Retinol is the powerhouse ingredient that’s well-trusted for reducing wrinkles, refining skin texture, and turning back the clock on ageing skin – but, there’s also a big downside to this anti-ageing active, and it’s that it can be irritating on the skin.
That’s why, ever since the skincare world discovered an ingredient that boasts a slew of similar benefits without being harsh on the skin, the active’s been named the “gentler retinol alternative”.
Coming hot on the heels of retinol as a wrinkle-fading, skin-smoothening, complexion-firming miracle ingredient, it’s none other than bakuchiol, a plant-based extract derived from the seeds and leaves of the babchi plant, or psoralea corylifolia.
What is bakuchiol?
Bakuchiol, touted as the natural (100% plant-based) alternative to retinol, doesn’t actually resemble the vitamin A derivative in terms of its molecular structure. The reason it’s considered a “gentler retinol” is that its benefits are surprisingly similar.
- Softens the appearance of wrinkles: Bakuchiol boosts cell regeneration and collagen production, which helps to “fill in” fine lines and wrinkles on the skin.
- Evens skin tone: Bakuchiol controls melanin production and is, thus, effective at fading dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
- Heals acne: Bakuchiol’s anti-inflammatory and soothing properties make it an ingredient that’s good for breakout-prone skin. Since it encourages cell turnover, it also helps to speed up the acne healing process.
- Protects skin against free radical damage: A powerful antioxidant, bakuchiol fights free radical damage and protects your skin from damage due to environmental aggressors like UV rays and pollutants.
Beyond these retinol-resembling benefits, bakuchiol also earns extra points because, unlike retinol, it doesn’t make the skin more sensitive to UV rays and can be used both day and night.
The biggest advantage to using bakuchiol instead of retinol, of course, is that the plant-based active is gentle on all skin types and isn’t known to cause dryness or irritation. That said, you should still perform a patch test when trying bakuchiol skincare for the first time, as well as slowly introduce the products to your skin to make sure that they’re suitable for you – as with any other ingredient.
Best bakuchiol serums
Herbivore Botanicals Moon Fruit Retinol Alternative Serum
At first glance, you might mistake Herbivore Botanicals’ Moon Fruit Retinol Alternative Serum for a retinol serum because the ingredient jumps out in its name. Really, it’s a retinol-alternative serum, or, in other words, a bakuchiol skincare product.
Infused with 1% bakuchiol in its formula, alongside firming plant peptides and tightening Schisandra berry extract, the Moon Fruit Retinol Alternative Serum visibly smoothens out wrinkles on the skin. Plus, you get to skip any irritation that typically comes with retinol.
Herbivore Botanicals Moon Fruit Retinol Alternative Serum retails for RM290 on Sephora.
Paula’s Choice 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment
It’s true, retinol and bakuchiol star side-by-side in this wrinkle-fighting serum by Paula’s Choice.
Infused with moderate-strength retinol at low concentration, Paula’s Choice 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment smoothes out fine lines without being too harsh on the skin.
Here’s where bakuchiol comes in: since it’s a gentler alternative to retinol, it enhances the serum’s fine-line-fading powers without further irritating the skin.
Double the anti-ageing action with less irritation – we’re giving this bakuchiol serum our stamp of approval. Just remember that, because this formula contains retinol, you should top it off with a sunscreen rated SPF30 or higher.
Neogen Dermalogy Real Bakuchiol Firming Serum
Bakuchiol, like retinol, is known for boosting collagen production, which helps to firm the complexion.
Neogen Dermalogy’s Real Bakuchiol Firming Serum doesn’t just contain bakuchiol – it’s also infused with two types of peptides that help to lift saggy skin and, similarly, enhance collagen production.
Hydrolysed lupine protein is another ingredient in the mix that helps to bump up skin’s elasticity, so don’t be surprised to find your skin is plumper and flaunts a jello-like bounce over time!
Neogen Dermalogy Real Bakuchiol Firming Serum retails for RM149 on Amazon.
Philosophy Nature In A Jar Skin Reset Serum With Bakuchiol
Give your skin a fresh start with Philosophy Nature In A Jar Skin Reset Serum With Bakuchiol!
