Ole Henriksen eye cream

Discover the benefits of this botanical retinol alternative | Source: Ole Henriksen

Meet Bakuchiol, Retinol’s Botanical Rival

When it comes to skincare ingredients that seem to do it all, retinol is usually the first that comes to mind. From fine lines and hyperpigmentation to acne and dull skin, the holy grail active ingredient has remained on the skincare throne for some time now. But could this botanical alternative end its reign?

Although skincare junkies are singing retinol’s praises, those with sensitive skin know that retinoids can often cause dryness and redness. Retinol users in general have to be wary of the irritation the ingredient can cause, not to mention the increased sun sensitivity that comes with using it. That’s where its plant-based rival, bakuchiol, comes in.

What is bakuchiol?

A botanical form of topical vitamin A, bakuchiol is derived from the leaves and seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant, otherwise known as the babchi plant.

While bakuchiol may seem like the new skincare ingredient on the block, the ingredient has roots in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

As for skincare, the botanical wonder ingredient has drawn many similarities to retinol for its endless list of benefits. However, according to a research article in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, bakuchiol has “no structural resemblance to retinoids” but can “function as a functional analog of retinol”.

Flowers from the Babchi plant
Flowers from the babchi plant | Source: Herbique

What does science say?

From boosting radiance to lessening fine lines, bakuchiol has been propped up as the essential ingredient that you need in your skincare routine, and for good reason.

Dr Alice Rudd from Skindepth Dermatology, based in St Kilda East, said everyone can benefit from the retinol alternative.

It can improve signs of solar ageing, elevating firmness, suppleness and radiance, and offers broad spectrum antioxidant protection.

Dr Alice Rudd

What gives bakuchiol an edge over retinol, Dr Rudd explained, is that there is less irritation for the skin. It’s also easy to combine with other skincare ingredients and products and provides a “great introduction into more potent products or forms of vitamin A”. 

A clinical trial of topical bakuchiol and retinol found no “statistical difference between the compounds” in terms of wrinkle surface area and hyperpigmentation. In fact, the study revealed that users reported more facial skin scaling and stinging with retinol in comparison to its rising competitor, bakuchiol.

Bakuchiol treatments

While bakuchiol hasn’t quite taken over the skincare world yet, there’s a handful of highly-rated products leading the bakuchiol revolution.

Free from parabens, sulphates and synthetic fragrance, Biossance’s Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum harnesses the power of bakuchiol to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while visibly firming the skin, sans the irritation typically associated with retinol.

Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum, A$77 | Source: Sephora

Formulated with AHAs, Ole Henriksen’s Goodnight Glow creme harnesses the power of bakuchiol while also hydrating and firming the skin overnight with Edelweiss stem cell.

And for those who are looking to try a combination of the tried-and-tested retinol with the latest active ingredient, Paula’s Choice has you covered. Featuring 0.3 per cent retinol and two per cent bakuchiol, this treatment aims to target fine lines, deep wrinkles and enlarged pores.

Looking to target your under eyes with bakuchiol? Ole Henriksen’s eye gel creme is formulated with bakuchiol, peptides and orchid stem cells to reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark circles, making it the ultimate product for your morning skincare routine.

Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème
Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème, A$77 | Source: Sephora

In search of more retinol alternatives? Check out these Plant Based Retinol Products for Glowing Skin. Or, if you’re in need of a nourishing night cream to get you through the cold weather, take a look at 12 of our top picks.

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