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Bakuchiol | Alternative to Retinol

Bakuchiol has popped up in the medical literature for varying uses- anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-aging- it’s all there. Read more...




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What is Bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a phytochemical which means it’s derived from plants (the babchi plant).

Bakuchiol has popped up in the medical literature for varying uses- anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-aging- it’s all there. It has been studied in breast cancer research, as a psoriasis agent, as well as an anti-aging product.



Bakuchiol vs Retinol | What's the story behind this connection?

Bakuchiol is referred to as a functional analog of retinol. This means that bakuchiol serum actually has the same effect as retinol topically in studies with one huge advantage: it’s far less irritating because it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
I’m really looking forward to seeing bakuchiol products used widely because the anti-aging world has had very few new products that actually work to increase gene activity for collagen production when used topically in the way that retinoids can.



Why not just use retinol or prescription retinoids instead of bakuchiol?

Retinol and tretinoin (prescription strength) have been around for decades. These products get a lot of attention given their effectiveness. However, many people can still struggle with irritation from this ingredient. In attempts to use it on a routine basis, peeling, drying, redness, and burning can be noted. This can often lead to taking breaks from use.

Are there other scenarios where bakuchiol would be considered an option to consider in place of retinol or retinoid?

The first scenario that comes to mind is for my patients that deal with rosacea and are still seeking an effective anti-aging product. Retinol can be of benefit in people with rosacea-prone skin however the tolerance for retinol and prescription retinoids can make it difficult to use. It can be a balancing act to determine how to gain the benefit of anti-aging ingredients without flaring rosacea. Another scenario to consider the use of bakuchiol is for sensitive skin regions such as the neck. Sometimes the use of retinol or retinoid can irritate this thinner skin. When seeking an alternative approach, bakuchiol is a reasonable ingredient to consider.

How can bakuchiol achieve similar results to retinol without irritating the skin in the process?

It has anti-inflammatory effects that reduce its irritation.

How can I tell if a product has bakuchiol as its anti-aging ingredient?

When seeking bakuchiol products, the label may not always be obvious. Most often, the words ‘phytoretinol’ or ‘retin-alt’ may be used. Both of these terms are referring to bakuchiol. This is likely because there is not as much consumer awareness around bakuchiol as an ingredient. The use of the root “retinol” or “retin” gives a consumer impression of a result similar to retinol.

Why call it phytoretinol or retin-alt- what does this even mean?

‘Phytoretinol’ translates to plant-derived retinol. Bakuchiol is derived from a plant with a clinical effect similar to retinol. ‘Retin-alt’ translates to alternative retinol. Again, references an alternative to traditional retinol products with similar effects.

What if a product has both retinol and bakuchiol - does this have added benefit?

When it comes to products with bakuchiol, I’m a little frustrated by the lack of products that contain this ingredient exclusively. Many products I have come across will often say they have both retinol and bakuchiol. However, the ingredients have the exact same mechanism of action. In studies comparing these two agents to each other, the anti-aging effects are identical. If a product contains both ingredients, it is not clear why. My assumption based on the products I have reviewed is that the concentrations of each vary. I say this primarily because some products will state the percentage of retinol included but not specify the percentage of bakuchiol. The main reason to recognize that both retinol and bakuchiol may be present in the same product is in case your reasoning for seeking a bakuchiol was to decrease irritation. Since the main niche of patients, I tend to recommend this ingredient in particular for my sensitive skin or rosacea patients, I try to encourage them to seek retinol-free options to avoid the excess irritation that their skin cannot always tolerate.

Can you give some examples of bakuchiol-containing products?

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