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Bakuchiol vs. Retinol - What's The Difference?

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Is Bakuchiol the same as Retinol


This skincare ingredient seemed to have appeared out of the blue and found itself plastered on the ingredient list of many branded products claiming to be an alternative to retinol.

These claims include calling it a natural alternative to retinol or plant-derived retinol.

So what is this mysterious ingredient? Is it really a replacement for retinol?

Let's find out.


So what is Bakuchiol?

It is a natural ingredient derived from the leaves and seeds of the babchi (Psoralea corylifolia ) plant which has its roots in ayurvedic medicine.

It is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties as well as a good level of natural antioxidants as well.

This ingredient is said to have collagen-boosting abilities because of the Vitamin A component in it which helps in reducing the sign of aging as well as reducing skin damage caused by UV rays.

Is it really a replacement?

Let's get one thing out of the way, to begin with - Bakuchiol is NOT the same as retinol.

It has a completely different chemical structure and even though it might show similar properties, is not identical to retinol.

The reason why it shows similar characteristics is because it contains Vitamin A in a form that can be absorbed by the human body.

Clinical trials and research have led to studies that show that the effects of using bakuchiol twice a day give the same results as using retinol once a day.

We have to keep in mind that these studies have been done by comparing bakuchiol against retinol and not other potent retinoids.

For instance, someone who suffers from severe acne or pigmentation might be recommended to use a prescription retinoid like tretinoin by their dermatologist and such natural replacements will not work in their favor.

Skincare can not be generalized across the masses. Just like any other product or ingredient, it is case-specific. Overall, Bakuchiol is a gentle and vegan option in the world of anti-aging ingredients.


Why make the switch?

  • Bakuchiol is derived from plants, unlike retinol which isn't always cruelty-free or vegan.

  • It has similar benefits that are associated with retinol. It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation. It also helps in making your skin feel more supple and firm by boosting its natural elasticity.

  • Lesser side effects are seen with the use of bakuchiol. Retinol often shows side effects like flaking, purging, and slight irritation, all of which aren't observed while using bakuchiol.

  • One of the biggest differences and benefits of bakuchiol over retinol is that it is not photo-sensitive. This means that it doesn't react upon exposure to sunlight and hence can be used during the day as well.

  • Retinol can be used alongside other ingredients like exfoliants, benzoyl peroxide, and many other active ingredients, whereas bakuchiol does not have any such restrictions.

  • It is a good ingredient to start with if you're looking to start with anti-aging treatments.

  • It can be a good place to start for people with dry and sensitive skin who are struggling with retinol.

  • Retinol is unsafe to use during pregnancy but bakuchiol doesn't have any such issues as it is 100% plant-based.


Most people are oftentimes hesitant to use products that contain retinol mostly because of the side effects and the strict routine that needs to be followed while using this ingredient.

With the focus on anti-aging treatments, many are trying to find alternatives and safer methods to reduce these signs of aging.

The only issue with this newly found ingredient is that there isn't much research to prove its benefits. Most of the studies have been conducted in labs and there is no solid evidence to prove their worth, apart from a few experimental studies.

Nonetheless, it seems to be an effective skincare ingredient and provides room for a lot of further research to discover all of its hidden benefits.

In my opinion, bakuchiol is a perfect way for a beginner or someone in their early 30s to try anti-aging treatments without the other complexities and side effects.

It is a good starter pack for any sort of anti-aging routine and could be a good stepping stone to later progress into using other retinol or retinoids.


Product Recommendations:

Here are a few well-reputed skincare products with Bakuchiol

  • Biossance - Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum

  • Herbivore Botanicals Bakuchiol Alternative Smoothing Serum

  • Acure Radically Rejuvenating Dual-Phase Bakuchiol Serum

  • Olehenriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème

  • Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum

  • Paula's Choice Clinical 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment

Note - Like any other ingredient and skin care product, always do a patch test before using the product. Even though it is rare, some people might be allergic to bakuchiol as it is a natural plant-based ingredient.


I hope this read was able to help you find out the differences and learn more about this trending skincare ingredient.



* As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases through the product links mentioned above

Image credits - Leah Kelly

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