Ready To Break Up With Retinol? Try This Antiaging Powerhouse Instead

Step aside, retinol. There’s a new antiaging ingredient in town. It’s called bakuchiol, and it delivers the same results as retinol, without any of the negative side effects. Sound too good to be true? Read on to see why bakuchiol is the latest must-try ingredient in skincare.

By Renée Walton2 min read
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Shutterstock/Dasha Muller

The first thing to understand about bakuchiol (pronounced “buh-KOO-chee-all”) is that it isn't actually new at all. In fact, the ingredient – which is native to India and derived from the seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant – has been a staple in Ayurvedic practices and Chinese medicine for centuries. It’s only been within the last several years that mainstream skincare manufacturers have taken notice of its remarkable antiaging properties. And now it’s quickly earning a reputation as one of the hottest ingredients in the beauty industry. 

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Retinol vs. Bakuchiol 

Retinol has gained popularity over the past few decades as a powerful antiaging tool. But in truth, this supposed miracle ingredient comes with some significant baggage. Retinol can cause irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin. This can include dryness, burning sensations, and itchiness. Use of retinol also makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, so daily sunscreen use is recommended – which brings with it a whole slew of other potential issues. And perhaps the most concerning side effect of retinol? Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised not to use it for fear of birth defects and skin irritation caused by consuming too much vitamin A (yikes!). 

Enter bakuchiol. Think of it as retinol’s “crunchy,” boho cousin. It’s naturally derived (whereas retinol is a synthetic vitamin A derivative), and boasts the same antiaging qualities as retinol – reduction in fine lines, improved skin elasticity, and a more even tone overall – without any of the negative side effects. In fact, a 2018 study showed that bakuchiol is just as effective as retinol in terms of decreasing wrinkles and age spots. Subjects also experienced less irritation and stinging while using bakuchiol. (Note: There haven’t been any studies done to determine whether or not bakuchiol is safe for pregnancy. Always consult with your doctor.)

A 2018 study showed that bakuchiol is just as effective as retinol in terms of decreasing wrinkles and age spots.

The difference between the two ingredients lies in how they interact with the skin. Retinol works by essentially breaking down the top layer of the skin in order to encourage new cell growth. It leaves your skin looking fresh and new because it basically is new skin. But here’s the catch: We need that top layer of skin for protection from the elements. That’s why retinol makes our skin more prone to sunburn and other environmental irritants. On the flipside, bakuchiol takes a gentler approach. It works by encouraging collagen production, which has a plumping effect on the skin and smoothes out fine lines and wrinkles. It’s the perfect option for women who prefer a more natural approach to antiaging. 

Ready to try bakuchiol for yourself? Then you’re in luck – skincare brands are already hopping on the bakuchiol bandwagon in droves, so you’re sure to find a product that fits your budget and skin concerns. Here are 12 of our favorites: