Bakuchiol For Skin: The Complete Guide
Before you give up on finding a solution to your skin woes, know this - there are other options. Take retinol for example. Maybe you found it too strong for your skin, perhaps you're still on the cusp of considering it, or maybe you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, meaning topical vitamin A should be stripped from your routine. Enter bakuchiol - the natural, easily tolerated alternative to retinol. We speak to Dan Isaacs, Director of Research at Medik8 to learn more about this must-try ingredient.
What is bakuchiol?
“Bakuchiol is a natural, plant-based retinol alternative,” Dan confirms. Where does it come from? “It is derived from the seeds and leaves of the Indian Babchi Plant” (a lilac flower, which explains why bakuchiol products are often purple). But our main interest in the product is this - “Bakuchiol has been clinically proven to harness anti-ageing powers that are comparable to retinol, without any side effects that can sometimes occur with vitamin A use.” Tell us more, Dan.
What are the bakuchiol benefits?
There’s no shortage of reasons why bakuchiol is worthy of a spot in our skincare cabinet. As Dan puts it, “bakuchiol is able to help prevent and restore signs of premature ageing, thanks to its antioxidant, collagen-stimulating and hydrating properties. Bakuchiol is also great for clearing the skin as it uses its gentle anti-inflammatory powers to minimise the formation of blemishes and to calm the skin. Finally, it can help to reduce the synthesis of melanin (the problem behind pigmentation) and therefore helps to brighten the skin tone.” And let’s not forget bakuchiol is also said to be suitable for use in pregnancy and breastfeeding (unlike vitamin A). Just be sure to check if the other ingredients are safe too when purchasing your bakuchiol serum.
Bakuchiol vs retinol - do they really compare?
In short, yes! “Bakuchiol and retinol can both help to visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles. They also help to speed up cellular turnover in the skin, giving it a smoother, softer surface,” Dan explains. “Retinol and bakuchiol both help to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin - for a more youthful-looking, plumper complexion. They also can help to hinder excess production of melanin, leaving the skin evenly toned and brightened.”
So, where do they differ? “Key differences are that as an ingredient, bakuchiol is a lot gentler on the skin than retinol, working to naturally soothe and calm the skin,” Dan tells us. “Bakuchiol is also Photostable (meaning it isn’t affected by exposure to light), so can be used day and night.” Seems like a no brainer, right? Still, we shouldn’t rule out retinol entirely. For those who are able to use it, “retinol is considered the ‘gold-standard’ in anti-ageing due to unparalleled results and scientific data,” Dan confirms.
Who is bakuchiol good for?
Good news is, “bakuchiol is suited to all skin types.” It’s particularly useful for those whose skin is on the sensitive side, cannot use vitamin A, or are pregnant and nursing,” says Dan. Dealing with problems like pigmentation, wrinkles or even breakouts? Bakuchiol might be the solution for you. “Bakuchiol helps with blemishes, brightening and visible ageing concerns,” Dan confirms. “There are no known side-effects to using bakuchiol, and most people can use and tolerate the ingredient,” he adds.
How to add bakuchiol into your routine?
Unlike retinol, bakuchiol doesn’t break down in the sun or make skin more sensitive to UV rays. “Due to this compatibility with sunlight, bakuchiol can be used both day and night,” says Dan. “Bakuchiol also gets on well with most other ingredients, therefore there isn’t anything you need to specifically avoid if incorporating into your routine,” he adds. To apply, Dan advises using a bakuchiol serum after cleansing and applying it across the face, neck and décolletage. Can you use this ingredient every day? Yes. “You can’t use too much bakuchiol,” says Dan, but be conscious of other ingredients in your product which may need to be limited. To be on the safe side, Dan advises we follow the brand instructions on how and when to use, which should be written on our bakuchiol product packaging.
Ready to give bakuchiol a try? Here are a few of our favourites
Along with hero ingredient, bakuchiol, this calming, brightening serum contains centella asiatica, “also known as ‘cica’, it has incredible anti-inflammatory action on the skin, perfect for visibly soothing and calming inflamed, sensitive skin.” says Dan, “it also has brightening peptide precursors, able to disrupt the formation of melanin, resulting in a visibly brighter, more even complexion with less hyperpigmentation,” he tells us.
Herbivore Bakuchiol Smoothing Serum, $43.20
A jelly-textured water-based serum, packed with bakuchiol benefits, this option from Herbivore gets to work on dullness and uneven skin texture, fine lines and dryness. All without aggravating the skin. Just ask 91% of women who, from a blind test of 106 agreed it doesn’t cause visible signs of irritation.
Paula's Choice 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment, $75.50
In this combo treatment, bakuchiol is paired with (rather than pitted against) retinol. Why? “Bakuchiol is a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient, a powerful antioxidant and it can improve skin discolouration,” says founder, Paula Begoun. Teamed with retinol which “‘tells’ cells to act like younger, healthy cells,” we create a skin-perfecting force to be reckoned with, she informs us.
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