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Bakuchiol Serum: The Retinol Alternative You Never Knew You Needed.


This is 2023, and if you have been paying attention to the beauty space, especially in the area of skincare, you must have at least come across the word “bakuchiol” or bakuchiol serum or at least heard about herbivore botanicals. Well, if you haven’t, then where have you been hiding? The bakuchiol trend has been on a smooth and steady rise since 2010. Famous skin brands now incorporate this little-known compound in their skin care products. ‘

Bakuchiol is a natural chemical compound derived from the Indian and Sri Lankan babchi plant (Psoralea corylifolia). Since the 1970s, it has been studied for its antimicrobial properties. Mehta et al. isolated it from Babchi seed in 1966 and named it Bakuchiol after the plant’s Sanskrit name, Bakuchi.

This plant’s seeds contain a variety of coumarins, including psoralen, which is widely used in both Indian and Chinese medicine to treat a variety of diseases. Before you consider adding bakuchiol to your skincare routine, consult a dermatologist first.

What is Bakuchiol serum?

Bakuchiol serum is a cosmetic ingredient that is considered a true natural retinol alternative, as it does not cause irritation, photosensitivity, or other issues that traditional retinol products do.

Bakuchiol serum vs Retinol serum

It is derived from the Babchi plant and has a chemical structure that differs from retinol. Despite its structural differences, it is considered a true plant-based retinol alternative because clinical studies show that when applied to the skin, it functions similarly to retinol. On the plus side, it does not have the same negative side effects as retinol. Redness, irritation, dryness, sun sensitivity, and peeling are some of the most common side effects of retinol.

One of the most concerning retinol side effects is photosensitivity, which means that skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight and more vulnerable to sun damage. SPF can help protect you from UV damage, but many people do not use sunscreen on a daily basis or simply forget to, putting them at risk of skin damage when using it.

One of the reasons why bukachiol is seen as a preferred alternative is because retinol can be extremely potent. If you have very sensitive skin, retinol can cause severe hyperpigmentation, aggravating inflammation, and sensitivity.

Using Bakuchiol and Retinol together

Sometimes this combination may be seen in facial oil formulation and eye cream formulation.It has also been speculated that adding a little rosehip oil to mix is a good thing

  • Bakuchiol is a powerful antioxidant that works in tandem with vitamin A to protect your skin from visible signs of environmental stressors while also improving its ability to repair signs of past damage.
  • Bakuchiol’s ability to augment retinol and the skin health-boosting compounds like linoleic acids that are in retinol products is one of the reasons they work so well together.
  • Bakuchiol helps retinol’s effects last longer before it breaks down after exposure to air and light, so you’re likely to see better results. This is very exciting because maintaining the stability of this vitamin A ingredient is notoriously difficult.
  • Bakuchiol improves the skin’s adaptability to tolerate retinol. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to a retinol product, you might find that combining them gives you similar results without sensitivity or flaking.

What are the benefits of Bukachiol?

Benefits of bakuchiol include

  • Getting rid of fine lines and wrinkles by boosting collagen production (hides signs of aging)
  • Helps with pigmentation
  • Promotes skin elasticity
  • Reinforces skin firmness
  • Acts as a healing and soothing agent and helps to brighten the skin.
  • It is a good option for those who shop clean e.g., vegans and environment-conscious people.
  • Little or no side effects as compared to retinol (also depends on individual)
  • Contains antibacterial properties that help to reduce the appearance of acne and occasional breakouts.
  • People with sensitive skin have a better choice in bukachiol serum.
  • Bakuchiol boosts type I, III, and IV collagen in the skin
  • Acts as an anti-aging ingredient

How does Bakuchiol serum work?

Bakuchiol has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

This compound, in particular, influences how your body produces collagen, which is important for your skin’s youthful plumpness, elasticity, and durability. 

Bakuchiol works on your retinoic acid receptors, which are the same receptors that retinol targets and regulates how genes express in your skin cells. To put it another way, it stimulates and boosts your body’s natural collagen production.

This study showed that after 12 weeks of treatment, significant improvement in lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, elasticity, firmness, and an overall reduction in photo-damage was observed, without usual retinol therapy-associated undesirable effects.

