A newcomer in the skincare world, bakuchiol is a potentially revolutionary plant extract that has been dubbed by many “a natural retinol alternative.”
In trials so far, it has demonstrated powerful anti-aging effects, yet is gentle enough for sensitive skin. It also has the benefit of being a completely natural ingredient derived from an herb long used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
Here’s a more detailed look into this still little known botanical extract that could become a gamechanger in the skincare world.
What Is Bakuchiol?
Bakuchiol is a potent extract that comes from the seeds and leaves of the babchi plant.
Known botanically as Psoralea corylifolia, babchi is a plant native to India and Sri Lanka. It grows about 2-3 feet tall and blooms with pale purple flowers that turn into fruit containing seeds.
As mentioned, the seeds, leaves, flowers, and roots of the babchi plant have all been used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic and Chinese practices. All parts of the plant are used primarily in skincare and to treat many types of skin ailments.
When discussing bakuchiol specifically, it’s important to differentiate it from another plant extract: babchi oil.
Babchi oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant. It can be used as a carrier oil for skincare or aromatherapy and has excellent moisturizing properties, plus its own potential anti-aging benefits.
Bakuchiol, on the other hand, is a specific plant compound that is found most abundantly in the leaves and seeds of the babchi plant.
Babchi oil contains bakuchiol, along with many other plant compounds. But if you see a product made with the ingredient “bakuchiol,” this refers to the isolated and purified compound.
Top Skin-Boosting Benefits of Bakuchiol
Potential Natural Alternative to Retinol
Bakuchiol has gotten the most buzz from being compared to retinol but without the same negative side effects.
A derivative of vitamin A, retinol has become something of a gold standard in the skincare industry. You may be familiar with it because it’s a common ingredient in anti-aging and acne products.
On the surface, retinol boasts a lot of positive properties. It can combat signs of aging (think wrinkles), plump up skin, even out skin tone, and even fight acne.
The downside is that it can actually accelerate signs of aging with long-term usage because it makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays from the sun. This heightened sensitivity may increase your risk of skin cancer as well. Many people with sensitive skin also experience redness, irritation, and dryness with retinol products.
This is where bakuchiol enters the scene.
It matched retinol for effectiveness in a 2018 study with no downsides (including redness, irritation, etc.) discovered yet. This is good news for skincare in general, but especially for those with sensitive skin.
Boosts Collagen Production to Fight Fine Lines & Wrinkles
Collagen is an important protein when it comes to the health of your skin. It works hard to keep your skin plump, firm, and thick, which is what fends off wrinkles and fine lines.
Unfortunately, collagen production starts declining as you get older. This leads to skin losing its firmness and thickness, allowing wrinkles to form more easily.
Because of this, stimulating collagen production is essential for getting back to youthful-looking skin. Just applying collagen products externally doesn’t work because your skin can’t absorb the large molecules.
Bakuchiol has demonstrated an ability to boost collagen, which in turn makes it able to noticeably reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
In fact, the same study that compared it to retinol noted that bakuchiol “significantly decreased wrinkle surface area.”
Improves Skin Elasticity and Firmness
Not only does your skin lose firmness as you age, it also starts to lose elasticity. Elasticity is what makes your skin able to “bounce back” and regain its shape after being stretched or stressed. As elasticity declines, skin starts to look saggy.
In a 12-week clinical trial, a twice daily application of bakuchiol significantly improved both firmness and elasticity in participants. And as other studies discovered, bakuchiol achieved this without the undesirable side effects of retinol treatments.
Serums made with bakuchiol have also shown a lot of potential for restoring skin integrity.
One nightly serum made with bakuchiol, melatonin, and a vitamin C derivative improved skin firmness after 12 weeks while also decreasing wrinkles and redness.
Not bad at all!
Acts as a Powerful Antioxidant
One of the reasons bakuchiol has so much anti-aging potential for your skin is because it works as an antioxidant.
Many people are aware of how important antioxidants are for overall health. They combat free radical damage that can contribute to the development of chronic conditions and inflammation.
However, their role in skin health is just as vital, yet often overlooked.
Free radicals attack molecules in your skin as well as in the rest of your body. They also induce two specific enzymes known as collagenase and elastase. These enzymes are so named because they break down collagen (the anti-wrinkle protein) and elastin (the skin elasticity protector).
If you aren’t “feeding” your skin antioxidants, free radical damage will go unchecked and can seriously degrade the health of your skin.
That’s one of the many reasons bakuchiol why can fight signs of aging: It has antioxidant power to fight against free radicals, protect collagen and elastin, and restore a youthful appearance to skin.
Soothing and Moisturizing for Skin
Far from causing the dryness and irritation that is possible with retinol, bakuchiol is soothing to skin and may even help with sensitivity.
Along with working as an antioxidant, bakuchiol has anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it able to calm redness and be gentle on skin that is prone to irritation.
Bakuchiol is also considered a hydrator for skin. It won’t dry out your skin, but it won’t make your skin more oily, either. It’s truly a good choice for all skin types because of a very gentle nature that combines with some powerful skin-boosting effects.
