Is there a natural ingredient better than retinol? Your guide to bakuchiol

If there’s one ingredient that I’m totally sold on as a formulator, it has to be bakuchiol. 

Bakuchiol is the equivalent of saffron and truffles within cooking circles, or tanzanites to gemologists. Not that this hero ingredient is particularly rare, but more so that it’s highly prized because for those in the know, it stands out amongst the crowd.

For many of us, retinol has long been touted as the wonder ingredient - the leader of the pack, the king of the castle, the kid with it all (ok yes I’ll stop with the cliches now!). In case you didn’t know (where have you been?!) retinol is adored amongst beauty-lovers for its anti-aging properties, with it’s proven ability to induce high skin cell turnover, reduce pigmentation, clarify the skin and help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. However retinol also comes with a bundle of known side effects, the most common being that it can noticeably dry the skin, leaving it irritated, susceptible to UV damage and in some cases with a burning/stinging sensation when applied. Retinol requires very close management when used and its positive results are not realised for long periods, usually many months. 

Given the consistent clinical data that exists over many years, there is no question that retinol can indeed deliver some game changing results for those with acne and/or aged skin, but given its common side effects this ingredient is most certainly not for everyone. Plus it’s not natural, only being produced in the lab.

So what if I told you that a genuinely reputable botanical alternative existed? An option that delivered similar results to retinol but potentially was even better.

Put your hands together forrrrrrr…. bakuchiol!

Sourced from the babchi seeds from the cullen corifolium plant which is native to Pakistan and China, this widespread plant blooms delightful purple flowers and has been extensively used in Ayurvedic medicine primarily to treat skin disorders due to its well proven antioxidant, antimicrobial and skin conditioning properties.

What’s particularly exciting about bakuchiol is that it has excellent light stability and a solid safety profile such that it can be used during the day and night, unlike retinol, which can only be used at night. 

Bakuchiol is reported to markedly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce pigmentation intensity and size, and improve overall skin texture and tone. Another fabulous quality just in case you weren’t already intrigued, is that it’s also claimed to stimulate collagen production and defend against oxidative and inflammatory stress.

Now it’s all well and good for claims to be made about new ingredients, however as you would appreciate, there are many unsubstantiated (and unproven) claims that exist within the beauty industry which have me more than a little sceptical and mistrusting these days. Which is exactly why I decided to delve deeper, to satisfy myself that bakuchiol really is the wonder ingredient it’s claimed to be. 

And in delving deeper, my efforts were rewarded by a truck load of unbiased evidence and double blind, clinical tests, that in all honesty I was suitably impressed by. And the biggest finding that I was able to confirm?

Bakuchiol has similar benefits to topical retinoid but without the adverse effects that are present in retinoids!

I could probably stop there really, because that is pretty crazy-good in itself. I mean really, really cool. However of course I went further, and here are four most notable points that consistently showed up in my research that deserve mentioning:

  1. Bakuchiol exhibits similar effects on the gene expression profile as retinol to improve wrinkles and uneven pigmentation, increasing skin firmness and correcting overall skin quality.
  2. Bakuchiol offers significant improvements in smoothness, clarity and radiance, mainly due to its naturally high antioxidant levels.
  3. Bakuchiol shows superior skin tolerability and stability and safety profile.
  4. Bakuchiol can be used during daytime due to its photo stability.

As per any scientific mind, I also searched to see whether there were any cons in relation to bakuchiol, and one point that I noticed flagged a few times was that skin redness can be more pronounced for some people when using bakuchiol vs retinoids, although not at significantly higher levels. This is why we use only the maximum recommended amount of bakuchiol at 1% per supplier guidelines, where I’ve seen other brands claim up to 4x the recommended amounts in their formulas - uuuuuuurm, not great to see from a consumer safety perspective at all.

Now that you’re (hopefully) as convinced as I am regarding the efficacy of bakuchiol, it’s now TOTALLY worth noting that our recently released Age-Defying Oil contains organic bakuchiol as it’s hero ingredient. This stunning product (from our Premium Range) is an exquisite alchemy of precious oils that will visibly transform your skin by stimulating collagen regeneration, refining skin texture and noticeably restoring radiance. It beautifully absorbs into the skin and leaves it feeling incredibly hydrated and soft. Without tooting our own horns too loudly, we think this oil is liquid gold!

One final point that I feel compelled to make to round this blog post off is that nature so often provides us with the nutrients, actives and game changing ingredients we need for great skincare. Bakuchiol is another brilliant example of this and why I will forever be in awe of Mother Nature - you are my queen!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published