Bakuchiol Is The Natural, Pregnancy Safe Retinol Alternative You Need To Know About

Every now and then, a new ingredient comes along that sets the beauty industry abuzz. Undoubtedly, the most talked about skincare industry newcomer of the year is bakuchiol, which has even managed to make its way into mainstream vernacular. Pronounced buh-koo-chee-all, bakuchiol has been touted as a natural retinol alternative, suitable for sensitive skin.

IMAGE: ALIQUE

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What is bakuchiol?

Much like many popular beauty and wellness ingredients and practices (read: turmeric, adaptogens, double cleansing, matcha), bakuchiol is not so new after all. Bakuchiol is derived from the leaves and seeds of the babchi (or Psoralea corylifolia) plant, which has been used for centuries in Indian Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine practices for its abilities to heal cuts and wounds, and calm and soothe red or irritated skin, thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Benefits of bakuchiol for skin

Bakuchiol is an antioxidant found in the seeds and leaves of the babchi plant. In modern skincare, bakuchiol has been used for its ability to improve skin texture, stimulate collagen production, stimulate skin cell regeneration, improve hyperpigmentation, and reduce the appearance of signs of ageing like wrinkles and fine lines. 

Retinol vs bakuchiol for skin

Retinol is a part of the retinoid family; a synthetic derivative of vitamin A. While retinol and other retinoids are considered the gold standard of anti-ageing, it can have side effects for skin such as increased photosensitivity (the skin’s sensitivity to the sun and UV rays), dryness, peeling, or flakiness. 

Bakuchiol is less irritating than retinol and can be used in conjunction with other skincare actives like vitamin C. Plus, it actually decreases your skin’s photosensitivity. A 2019 bakuchiol vs retinol study undertaken by the British Journal of Dermatology found that both bakuchiol and retinol significantly decreased wrinkle surface area and hyperpigmentation, with equal effectiveness. However, they differed in the irritation stakes, with retinol users reporting more skin stinging and scaling. 

Another key drawcard for bakuchiol is that as it is not a vitamin A derivative, it may be safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding (unlike retinol, which in contraindicated during this time). However, more studies are required to confirm this. 

How to use bakuchiol in your skincare routine

Its gentle nature and skin strengthening properties allow bakuchiol to be used morning and night, as well as in conjunction with other skincare ingredients. This natural retinol alternative typically comes in serum or moisturiser form, which will determine which step of your skincare routine it will fit into. 

The best products with bakuchiol 

1. Medik8 Bakuchiol Peptides

The ideal pregnancy-safe alternative to retinol, Medik8 Bakuchiol Peptides combine babchi plant extract with skin-evening peptide amino acids, anti-inflammatory centella, and inka omega oil for a gentle yet effective anti-ageing serum that also works to soothe the skin.

2. The Inkey

For a boost of hydration and nourishment, layer this bakuchiol moisturiser by The Inkey List over your other serums. Enriched with omega-3 oil and squalane, this lightweight moisturiser can be used morning and night.

3. Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum

biossance bakuchiol skincare phyto retinol squalane

Combined with Biossance’s signature sugarcane squalane, key complexion-aid niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, this bakuchiol retinol alternative serum works to improve skin tone, firmness, and signs of wrinkles and fine lines while working to lock in moisture and combat dry skin.

4. Oskia Super 16 Serum

Oskia Super 16 Serum combines 16 (shocking, we know) super nutrients and bio-actives, one of them being bakuchiol. This super serum addresses wrinkles and fine lines by working to boost collagen synthesis to lift and firm the skin for a glowing, radiant complexion.

5. Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Creme

A rich cream formula, Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Creme uses bakuchiol to improve the appearance of skin while you sleep during the all-important nighttime repair period. AHAs work to exfoliate the skin to alleviate dark spots and dryness, while bakuchiol improves skin elasticity.

6. Paula’s Choice 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment

This lightweight Paula’s Choice Retinol and Bakuchiol Treatment enhances the winkle-fighting benefits of retinol with bakuchiol, clarifying peptides improve skin elasticity and firmness.

7. Trilogy Bakuchiol+ Booster Treatment

trilogy bakuchiol skincare

A two week treatment, this booster combines bakuchiol with nourishing plant oils like squalane, hemp, and meadowfoam seed for a nourishing addition to your morning and nighttime skincare routine.

8. Herbivore Bakuchiol Serum

herbivore bakuchiol in skincare

Key anti-ageing ingredient bakuchiol meets gentle exfoliating polyhydroxy acids (PHAs), hydrating tremella mushroom, and antioxidant-rich blueberry stem cells in this water-based serum. Together, they work to hydrate the skin while protecting from environmental stress and smoothening fine lines and wrinkles.

9. BYBI Bakuchiol Booster

bybi bakuchiol in skincare

This two ingredient booster utilises bakuchiol to fight signs of ageing, as well as squalane to lock moisture into the skin.

10. Recreation Vibrant Skin Face Oil With Bakuchiol

Enriched with 25 botanical oils and extracts, this elixir sinks in quickly, working to keep skin smooth and supple. Bakuchiol works to target wrinkles, while antioxidant rich oils like sea buckthorn, buruti, and marula promote skin cell regeneration and fight inflammation.


Words by Esmé Duggan