What is bakuchiol and what can it do for your skin?

Vanessa Gibbs

The skincare world is full of amazing ingredients that can do everything from clear acne, brighten hyperpigmentation and smooth wrinkles. But staying on top of all of the latest and greatest ingredients out there can be impossible. 

Just take bakuchiol, for example. Did you know that this ingredient is being called the natural alternative to retinol? Studies are showing bakuchiol can reduce lines and wrinkles, even out complexions and promote a healthy glow, all without some of the downsides of retinol. 

Here are Face Dr, our team of skin experts have decades of experience in the skincare world. We’ve helped thousands of clients get healthy, youthful skin by helping them find the very best skincare ingredients, products and routines for them. Here, we’re going to share our knowledge and cover exactly what bakuchiol is and whether you should be using it. 

Here’s what we’ll cover: 

  • What bakuchiol is 
  • What bakuchiol does for the skin
  • Whether you should use bakuchiol or retinol 
  • Who should (and shouldn’t) use bakuchiol 
  • The side effects of bakuchiol 
  • The top products to try with bakuchiol 

Interested in other skincare ingredients? We’ve covered things like ceramides and mandelic acid in depth. 

What is bakuchiol? 

Bakuchiol is a natural compound found in the leaves and seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant. It’s been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years. Nowadays, you can find it in a range from percentages, usually from 0.5% to 2%, and in products like serums, moisturisers and masks. 

Despite being chemically very different from retinol, one study found that bakuchiol has all of the same benefits when it comes to anti-ageing and promoting a clearer, younger and brighter complexion. Bakuchiol is becoming a popular anti-ageing ingredient as it can boost collagen production to plump and firm the skin, smooth lines and wrinkles, even out skin texture and tone. 

Beyond anti-ageing, bakuchiol is great for those with acne, sensitive skin or a skin condition like eczema or rosacea. That’s because it can work to reduce redness, inflammation and sensitivity. Bakuchiol also provides the skin with an antioxidant boost, which protects it from ageing, discolouration and damaging free radicals.  

skincare serum bukuchiol with flowers

What does bakuchiol do for the skin? 

Here are just some of the things bakuchiol can do for your skin: 

  • Reduce wrinkles and fine lines  
  • Increase elasticity and firmness 
  • Even out skin tone 
  • Reduce hyperpigmentation 
  • Calm inflammation and sensitivity 
  • Smooth rough patches 
  • Slow visible signs of ageing 

Should I use bakuchiol or retinol? 

Bakuchiol is ideal for those looking for an anti-ageing ingredient that’s not quite as harsh as retinol. If you’re prone to redness, reactions, peeling or just have very sensitive skin, you can skip retinol and try bakuchiol instead.

One advantage of bakuchiol is that it doesn’t make the skin more sensitive to the sun like retinol does. So, if you spend a lot of time in direct sunlight, bakuchiol may be a better choice for you—although you still need to wear an SPF, of course. 

Alternatively, if your skin can tolerate retinol, there’s much more research—over 40 years—behind this ingredient proving its effectiveness for anti-ageing. While the science behind bakuchiol is definitely catching up, it’s still a relatively new ingredient in the skincare world, so those wanting guaranteed results should reach for retinol. 

You can even use them both together, however. Bakuchiol is said to make retinol products more effective and it may even help some people’s skin tolerate retinol better. Some products come with the two ingredients already mixed, but you can also layer two different products one after the other. 

Who is bakuchiol good for? 

Bakuchiol can be used by all skin tones and types, even those with acne, eczema, rosacea and sensitive skin. It’s especially helpful for those looking for an anti-ageing ingredient to target lines, wrinkles, firmness and skin tone. 

This ingredient is therefore great for those wanting to tackle signs of ageing with a more gentle ingredient. If you have sensitive skin or find retinol too irritating or drying, bakuchiol may be the answer. 

Who shouldn’t use bakuchiol? 

Almost everyone can use bakuchiol without any problems at all. Some experts even say bakuchiol is safe during pregnancy, which is a major advantage over retinol which is not. However, we’d always recommend speaking with an expert before using bakuchiol if you’re pregnant. 

woman looking in mirror applying bakuchiol skincare serum

What are the side effects of bakuchiol

Bakuchiol doesn’t have any known side effects. However, as we all have completely different skin, what works for some may not work for others. We always advise doing a patch test with any new product or ingredient you try—even gentle ones like bakuchiol. 

Simply swipe a small amount of the product somewhere, like the inside of your wrist, and wait 24 to 48 hours before checking for signs of irritation. If everything is clear, you most likely won’t experience any side effects from using the product fully. 

What ingredients should you avoid if you’re using bakuchiol? 

Bakuchiol works well with most ingredients, so you shouldn’t have to change your current skincare routine to accommodate it. Harsher treatments, like acid peels, may be too much for the skin when combined with bakuchiol, so try using one or the other. 

Face Dr top tip: Getting the right combination of skincare ingredients in your routine can make all the difference when it comes to seeing the results you want. But it’s also one of the hardest things to do. Speak to an expert who knows exactly what works—and doesn’t work—together. Our skin experts are on hand for a free skincare consultation to help you pair products and build the ideal routine for you. 

The top products to try with bakuchiol 

Have we convinced you to try this gentle anti-ageing ingredient? Here are three medical-grade ZO products you can find bakuchiol in: 

However, here at Face Dr, we don’t often recommend products with bakuchiol. That’s because, despite the promising science, retinol simply has so many more scientific studies behind it, making it a much more reliable choice for those looking for an anti-ageing product. We do, however, have alternative science-backed product recommendations with ingredients for those with very sensitive skin. And, of course, our skin experts can help you decide whether retinol is for you or not. 


Need expert advice? 


Face Dr skin expert holding product for skincare consultation


Hopefully you now know more about this hero anti-ageing ingredient. Want to start your anti-ageing skincare journey, but not sure where to start? That’s where we can help. Here at Face Dr, we offer free online skincare consultations where you can speak with a member of our team. Our skin experts will analyse your skin, ask about your exact concerns and then recommend the very best ingredients to help. Whether it’s bakuchiol, retinol or something else entirely, you’ll be able to get tailored advice for what will work best on your skin. 

We only ever recommend brands and products we know and trust ourselves, and there’s never any obligation to buy. Instead, you can simply get free, friendly advice, all from the comfort of your home! 

Want to find out if bakuchiol is for you, whether there’s another anti-ageing ingredient that would suit you better or even how to build the perfect skincare routine from scratch, our skin experts are on hand to help. 

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