In recent years, star skincare ingredient retinol has been hailed by many, and a staple in anti-ageing lines for its collagen-stimulating benefits — though not without some downsides. Those with sensitive skin, and sensitised ones too, tend to approach it with some level of caution, since its side effects may include irritated skin and sensitivity to sunlight, which is why it’s often recommended for use at night.
Things are about to change though, with bakuchiol. The now-trending skincare ingredient is a natural alternative to retinol, and even better, has the same skin-plumping benefits, sans the less-than-desirable effects — this explains why many skincare brands are welcoming it with open arms.
In fact, the first time I heard about it was back in 2019, from BYBI founders Elsie Rutterford and Dominika Minarovic, who were raving all about bakuchiol in the clean beauty brand’s skincare booster. Since then, we’ve been seeing a steady flow of bakuchiol skincare products on the shelves, which help to achieve firm, supple skin while touting gentle formulas suitable for all skin types.
Ahead, we answer a few key questions about bakuchiol, before putting together a list of some of our recommended bakuchiol-infused skincare.
What is Bakuchiol?
Bakuchiol is known for being a gentle natural alternative to retinol. It is plant-based and naturally-derived from the Babchi plant, which has been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
What are the benefits of the skincare ingredient?
Bakuchiol functions similar to retinol, as it also boosts collagen production and promotes cell turnover for firm, supple skin, while preventing and helping with fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves photodamage and hyperpigmentation, for more even, smooth, and glowy skin, while some have noted its effectiveness in fading acne scars.
Unlike most retinols and retinoids though, the vegan ingredient is safe for all skin types, and avoids side effects such as dry or flaky skin, inflammation, and sun sensitivity. After all, bakuchiol does have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well.
Are there other things to take note of?
It’s generally safe for all skin types, and can be used in both the morning and evening. The ingredient is also safe to use during pregnancy — though you might want to read the label for the other ingredients in your skincare product, or consult your doctor before use.
1. BYBI Beauty — Bakuchiol Booster
The clean beauty brand’s bestselling skincare boosters are meant for those of us already committed to our cleansers, serums and moisturisers — we can easily incorporate these skincare add-ons to our existing regime. Their Bakuchiol Booster is a lightweight, natural oil that contains 1% bakuchiol, and moisturising olive squalane, for a collagen-boosting treatment that absorbs quickly without the unwanted side effects of dry, flaky skin. It’s good to know that BYBI’s ingredient is responsibly-sourced and sustainably-produced as well, in line with their strong brand philosophy.
$23, available at Sephora.
2. HERBIVORE — Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum
Known for harnessing the best natural ingredients in their botanical, biocompatible skincare products, Herbivore’s bakuchiol serum is as gentle yet effective as their other highly-raved serums. This water-based serum is meant to refine the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and has a unique, jelly-like texture that spreads smoothly over the skin. Its light purple hue is naturally derived from a blend of natural extracts — these include the Ayurvedic Babchi plant, where we get bakuchiol, as well as tumeric, holy basil, basil, and eggplant.
USD54, available at herbivorebotanicals.com.
3. OLE HENRIKSEN — Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Crème
Since bakuchiol has been effective for smoothing out fine lines, it’s no wonder that Ole Henriksen has created a formula that’s safe for use on the fragile skin around the eyes. Inspired by the anti-ageing benefits of retinol, this uses the plant-based retinol alternative, bakuchiol, for a potent vegan eye cream that does it all — it deals with fine lines, while also helping with firm skin and the getting rid of dark circles and uneven tones. The all-rounder formula even sees swirls of bakuchiol suspended in a blend of powerhouse ingredients such as peptides and orchid stem cells, which keep the actives separate, and only mixed and activated when you pump them out.
$69, available at Sephora.
4. THE INKEY LIST — Bakuchiol Moisturizer
For those on a budget, UK brand The Inkey List comes through every single time, with their line of fuss-free, straightforward skincare. Among bestsellers such as their Vitamin C Serum, Polyglutamic Acid and Caffeine Eye Cream, we’d also recommend the Bakuchiol Moisturizer, a lightweight formula that gives you supple, smooth skin without further irritating it or causing sun sensitivity. Bakuchiol is combined with Omega-3 packed sacha inchi oil and squalane for skincare that’s extra nourishing and hydrating, on top of those anti-ageing benefits.
$17, available at Sephora.
5. HANDMADE HEROES — The Ultimate Bakuchiol Booster Oil
Local brand Handmade Heroes is all for 100% natural, vegan skincare formulas, so their new Bakuchiol Booster Oil fits right in. Theirs is made with 2.5% Bakuchiol extract, where the anti-ageing ingredient is used to boost collagen production and cell turnover, which leads to smooth and plump skin — some users have even reported on noticing a youthful glow as well. The facial oil works together with sugar cane-derived squalene and other botanical extracts to greatly improve the skin.
$49, available at handmadeheroes.com.
6. BIOSSANCE — Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
Earning the ‘Clean at Sephora’ label, plenty of Biossance’s skincare products tout the all-powerful, super-moisturising squalene, where theirs is recreated from bio-fermenting 100% plant-based, renewable sugarcane. This Squalene + Phyto-Retinol Serum is no different, though the product is free of retinol or retinoids — instead, bakuchiol, a plant-derived retinol alternative is used for its “retinol-like” effects of improved fine lines and wrinkles, while working hand in hand with niacinamide for firm skin that won’t be irritated or sensitised, making this suitable for all skin types. On their website, new packaging ensures you’ll get the same favourite formula in a 100% recyclable, airless pump to maximise your skincare product.
$106, available at Sephora.
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