Bakuchiol Serum: What Is It, Uses and Benefits

Bakuchiol serum is another ingredient that has recently gained a lot of attention on social media. In this blog post, we analyze the scientific evidence behind the effectiveness of the Bakuchiol serum in skin care, and we will compare Bakuchiol serum to alternatives, especially retinol.
Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Graduate medical student at Barts and London.

A blue image with text saying "Bakuchiol serum"

What is Bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a natural compound derived from the psoralea corylifolia plant with potential therapeutic properties [1]. This plant grown in India, has been a component of Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for many years. When used topically, Bakuchiol improves photoaging, reduces wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Significantly, Bakuchiol is better tolerated than retinol, making it a great alternative for sensitive skin [2]. It also enhances skin elasticity and firmness, making it an attractive choice for skincare [3].

People Also Ask

Bakuchiol is a plant extract that has been marketed as a natural alternative to retinol in skincare. Studies have shown that bakuchiol has similar effects to retinol in improving signs of aging, such as wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. It is also better tolerated, with fewer side effects like skin irritation. However, more research is needed to fully understand the efficacy and long-term effects of bakuchiol compared to retinol.

Bakuchiol is a natural alternative to retinol that offers several benefits for sensitive skin. It has been shown to improve the signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, without causing irritation or side effects commonly associated with retinol. Bakuchiol also helps with pigmentation, elasticity, and firmness of the skin. It is well-tolerated and effective in individuals with sensitive skin, making it a suitable option for those who may experience sensitivity or have conditions like eczema or dermatitis. [1], [2], [3]

What does Bakuchiol do?

Bakuchiol works similarly to retinol, improving photoaging and hyperpigmentation. It's a functional analogue of retinol, inducing similar gene expression in the skin [2].

A recent study in the British Journal of Dermatology concluded that following a 12-week study individuals using Bakuchiol saw improvements such as:

  • A more even skin tone [4]
  • A reduction in the appearance of fine lines [5]
  • Reduction in dryness of irritation.
  • Speeding up of skin cell turnover [3].

Is Bakuchiol better than retinol?

Bakuchiol has been shown to be as effective as retinol with less side effects. Retinol is a well established skin treatment, derived from vitamin A and often described as an ‘anti-ageing’ elixir [6]. When used consistently, it can increase skin cell turnover reducing wrinkles and fine lines. However, it is often unsuitable for sensitive skin and can cause redness, dry skin and flaking. Importantly, as it can lead to increased levels of vitamin A in the body it is considered a risk for pregnant women, as it can be considered teratogenic - or at risk of causing birth defects [7]. Additionally, retinol is not recommended to be used during the day due to its photo-sensitive nature [6].

Bakuchiol serum may be a promising alternative to this, for those that retinol is unsuitable for or those who simply prefer a more gentle approach in their skincare.

Is Bakuchiol as effective as retinol?

While it has been suggested that Bakuchiol works more slowly than Retinol, a 2018 study assessing Bakuchiol’s ability to decrease wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, reported that Bakuchiol is as effective as retinol [2]. Here the participants used bakuchiol 0·5% cream twice daily or retinol 0·5% cream daily, noting that retinol users reported more scaling of their skin and stinging.

Additionally, unlike retinol Bakuchiol has not been reported to negatively interact with other skincare ingredients, allowing you to layer it with any of your favourite products! [8]

How to use Bakuchiol

As of currently, the bakuchiol available is applied topically as a serum or lotion with between 0.25-0.5% being suggested as the sweet spot for an effective treatment.

Summary: Bakuchiol pros and cons

Bakuchiol is a promising retinol alternative with anti-aging, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties however more research is needed. Studies show it's effective in reducing photodamage, hyperpigmentation, and redness, with fewer side effects than retinol. However, as most of the studies performed have been either on a small number of participants or industry funded, more research is needed to fully understand its efficacy compared to retinol. Crucially, whilst it may seem an attractive alternative for expectant mothers, no clinical trials have currently been conducted on pregnant or breastfeeding women, so discuss with a clinician before adding any new products to your routine.

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Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Natasha is a medical student at Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry, with an interest in the social determinants of health. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in Human Sciences and has obtained two publications. Her most recent work investigating clinical vaccine trials has been published in BMJ Public Health.