Bakuchiol – the new skincare secret you need to know
Bakuchiol is the new kid on the skincare block. But what is it, and how does it work?
Bakuchiol (pronounced ba-koo-chee-ol) is derived from the Psorlea corylifolia or babchi plant. Researchers have since discovered that it’s what skincare scientists call a ‘functional analogue’ to our much-loved vitamin A derivatives, including retinol. This means that, even though bakuchiol has a very different chemical make-up to retinol, it activates the same pathways in the skin and produces the same benefits.
Here we explain what you need to know about this skincare item and the benefits of adding it into your beauty routine.
Bakuchiol vs retinol
Retinol has taken the skincare industry by storm. This is thanks to its clinically proven ability to tackle acne, pigmentation and the early signs of ageing. The downside of this impressive ingredient is that many find its punchy powers difficult to tolerate. It can leave skin irritated, sore and sensitive, and can even result in skin peeling if the dose is not properly managed.
It was 2018 when bakuchiol began making waves in the beauty industry. A randomised double-blind trial published in The British Journal of Dermatology threatened to topple retinol from its undisputed throne.
The researchers put 0.5% retinol (applied once in the evening) up against bakuchiol (0.5% applied twice daily) for 12 weeks. The results were stunning. Not only was bakuchiol just as effective at tackling the ageing signs of sun damage, but it didn’t cause any of the stinging or scaling some people see after retinol use.
What are the benefits?
Like retinoids, bakuchiol tackles acne via multiple pathways. First, it has an anti-inflammatory affect on the skin, helping to calm any red, inflamed blemishes. It also has antibacterial properties, which keeps the population of spot-forming P. acnes bacteria at bay.
It also appears to inhibit the activity of our sebaceous glands. This happens by slowing the conversion of the skin’s testosterone to a less desirable hormone called DHEA. This prevents our complexion from becoming overly oily and congested.
Bakuchiol limits the effects of MSH and tyrosinase – the main drivers of pigmentation in the skin. It’s a safe and foolproof alternative to retinoids which can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (particularly in people of colour) when overused.
As the study in The British Journal of Dermatology made clear, bakuchiol has a positive impact on fine lines and wrinkles. It does this by simultaneously slowing down the breakdown and increasing the production of our extracellular matrix proteins (including both collagen and elastin). These proteins make up our skin scaffolding, keeping skin looking plump, lifted and youthful.
The best bakuchiol products
The Inkey List Bakuchiol (1%)
This clever and affordable British-made moisturiser contains 1% bakuchiol. It also features ultra-hydrating omega-3, 6 and 9-rich oils.
BYBI Bakuchiol Booster (1%)
This clean and simple formula contains 1% bakuchiol and 99% squalene. BYBI also collects empties, make them good as new and packaging new products in them, saving energy and CO2.
REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate Oil (0.5%)
From rosehip (a natural source of vitamin A) to rosemary, this bakuchiol-based oil serum is loaded with plant extracts. Expect a luxurious and hydrating overnight treatment. Lather on the face and neck for baby smooth skin.
Paula’s Choice 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol
If your skin responds well to retinol, you can rely on this powerful pair to deliver impressive anti-ageing results. This should only be applied at night (retinol leaves skin more sun-sensitive).