In the world of skincare, retinol is revered as the gold standard to prevent and minimize signs of aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots. (That is, of course, in addition to sunscreen!) However, as potent and protective as it is, it can also cause dryness and sensitivity, resulting in the unfortunate but aptly named “retinol uglies.”
Luckily, another superstar ingredient comes to the rescue to yield the benefits of retinol while minimizing the potential for irritation and reactivity. Enter: bakuchiol.
What Is Bakuchiol?
Bakuchiol (pronounced “buh-KOO-chee-all”) is an antioxidant that derives from the babchi plant. Given that it’s a plant-based alternative to retinol, it’s a great addition to an anti-aging skincare regimen.
However, since it’s also gentle and vegan, this targeted treatment is equally beneficial for those who:
- have dry or sensitive skin
- grapple with inflammatory skin conditions
- aim to stick to a vegan and/or clean skincare routine
Benefits of Bakuchiol
Alas, here are some of the key benefits of this potent anti-aging ingredient.
1. It Minimizes Wrinkles Without Irritation
Again, if your skin can’t quite tolerate retinol but you’re still yearning to minimize signs of aging and dark spots, bakuchiol comes to the rescue.
A randomized, double-blind 2018 study found that bakuchiol and retinol significantly reduced wrinkles in participants to similar degrees. However, the bakuchiol group benefited from fewer instances of skin scaling and stinging, giving bakuchiol the upper hand in this anti-aging faceoff.
2. It Reduces Hyperpigmentation
In the same study cited above, 59 percent of participants in the bakuchiol group experienced improvements in their hyperpigmentation—both in terms of pigment intensity and affected surface area.
Similar results were discovered in the retinol group, demonstrating once again that just because bakuchiol is gentle doesn’t mean it lacks the powerful potential to benefit your skin.
3. It’s Clean and Natural
While the main benefits of bakuchiol are its ability to address signs of aging and dark spots, its feature as a vegan, clean, and natural ingredient shouldn’t be underestimated.
While not all synthetic ingredients are “bad,” it’s a worthy choice to find plant-based skincare swaps when and where possible. After all, your skin absorbs ingredients—both good and bad, intentional and otherwise—that may end up circulating in your bloodstream. For that reason, it’s smart to be mindful of what you put onto your body and use high-quality, clean ingredients when available.
While bakuchiol may seem like it’s an emerging anti-aging ingredient, it’s actually been clinically studied as far back as 1984. Plus, it’s been traditionally used for generations in Ayurvedic medicine to increase skin cell turnover and boost collagen production.
Bakuchiol yields benefits that include fewer wrinkles and fine lines, greater skin elasticity, and lighter dark spots—all at low risk of sensitivity upon application and from sunlight alike.
However, be sure to look for a clean formula that also includes other antioxidants and protective ingredients to support skin barrier function. Moreover, use it consistently in your routine to experience these benefits to the fullest extent.