How Bakuchiol, aka Plant-Based Retinol, Benefits Your Skin

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When it comes to retinol, not everybody can tolerate it, but the good news is that there are a handful of retinol alternatives that have similar benefits without irritation and flakiness. One of these elements is bakuchiol — a nature-derived ingredient that infuses skin with myriad benefits, sans redness and dryness. This article will discuss all there is to know about bakuchiol, including its benefits, why it acts gentler than retinol, and how to use it, so stay tuned.

What is bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a natural extract derived from the Psoralea corylifolia plant, also called the babchi plant. It’s mostly known as plant-based retinol and has recently gotten more popular in the beauty world, particularly for its less irritating nature. According to studies, it targets the same cellular pathways and works through similar receptors targeted by retinol, which makes it a great alternative.[1] More precisely, bakuchiol is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging agent that promotes skin renewal by stimulating cell turnover — just like retinol but gentler. This means that while it acts more delicate on the skin, bakuchiol also provides all other benefits of vitamin A, such as minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, promoting an even-looking tone, speeding up healing, and more. 

Benefits of bakuchiol for skin 

Bakuchiol stands out as a promising gentle and natural anti-aging treatment, delivering the same skin-transforming benefits as retinol. This is how bakuchiol can improve your skin:

Boosts cell turnover

Cell turnover is the constant process of shedding off dead cells and replacing them with younger ones. With age, this process becomes less and less effective, leading to a buildup of dead cells on the skin’s surface, which in turn makes the complexion appear dull, less radiant and firm, and aging signs more visible. Fortunately, you can speed up cell turnover and keep your skin smooth, bright, and youthful by using products with bakuchiol. Like retinol, bakuchiol helps remove old cells and bring healthy ones to the surface, leaving the skin soft and glowing.[1]

Enhances skin firmness

As we get older and spend more time in the sun, our skin becomes thinner, less elastic, and more prone to wrinkles, uneven tone, and textural flaws. Thanks to its antioxidant capacity and ability to encourage cell turnover, bakuchiol is often used in skincare formulations as an effective preventative treatment for these negative effects. Besides, similar to retinol, bakuchiol also stimulates collagen production, helping maintain skin structure, firmness, and elasticity.[2]

Reduces fine lines and wrinkles

Bakuchiol is a go-to for reducing fine lines and wrinkles thanks to its capacity to speed up cell turnover and promote collagen. At the same time, bakuchiol defends against wrinkles caused by UV damage while preventing photoaging. According to research, the daily use of a cream containing 0.5% bakuchiol has the same effects on aging signs as 0.5% retinol but with fewer side effects.[1] More precisely, after 12 weeks, bakuchiol reduced fine wrinkles by 19% while retinol by 23,2%.

Evens skin tone and fades dark spots

If you’re dealing with dark spots and uneven skin tone, bakuchiol will definitely come in handy. As it speeds up cell turnover, it eliminates the pigmented and darkened cells from the surface, revealing a brighter complexion. Moreover, as a potent antioxidant, bakuchiol prevents the apparition of new dark patches and discoloration caused by free radicals, helping maintain an even tone. Surprisingly, it appears to be more effective than retinol, as, during a clinical trial, bakuchiol reduced hyperpigmentation in 59% of cases while retinol in only 44%.[1]

Is bakuchiol safe?

Bakuchiol is a gentle and safe ingredient that all skin types can use without worrying about irritation. It’s effective and well-tolerated even in people with problematic skin — though there could still be a chance of sensitivity.[3] Although it’s unlikely, bakuchiol can cause redness, stinging, or dryness, especially when using it for the first time. One way to mitigate these adverse effects is to ease into it slowly and ensure that your skin tolerates it. 

How to use bakuchiol

Since it is milder than retinol, bakuchiol can be used twice daily in the morning and night, preferably in a serum or moisturizer. Aside from the long list of skin benefits, what makes it even better is how versatile bakuchiol is. Unlike retinol or other ingredients that might cause irritations when mixed with other products, bakuchiol is a versatile ingredient that pairs nicely with other skincare actives. However, glycolic acid degrades bakuchiol formulation, so remember not to use these two in tandem.

Final words

What’s most important in every skincare routine is having healthy skin and an even complexion without the risks of damage. With the benefits that come with bakuchiol, you can easily achieve that. And one fantastic feature we probably haven’t mentioned is how this component is suitable for every skin type, including sensitive skin. We hope this article has been enlightening for you, and you’re one step closer to having flawless skin.


At Women’s Concepts, we’re committed to providing you with trustworthy, transparent and accurate information with anything related to your skin health. Beside having a close relation to dermatologists and experts in the field, we use an established editorial process to ensure we’re giving you the best possible information. All statements and claims we make have clear and legit references.

  1. Dhaliwal S, Rybak I, Ellis SR, Notay M, Trivedi M, Burney W, Vaughn AR, Nguyen M, Reiter P, Bosanac S, Yan H, Foolad N, Sivamani RK. Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. Br J Dermatol. 2019 Feb;180(2):289-296.
  2. Chaudhuri RK, Bojanowski K. Bakuchiol: a retinol-like functional compound revealed by gene expression profiling and clinically proven to have anti-aging effects. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2014 Jun;36(3):221-30. doi: 10.1111/ics.12117. Epub 2014 Mar 6. PMID: 24471735.
  3. Draelos ZD, Gunt H, Zeichner J, Levy S. Clinical Evaluation of a Nature-Based Bakuchiol Anti-Aging Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2020 Dec 1;19(12):1181-1183. doi: 10.36849/JDD.2020.5522. PMID: 33346506.
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