What is the difference between bakuchiol serum and bakuchiol oil

Serums have a lightweight formula with a lotion-like texture that absorbs quickly into the skin. You can also easily layer them with other skin care products. Choose a serum if you have oily or combination skin, or if you want to combine bakuchiol with other skin care products. It is safe to use when combined though.

Bakuchiol oil is a lot heavier and is ideal for people with dry skin. If you have dry skin and want to use bakuchiol at night, use an oil-based formula as the final step in your skincare routine.

Pure Bakuchiol Extract

Pure bakuchiol is obtained through a monomolecular extraction of babchi seeds, which extracts only one molecule, yielding bakuchiol with a purity of over 99%. It must be purified to remove phototoxic phytocompounds before it can be used in skincare. This pure form, rather than the dubious extracts is used in clinical studies to demonstrate its skin benefits.

Sytheon, a manufacturer of genuine bakuchiol, published a study comparing the bakuchiol content of nine commercial skincare products on the market. It was discovered that a product containing psoralea corylifolia seed extract did not contain enough bakuchiol to provide any skin benefits. Furthermore, these non-purified extracts are “undefined materials with high levels of photosensitizers unsuitable for cosmetic purpose”.

How to use Bakuchiol serum

Bakuchiol, unlike retinol, can be used during the day without causing photosensitivity. We recommend incorporating it into your evening routine when your skin has transitioned from defense to repair mode.

Bakuchiol can be used safely in conjunction with other treatments such as retinol and vitamin C. It works well with the majority of skincare ingredients. Skin reactions, on the other hand, are more likely to occur when you overload your face with too many active ingredients. We always recommend airing on the side of “less is more” when it comes to the delicate skin on your face.

Who Should Use Bakuchiol Serum

Bakuchiol serum, due to its much more gentler effects than its retinol alternative is very accommodating to body types.

  • Anyone looking to get rid of wrinkles, blemishes, and sometimes acne, can use the serum.
  • Anyone that wants to boost skin hydration
  • Any individual looking to maintain an already clear skin.
  • People with highly sensitive skin and also want firm skin
  • Those that react harshly to retinol products

How To Incorporate Bakuchiol into your Skin Care Routine

It’s simple to incorporate bakuchiol into your skincare routine: apply once or twice daily after cleansing, toning, and using a leave-on AHA or BHA exfoliant. If it’s a bakuchiol serum, apply it before your moisturizer. Apply it after your serum if it contains bakuchiol. As previously stated, bakuchiol oil is best used at night (or mix a drop or two into one of your favorite non-SPF skincare products each morning).

Side Effects Of Bakuchiol Serum

While bakuchiol is a natural, gentler alternative to retinol, people may still experience some irritations.

There is still a risk of sensitivity, including redness, dryness or stinging of the skin, especially with initial use. This just means that your skin will have to be accustomed to the serum.

To reduce this risk, slowly increase frequency. Apply it two or three times per week during the first week. If your skin tolerates it well, you can increase frequency as tolerated.

Bakuchiol Use during Pregnancy

Some online sources suggest that using bakuchiol during pregnancy is safe, citing it as a good alternative to retinol, which is not recommended for use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

The issue is that we don’t have any safety data to back up this recommendation because bakuchiol is still relatively new. On the plus side, the chemical difference between bakuchiol and vitamin A is large enough that there should be no problems. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, we recommend consulting with your healthcare provider before using bakuchiol products.

What to Look Out for When Buying A Retinol Alternative Serum

When a cosmetic ingredient becomes popular, brands will rush to launch a product as soon as possible in order to get a piece of the pie. This stampede floods the market with low-quality, frequently poorly formulated options. Consumers end up sifting through these subpar formulations and potentially purchasing a subpar product.

As always, we recommend shopping for your skin’s needs rather than the most attractive packaging, scents, or lowest price. When looking for the best bakuchiol serum, consider the following factors.