On one level, bakuchiol encourages skin regeneration, thus turning back the clock on ageing skin so that your fine lines are blurred and the skin’s texture is made smooth.
At the same time, the serum’s infused olive leaf extract helps the skin defend itself against further damage; it energises the complexion and protects it against environmental stressors like harmful UV rays.
By defending and repairing all at once, the Nature In A Jar Skin Reset Serum With Bakuchiol grants you visibly smoother and firmer skin in as little as two weeks.
Philosophy Nature In A Jar Skin Reset Serum With Bakuchiol retails for RM253 on Sephora.
Best bakuchiol moisturisers
The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer
The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer is a good way to add bakuchiol to your skincare regimen for the first time without breaking the bank.
This budget-friendly product features none other than bakuchiol to smoothen fine lines and wrinkles and even the skin tone, even as you moisturise.
Since it contains nourishing squalene and Sacha Inchi oil, which is rich in fatty acids like omega-3, the Bakuchiol Moisturizer will surely help your skin will stay comfy and hydrated all day.
The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer retails for RM62 on Sephora.
Best bakuchiol eye products
Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème
The beautiful purple swirls in this eye cream are enough to make us want to have it on our vanity, but the real reason you need to add the Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème to your skincare ritual is that it contains, of course, bakuchiol.
Bakuchiol, in this formula, works together with skin-firming orchid stem cells, plant proteins, and peptides to blur the appearance of fine lines around your eyes.
The eye cream also firms the skin and depuffs the under-eyes, so you enjoy an overall youthful, brighter-eyed appearance!
Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème retails for RM255 on Sephora.
Wishful Eye Lift & Contour 1% Bakuchiol & Peptide Serum
Give your under-eyes a treat with the Wishful Eye Lift & Contour 1% Bakuchiol & Peptide Serum!
This eye serum is infused with bakuchiol, peptides, matcha, and Arabian jasmine, which, together, smoothen out fine lines, depuff, as well as firm the delicate skin around the eye area.
Since it comes with a special applicator tip, you can give your eyes a refreshing perk-me-up massage every time you use the serum. Besides upping the ante on pampering in your #selfcare routine, it’ll also help to boost blood circulation for brighter under-eyes.
Wishful Eye Lift & Contour 1% Bakuchiol & Peptide Serum retails for RM232 on Sephora.
Best bakuchiol face oils
Joi Bakuchiol Skin Booster
Face oils are particularly useful for building the skin’s lipid barrier and sealing in moisture, but Joi Bakuchiol Skin Booster also taps on bakuchiol to soften fine lines and wrinkles, even out the skin tone, soothe skin, and kill pimple-causing bacteria.
Reviewers praise the Joi Bakuchiol Skin Booster for being a super lightweight, quick-absorbing face oil that’s comfy on the skin – you don’t have to worry about your complexion feeling greasy after.
Purposeful Skincare by Allies (PSA) Midnight Courage Rosehip & Bakuchiol Retinol Night Oil
If bakuchiol is a gentler alternative to retinol, why combine both ingredients in a single skincare product? Well, there’s one more reason to add bakuchiol to your ritual: bakuchiol’s skin-soothing properties actually help your skin better tolerate retinol.
Used alongside retinol, you get to enjoy double the power when it comes to anti-ageing effects, with less irritation to your skin too.
Purposeful Skincare by Allies (PSA) Midnight Courage Rosehip & Bakuchiol Retinol Night Oil retails for RM210 on Sephora.
Bybi Beauty Bakuchiol Booster
To really nourish your skin while enjoying all the benefits of bakuchiol, go for Bybi Beauty’s Bakuchiol Booster, a face oil that’s a conditioning blend of olive squalane oil and, of course, bakuchiol.
Squalane helps to moisturise and repair dry, flakey skin, which means that you’ll get to enjoy skin that’s softer, more supple, and with fewer fine lines overall.
Bybi Beauty Bakuchiol Booster retails for RM80 on Sephora.
Featured image credit: @herbivorebotanicals, @pearlpeony