Helps to Even Out & Brighten Skin Tone
Hyperpigmentation and dark spots (also called age spots or sun spots) are two more signs of aging that show up on skin as the years pass.
Most often, they appear because of continual exposure to sunlight and UV rays. Your body produces melanin, a dark pigment, upon exposure to the sun. This is what makes your skin tan and normally fades with extended time periods away from sunlight (think winter).
However, at some point, certain spots of melanin on your skin don’t fade, which leaves you with small areas that are darker than your normal skin tone.
Of course, hyperpigmentation can occur for other reasons. Acne scars, for example, often leave dark spots on the skin. And to add to this, skin often loses its brightness and “glow” from exposure to environmental pollutants, chemicals, and UV rays.
The good news is that bakuchiol has been found to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. It helps to even out skin tone, reduce redness, and can help your skin regain its glow.
All this from just one plant extract!
Promotes Skin Cell Turnover and Regeneration
By stimulating collagen production, bakuchiol encourages healthy skin cell turnover, which is very important to keep your skin regenerating itself.
Skin cell turnover is yet another thing that can slow with age. It usually leads to dead skin cells collecting and making skin appear dull instead of bright and youthful.
However, over exfoliating or using harsh products is often not the best solution. This can make skin cells to turn over too quickly, which causes irritation and other problems.
One of the many benefits of bakuchiol is that it encourages regeneration without being harsh on skin or overstimulating skin cell turnover. It helps your skin be its best natural self.
May Help Protect Skin from Photodamage
Photodamage is a broad term that includes any skin change that occurs due to prolonged exposure to the sun. Most of these changes are age-related: wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines, rough patches, loss of elasticity, etc. At the extreme end is skin cancer.
Because photodamage happens in the deeper layers of your skin, it can take years to actually appear and can be difficult to reverse.
This is a potential problem with retinol and other skincare ingredients that are known to increase photosensitivity (the sensitivity of skin to sunlight). While they can improve signs of aging short-term, they may increase skin aging down the road by making skin more likely to be damaged by sunlight.
One important aspect of bakuchiol as an anti-aging ingredient is that it has not been shown to increase photosensitivity. This makes it beneficial for skin long-term as well as short-term.
And because of bakuchiol’s antioxidant nature, it may actually help protect against photodamage, although this aspect still needs more research to be confirmed.
Has Acne-Fighting Properties
While bakuchiol has the most potential as an anti-aging product, it’s also showing effectiveness against acne. This is likely due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Trials on bakuchiol and acne have so far been limited. However, one clinical study found that a 1% topical bakuchiol treatment was able to reduce acne more effectively than salicylic acid, a common acne treatment. When the two were combined, they had a much higher success rate than either on its own.
Another study also indicated that bakuchiol may be able to increase the effectiveness of a vitamin A derived acne treatment called adapalene.
There’s clearly a lot of potential for bakuchiol to be used to reduce acne, either on its own or in combination with other treatments.
Another reason bakuchiol stands apart from retinol is because it’s an all-natural, plant-derived ingredient. This makes it not only free of synthetic chemicals but also vegan.
While there are some vegan retinol options available, most retinol-based products are derived from animal sources. In addition, the vegan alternatives that are out there can contain synthetic forms of retinol alongside plant-based ingredients, so you need to read the label carefully.
On the other hand, bakuchiol is naturally vegan, since it can only be extracted from the babchi plant. If you are looking to avoid animal-derived skincare products, this is most definitely a plus.
Bakuchiol: More Than Just a Retinol Alternative
It’s easy to see why bakuchiol is always being compared to retinol. It has many similar and potent anti-aging benefits, but does its work without negative side effects like dryness.
However, it’s important to note that bakuchiol really stands on its own as a novel skincare ingredient. It has a completely different makeup than retinol (which is what makes it more gentle on skin) and unique benefits.
Whether you use it as a pure extract or as a component of babchi oil, bakuchiol can be a gamechanger for your skin.
Anti-Aging Skincare for Your Eyes
If all the benefits of bakuchiol have caught your attention, you may be interested in the new Age-Defying Eye Cream from Purity Woods.
It’s a completely natural, plant-derived cream that is specifically formulated to fight signs of aging on the delicate skin around your eyes. It contains 20+ pure botanical extracts, including the pressed oil of Psoralea corylifolia, aka babchi oil.
Not only does it contain powerful bakuchiol, the babchi oil (and every single other ingredient) is USDA Certified Organic, which means your skin won’t be harmed by any chemicals or pesticide residues.
Bakuchiol combines with other plant-based ingredients, like the antioxidant powerhouse sumac berry and the elastin-boosting maple leaf extracts, to make a complete formula with age-defying effects.
The Age-Defying Eye Cream also contains the superb moisturizers mango seed butter, evening primrose oil, and rosehip seed oil, which all work to keep the sensitive skin around your eyes hydrated.
Combining babchi oil and bakuchiol with these other powerful botanical superstars is what makes this cream so effective in both the short- and the long-term. It’s a completely chemical-free anti-aging eye cream that really works.
So if you’ve been searching for a plant-derived solution to under-eye bags, dark circles, wrinkles, etc….