  • If it is made with Pure Cosmetic-grade Bakuchiol 
  • Does it have accessory compounds like Vitamin E and Astaxanthin.
  • You also need to know is stable and oil-based (takes expert eyes though), and it comes in a light-blocking glass bottle with a pump. Skincare products are degraded by light and air. When purchasing any skincare product, avoid droppers and clear bottles.

With Bakuchiol, more is not better. It is recommended that skincare products should not contain more than 1% of pure grade bakuchiol serum.

14 Frequently Asked Questions about Bakuchiol

  • Is bakuchiol better than retinol?

No, bakuchiol is not better than retinol. However, it has milder effects on the skin. It is also considered a natural alternative to retinol.

  • Is bakuchiol good for sensitive skin?

Yes, it is extremely good for those with sensitive skin. Retinol has harsher side effects and sometimes can cause severe hyperpigmentation which defeats the initial purpose of attaining clear skin.

Is bakuchiol safe?

Yes, from every indication, bakuchiol is safe. Also, because it is kind of new to the beauty scene, there are yet to be documented reports of severe side effects.

  • Can bakuchiol be used with retinol?

Yes, it can be used in combination with retinol.

  • Can bakuchiol be used with vitamin C?

Yes, bakuchiol and retinol can be combined. In fact, research shows that these two ingredients complement each other extremely well, and here’s why: bakuchiol’s powerful calming and stabilizing properties allow retinol to work more effectively and increase skin tolerance to this well-studied ingredient. 

This combination can make a significant difference for visible skin concerns such as wrinkles, dark spots, and loss of firmness. If your skin is sensitive to retinol, you should use bakuchiol. However, if your skin is not, then you should definitely try them together.

  • Can bakuchiol be used with niacinamide?

Bakuchiol can absolutely be combined with niacinamide. There’s no reason they couldn’t complement each other; they’re even good partners for acne treatments, as both are excellent ingredients for calming visible redness and hydrating the skin.

Niacinamide is an antioxidant that helps to lighten skin tone, reduce discoloration, and improve skin texture. Niacinamide also has anti-inflammatory properties that aid in skin soothing. It’s great for those with acne-prone, oily, or sensitive skin types.

Bakuchiol is a plant-derived ingredient that is similar to the antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine. Bakuchiol has antioxidant properties that protect the skin from environmental stressors. It also promotes collagen production, lightens dark spots, and is effective against acne-causing bacteria.

  • Can bakuchiol dry out the skin?

Bakuchiol oil is wonderful for dry, dehydrated skin. If you are using a heavy oil-based formula. You should generally apply it at night as the last step of your skincare routine.

  • Can bakuchiol be used with AHA?

Although bakuchiol is compatible with all skin care products, it is best to avoid using it with those that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) (BHAs). However, you can use bakuchiol after using AHA-BHA cleansers. 

  • How to apply bakuchiol serum

In the evening, apply 3 to 4 drops with the dropper to your clean, dry face to ensure that the serum penetrates during the night. Massage the face and neck gently in circular motions. After that, apply your usual moisturizer. Keep in mind that bakuchiol serum can be used both in the morning and/or evening

  • Where is Bakuchiol from?

Bakuchiol is an oil extracted from the seeds and leaves of the Psoralea corylifolia plant, which grows primarily in India and is more commonly known as babchi. This plant is endemic to certain Asian countries such as India, the Himalayan regions of Pakistan, and China.

  • Does bakuchiol thin the skin?

There are no known reports of bakuchiol serum thinning the skin.

  • Does bakuchiol cause hair loss?

No, bakuchiol does not in any way cause hair loss.

  • Does bakuchiol lighten skin?

There have been some reports that some people have gotten lighter after using bakuchiol but this would be because of the collagen receptors that are affected by bakuchiol serum.

  • Does bakuchiol cause cancer?

There is no known report that bakuchiol serum causes cancer


If you’re still not convinced that bakuchiol is a better option than retinol, you might just have to try it for yourself. It all comes down to your personal skincare preferences as well as your skin’s specific needs. What we can confidently say is that it’s a promising option for those looking for a gentle and/or natural alternative to retinol, one that provides comparable benefits without negative side effects.

Have you had any experience with Bakuchiol products or any retinol alternative serum , let us know in the comments

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