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. Sounds pretty cool doesn’t it?

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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?

What is Bakuchiol Oil?

Bakuchiol is a plant-based ingredient that comes from the babchi plant. Bakuchiol extract is drawn from the plant’s leaves and seeds. The oil made from the extract 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 common ingredient in anti-aging and acne treatment products, it can irritate the skin. It’s also 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. In other words you get many of the same retinol benefits but without the negative side effects.

Find the most popular bakuchiol products on Amazon here.

Bakuchiol for skin - what is it?

Bakuchiol Oil Skin 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

Bakuchiol can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It helps promote collagen production for healthy, plump skin. One study showed significant improvement in lines and wrinkles, elasticity, and firmness after using bakuchiol for a 12 week period.

Even Tone

Bakuchiol can reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, age spots, and dark spots for a smoother, more even complexion.

Speeds Up Cell Turnover

Bakuchiol helps stimulate cell turnover for faster skin repair and a healthy, clear complexion. It’s almost like a magic ingredient for aging skin.

Fight Acne

It can help reduce breakouts and manage oily skin. Bakuchiol also can also help soothe and calm the skin which can be beneficial for acne and blemish-prone skin.

top bakuchiol oil benefits for skin

The real kicker is that bakuchiol offers the benefits above without irritating the skin. Bakuchiol is safe to use 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. Retinol 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.

There is no doubt retinol is an effective anti-aging ingredient. That is why it’s still so popular in skincare today, even with alternatives such as bakuchiol.

Bakuchiol Extract

As noted above, bakuchiol is derived from plants. This is why it’s often referred to as the “natural retinol”. It offers many of 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 using both, 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.

The benefits of bakuchiol to stand up to the hype. There is science that supports the effectiveness of bakuchiol. However, retinol has been around longer and has much stronger science backing. There are more retinol studies and a larger number of clinically-proven products containing retinol.

How To Use Bakuchiol

It is safe to use bakuchiol 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.

Don’t forget your SPF! Bakuchiol may not make your skin more likely to burn (like retinol) but you still want to protect it out in the sun! Remember, sun damage is the number 1 culprit for premature aging.

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.

Best Bakuchiol Products

After learning about all the amazing benefits of bakuchiol, it’s a normal reaction to wonder how you get your hands on this ingredient. We have good news for you! There are plenty of options. Like most things skincare, it comes down to finding the best bakuchiol product for your skin needs. Here are some of our favorites based on skin type.

Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum – Best Option for Dry Skin

You’ve heard us talk about this serum before. You can read our full review here. We love this product because it’s an all-in-one moisturizing serum. It’s packed with the great anti-aging ingredients we love such as squalane, bakuchiol (of course), hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and rosehip oil. This product will help you smooth away fine lines and wrinkles while deeply nourishing and moisturizing the skin.

  • Clean ingredients – It is made with natural, clean ingredients that are vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, PEG-free, and free from synthetic fragrances. All of the goodies and none of the nasties here.
  • Anti-aging – Get the anti-aging benefits without the irritation and sensitivity risks of retinol.
  • Hydrate & Nourishing – this product is packed with proven ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, rosehip oil, and niacinamide. These ingredients help nourish, hydrate, soften, and repair the skin.
  • Conscious Brand – Biossance focuses their story on how they source their squalane (from sugarcane) instead of the old-school way of getting from shark liver. All their ingredient come from sustainable sources with minimal damage to the environment.
  • Effective – This product has real results. It has positive clinical results and strong ratings and reviews across the web.

Avalea Phyto Radiance Concentrate Serum – Best Option for Sensitive Skin

This face serum is another great bakuchiol option packed with anti-aging and moisturizing ingredients. We selected this product based on it’s stacked ingredient profile. The Avalea Phyto Radiance Concentrate has argan oil, squalane, jojoba seed oil, bakuchiol, sunflower seed oil, rosehip oil, and vitamin E. This potent formula offers great results without any risks of irritation or sensitivities.

  • Anti-aging – Soften fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Even tone and texture – Helps reduce the appearance of dark spots and blotchiness.
  • Hydrate – Smooth and soften skin without excess oiliness.
  • Clean Ingredient Profile – You’ll be surprised when reading the ingredient list of this product. It’s made with wholesome, natural ingredients.
  • Safe for Sensitive Skin – Low risk of irritating skin, making it a great option even for sensitive skin.

Model off Duty Beauty Bakuchiol Glow Booster Serum – Best Option for Normal / Oily / Combo Skin

The Model off Duty Bakuchiol Serum has simple branding and packaging but it packs a serious punch! It uses all organic ingredients that include bakuchiol, squalane, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe vera. It doesn’t offer the same hydration as the Biossance serum but it’s the perfect bakuchiol product for oily, normal, and combination skin.

  • Clean Ingredients – This product is made with vegan, cruelty-free, and organic ingredients.
  • Anti-aging – Helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also can help boost collagen and elastin in the skin.
  • Hydrating – Squalane, glycerin, and aloe vera all help replenish moisture to the skin without excess oiliness.

Is Bakuchiol Safe for Pregnancy?

Yes, bakuchiol as a skincare ingredient is considered safe to use during pregnancy. Chances are, the product you’re using will have more ingredients than bakuchiol alone, so you’ll want to confirm with the manufacturer that the product you’re using is safe for pregnancy.

This goes without saying but also bring these questions to your doctor. You can never be too careful!!

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