Move over retinol: a safer, non-irritating, non-sensitizing, non-carcinogenic, non-teratogenic, non-toxic alternative that is scientifically proven to be just as effective for anti-aging is here: bakuchiol (buh-COO-chee-y’all).
What is Bakuchiol?
Bakuchiol is a plant-based ingredient with anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties extracted from the leaves and seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant otherwise known as Babchi plant. This Indian native ingredient has been used for Ayurvedic practices and extends roots into natural Chinese medicine. Bakuchiol is potent with antioxidants which reduce discoloration caused by environmental stressors. It’s most popular benefit, elimination of fine lines and wrinkles, has made the plant a sensation in modern skincare. While consumers struggled to overcome the side effects of Retinol on their sensitive skin, researchers have found a perfect match. Except there is one big difference - Bakuchiol has no negative side effects. Dr. Jennifer Chwalek from Union Square Laser Dermatology explains this phenomenon by referencing research from a 2018 article in The British Journal of Dermatology. "In a comparison study there was no difference in wrinkle reduction or improvement in hyperpigmentation between bakuchiol and retinol.” (Byrdie) She even goes on to emphasize that retinol users did experience more skin dryness and stinging.
The Dangerous Truth About Retinol.
Retinol and other retinoids “evoke substantial irritating side effects, including pain and inflammation” (Yin et al., 2013) and cause red, dry, irritated, itchy, red, sensitive skin, known as the “retinoid reaction” or more formally, “retinoid dermatitis”, and experts think this is in part due to the fact that retinol upregulates pro-inflammatory cytokines, especially MCP-1 and IL-8 (Dhaliwal et al., 2019; Kim, Lee, & Kang, 2003).
Interestingly, both naturally occurring and synthetic retinoids (including retinol) activate the same irritant receptor in the skin as capsaicin.
You know, the pungent ingredient in chili pepper that causes a burning sensation? Yeah, retinol activates that same receptor in your skin!
Bakuchiol VS Retinol
There shouldn't be a choice between feeling good and looking good. They go hand in hand. Why use something imperfect when nature has provided immaculate perfection? Bakuchiol is almost identical to retinol's powerful properties, except its gentle touch doesn't leave much room for negative outcomes. People of all ages can see huge benefits of Bakuchiol, even pregnant or breastfeeding moms. Dr Nazarian emphasizes: "No known studies reflect any unwanted or negative side effects...because it is not retinol, it has the potential to be safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding.