Bakuchiol for Skin – Is It Better Than Retinol?

Bakuchiol (pronounced ba-koo-heel) has been a buzz-worthy “new” skincare ingredient recently. It’s been deemed the “natural retinol” since this plant-based ingredient offers many of the same benefits as a retinol alternative.

It has been used for years in Ayurvedic medicine but it recently caught-on in mainstream skincare products in the United States.

We’ll take a closer look a bakuchiol to see if it stands up to all the hype. Is bakuchiol a worthy alternative to retinol?

Bakuchiol for skin - what is it?

What is Bakuchiol Oil?

Bakuchiol is a plant-based ingredient that is extracted from the babchi plant. The extract is drawn from the plant’s leaves and seeds. The oil is not a new discovery; it’s been a cosmetic product for decades in east Asian cultures for calming down irritated skin. However, it has been an exciting new skincare ingredient in western cultures over the past few years.

It’s hard to find an article about bakuchiol without seeing the comparison to retinol, or vitamin A derivatives. Even though retinol is a widely used ingredient in anti-aging and acne treatment products, it can irritate the skin. It’s not the best option for sensitive skin.

That’s where bakuchiol comes in. It offers many of the same benefits to the skin, but it’s also safe for sensitive skin. Find the most popular bakuchiol products on Amazon here.

Bakuchiol Benefits

All the excitement around this ingredient comes from its wide range of benefits for aging skin. Bakuchiol promotes collagen production and cell turnover to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and even skin tone. The kicker? It does all this without irritating your skin. Retinol can’t say the same…

  • Anti Aging – Studies have shown bakuchiol can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It helps promote collagen production for healthy, plump skin.
  • Even Tone – It can reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, age spots, and dark spots for a smooth even complexion.
  • Speeds Up Cell Turnover – It helps stimulate cell turnover for faster skin repair and a healthy, clear complexion.
  • Fight Acne – It can help reduce breakouts and manage oily skin.
bakuchiol oil top benefits for skin

The real kicker is that bakuchiol offers the benefits above without irritating the skin. This gentler ingredient can be used twice a day (morning and night) without concern. It won’t make your skin more sensitive to the sun either.

Retinol vs. Bakuchiol

Retinol has been a darling ingredient in anti-aging and acne products for years. It offers tested and proven benefits for aging skin and those who struggle with acne. But it has limitations. It’s not a good option if you have sensitive skin and it can’t be used with certain products.

Bakuchiol is a trendy ingredient that shows significant benefits to the skin. Even in head-to-head comparison studies, bakuchiol has been able to hold its ground.

bakuchiol vs. retinol - which is better?


Retinol is a synthetic derivative of vitamin A. Skincare enthusiasts and professionals claim it’s the gold-standard ingredient since it changes the behavior of skin cells so they act in a more youthful manner. It helps do all the things you want in an anti-aging product. It helps boost collagen production, skin renewal, and it helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and uneven texture. It can smooth fine lines but also prevent wrinkles from forming. Retinol can help with the following:

  • Prevents wrinkles
  • Reduces (current) wrinkles and fine lines
  • Reduce the appearance of age spots and hyperpigmentation
  • Even tone and texture
  • Balances skin to help with oily, blemish-prone skin

Unfortunately, this powerful ingredient isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It can have serious side effects. The most common side effects of using retinol are dry and flaky skin, redness, and a stinging or burning sensation. These effects may fade over time, as the skin adapts. Retinol also makes the skin very sensitive to sun exposure. It’s critical to wear sunscreen when using retinol-based products.


As noted above, bakuchiol is derived from plants. This is why it’s often referred to as the “natural retinol”. It has been proven to offer the same skin benefits without the harsh side effects of retinol. It hasn’t been around as long but the initial studies are promising. Bakuchiol is clearly an effective anti-aging skincare ingredient. Perhaps best of all, it’s vegan and plant-based!

Which One Is Better?

Given the tradeoffs, bakuchiol is better for the skin than retinol. While the skin benefits are comparable, bakuchiol is gentler on the skin and is a more stable ingredient. Retinol and bakuchiol both offer anti-aging and oil control benefits, but bakuchiol does this without the harsh side effects associated with retinol use.

Bakuchiol and retinol can be used together as well. It doesn’t always have to be one or the other. When they are used together, bakuchiol may help retinol work longer. Since retinol isn’t a stable ingredient, this can improve its effectiveness. Bakuchiol can also help soothe and ease the side effects associated with using retinol.

Comparison Studies

One randomized, double-blind study with 44 patients had one group use 0.5% bakuchiol cream where the other group used 0.5% retinol. The results showed that both ingredients significantly reduced wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. There wasn’t a significant difference between the effectiveness of retinol and bakuchiol either. However, facial scaling and stinging were reported from the group using the retinol cream. They are both effective ingredients but bakuchiol is gentler on the skin.

Another study focused on comparing the skincare related activities of retinol and bakuchiol. The study found that even though bakuchiol has no structural resemblance to retinoids, it can function very similarly when applied to the skin. Similar to retinol, bakuchiol showed upregulation of l and lV collagen and stimulation of type lll collagen. This study concluded that bakuchiol is an effective anti-aging ingredient through the regulation of gene expression, similar to retinol.

How To Use Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol can be used twice a day, both in the morning and at night. However, experts recommend starting slow, especially if you have sensitive skin. For any new products or ingredients, you can try spot testing them first by applying to the wrist or behind the ear. Try using bakuchiol at night three days a week before working your way up to using it every day, twice a day.

Bakuchiol doesn’t have the same product mix restrictions as retinol. You can mix this skincare ingredient with other products without concern. If you are looking for a quality serum with bakuchiol, check out our review on the Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum.