Is Bakuchiol the New Retinol?

Retinol has multiple anti-ageing benefits, but could it’s natural alternative be just as good?

Nod your head twice if you're confused about anti-ageing ingredients. It's a complex skincare world out there! Lotions and potions, active ingredients this and fine lines that—it’s tricky to know where to start. Don’t worry, we got you.

First things first, there's nothing wrong with ageing skin. It's natural and inevitable. A few laughter lines just mean you're living a good life! Everyone's skin is a work in progress. But if you’re regularly waking up and not enjoying how your skin looks, developing a routine you can rely on will ease your aesthetic anxiety.

Retinol (Vitamin A) has been dermatologist recommended for a while now. It's a powerful ingredient that we all can learn to lean on when our skin starts looking a little sad. Use Retinol consistently to reap benefits such as smoothing of fine lines, reduced acne scarring, and plumping up of ageing skin. How amazing is that?

But with the wellness trend ever-growing, spilling out from what we eat into what we put on our skin and even what we wear, it seems like the right time to check out a more natural skincare alternative.

If that sounds about right, then let us introduce you to skincare's new boo: Bakuchiol. Bakuchiol (pronounced ‘back-uh-heel’, or ‘buh-koo-chee-all’ if you like) is the new plant-based ingredient shaking skincare up—and nope, we’re not sure how to say it properly either! While it's new to us, it's actually been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese practices for centuries to help heal wounded skin … and it's got us all asking, is Bakuchiol better than Retinol?

Is Bakuchiol the New Retinol? - woman with hands resting by her face in front of dark blue background 670 x 418Is Bakuchiol the New Retinol? - woman with hands resting by her face in front of dark blue background 670 x 418


What Does Retinol Serum Do?

If you're dedicated to your night-time routine and love smoothing on an array of feel-good, look-good products, you might already be using Retinol. If you haven't already tried it, you've almost definitely thought about it or had it recommended to you.

Retinol works by increasing collagen production and speeding up skin cell renewal. Famous mainly for its anti-ageing properties, it's an ideal ingredient to add into your routine if you've forgotten the sunscreen a bit too often or if you suffer from pigmented skin. Retinol can even help with the dreaded cystic acne.

And when is the best time to start using Retinol? Most dermatologists recommend beginning when you're in your mid 20s because (and let's say it all together now) prevention is better than cure!

Retinol is a wonder ingredient for most, but if you suffer with sensitive skin, you could run into a few issues. Redness, patchiness, and flaky skin are signs of a bad Retinol reaction. Plus, it can take a while to introduce this ingredient into your routine—you often have to start small and build up a tolerance over time, which can be a little frustrating.

Those who suffer from impatience (who wants to wait to use a product?) and irritation are often on the hunt for something more comfortable, something with a gentler touch. And that's where Bakuchiol comes in.


What is Bakuchiol?

So, what's all the fuss about? Found in the leaves and seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant (aka the babchi plant), which grows along the Indian subcontinent, Bakuchiol comes from the bakuchi seed oil. Is babchi oil the same as Bakuchiol? Well, they certainly come from the same plant. Naturally sourced, the ingredient has been used in holistic, natural, healing remedies in the East for years.

Bakuchiol’s impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have impressed those in the know so much, it's quickly earning a rep as the plant-based, natural Retinol.

Bakuchiol vs Retinol?

So how do Bakuchiol products compare to Retinol products? Well, both Bakuchiol and Retinol work well when it comes to regulating the turnover of collagen.

Bakuchiol serum can help smooth fine lines and lessen the appearance of wrinkles in a similar way that Retinol can—but with less irritation. Bakuchiol is a gentle giant!

And if it’s a new Bakuchiol-infused serum you’re on the lookout for, Avène DermAbsolu Recontouring Serum is the perfect little oil with a purpose. Made with sensitive skin in mind, this serum gives dull skin the heave-ho; addresses dry, dehydrated patches; and leave skin looking younger-you plump and fresh.

So, Bakuchiol bears little resemblance to Retinol in terms of structure but seems to give a similar result. However, Bakuchiol can work especially well for you if you're an acne-sufferer. If cystic acne sets off your anxiety, reach for superkind, supersoothing Bioderma Sebium Global Intensive Purifying Care. This acne treatment with Bakuchiol will help heal and eliminate breakouts, unclog congested skin, and prevent pimples from returning.

Perfect for reversing pigmentation and overall sun damage while restoring firmness and elasticity, Bakuchiol in skincare is a natural alternative to Retinol. Working to diminish dark spots and discolouration on uneven skin tones. Those on the hunt for a hyperpigmentation helper need look no further than the powerful Medik8 Calmwise Colour Correct, which gets a little help from Bakuchiol. Use it day and night to instantly reduces redness and soothe irritation.


What are the Differences Between Retinol and Bakuchiol?

So, Bakuchiol is natural, which is great news for those who need to veer away from chemical Retinol. Sure, the power of Retinol is perfect for some, but with Bakuchiol popping up more often in your favourite products, it’s worth trying something that doesn't set off sensitive skin.

It's becoming clear that Bakuchiol can help with pesky fine lines—even around the sensitive eye area. Avène DermAbsolu Youth Eye Cream 15ml is a unique formula that will revitalise and reduce those little wrinkles that annoy you so much.

It's worth remembering that when you first introduce Retinol into your routine, you’ll probably see some irritation during the first three weeks. Most skin needs a bit of time to get used to Retinol’s potency, but it’s a highly recommended ingredient so definitely worth trying. However, if you're still suffering after three weeks, or you're just on a more natural, clean-living trip at the moment, Bakuchiol could be your new favourite.

Although clinical tests are still occurring and the Retinol devotees are still ... well, devoted, Bakuchiol can be beneficial for those with sensitive skin. Bakuchiol is so gentle, you can even find products that combine it with Retinol for a double whammy. Try PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment: 0.5% Pure Retinol Night at night to help clear congested skin.

Bakuchiol doesn't irritate the skin or make skin sensitive to the sun like Retinol does. You can apply Bakuchiol safely first thing in the morning and even combine it with Vitamin C serums. Don't forget the sunscreen though—sunscreen every day, we say!

Retinol also comes with a warning to pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding, but Bakuchiol doesn't. Bakuchiol is natural and safe to use by all—more good news! Although we wouldn't recommend piling on too many skincare products at once; be picky to prevent irritation.

So, how do you choose which ingredient to use? We recommend a little trial and error. While your sister's skin may love Retinol and its gorgeous afterglow, your best mate might be all about the Bakuchiol. The long-term effects of Bakuchiol are still unknown, but the future's looking bright, and the ingredient is fast growing a following of fans. Are you gonna give it a go? We have some great mainstream products that contain Bakuchiol for you to try.

If you suffer from acne and sensitive skin at the same time, this cream will calm skin, improve signs of dehydration such as dry patches, and address those pesky blemishes—all at the same time.


This light, nongreasy moisturiser with Bakuchiol is easy to use and will help redefine the contours of your face. Apply first thing for supersupple, hydrated skin and a healthy, youthful glow.


Made to help soothe you while you sleep, this gentle night balm lifts and firms the skin with a gentle touch. It also addresses dullness, so you look fresh and wide awake, even before your morning coffee.


Is Bakuchiol the New Retinol? - woman applies treatment to your face using cotton pad - 670 x 425Is Bakuchiol the New Retinol? - woman applies treatment to your face using cotton pad - 670 x 425


Want to discover more amazing Retinol/Vitamin A products? Check out some of our guides:

Do you prefer natural ingredients and are looking for the next natural ingredient to add to your skincare and haircare routines?




Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty’s highly trained Customer Service team. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.





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