Meet Bakuchiol, the New "It" Anti-Aging Skin-Care Ingredient
What Exactly Is Bakuchiol?
If you haven't yet heard of or seen bakuchiol listed on a skin-care product, you will soon enough, mark our words. The ingredient is having a major moment, touted as a natural alternative to the long-beloved retinol. (Oh, and ICYW how to say it, some people say "buh-koo-chee-all," others say "back-uh-heel." Tomato, tamatoe.)
So what is it? Bakuchiol is a plant-derived ingredient, from the Psoralea corylifolia plant (say that three times fast). The plant is native to India and Sri Lanka, and bakuchiol has long been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. (Related: Ayurvedic Skin-Care Tips That Still Work Today)
"It's been demonstrated to have antioxidant properties similar to retinol, which is what prompted scientists to investigate how it would compare," explains cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski. And while bakuchiol has been around forever, it's only been within the past few years that scientists have discovered that it works similarly to retinol. To that point...
How It Compares to Retinol
Molecularly speaking, the retinol and bakuchiol are nothing alike, says Romanowski. And granted, retinol remains the tried-and-true gold standard for anti-aging skin care, lauded for its proven abilities to boost cell turnover and stimulate collagen production for smoother, clearer, less wrinkled skin. But it turns out the old guard and the new kid on the block have similar effects on the skin. (Related: 10 Retinol Products to Try for Younger-Looking Skin)
compared the two ingredients head-to-head. While it was a small study, the results were impressive; both significantly decreased wrinkling and hyperpigmentation. The major difference? Bakuchiol was less irritating—a noteworthy point given that retinol is notorious for its unpleasant side effects, such as redness, stinging, and flaking.
The other major advantage it has over retinol? It's safe to use during pregnancy (any kind of retinoid is not). Oh, and, also unlike retinol, bakuchiol won't break down when exposed to sunlight, meaning you can incorporate it into either your daytime or nighttime regimen. As with most skin-care ingredients, keep in mind that it's tough to tell whether the bakuchiol product you buy actually contains enough of it to be effective. Your best bet is to look for it listed within the first five ingredients, advises Romanowski. Still, the potential to get all the benefits of retinol without any of the irritating (and unsightly) side effects is enough to sell us. Take the ingredient for a test run in any one of the five products below.
Ole Henriksen Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum
The bakuchiol plus alpha hydroxy acids in this daytime youth-booster target all the unwanted signs of aging, from spots to wrinkles to prominent pores. Even better? Its lavender tint instantly brightens dull or sallow skin, so you don't need to wait to see results. ($58; sephora.com)
Whish Restoring Face Oil
The skin around your eyes is the thinnest on the body, making it the most susceptible to damage and thus where signs of aging show up first. Bakuchiol is ideal in an eye product, since you get all of its anti-aging effects, without worrying that it will irritate this sensitive area. This peeper protector also contains cucumber extract to help de-puff, and soybean protein for firming and tightening. ($60; whishbody.com)
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
The products in this line use plant-derived squalane, a substance almost identical to squalene, part of the oil our skin naturally produces. It's a top-notch moisturizing ingredient; in this serum, you get not only those hydration benefits, but the fine line–fighting, skin-firming, spot-fading benefits of bakuchiol, too. ($78; sephora.com)
Isdinceutics Flavo-C Melatonin Night Recovery Serum
Bakuchiol is paired with vitamin C and melatonin in this nighttime serum for a triple dose of antioxidant protection against skin-damaging free radicals caused by exposure to sun and pollution. Talk about beauty sleep. ($150; isdin.com)
Omorovicza Miracle Facial Oil
Choice for dry skin, bakuchiol is combined with a blend of oils (sweet almond, sea blackthorn berry, and rosehip) that both hydrate and deliver an extra dose of antioxidant protection. Mix a few drops in with your favorite serum or moisturizer (if you want to use it during the day), or apply on its own at night. ($120; sephora.com)