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Why everyone’s talking about the super skin-boosting ingredient Bakuchiol

A woman applying serum. Alamy/PA.

By Katie Wright

Skincare junkies have long raved about the transformative effects of vitamin A derivative retinol, how a nightly application of a supercharged serum can work wonders on your complexion.

Now, there’s a new kid on the beauty block said to rival retinol in the quest for clear skin, and it’s called bakuchiol.

Fans are raving about how they get the same results – but with less irritation – with this plant-derived antioxidant.

But is bakuchiol really as good as – or even better than – retinol? We asked an expert to explain…


Photo of babchi seeds. Alamy/PA.

What is bakuchiol?

“Psoralea corylifolia (Babchi) is a medicinal plant originating from India and China. Bakuchiol occurs in the babchi seeds and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries,” says Dr Richard Blackburn, co-founder and director of skincare brand Dr Craft.

“This natural active has become known as a gentle and effective anti-ageing active, that mimics the behaviour of retinol, without the same kind of irritation. It’s a potent antioxidant that is vegan friendly.”


What are the benefits of using bakuchiol?

If tackling the signs of ageing and sun damage are a priority for you, this antioxidant could really help.

“Bakuchiol has been clinically proven through research published in the British Journal of Dermatology to significantly decrease wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and UV-related skin damage, with fewer side effects than retinol,” says Dr Blackburn.

The transformation won’t happen overnight, however, he adds: “Research shows 12 weeks of application can result in smoother, firmer, and all-around more youthful-appearing skin.”


Why do some people say it’s better than retinol?

While retinol is undoubtedly a powerful anti-ageing ingredient, not all skin types can tolerate it.

Dr Blackburn says: “Unfortunately for many users, retinol has significant undesired side effects, such as itching, burning and even skin peeling. It is often recommended to be introduced into a skincare routine slowly, due to these issues, but for those with very dry or sensitive skin, retinol is often simply unsuitable.”

Bakuchiol, on the other hand, is “great for all skin types, particularly those with dry and sensitive skin, who may be prone to irritation from retinoids. It is a gentle active that is adaptable for different regimes, and safe to use twice a day. It’s also completely safe to use in the sun, as it does not increase sensitivity to UV”.

Plus, whereas retinol can’t be used with alpha or beta hydroxy acids (chemical exfoliants) bakuchiol doesn’t negatively interact with any other skincare ingredients.


How should bakuchiol be used as part of a skincare routine?

Another benefit of bakuchiol is its versatility. You’ll find it in everything, from cleansers and masks to BB creams and facial oils, but the most common format is serum.

“Bakuchiol can be incorporated into both your day and night skincare regime, but by adding it into your night regime, you are allowing the active time to work hard overnight,” says Dr Blackburn.

“Skincare products containing bakuchiol extract should be applied to a cleansed face and neck, in order of thinnest to thickest. Allow a few minutes for the product to sink into your skin before applying the next step.”


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