By Emma Stessman

Bakuchiol is great for anyone with sensitive skin.

When it comes to anti-aging ingredients, retinol is the gold standard. The skin care powerhouse is featured in many serums and creams that promise to reduce the appearance of fine lines and signs of aging. And while experts agree that it can be a helpful tool for tackling those issues, it can also come with some unfortunate side effects like redness and dryness, especially for those with sensitive skin.

If you’ve struggled to get past the retinol-induced irritation, bakuchiol (buh-koo-chee-all) could be a good alternative. Often called “nature’s retinol” the plant-based ingredient has been popping up in an increasing number of beauty product labels recently. So we tapped Dr. Jordan C. Carqueville, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of The Derm Institute of Chicago to get all the details on the trendy ingredient.

What is Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol is a phytochemical that comes from the leaves and stems of the babchi plant (psoralea corylifolia), which has long been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. When applied to the skin, its effects are similar to those of retinol, Carqueville said. Like its vitamin A-derived counterpart, bakuchiol can help boost collagen production, making your skin look tighter and plumper.
”As we age, our fibroblasts become senescent, so they stop producing as much collagen,” Carqueville said. Retinoids and bakuchiol can help counteract that. “When you use topicals like these, you stimulate these cells to become alive again … that means that you’re growing new cells, and your skin is supple and tighter. It helps to reduce photodamage as well because you’re stimulating those cells.” For the same reason, bakuchiol can also help reduce the appearance of static wrinkles, which are caused by loss of collagen and elasticity.
As an added bonus, the ingredient exfoliates that top layer of the skin, which can help improve brightness, she said. It’s also an antioxidant, so it fights damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure.

While retinol delivers similar benefits, it usually comes with an adjustment period, during which time your skin may be red, flaky and dry while it gets used to the ingredient. With bakuchiol, there’s less risk of irritation, Carqueville said, although experts aren’t entirely sure why.

The ingredient can be used to both prevent and help treat age-related skin issues, and could be a good option for anyone who’s looking to brighten their skin, fade pigmentation, and boost collagen production, Carqueville said. You should always be applying SPF daily, but just like with retinol, when using bakuchiol, it’s important to be mindful of sun exposure and apply sunscreen regularly, as it could make you more susceptible to burns.

By Emma Stessman October 2021