaking
  • Redness
  • Dryness
  • “Purging” or excess acne 
  • Stinging

Unlike retinoids, bakuchiol does not decrease sebum production or oil gland size. The result? Less irritating side effects with the same rejuvenated skin—it’s a win-win.

Bakuchiol vs. Retinoids

With bakuchiol’s strong yet soothing effects, you might wonder why anyone would choose retinoids. To answer, let’s do a side-by-side comparison of these skin rejuvenators.

Most skin types are expected to respond well to bakuchiol, thanks to its lack of side effects, and is a great retinoid and retinol alternative. Despite that, some people may prefer the concentrated strength of retinoids. In the end, it may come down to genetics and your personal skincare needs. 

Consider these factors when choosing between bakuchiol and retinoids:

  • Strength – You might think chemical retinol would prove stronger than its natural alternative, bakuchiol. But when tested at the same concentration, retinol and bakuchiol equally reduced wrinkles and hyperpigmentation over 12 weeks.  One exception? Retinal, the highly active variant of retinoids. These vitamin A derivatives push skin cell turnover to maximum levels, which might work better for severe acne or aging signs.
  • Side effects – If your skin is easily susceptible to irritation, then bakuchiol is the way to go. Compared to retinoids, bakuchiol is a gentle solution. Retinoid side effects (stinging, peeling, redness) can last anywhere from two to six weeks. Remember that the higher the concentration of retinoids, the higher the potential for side effects.
  • Pregnancy danger – As a vitamin A derivative, retinoids may actually be risky for pregnant women. Whether ingested or applied topically, these chemical ingredients could malform developing fetuses. To be safe, choose bakuchiol over retinoids when pregnant.
  • Sun sensitivity – No matter the state of your skin, everyone should put sun sensitivity on their radar. UV damage is a primary skin antagonist, damaging skin cells in as little as five minutes. If you’re particularly sensitive to sunlight, consider avoiding retinoids. These topicals increase sun sensitivity, while bakuchiol does not. No matter your choice, always apply a facial sunscreen of at least 30 SPF in the morning to keep UV rays at bay. 
  • Product variety – While it certainly has a promising future, bakuchiol is fairly new to the skincare market. Compared to retinoids, there just aren’t as many bakuchiol products or concentration options out there. For greater variety, look to retinoids. 
  • Antioxidant properties – Both retinoids and bakuchiol boost skin cell turnover for healthier, more youthful-looking skin. However, only bakuchiol has the power of antioxidants. If regularly exposed to free radicals, then bakuchiol’s antioxidant properties may offer additional support to your skin.
  • Counteractions – When using retinoids, you have to avoid similarly harsh skincare ingredients like AHA/BHA acids, vitamin C, and benzoyl peroxide. On the flipside, bakuchiol has no known negative reactions to other skincare ingredients or chemicals. 

How to Use Bakuchiol

So, how does bakuchiol fit into your daily routine? The answer is—pretty simply!

Across the skincare market, most bakuchiol products come in concentrations from 0.5% to 2.0%. Since bakuchiol has so few side effects, a higher concentration is tolerable for most skin types.  In fact, bakuchiol’s gentleness means you can apply it more frequently than retinoids for maximum benefits. If using daily, experts recommend applying bakuchiol:

  • Once or twice per day (depending on preference)
  • After cleansing
  • Before applying a moisturizer or serum
  • In an absorbable form, such as a bakuchiol oil or serum

If you’re new to bakuchiol, test out the product for yourself with a mixed serum formula or a one-time mask. Everybody’s skin reacts differently to new ingredients, so it’s okay to start slow. 

HPPY Skin—Your Path to Natural Beauty

Consider bakuchiol to be nature’s retinoid. Backed by ancient wisdom and modern science, its anti-aging and protective powers are just finding the spotlight—and rightfully so. Like we mentioned earlier, bakuchio is amazing in encouraging more collage production and improving skin texture, so it’s definitely worth adding to the skin care products list. To achieve rejuvenated skin without all the harsh chemicals, seek out this plant extract for your skincare routine. 

Unsure where to look for high-quality, all-natural products? HPPY Skin has your back (and face). 

As clean beauty experts, we believe everyone deserves nourished and healthy skin. That’s why HPPY Skin ditches preservatives and chemicals in favor of natural, plant-based ingredients. Combined with our cutting-edge coldwater HPP technology, we create clean skincare that’s both safe and effective for all. Start your natural skincare journey today. Unlock your inner—and outer—shine tomorrow. 


Sources: 

Allure. No, You Don't Need That Much SPF (and 3 Other SPF Myths Busted).  https://www.allure.com/story/spf-and-beauty-product-myths

Allure. What Is Bakuchiol? The Retinol Alternative, Explained. https://www.allure.com/story/what-is-bakuchiol-retinol-alternative

Byrdie. Bakuchiol: The New, Natural Alternative to Retinol. https://www.byrdie.com/what-is-bakuchiol

Dove Press. Efficacy of a Dermocosmetic Serum Combining Bakuchiol and Vanilla Tahitensis Extract to Prevent Skin Photoaging in vitro and to Improve Clinical Outcomes for Naturally Aged Skin. https://www.dovepress.com/efficacy-of-a-dermocosmetic-serum-combining-bakuchiol-and-vanilla-tahi-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-CCID

Healthline. 9 Retinol FAQs: How to Safely Use It, Benefits, Side Effects, More. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/is-retinol-safe

InStyle. The Dos and Don'ts of Mixing Skincare Ingredients. https://www.instyle.com/beauty/mixing-skincare-ingredients

NCBI. A Clinical Study Evaluating the Efficacy of Topical Bakuchiol (UP256) Cream on Facial Acne.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33683079/ 

NCBI. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/

NCBI. How much sun is too much https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK321117/

NCBI. Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29947134/

NCBI. Safety of skin care products during pregnancy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114665/

Wiley Online Library. Bakuchiol: a retinol-like functional compound revealed by gene expression profiling and clinically proven to have anti-aging effects. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ics.12117


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